The town of Sorong, located on the “peak” of the Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua is the departure point for your visit to the fabulous Raja Ampat marine park. The word “Sorong” is said to originate from the local Soreri language meaning “deep and turbulent seas”. Mountains, hills, lowlands, and protected forests securely surround the town. As a port, its inhabitants come from multi-ethnic descent.
Sorong has long been one of the busiest harbors of West Papua, owing to the oil supplies found in this region since 1932. However, oil projects have declined significantly today. The productive oil fields off Sorong were one of the reasons why the former Dutch colonialists hung on to Irian (former name of Papua) even after the independence of the Indonesian archipelago. It is not surprising that the town is multi-cultural.
Today, oil is actually still the dominant industry here, although timber export comes second, with logs usually directly shipped overseas. Nowadays, government regulations require that milling and processing take place locally. Therefore, plywood factories and such are being built in Sorong. The seas around Sorong are rich in tuna and shrimp, which are also major export commodities. On Kabra island, there is a Japanese farm for cultured pearls, while shark fins and trepang are shipped to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
Since the town is a multi-ethnic region in West Papua, food has become very diverse and quite similar to what other regions in the western part of Indonesia offer. Restaurants and cafes are available, especially food stalls and kiosks are everywhere in Sorong to Teminabuan.
Bakso and Pangsit Solo offers noodle soup and meatballs in various sizes, plus icy, sweet milky syrup with mixed fruit called Es Teler. Most hotels, which are located in downtown Sorong and its outskirts, have in-house restaurants and you are most welcome to visit any time. Large hotels are very much accustomed to welcoming international visitors, and hence, have a wide array of menus written in English.
Sorong has a number of starred hotels including the Sahid Mariat, the JE Meridien, and the Grand Pacific.
Hotel JE Meridien Sorong, Jalan Basuki Rahmat KM. 7.5 (Across DEO Airport) Sorong.
The hotel is exclusively designed, and well equipped with JE Meridien’s Restaurant, EL Coffee Shop and Karaoke. The Hotel is located at the shopping center and market. It takes 5 minutes from and to the airport and 30 minutes to Sorong harbor. It has 55 rooms, divided into 5 types of rooms; Standard, Superior, Deluxe, Executive Suite and JE Meridien Suite.
In Sorong, on a hill overlooking the town, is a war memorial to the Japanese dead, known as the Tugu Arfak. The complex includes an obelisk, a bronze Shinto deity and long, thin memorial plaques. During World War II, American aircrafts bombed the airfield on Jefman Island, originally built by the Japanese. The airport has now been moved from Jefman Island to Sorong, and is called the Domine Eduard Osok, or better known as DEO airport.
To watch the birds of paradise and other endemic birds of Papua take a motorboat to Batanta Island, some three to four hours motoring. For a better view of the fabulous bird of paradise (Cenderawasih), take a trip to Waigeo Island, some five to six hours by motorboat. In Sawinggrai Village, for instance, you can observe four species of Cenderawasih. To stay overnight on Waigeo or Sawinggrai, you need to take your own tent or sleep in local huts.
For a unique tour, one of the tour companies is Papua Expeditions that has personal guides who speak English, French, and Dutch. The company has an exceptional mission among other eco-tourism related missions, which is to strive to make each of their guests into life-long ambassadors for Papua.
Compared to other cities in Indonesian Papua, Sorong is the fastest growing town. It is dynamic and tolerably safe. Getting around in Sorong is possible by taxi, chartered van, and also becak for shorter distances.
Angkot is also available and you are recommended to always make sure you know where you are going. Best ask the friendly staff at the hotel you are staying before traveling around town. If you cannot remember the number of the Angkot you are taking, take a note and ask around when possible.
Although most of inter-island passenger and cargo traffic is by boat, there are a number of flights to Sorong. Lion Air now operates B737-200 aircrafts between Jakarta – Makassar – Domine Eduard Osok (DEO) Airport at Sorong. Another longer route will be via Manado, served by Silk Air from Singapore, Garuda Indonesia, Pelita Air and Citilink, then take a connection flight to Sorong. In Sorong, there is another airport called Sorong Airport (SOQ), which is also called Jefman Airport, in addition to Domine Eduard Osok (DEO) Airport. The following is the flight alternatives that may suit your agenda:
Denpasar – Makassar – Sorong
1. Garuda flies several times daily from Denpasar to Makassar.
2. Express Air (Flight XN 800) daily from Makassar to Sorong.
3. Lion Air daily from Makassar to Sorong.
Sorong –Makassar / Ambon – Denpasar
1. Express Air flies daily from Sorong to Makassar.
2. Citilink flies daily from Sorong to Makassar.
3. Garuda flies daily from Makassar to Denpasar.
4. Lion Air operates Sorong to Ambon, and from Ambon to Makassar, then from Makassar to Denpasar.
Manado – Sorong
1. Lion Air flies from Manado to Sorong.
2. Express Air flies from Mando to Sorong. Sorong – Manado is available from similar airlines.
Jakarta – Sorong
1. Express Air flies daily from Jakarta to Sorong via Makassar.
2. Lion Air Airlines flies daily from Jakarta to Sorong via Makassar.
3. Citilink flies from Jakarta to Sorong via Makassar.
When overnight transit in Makassar, it is recommended to stay at Hotel Imperial Aryaduta as it is close to the airport and easier to catch the next flight.
Schedules are subject to change and you are highly recommended to always double check available flights. However, do not worry about the trip to Sorong. There are plenty of air connections available:
• There are 12 flights per week using small aircrafts from Sorong.
• The smallest commercial aircraft flying out of Sorong is an ATR with 46 seats.
• There are over 40 domestic flights per week from Sorong.
• Sorong has 16 medium sized aircraft departing each week.
• There are 8 nonstop flights per week departing from Sorong.
• The shortest flight out of Sorong is 159 miles.
• There are over 3 long haul flights per week from Sorong.
• There are 4 airlines operating out of Sorong.