A visit to Baliem Valley is a trip to another world and an unforgettable experience. However, the section about Baliem Valley in Lonely Planet is rather anemic, lacks vital information and has no photos. This article will provide you with all the information you need before starting your hike. But most importantly how to find a guide and what to bring if you are on a budget for an authentic Papua experience.
Biak a Forgotten Paradise in Papua, Indonesia
Once, a long time ago, there was a direct flight from Los Angeles to Biak and lots of tourist came to visit the beautiful coral atoll of the Padaido Islands. After the Indonesian government made the decision to steer tourism to Bali, Biak became completely forgotten. Now it is very hard to get to this remote place of Papua and there are very limited information online. Only a few foreign tourists make it to Biak, which makes it the perfect location for superb diving and enjoying wonderful, authentic Papua.
How to Get to Biak?
There are no international flights to Biak anymore, but you can get there daily from Makassar, Nabire and Jayapura. If you make your way to Papua then plan some time for watching the whale sharks in Nabire and hike Baliem Valley to make your trip an unforgettable adventure.
Where to Stay in Biak?
It is long ago that Biak had a 5 star hotel, now there are only hotels for local tourists with moldy rooms. I am not kidding I had a look at all hotels in Biak, because I was determined to find one without mold. There is one hotel called Agung Hotel which has decent rooms on the right site of the hotel. Rooms on the left site are also moldy. The room price includes breakfast and dinner. We told them that we are vegan so they prepared delicious tofu dishes for us. We paid around EUR 35 per day. This is quite expensive for Indonesian standards, but everything in Papua is more expensive. There is another decent hotel with a nice infinity pool close to the airport called Asana. The rooms are average so we thought the place was totally overpriced for about EUR 70 per night. All hotels in Biak are not available on any international booking platform. If you want to book in advance you need to book via the Indonesian booking platform Traveloka.
If you want to go around in Biak you can rent a car in Agung hotel and it is very cheap. According to our information there are no scooters available.
When is the Best Time to Visit Biak?
You can visit Biak all year around, but the best time for diving and least rain is from June to August. We visited in July and still had occasional heavy rain for about 30 minutes and then the sun came out again.
What to Do in Biak?
Biak has a lot to offer but diving in the Padaido Atoll as well as finding the bluest lake we have ever seen were our highlights.
Explore the Padaido Atoll
The Padaido Atoll is an untouched group of islands as beautiful as you can imagine. There are no resorts or hotels just little local villages. If you want to experience real island life in Papua as well as superb diving this is your place to go.
Divemaster Erik Fares is living with his family on Pulau Wundi and has a little dive centre on the island. You can live in his house and totally unwind. The Padaido Islands offer many outstanding dive sites. Erik has 30 years of experience of diving in the area and will bring you to the most beautiful dive sites and islands. It was also the first time for us we diving a cave. Wundi cave looks so magical under water it will blow your mind. We also encountered a huge school of barracudas at barracuda point as well as huge dog tooth tuna which was following us during the whole dive. We saw reef sharks on every dive and in one dive, we saw four manta rays swimming away from the atoll. Erik is a very kind person and has always a smile on his face. We loved to stay and dive with him.
If you want to dive and stay with Erik you need to give him a call and he will pick you up in Biak and take care of everything during your stay. Also vegan food is no problem you just need to let him know. His phone number is +62 813 44 366 385 and he is also listed in Lonely Planet Indonesia. Watch our video to see what you can expect.
Take a Bath in Azure-Blue Lake Telaga Biru
We saw pictures of this amazing like somewhere in the jungle on Instagram and really wanted to find it. Lonely Planet is not a big help and is not even mentioning it. Locals told us that the last time journalists from Lonely Planet visited Biak was 10 years ago. If you search on Google you can find the lake, but the location is totally wrong. We were driving through the jungle for hours to find the lake. People don’t speak English at all in the villages so asking didn’t really help. After a crazy drive on bad roads we finally made it and were totally stunned by the blue of this lake. On the way back to Biak town, we found the normal way to got to the lake. You can find the route on the map below. This road is somehow not on Google Maps.
Enjoy the Beach in Bosnik and Visit the Sunday Market
On Sundays the little town Bosnik turns into a market and people from all villages around come to sell their fruit, vegetables, fish and hand-made jewellery. After exploring the market relax on the beach with locals and enjoy the fresh food from the market.
Swim with Whale Sharks on a Budget in Cenderawasih Bay, Nabire, Indonesia
Encountering a whale shark under water is the dream of every diver. We were hoping to see one for a long time but have never been lucky enough. There are only a few places in the world where you can swim with these amazing creatures. One of them is in isolated Indonesian Papua close to the township of Nabire where fisherman have developed a close relationship with whale sharks. Read everything about the unique experience of swimming with these gentle giants and how to arrange your trip on a budget.
Exploring the Exotic Banda Islands, Indonesia
The Banda Islands, a little archipelago in the middle of the Deep Banda Sea in East Indonesia spoiled us with its breathtaking beauty, tragic history and pristine underwater world. Even though the islands are often omitted from maps, Banda was a secret place which Europeans desperately tried to reach during the 15th century. Find out when is the best time to visit the almost forgotten paradise, where t0 stay and the best dive and snorkel spots.
2 Days of Hiking in Wanaka, New Zealand
After escaping the rain at Milford Sound we stocked up on food at Pak’n Save in Queenstown and continued the scenic road to Wanaka. We spent 2 days in beautiful Wanaka and did some serious hiking. But the refreshing little town also invites for relaxing strolls along the beach with breathtaking views of the Southern Alps. Where to stay and what to do in Wanaka?
2 Days Milford Sound Hiking & Cruise Itinerary, New Zealand
Milford Sound is with no doubt one of the highlights of every New Zealand itinerary. The Fiordland National Park offers so many unique hikes where you can see how the natural power of water created the rugged landscape by carving out fiords and valleys. At the end of the scenic drive through the national park, a spectacular boat cruise through Milford sound is waiting. How to make the most out of 2 days at Milford Sound and how to avoid the big crowds?