The town of Sorong, located on the “beak” 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”. The town is
surrounded by mountains, hills, lowlands and protected forests. As a
port, its inhabitants come from multi-ethnic descent.
has long been one of the busiest harbours of West Papua because of the
oil found in this region since 1932. However, today oil finds have
declined significantly. The oil fields off Sorong were one of the
reasons why the Dutch government hung on to Irian after having yielded
to the independence of the rest of the Indonesian archipelago.
oil is still the dominant industry here, but timber export is a close
second, with logs usually directly shipped overseas. Nowadays,
government regulations require that milling and processing take place
locally, and so plywood factories are being built in Sorong. The seas
around Sorong are rich in tuna and shrimp which are also major export
items. On Kabra island there is a Japanese farm for cultured pearls,
while shark fins and trepang are shipped to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
Although most of inter-island passenger and cargo traffic is by boat, there are a number of flights to Sorong. Batavia
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 SilkAir, Garuda Indonesia, Pelita Air and Merpati,
then take a connection flight to Sorong.
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 (Cendrawasih), take a trip to Waigeo Island, some five to six
hours by motorboat. In Sawinggrai Village, for instance, you can
observe four species of Cendrawasih. To stay overnight on Waigeo or
Sawinggrai, you need to take your own tent or sleep in local huts. To Stay
Sorong has a number of starred hotels including the Marriot, the JE Meredien, and the Grand Pacific.