Indonesia Travel Guides

The best Homestays in Raja Ampat: Our reviews and recommendations

In total we've spent almost 4 months in Raja Ampat, residing in various different homestays across Gam, Kri, Mansuar and Arborek. As our exposure to the homestay experience developed, we uncovered certain aspects and simple comforts which can really make or break a stay in this faraway land.

Here’s our personal review of some of the best homestays in Raja Ampat that we have experienced.  A rating (out of 10) has been given for location, accommodation, food and house reef. Hopefully this will help you find your perfect homestay in wild West Papua!

BESER BAY

Beser Bay best homestays in Raja Ampat gam island overwater bungalow

Beser Bay was our first experience of a Raja Ampat homestay. We stayed during October – November 2017 and made our reservation through stayrajaampat.com. We initially booked 11 nights, but ended up extending and staying for a whole month.

We fell in love with Beser Bay, and would go back in a heartbeat. It is by far one of the best homestays in Raja Ampat, and pretty much ticked all our boxes. The Papuan family who run the homestay are some of the warmest and most hospitable people we’ve met on our travels, and their kindness kept us from leaving.

Location

Beser Bay is situated on the Southern tip of Gam. Gam Island is a huge expanse, made up of steep dense jungle with tiny communities and bungalows dotted sparsely along its shoreline. The Beser Bay stands alone in a secluded cove on a tiny island, surrounded by mangroves and karst islets.

It sits on the edge of a peaceful lagoon away from open waters, and is breathtakingly quiet. The only sound to be heard is the enchanting tropical birdsong which echoes off the encompassing karst walls.

Off grid doesn’t do it justice. When we first arrived, we felt like something out of the TV series Lost. You feel (and are) completely cut off from civilisation. There is absolutely no phone signal at Beser Bay, so be prepared for a digital detox.

The closest village is little Sawinggrai which is a 10 minute boat ride, or a 2 hour snorkel if your feeling adventurous! Here, you will find a couple of tiny shops selling basics. The village supports a weak phone signal, so if you were desperate to contact the outside world, this is your nearest place.

Beser Bay is in a great location for exploring other parts of Raja Ampat. On a good day, it will take about an hour to reach Waisai. Arborek, Mansuar and Kri are all in close proximity and your not too far from Pianemo, Maiyunfun and the Pam Islands. However it is very far to Batanta or Wayag.

Score 10/10

Accommodation

Traditional Papuan bungalows are constructed from timber frames, floored with sawn planks. They have palm thatched walls and a roof with no ceiling. Although conditions are very basic, in our opinion, the accommodation at Beser Bay is unrivalled. They have succeeded in adding some really special touches. And clearly we felt so at home that we didn’t want to leave…

The bungalow configuration includes a good size bedroom with a thick comfy mattress on the floor, covered by a large square mosquito net. There is a table, plug socket, small mirror and rope tied up with a few hangers provided for your clothes. There is an adjoining ‘chill out area’ which has another mattress on the floor and the ultimate bungalow accessory, a hammock. This area also includes tea and coffee making facilities – More on that later!

If you’ve ever dreamt of staying in an overwater bungalow, then this is your place. Sitting on stilts overlooking the lagoon, each bungalow enjoys a beautiful open verandah. This makes an excellent viewing platform for the hive of activity both above and below water. We spent many hours watching baby black tip sharks, sting rays and schooling squid in the lagoon. After the sun set, we loved to gaze at the celestial skies above. There is no light intrusion in Raja Ampat so the night sky becomes a thing of wonder. Trust us, you’ll not be missing the TV or internet.

The majority of homestays in Raja Ampat have a communal dining area. Beser Bay’s is tucked away in the jungle against an open karst wall, and seating includes two long wooden tables and benches. Watch for mosquitos at dusk, they seem to congregate in here. We always made sure to cover up and wear lots of repellent at dinner time.

The bathroom facilities are also shared, and are constructed in the same manner as the bungalows. There are two toilets (one western, one squat style) and a Dip Mandi shower room. Freshwater for the Mandi is available on a tap as it is drawn out from the ground. Although these facilities are far from Western standards, we always found them clean and fully stocked with toilet paper. Be prepared to share your space with some of the local wildlife though, you are in the jungle after all.

Electricity is supplied by a generator which runs from sunset to around 10pm, so make sure to get all your gadgets charged up during this time. If you need the loo in the middle of the night be sure to take a torch with you…and keep an eye out for those creepies!

Score 10/10

Food

The food at Beser Bay is excellent, and we were spoilt rotten by Tina the cook during our stay. I still find it hard to believe how she manages to whip up such amazing meals in what appears to be a very limited kitchen.

Breakfast portions in Raja Ampat are characteristically small, and usually revolve around deep fried bananas or doughnuts, cake etc. At Beser Bay this is no exception, however breakfast is a very personal affair. Once the family see you are awake in the morning they bring a flask of hot water and freshly baked goods directly to your bungalow. This is such a treat especially if your not much of a morning person, like me. I’m not always ready to socialise first thing!

One of the most endearing features of Beser Bay is the ‘dinner bell’ – The family ring a little bell to notify guests when lunch or dinner is served.

Unlike other homestays, you have your own portion of food and Tina sets out each dish beautifully, sometimes decorating with palm leaves and flowers. There is always a good balance of protein – fish or chicken and always egg, tasty vegetables and mountains of white rice.

Another reason why Beser Bay is so special is because of their afternoon tea! Yes, at 3.30pm the family deliver yet another flask of hot water, tea, coffee and a round of cakes to your bungalow. This delicious afternoon snack was something we always looked forward to, especially after a long day of snorkelling.

Score 10/10

House Reef

The diversity of the house reef here is spectacular. We snorkelled it 27 days straight and never got bored. It was teeming with life and ever changing. We saw the walking shark, pufferfish, sea snakes, moray eels, octopus, mantas, eagle rays and even dugongs. The reef is in excellent condition and there is a stunning mix of both hard and soft corals. Behind the homestay there is another lagoon which also offers some really great opportunities. Swim out to the karst islets here to see lots of macro, unusual corals and interesting critters under the rocks.

Score 9/10

Diving

The only downside to Beser Bay is that they don’t offer diving. But even as divers ourselves, we believe this is a small price to pay. If you love the underwater world you’ll be more than happy snorkelling here. And if your desperate to go diving, split your stay with another homestay or try arranging dives with either Arborek Dive Shop or Daroyen Village, which are the closest options.

WARAHNUS

Warahnus homestay Raja Ampat kri island jungle jetty

We gave into our preconceived notions of Kri, and chose Warahnus for its quieter location on the Southern shore of the island, and stayed here for 1 week. The homestay is run by a young man named Bermon. He and his family take good care of their place, despite it being a little more on the rustic side.

Nick was very sick during our stay, so Bermon took me to the pharmacy in Waisai – although he is very shy, Bermon speaks great English and helped translate when getting the correct medicine.

Despite being further away from the North shore crowds of Kri, we still found Warahnus Homestay a bit too busy for us.

Location

Warahnus sits in a sweeping cove on a beautiful white sand beach against a jungle backdrop. The homestay looks out onto views of Batanta and Yenbuba.

Kri is a great location for diving which is why it’s so popular. But wchose Warahnus because it has great snorkelling, with Yenbuba Jetty in swimming distance and Sauwandarek and Cape Kri only a short boat ride away.

From Warahnus you can hike up to the top of the island to see views across the Dampier Strait, and access the North shore on foot in about 20 minutes. At low tide, you can walk from the north west side of Kri to Yenbuba across a spectacular sand bar. Over the pond, there is a village with a few small shops and a pretty good 4G data connection if you have the right SIM card.

Score 8/10

Accommodation

There are four single bungalows, plus two big bungalows which sleep up to 4 guests. During our stay, every bungalow was occupied.

We stayed in one of the singles and found the bungalow to be a lot smaller than average, plus they were quite tired and dark. We had a tiny covered verandah looking out to sea which was equipped with a hammock and a single bench, but it was a bit of a squeeze for both of us.

Our main gripe was the sleeping area. We have stayed in many homestays across RA so are well used to the rustic conditions, but there was a damp smell which I found almost unbearable. The mattress was very thin, and our mozzie net had seen better days. It is also worth noting that despite what people say, there really is a rat problem on Kri. We had visitors most nights, and Nicks Osprey day bag got eaten into. Definitely don’t leave snacks lying around here!

Despite all of the above, the homestay is well cared for by Bermon and his family, the toilets and mandi were always clean and we never ran short of any supplies.

Score 5/10

Food

There’s a lovely communal dining area over looking the sea. The food was always plentiful and delicious. We had a good mix of fish and chicken, tempe, veggies and fruit for afters. Breakfast was different every day, we had little bread rolls, cakes and pancakes which made a welcome change from the usual fried bananas.

We did encounter a bit of an issue with missing breakfast. If you don’t get there at 7am you might miss out. We highlighted the issue to Bermon’s sister who made us some extra pancakes one day, which were very welcome! It was also Nicks birthday during our stay, so I put in a request for chicken and cakes for us to share with the guests after dinner, which she gladly made.

Score 8/10

House Reef

Our stay at Warahnus was really all about the surrounding reefs. From right outside the homestay, you can swim all the way across the channel to Yenbuba Jetty, which is renowned for its excellent snorkelling. On an average day, we saw multiple sharks, trigger fish, turtles, eagle rays, bumpheads and lots of schooling fish. The coral in front of Warahnus is also very beautiful.

Score 10/10

Diving

If your not fussy (like us) then you are spoilt for choice with homestay dive operations to choose from on Kri. A number of guests staying at Warahnus were using Wobbegong Dive Centre on the North shore. They would hike across the island daily and join the boat there. If it weren’t for Nicks illness, we probably would have dived with them ourselves. We’ve  heard on the grapevine that Lumba Lumba homestay next door has just relaunched its dive centre with all new equipment, so this could be another good option for next time..

MARKO HOMESTAY

Marko Homestay Raja Ampat Mansuar island overwater bungalow jetty jungle

We took a bit of a chance with Marko Homestay, as there were no reviews on stayrajaampat.com. We stayed 3 nights, although originally booked to stay 11 nights over Christmas 2017.

There are only 4 bungalows, so we were really hoping to spend a quiet Christmas here. Unfortunately after a day into our stay, we discovered that an extra 17 guests were due to arrive, plus a large group of men from the Indonesian Presidents army entourage who would be camping on the beach next door, so we decided to cut our stay short. This was a shame, as there were some great points about this homestay.

Location

Marko’s lies on the north shore of Pulau Mansuar, about 3km west of Yenbekwan village. The location is secluded and untouched. Palm trees and steep jungle hills dominate the scene behind the homestay, in front of the turquoise sea overlooking Gam. I was really breathtaken by its beauty on arrival. It gets great sunrise and sunset views – sunsets in Raja Ampat are some of the best we’ve ever seen.

We chose this homestay due to its proximity to Sauwandarek jetty, which is on the other side of the island and is one of our favourite snorkelling spots. However getting there is not that easy, and is about an hours hike through the jungle along slippery paths. The hike itself is very scenic, taking you past a hidden lake. Marko homestay is also very close to Manta Sandy, and you are not far from Arborek, Gam or Kri.

If you have the right SIM card, Marko Homestay does support a very weak internet signal but unfortunately we couldn’t get ours to work.

Score 7/10

Accommodation

The bungalows are well built in traditional Papuan style, and sit on stilts overwater, adjoined to the main jetty. They were well equipped with new mattresses and bedding. There was also an electric fan (practically unheard of in Raja Ampat!) a mirror and a drying wrack for wet clothes. We also had our own drinking water dispenser, a table and two plastic chairs. There was also a slight lack of privacy due to the fact the bungalows face the jetty, also ours was missing a bedroom door so we felt a bit exposed.

The communal dining area is in a bigger traditional bungalow, dominating a tiny slice of beach. There is one long wooden table and plastic chairs, and unlimited teas and coffees provided. The bathroom is set back from the beach, in a concrete building. There is one western toilet and a Dip Mandi which also had a shower head. The facilities weren’t particularly clean, and found myself making a quick exit on most occasions.

The generator seemed to run from sunset right until sunrise, so plenty of time to charge everything up. Marko’s also has some solar lighting in communal areas, quite handy when any power outages occur.

Score 8/10

Food

The food really was excellent, one of the most generous of all homestays we have been to. We had abundant fresh fish, tempe, lovely mixed green vegetables and the usual fried bananas for breakfast. The chef was not just a great cook, but always very welcoming, so hospitable and genuine. One evening he saw us relaxing on the jetty and brought us a cold drink and some biscuits!

Score 10/10

House Reef

Unfortunately the reef in front of the homestay is mostly destroyed, and there really isn’t much to see, fish were lacking especially for Raja Ampat standards. The best option is to hike to Sauwandarek village and snorkel there. Day trips were possible to nearby reefs but the boat costs at this homestay are expensive.

Score 4/10

Diving

Marko Homestay was in the process of setting up a new dive shop during our stay, and we really wanted to dive with them, but found the prices were 50% higher than other homestays. We did point this out to the dive master who was really helpful in trying to negotiate the price with the owners, but unfortunately we couldn’t come to an agreement so decided against it in the end. They do have a brand new dive boat and equipment though.

TAU YADO HOUSE

Tau Yado House Raja Ampat homestay gam island beach bungalow

After our disapointing time at Marko Homestay, we made a quick exit and moved to Tau Yado House on Gam. We arrived without a booking. I knew of this homestay, as it is right next door due to Corepen, who we were due to stay with in a weeks time. We ended up staying at Tau Yado on and off throughout Dec 2017 and Jan 2018 as we moved back and forth from Corepen during times that they were fully booked.

It is not currently possible to make a booking for Tau Yado via stayrajaampat.com as they are having technical problems. It really does feel like a genuine ‘homestay’ as looking after guests is secondary to the families duties of carpentry and logging in the forest behind. We enjoyed watching them go about their daily routine, it gave us a taste of real Papuan life.

Location

Tau Yado House is located on the wide sand beach of Yendebabo in eastern Gam. Although it shares the same beach as Yendababo Homestay (the one with those terrible blue tin roofs) this does not spoil this beautifully private spot. There never seems to be anyone around. It feels very local, and remote.

Behind the homestay and into the forest, there are trails to explore and opportunities to see the elusive red bird of paradise. At low tide, you can walk all the way west to Kordiris Homestay where there are some beautiful karst outcrops.

The closest village is Friwen Bonda island, where the homestay family originate from. Both Friwen Bonda and the famous Friwen Wall are only about a 10 minute boat journey away. Although we didn’t explore it ourselves, a mangrove channel runs behind the homestay close to Kabui Bay making a scenic boat trip. Tao Yado amazingly manages to catch an internet signal from Waisai, although it can be a bit sporadic.

Score 8/10

Accommodation

Four private bungalows are set amid shady beachside trees. Each has a little deck area for chilling out, the only thing missing for us was a hammock. The bungalows were quite spacious and felt clean, however the bedding was a bit on the smelly side and the pillows felt especially damp. The mattress was old and thin and definitely smaller than a double. A square mosquito net was provided, along with towels, a small wooden table, plug socket, washing line and a couple of hangers. It wasn’t the most comfortable space, but the spectacular beach more than made up for this.

The communal dining area is set closer to the beach, and is a small and basic hut. Tea, coffee and drinking water can be found here although sometimes supplies ran short. The bathroom facilities are newly built and constructed of concrete with a tin roof. There are two toilets and two mandis which are both very clean and bright, and felt a lot less creepy than some others! There is also freshwater on tap, so great for doing a spot of hand-washing. Although the family at Tau Yado are very sweet, there is a general lack of hospitality and replenishment (i.e. toilet tissue, cups etc). Apart from being fed, you really are left to your own devices.

Score 7/10

Food

The food was probably Tau Yado’s biggest let down. There was sometimes fish but often just egg, rice and vegetables and the taste was variable. We were occasionally left hungry and craving fruit (not ideal when stranded on a desert island!)

The family have a large pack of very cute dogs who are undernourished, and they put on their saddest faces, looking up at you whilst you eat. This is a daily ritual for the dogs (who are mostly well behaved) as they seem to survive on guests left-overs. We hope they fatten up soon.

Score 4/10

House Reef

We snorkelled the entire width of Yendababo, and found the reef most abundant in front of Corepen – about 100 metres out. Overall the reef here is not the prettiest, and as far as Raja Ampat standards go, it isn’t great. But we did see turtles and it is home to lots of lovely clown fish living in some unusual anemones buried in the hard coral. You are super close to Friwen Wall here, which has superb snorkelling and can be reached by boat in 10 minutes.

Score 6/10

Diving

The reason we chose to stay here was ultimately due to its close proximity to Corepen Homestay, who we wished to dive with – and dive we did! They are only a stroll up the beach, and run a slick dive operation. Which you can read more about below… If you struggle with availability at Corepen, the next best option would be Kordiris or failing that, Yendababo.

Score 10/10

COREPEN

Corepen best homestays in Raja Ampat dive centre gam island turquoise water

After doing our PADI in the Philippines, we desperately wanted to come back to Raja Ampat to try our newfound skills. We were looking for a small homestay dive operation, leaving us with only a handful of options. Obviously there are a lot of options on Kri, but we ruled this out due to the island being notoriously crowded. We really wanted a more intimate affair for our first experience of diving in Raja Ampat.

We had heard that Corepen was one of the best homestays in Raja Ampat for diving, as they had a small but well equipped centre. However we struggled to get a booking over the busy Christmas period via stayrajaampat.

As with all Raja Ampat homestays, bookings often get cancelled or guests shorten their stay so this information doesn’t always get updated online. Therefore, if you really want to stay somewhere it’s worth checking directly with the homestay – they might be able to squeeze you in for a few days, as Corepen did with us.

We stayed here on and off throughout December 2017 and January 2018 and can’t wait to dive and stay with them again soon!

Location

Corepen is on the same stretch as Tau Yado & Yendababo (above) and the homestay families are all relatives. In terms of a location for diving, it’s really hard to beat. You are close to some of the best dive sites the Dampier Strait has to offer – Cape Kri, Chicken Reef, Sardine Reef, Mioskun and Blue Magic are all reachable in under 30mins.

Score 9/10

Accommodation

Corepen have successfully created a very homely environment, and in our opinion, it is second only to Besar Bay on the comfort scale.

The homestay is run very efficiently, you are well looked after here. Corepen receives a higher turnover of guest traffic due to many divers passing through, they have a good understanding of hospitality.

There are 6 bungalows on the waters edge, which at high tide just about become become overwater. There is a good sized bedroom, and an open verandah looking out to sea. Each includes a hammock or two, plastic chairs and line to dry your wet clothes. There is a little ladder from the verandah allowing you to easily access the sand below. Swaying in the hammock watching the sunrise in the morning, or sunset in the evening was one of our favorite things to do here.

Two new bungalows are set back from the beach under shady coconut trees. They also have a verandah equipped with hammocks and chairs…but minus the view. We have stayed in both the beach and overwater bungalows (our preference would of course be the overwater!) However the two beach bungalows are a bit cheaper, so worth noting if your on a budget.

The bungalows are clean and well maintained. Our bedding always smelt fresh and we had a particularly thick mattress, after long days diving we slept well here! I loved waking to the sound of the waves breaking gently underneath us.

There’s a large communal dining area which looks out over the ocean. It’sspacious and a great place to relax and plan dives with fellow homestay guests.

The family have made a large clearing in the jungle behind the bungalows, so it’s not the most scenic of places, but there is a handy washing area to handwash your clothes, and tons of washing line space to dry everything.

The bathroom includes two western toilets and one dip mandi shower room. These are constructed from a mix of concrete and traditional sawn wood and palm leaves with a pebble floor. Both the toilets and mandi were always clean and include little shelves for your shampoo etc, and even a mirror. Luxury for Raja Ampat standards!

Score 9/10

Food

Everything is served in big portions at Corepen. We often had fried chicken which is quite rare. There was always lots of vegetables, and side dishes such as tempe and noodles and of course ample rice. Sometimes we even got fruit for afters. Maria, one of the dive guides is an amazing baker and she often made us beautiful fresh sponge cake for breakfast.

Tea, coffee, and drinking water is provided. And an added bonus of fresh limes to squeeze into your drink, along with a big bunch of bananas to snack on throughout the day.

Score 8/10

House Reef

As I mentioned in our review of Tau Yado, the best bit of the reef here is about 100m outside Corepen’s doorstep. We did venture along to Kordiris, but were very disappointed with what we saw. In our opinion it was not worth the snorkel.

Score 6/10

Diving

We came here for the diving and we were not dissapointed. Our dive guides Sandy and Maria were superb, taking us to some amazing sites and looking after us at all times. Sandy was always flexible with the location, and when there were too many dive boats in one place he would take us to another.

We were relatively new divers to begin with, but never felt unsafe for a moment under their supervision. Maria took extra care of me as I was still quite nervous underwater and some of the currents were very strong. Maria and I hooked together, enabling the more experienced divers to go at a different pace. Maria helped me become a better diver, and by the time we left Corepen (for the 2nd time) we were in a different class!

Some of their equipment is quite old, but all is well maintained. They have their own compressor, and wetsuits are available. Their nippy little boat fits a maximum of 8 divers. So nice not to go out in a huge group!

Score 10/10

KAYAFYOF

Kayafyof homestay Arborek Raja Ampat overwater bungalow

We booked through stayrajaampat.com and stayed here in January 2018 for 7 nights. The correspondence and pick up with our host Papa Bani in Waisai was very smooth.

We were a bit skeptical about Arborek, however our experience far exceeded our expectations and overall added some diversity to our Raja Ampat trip. Our main reasons for choosing Arborek was to be in close proximity to Manta Sandy, and just on our approach to the island we encountered a large pack of Mantas at the ridge, skimming the top of the water, we couldn’t have asked for a better welcome!

Location

Arborek itself is a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, which sits between the far Western tip of Gam and Mansuar. You can walk all the way around it in about 30 minutes. Unlike surrounding islands of the Dampier Strait, Arborek is flat, and there is no jungle or wildlife here. Much like the Maldives, it is at risk of inundation from sea level rise.

However Arborek is firmly on the Indonesian tourist map, and is often a stopover for boats on their way to nearby Piaynemo, so at times it gets quite busy. This means the village offers better than average amenities and there are a number of little shops to buy supplies here.

You will see regular tribal Papuan music and dance ceremonies, adding to the vibrancy of the island. Arborek homestays are located on the quiet beaches away from village, so you still feel very secluded.

It is worth noting that we had no phone signal on Arborek, and it certainly feels very isolated.

Score 9/10

Accommodation

There is a well maintained path leading to the homestay from the village, and Kayafyof is positioned on the quietest side of the island, away from the main jetty.

Kayafyof has 2 water bungalows and 2 land bungalows, with great views to Mansuar and Batanta with the added bonus of sunrise and sunset (my two favorite times of day).

Our water bungalow was big and really well made, with a beautiful sun deck and a hammock to relax in. We loved playing with the children of Kayafyof in the shallows beneath bungalow, and watching them fish for supper with makeshift hook and line.

The bedroom was a good size, we had a comfy mattress, nice bedding and a brand new mosquito net. There was shelving for our belongings and well positioned plug sockets. The bathroom facilities were good, but this was our first experience without freshwater – the mandi had to be manually filled with saltwater.

The family live in the village (not on-site) so you are often left to fend for yourselves. We kept running out of basic things like tissue, toilet & mandi water, and hot water for tea and coffee. Nobody checks on whether things needed replenishing, and if Papa Bani wasn’t around we didn’t really know who else to ask.

Score 8/10

Food

As the homestay is small, there is only a tiny shack on the beach where meals are served. The food was okay. It was always tasty, but generally found portions to be on the smaller side. Breakfast was fried bananas, whilst lunch and dinner were a mix of rice, vegetables and egg.

Score 6/10

House Reef

Snorkelling under the famous main jetty was nice except when there were boats. Sometimes there were multiple boats turning up at once which can be quite dangerous if you are snorkelling or free diving. They also feed the fish and sometimes large groups arriving and jumping in scare them off.

Only 100 meters past the second jetty, swimming towards Kayafof was excellent snorkelling…some of the best in Raja Ampat.

On our first session, we saw 2 mantas and lots of big schools of fish feeding in the deep. The best time of day is between 4.30pm and sunset, where the fish were in a hunting frenzy mode! We snorkelled here every day for an entire week and loved it. This was by far the highlight of Arborek.

Score 8/10

Diving

Arborek Dive Shop is your only option on the island, and it is run by a passionate Indonesian couple, Githa and Marcel. Unfortunately Nick had the flu during our stay so we were unable to dive with them, but we have friends who did and could highly recommend.

BATU LIMA

Raja Ampat biodiversity eco resort gam island jetty diving sunset

We stayed here at the beginning of November 2017 for 7 nights, however this homestay has since relocated as the family have opened a new establishment, and closed Batu Lima. Their new homestay is called Taporbam, on Gam’s Eastern coast. The family were absolutely charming, and Rose the cook was an excellent chef!

We still wish to share a little information about the original location of Batu Lima, as there is a neighboring homestay, Yenanas Paradise which may be an alternative option. Although we cannot comment on their accommodation, location-wise it’s good.

Location 8/10

Yenanas Homestay is situated on Gam Island, to the east of Yenbesar Village which can be reached in 5 minutes by boat. Located on an idyllic soft white sand beach, it offers safe swimming over a sandy bottom close inshore, with a house reef that is reachable in about 50m.

This quiet beach is also home to the Raja Ampat Biodiversity resort and a number of guests that stayed at Batu Lima with us dived there. It’s expensive, but if you’d feel more comfortable diving with a resort than a homestay, these guys would be a great option. They have a lovely long jetty which also has some cheeky wifi.

You are about 30mins from Waisai here, and the neighbouring islands of Wageo, Kabui Bay, Kri and Mansuar are all very close.

Score 8/10

House Reef

This easy to reach reef sweeps the entire width of the beach and is in great shape. The coral is really impressive, but generally lacked in fish life for us. There is literally no current, making this a great place for kids and beginner snorkelers. If you swim past Biodiversity, about 100m out to the right you’ll spot a cluster of 5 small rocks (which is where Batu Lima got its name). This famous dive spothas some interesting rock formations. It is also possible to snorkel Yenros Homestay’s housereef, which is very nice – they have resident wobbegong shark, but watch out for the surge, it’s strong.

Score 8/10

Diving

If money is no object, then you could look to dive with Biodiversity next door, however we did meet a freelance dive master Nico at Batu Lima, who took us out on a couple of trips. Nico was a lot of fun, he has a great energy. He can provide equipment and a good boat – Although I would say this option is probably best for more experienced divers.

Score 7/10

So which are the best homestays in Raja Ampat?

Although we take away some very special memories from each and every place we stayed in Raja Ampat, our overall favorites would have to be Beser Bay and Corepen. From our experience, we really feel that these two are the best homestays in Raja Ampat.

Ultimately the reason people choose to come to here is to explore the beautiful underwater world. In order for us to rate these accurately as the best homestays in Raja Ampat, the overriding factors were an excellent house reef or the opportunity to dive with a well equipped team, followed by comfort levels and then location.

Each homestay definitely has its own set of pros and cons, but fundamentally the living conditions are all going to be basic. Wherever you choose to stay, for whatever reason, go with an open mind and know that there will be compromises in a place as wild and remote as West Papua.

It tested us in ways we never could have imagined, as we learned to live with less. It gave us an opportunity to taste a different way of life, and realise that the luxuries of the Western world are not always required in paradise.

Choosing to stay in a tradition Papuan homestay is an eye-opening and humbling experience, one you will never forget. Are Raja Ampat homestays for you? Please click here to find out more about what it is like staying in one of the most remote parts of the planet.

We hope you found this article useful. Have you ever stayed in a Raja Ampat homestay? What was your favorite place and why? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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