Upon arriving in Indonesia, citizens of over 60 countries are eligible for a 30-day tourist visa. Currently the cost is $35 USD payable in cash upon arrival at any one of the over 20 international gateways into Indonesia.
Citizens can also apply for a visa in advance for either a 30 or 60-day stay.
Citizens that are not eligible for visa on arrival must apply for a 30 or 60-day visa prior to their arrival in Indonesia.
Overstaying a visa is typically charged at $20 USD per day.
A few current requirements for a visa on arrival include: an onward ticket, a valid passport that will not expire within six months of entry into Indonesia, and at least 2 blank visa pages. Failure to meet these requirements often results in denial of entry and/or fine.
Departing passengers must pay an international departure fee of Rp 200,000. This must be paid in Indonesia’s currency, the Rupiah.
Arriving in the BHS
Currently there are no international gateways in the Seascape. To access the BHS you must transit through Jakarta, Manado, Bali or Makassar. Internet bookings for domestic Indonesian flights are in the nascent stages. In most cases it is prudent to have your travel agent, BHS operator or resort book your domestic tickets into Sorong, Manokwari, Biak or Kaimana. Most airlines have a strict 20-kilogram weight limit, but a few will negotiate additional allowances for sports equipment.
Since 2007, the Raja Ampat government has implemented an entrance fee and tag system. Revenues are used to finance conservation and community development projects throughout Raja Ampat.
The current fee is $50USD for Raja Ampat and the tag is valid for one calendar year of unlimited entry. A BHS system-wide tag fee is under development. Most resorts and dive operators pre-purchase tags for their guests, but the Tourism office in the JE Meridien Hotel in Sorong also sells entrance tags.
Health and Safety
There is no recompression chamber in theBird’s Head Seascape. In the event of a diving emergency, contact your diving insurance provider. Along with your tour operator, they can advise you on how to best seek medical attention. Remember that the best care is far from Papua, and probably outside of Indonesia. If, however, there is an acute emergency in Sorong, try Angkatan Laut Naval (Bahari) Hospital, opposite Yohan market on Jalan Jend. A Yani. In Manokwari try the General Hospital on JL. Merdeka or the Army Hospital located on Dore Bay on Jl. Trikora. The main hospital in Kaimana is empty as of this writing but there is a clinic, Puskesmas Kaimana on Jl. Diponegoro.
Malaria is prevalent throughout the Bird’s Head Seascape. Check with your home authorities regarding the most recent information on the types of malaria in the region. Always wear mosquito repellant when visiting villages or going ashore for any reason. Be aware that some malaria prophylactics have adverse reactions in scuba divers. Check with your diving insurance policy provider and the Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov) about treatments for malaria or any other medications before taking them on a dive trip. Note that Lariam has limited effectiveness in the BHS because of a resistant strain of malaria prevalent throughout the region.
Cuts and scrapes, especially from coral, go septic quickly in the tropics. Even though boats and resorts generally have good first aid kits, be a responsible traveler and carry your own supply of antibiotic ointment and Band-Aids. Remember to treat all skin irritations as soon as possible.
Sunscreen, hats, and plenty of drinking water are musts.
Tourists should use a recommended driver in urban areas at night. While tourists are considered safe in their hotels or while eating in restaurants, exercise caution and beware of pickpockets and petty thieves.
Time, Money and Power
The Bird’s Head Seascape, located in Indonesia’s easternmost province, is + 9 Hours GMT, one hour ahead of Bali, and two hours ahead of Jakarta.
The Indonesian rupiah is the standard currency in Raja Ampat. Many resorts and liveaboards price their services in US dollars, but a few use the Euro as their standard. Not all boats and resorts take credit cards. Please check with your individual operator regarding the use of credit cards.
There are numerous banks and ATMs that dispense Indonesian rupiah at various locations around the Bird’s Head’s major cities. You can also exchange your home currency for rupiah in Bali, Jakarta, or wherever you transit the archipelago on your way to Papua.
Indonesia’s voltage is 220. The majority of chargers in use today are capable of accepting either 110 or 220. Most resorts and liveaboards have one station for 110 users in their camera rooms. The normal Indonesian plug is round and two-pronged.
Weather and What to Bring to the BHS
The Bird’s Head Seascape is usually hot. Because the region is so close to the equator, rain, mainly short intense thunderstorms, is always a possibility.
Most liveaboards stick to an October through March schedule in Raja Ampat, taking advantage of the NW monsoon season when most of Raja is generally calm. Though many liveaboards leave Raja Ampat before the onset of the SE monsoon season (late May-late August) when large waves make the southern half of Raja Ampat (particularly Misool) largely undiveable, the northern half of Raja Ampat (including Dampier Strait to Kawe) is diveable year round and the Dampier Strait-based resorts and a few liveaboards remain open all year. Cenderawasih Bay is also diveable year round, though liveaboards can have a tough time transiting the northern coast of the Bird’s Head (between Raja Ampat and Manokwari) from November to February when the NW monsoon blows. Triton Bay is subject to similar weather patterns as southern Raja Ampat, with the best season generally being September through April.
Visitors to the BHS should bring anything they can’t live without, including medications, toiletry items, extra batteries, and important dive equipment.
Dress is extremely casual at all resorts and liveaboards in the Seascape. There is no need to over pack. Clothes can be washed on most boats and at the resorts.
Most boats have a “no shoes’ policy, but bring a sturdy pair of shoes if you plan on trekking after diving. Hats and sunscreen are vital.