As I posted in my “Preparing to visit West Papua” blog, there are several gateways to enter West Papua. I did spend some time doing research to find one of the easier places as an introduction to West Papua, knowing that many of the destinations would be extremely challenging later on. I settled on Biak since it was easily reached from Bali via Garuda with a change in Makassar, and I could book the tickets and hotel online.
Biak (BIK) is served by Garuda Airlines (Jakarta, Makassar, Jayapura); Sriwijaya (Jakarta, Makassar); Merpati (Jakarta, Makassar, Jayapura, Nabire); and Susi Air (Nabire, Manokwari, Serui). Of these airlines, Garuda is the only one you are likely to be able to book online with a non-Indonesian credit card and the only one you can reach with frequent flyer miles once they join SkyTeam. Also see my post on Sriwijaya Airlines to learn how to book with a local Indonesian travel agency. I found that by booking Garuda more than 6 months in advance I saved a substantial amount over the basic fares which can be pretty expensive.
WHERE TO STAY
If birding is your goal, the island is small enough that you can basically stay anywhere you want and have your guide pick you up early to drive to the birding spots. I chose the Aerotel Irian for convenience – it’s 5 minutes walk from the airport which is great for an early morning departure and it has a swimming pool which was great to cool off in after birding.
The food was pretty good and has a selection of Western and Indonesian dishes at reasonable prices. A breakfast buffet is usually included in the price but our flight was so early in the morning we missed it. We only stayed one night as I was hoping to see my target birds in the full day of birding (which I did) but some people stay a couple days.
Just before lunch which was provided by our tour operator Benny from Discover Papua. I will do a separate blog about the birding so this post will just be basic tourist information. People also come to Biak for scuba diving and to see the culture of Biak. We were there on a Saturday and got to see the market which was very interesting and had a small handicraft section.
On the way to the lunch stop we passed by the local laundry.