Facing a peaceful bay that once was dubbed ‘a better harbor’ than Ternate, Moluccas by the great British naturalist Sir Alfred Wallace, Jayapura is today the capital city of Papua and home to more than 100,000 people. The residents of this city come from many parts of Indonesia.
Jayapura, located in East Papua, is the starting point for many travelers wanting to make the adventurous journey into the interior of Papua. Travelers come here for all kinds of adventures. This is where you can begin your trek into the remote Baliem Valley, or conduct sustainable crocodile conservation study for your thesis, or prepare to capture the magic of Lake Sentani and its culture on camera.
As this is a harbor city surrounded by beaches, sea food here is the most popular local delicacy.
Bagus Pandang Restaurant at Jl. Raya Bhayangkara II is Situated on a hill this restaurant offers a beautiful view on the town of Jayapura. It serves local Papua cuisine as well as regional Maluku and Sulawesi dishes. Also serves Chinese and seafood. In the evenings, a band accompanies diners.
Hawai is a restaurant serving nasi bungkus or take-away lunch box with shrimp, chicken dishes, and cool dining room. It is located next to the movie house, off the park down town.
Himalaya is located on Jalan Matahari and Jalan Ahmad Yani. Cuttlefish, pigeon, frog, shrimp, and beef is available here.
Jaya Grill is on the water and toward to main docks. Hamburger, shrimp, seafood cocktail, steaks, crab, squid, chicken, beef, frog, pork, and Chinese food are available.
Matoa Restaurant sits in Matoa Hotel, serving European food and stylish drinks.
Nirwana is a padang style restaurant, located on Jalan Ahmad Yani no. 40. Padang Simpang Tiga is located on Jalan Percetakan no. 92. It is spacious and clean and serves Padang food.
Porasco is located on the bay, near the church. The open-sided restaurant is open only from 6 pm to 11 pm. You can select from a variety of seafood before entering. Make sure you agree on a price with your waiter before you order.
Rasa Sayang is part of the Triton Hotel, on Jalan Ahmad Yani no. 52. It serves many varieties of food, including satay. Yotefa is on Jalan Percetakan no. 64, offering European and Indonesian food. Night markets or pasar malam in front of Pelni Office are available daily, serving bakso (meatball) soup, Soto Madura, bubur (chicken porridge), fried bananas and flavorsome snacks. Inexpensive grilled fish is sold on Jalan Halmahera towards the harbor.
There are a number of air-conditioned hotels available in the heart of Jayapura though you will find the prices here are more expensive than other parts of the country.
Several guesthouses are also available off the Sentani airport road to Jayapura.
For those who want to experience the pristine ocean and diverse marine life of this region, Tanah Merah Bay, located 60 kilometers from Jayapura is ideal for snorkeling. This is also a great location for scuba diving with World War II shipwrecks to explore at reachable depths. You’ll have to bring your own gear with you.
Diving is also possible at Pasir Enam Bay, a few minutes from Jayapura by boat or an hour stroll along walkway from Angkasa II, an expatriate neighborhood.
The Museum Negeri and University of Cendrawasih Museum display a collection of unique Papuan artifacts and cultural items. These museums exhibit artifacts from all over Papua as well as historical items from the Dutch colonial period. Souvenir stands here sell recent carvings and craft items. These museums are open from 8 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday.
Danau Sentani or Lake Sentani is a magnificent lake, covering over 96 square kilometers. This massive lake has 19 islands scattered within it as well as numerous fishing villages built on its edges. The lake is especially beautiful at dawn and dusk so if you do visit here, don’t forget your camera.
Climb to the top of Mount Ifar and experience some breathtaking views of Danau Sentani. Here you can also visit the General Mac Arthur Monument. It is out of Sentani, a nicely paved road twists upward for around 6 kilometers. From this height, Lake Sentani is an astonishing view. Legend has it that this was the spot where General Mac Arthur sat to contemplate his WW2 strategies. This was where the General came up with his island-hopping tactic as he gazed over the 22 islands below.
Take a relaxing paddle and canoe over Lake Sentani. The water here is very calm and dotted by no less than 24 island villages, rich with Sentani style crafts.
Crocodile farming is not an unusual occupation in Jayapura. Between Jayapura and Sentani, crocodile farms are home to crocs of all sizes used for conservation and breeding. If you’re willing to indulge in an exotic taste, you can even try crocodile meat while you’re in Jayapura.
The Lake Sentani Cultural Festival is a major attraction in the region. During the festival, a staged war dance on boats provides a spectacular attraction for visitors. Several lake villages from all over Papua and Indonesia send representatives to participate in the show to display their skills and cultural similarities. Please visit www.sentanilakefestival.com for details. Which is essential if you wish to travel into the interior of Papua. The police station is located next to the Matoa Hotel. Bring your passport, its copies, and four photos.
The town is small in size, so you can visit many places easily on foot. However, if you intend to visit Sentani and the beaches on the outskirts of town, it might be best to try public transport. The public transport terminal is there just across the post office. Angkot (public minibus) is convenient and quite economical. Chartered minibus (the taxi) is another option but requires bargaining skills. Again, be sure that to agree to a price before you depart.
As a capital city of a vast province, Jayapura is well connected to many large cities in Indonesia by air and by sea. If you are flying it is advisable to always double-check your flight details with your airline since there is a distressing tendency to overbook seats. All flights land and take off at Sentani Airport, located around 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Jayapura.
Outside the airport, minibuses wait for passengers going to Jayapura. Prices vary widely so make sure you agree to a price before you get in.
MAF (The Missionary Aviation Fellowship – Protestant) Office is located next to the Sentani air terminal. Its schedule is set based on the church’s requirements. This airline provides services primarily for missionaries whose needs take priority. If you fly MAF, the airline will take into account your body weight, including your luggage. MAF does run chartered flights into the interior of the island. To organize a chartered flight contact MAF two months before your date of departure, and then double check a couple of weeks before your arrival. The office is at harbor road, past the Bank of Indonesia.
AMA (The American Missionary Alliance) is the Roman Catholic version of MAF. The office is located at Jalan Sam Ratulangi no. 3, Jayapura.
Pelni Liners Office is located on Jalan Halmahera no. 1. It has the Umsini, a 2,400-passanger German-built ship going to Jakarta and points between every 15 days. Five different classes are available in the ship. Please check the officer for current price list.
Many visitors come to Jayapura to get their travel permit from the police station, the Surat Jalan, half-hour for the officers to finish the permit, during which time you can wait or go for a short stroll in the area.
Money can be changed in Expor-Impor Bank on Jalan Ahmad Yani. The bank will exchange your U.S. dollars, Australian dollars, Yen, Deutsche Marks, Pound Sterling, and Swiss Francs. TC is also accepted. If you are planning on traveling further inland, remember to stock up on rupiah as the banks in other places of the region may offer expensive exchange rates.
In case of medical emergency, go to Puskesmas (community health clinic) on Jalan Ahmad Yani.
Eat only well-cooked food in the highlands when you are on overnight treks.
Newspapers like Newsweek, Time, and other English language newspapers are only available at Ayumas Irian Jaya Shop, across the street from the movie house on Jalan Irian.