Papua Travel Information - Batanta

Batanta: The Smallest of the "Four Kings"
Batanta, just west of the mainland city of Sorong, is the smallest of the four main islands of the Raja Ampat archipelago. It is mostly interesting for nature-lovers, as most of the island is made up of rugged mountains covered with dense rainforest. In fact this used to be the first place visited by birdwatchers keen to see the endemic birds of paradise. As the photogenic rock islands found further north and south are missing from here, cruise ships mostly give it a miss these days, and tourism is largely restricted to those staying at Batanta's single resort. This actually makes it an interesting choice for those keen to experience an undeveloped island with raw nature and people largely still unaffected by mainstream tourism.
Attractions Activities Local Culture Getting There Accommodation Food
Main Attractions


With its rugged mountains blanketed with pristine rainforest, Batanta is one of the most exciting islands for naturaists to explore. Western Batanta is in fact one of the first corners of Raja Ampat that was declared an official nature reserve. As the island is quite narrow, the interior mountains are never far from the coast, making access easy. At a few points, you can even travel into the interior by boat, following a river!

Village life

Despite the island's proximity to Sorong, many of Batanta's villages have preserved their traditional architecture and way of life better than villages on the northern islands.



With mountains rising just behind the coast, Batanta offers exciting prospects for hikers. Of course recreational hiking is basically unknown here, though locals in Wailebed are used to taking birdwatchers into the forest. For longer hikes your best bet may be asking to be guided from a village on the north coast to one on the south, or vice versa. Locals told me trails crossing the island do exist, and they can cover the distance in a day.


The village of Wailebed in southwest Batanta is where birdwatchers used to go to see Wilson's and Red bird of paradise before Gam and Waigeo became more accessible. It can still be visited, and remains a good spot. When I visited, flocks of 20+ sulphur-crested cockatoos were gathering in the gardens just behind the village, palm cockatoo was feeding on the tree right over the village head's house daily, and a cassowry was also captured during our stay.

Diving & Snorkeling

There are good spots for snorkelers right around Batanta, but the only place that has dive facilities here is the island's single resort, and it doesn't welcome non-guests to dive with them.

Local Culture

Traditional Cooking

We once arranged to have a party involving traditional earth-oven cooking in a Batanta village. Like in the rest of Papua, this involves first "baking" stones on a huge bonefire, then placing the fish, and vegetables betwen these stones packed in leaves, then covering the whole lot to steam. Sadly, such traditional cooking is rarely practiced in Raja Ampat nowadays.

Local Dancing

Our party also involved locals performing various Papuan dances. None of these was strictly "traditional", but they were characteristically Papuan and great fun for everyone involved.

Getting There and Around

By Sea

An irony about Batanta is that while Pelni ships traveling from Ternate to Sorong pass very close along the south coast of the island, finding a boat that actually stops at Batanta is quite hard. The odd Perintis ship stops by, as do boats of local pearl farms. Village boats from Batanta are more likely to be found in Sorong than in Waisai! Chartering should also be cheaper from Sorong.


Seahorse Paradise Resort

This Hungarian-owned dive resort is located on  Birie Island just off the northeastern coast of Batanta. As it's the only resort on Batanta, it offers something of an exclusive experience, heightened by the fact that it won't even welcome guests from villages or cruise ships to dive with them. Note that while close to Sorong, it is a long way from pretty much anywhere else in Raja Ampat - they could easily take you to the spots around Kri and Mansuar, but probably not to any of the places offering "typically Raja Ampat" rock islands.


A few villages on Batanta offer bungalow accommodation for tourists, though none of these can be found online or can be booked through the tourist office in Sorong. I can recommend the huge bungalows in the village of Marandanweser on the northwestern coast of Batanta, located in a pretty, traditional village with a gorgeous beach.


Local food

Guests to Batanta are almost certain to end up eating where they stay, but if you end up sponsoring a local feast, this is what you can expect to get!