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Sorong – gateway to Raja Ampat

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SORONG. 0°52.992S, 131°14.954E

There are plenty of anchorages in depths of 22-32 metres along the town’s bustling waterfront. It is a busy, yet easy to enter, harbour. The approaches from the north or the west are well buoyed and marked. Smaller vessels can anchor to the west closer to Pulau Doom in 16-26 metres or nearer the busy dive docks to anchor in the same depths on sand. Larger vessels can anchor anywhere further out in 25-35 metres amongst the many liveaboard dive boats east of Pulau Doom and west of the fish factory.

Sorong is the central business district on Western Papua closest to Raja Ampat, so is growing every year along with the tourism industry. It is home to myriad Phinisi liveaboard dive boats and provides various basic facilities for cruising yachts. These include fuel, water, fresh produce and basic spare parts. A visit to the local wet market is a must for fresh seafood and in particular mud crab. Three new hotels have opened in town and more are planned.

There are some good seafood restaurants along the main road that runs parallel to the coast, accessible from jetties just off the anchorage and connected by public transport (bemo). There are a few dry docks capable of accommodating vessels up to 40 metres and even a Caterpillar engine service centre (Trakindo). The new airport terminal opened in 2016, is a short ride east and has several daily flights connecting to the rest of Indonesia.

Ferries depart daily for Waisai town, the new administrative capital of Raja Ampat on the south shore of Pulau Waigeo four-hours north. Dinghies and outboard motors get stolen here. Painters are cut and locks are broken. On shore pay someone to ‘look after’ your dinghy and snap digital photos of the carers and their IDs. Don’t leave your tender floating at night – even with a wire painter. Don’t make it too easy for opportunistic pincers.

Tariff to Support Environmental Services in Raja Ampat.

This ‘Tag’ or ‘PIN’ costs (at the time of writing) RP1,000,000 (US$77 approx) per visitor and is levied to help the locals manage environmental impact. It’s a plastic card that’s good for a year from the date of purchase.

It’s been reported that government officers at some anchorages may want to check each passenger’s tag and see the paid receipt. For superyachts, agents usually arrange tags in advance of arrival. Some resorts (Hotel Je Meredien Sorong is one) will pre-purchase them on behalf of their guests but most homestays in Sorong and Waisai don’t yet offer this service.

Away from Sorong be wary of individuals claiming to have the rights to sell them to you. For private vessels there were only three authorised distributors at the time of writing:

In Sorong, The Raja Ampat Conservation & Tourism Information Centre is directly opposite the airport access road. At Waisai town on south Pulau Waigeo, the Tourist Information Centre at the ferry port or further inland at the Tourism UPTD KKPD office, a short drive away. Keep the receipts and don’t cruise in the area without them.

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While every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this book is accurate, the charts of anchorages are based on personal experience and satellite imagery and are intended as a guide only. They should not be used for navigation. Please refer to Official Hydrographic Charts of the respective countries.

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