It will be weird to put Maldives or Bora Bora on my bucket list while being born and raised in a beautiful country like Indonesia! If you’re a fan of all kind of summer destinations, I’m proud to say that we have it all; from mountains, lakes, majestic temples, beaches, to the journey down to the sea. And for this end of year trip, I’m blessed with the chance to travel to Ora Beach in the heart of Seram Island in Maluku, Indonesia. An island with crystal blue sea and lime stone cliffs covered with tropical forest as a backdrop. This is the place to be if you want to have the feeling of Bora Bora without digging too deep into your pockets. In this post, I’ll share with you some of the things you have to know before visiting this beautiful hidden paradise.
Ora beach is hidden on Seram Island, the largest island of the Maluku province in Indonesia. As with many hidden gems Ora Beach is not easily reachable. It will take you some effort, but in return you’ll get crystal clear water, coral reefs and mountains covered with tropical jungle. Each day on Ora Beach is a quiet day. You will be only surrounded with the sounds of nature; chirping of the birds, the wind and the sound of the sea. There will be no distraction from modern life. It is a perfect place to unwind and relax, go for a stroll or short hike, snorkel and enjoy the stunning surroundings.
How To Get There
1. First, board a flight from Jakarta to Ambon. Direct flights are available from these airlines: Garuda Indonesia, Batik Air, Air Asia. Approx time: 3 hrs
2. Even though you take the first flight, you’ll most likely arrive at Ambon in the late afternoon (due to 2 hours time differences). So I’ll highly suggest spending the rest of your evening exploring the city: visit Merah Putih bridge and Natsepa beach to try Indonesian fruit salad (rujak)
3. The real trip will begin the next morning! You need to cross from Tulehu Harbour to Amahai Harbour in Masohi via speed boat. The ships are available from Monday – Saturday (9 AM), so make sure you arrive at Tulehu 30 mins before to buy the tickets. It cost around IDR 160.000 – 200.000. Approx time: 2 hrs
4. Upon your arrival at Masohi, it’s still 3 hours away by car to Saleman Village before you hop into another small boat that will get you to Ora Beach in another 20 minutes.
If you want hardly any hassle ask your resort/accommodation if they can arrange transportation to Ora Beach. Notes: car rental to Saleman Village from Amahai Harbour are available through travel agents / local people. A one way trip with a car will cost around IDR 500.000 (you can email me to ask for the local’s number driver as well as boat rental). Boat rental cost around IDR 300.000 – IDR 500.000 per day!
Where to Stay
1. Ora Beach Eco Resort
If you’re looking to spend a couple of days lazing around on the beach overlooking the hills, staying at Ora Beach Eco Resort is the best way to go. They offer 2 room options: Kamar Darat and Kamar Laut. Kamar Laut is situated right above the sea so you can just go into a morning dip right on the backside of your balcony. However, during my trip, I was staying at Kamar Darat with a beach view also works fine for me. Breakfast and dinner are already included but kindly lower your expectations when it comes to the food and services (since they’re a bit slow). They provide you an evening snack every 4 PM which was probably my favorite!
Kamar Darat : IDR 600.000 / room for 2 persons Kamar Laut : IDR 1.090.000 / room for 2 persons extra bed : additional IDR 250.000 charge for meals
Snack at the resort
Phone: (+62911) 361970 & +62 812 4889 6616 WhatsApp: +62 812 4889 6616
I heard of some foreigners asking for a quote via email that they said the price was 300 USD per night, but this is not true.
2. Roneela Resort
Around 30 minutes from Ora Beach Eco Resort, another option of accommodation is Roneela Cottage. It is located right in the water and nearby Sawai Village. Unfortunately, you won’t get the beach view here.
3. Lisar Bahari at Sawai village
If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, you can probably stay at Lisar Bahari homestay in Sawai Village to explore the life of locals deeper. Since the majority of Sawai people work as a fisherman, you can ask to see them fishing with a traditional method called Kalawai using only wooden spear at night.
If you choose to live in Sawai, you need to rent a boat first from Saleman Village.
What to Explore
While staying at Ora Beach with the beautiful turquoise water always looks so inviting, I honestly prefer not to spend way too much time in it. You can definitely rent a boat from Saleman Village to explore Seram Island and go island hopping! Here’s a few worth to visit sights around Ora Beach:
1. Pulau 7
Snorkelling at Pulau
It’s basically a small island with clear water, white sand and stunning corals. The main attraction is its coral reefs that are perfect for snorkeling. A perfect place to get tanned, swim, and snorkel.
2. Get to know the locals and climb the cliff at Saleman Village
View from the cliff in Saleman Village
After snorkeling in Pulau 7, we got a chance to visit Saleman Village and get to know the locals better. Maluku is well known as the island of spices, so you can easily find the locals selling nutmeg for a living. After about an hour exchanging conversation with them, we climb the nearest cliff in the village. It was a bit challenging with all the rocks, but the view from above the hill was breathtaking nonetheless! Plus, they also gave us a fresh coconut afterwards.
Local children of Saleman Village
Nutmeg at Saleman Village
3. Air Mata Belanda
Clear river water that comes from a spring that flows right to the beach is indeed very refreshing. It’s a natural phenomenon which you cannot see everyday. We had such a great time exploring the river surrounded with a lush of greens and sounds of birds from the forest, it almost felt like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
4. Hike Mount Roulessy
Hike up to Mount Roulessy for some exercise and be rewarded with splendid views on Ora Beach, and its surroundings.
If you want to see more than only white sand and crystal clear seas, explore Seram Island, one of the last truly rugged, remote islands. Seram Island is the largest island in Maluku Province and still quite untouched by modern life. The island is covered with mountains and thick jungle with glimpses of misty peaks.Sawai Village
You can for example bring a visit to Manusela National Park is wonderful. It boasts spectacular scenery and an incredible array of flora and fauna. The park has six mountains of which the highest one is Gunung Binaiya at 3,027 meters. It has a popular trek that leads right across the island through Manusela National Park. Starting point is Hatumeti on the south coast, and either Sawai or (more commonly) Wahai on the north. The trek will take around a week. For some experiences you can have a look at the Ascent Of Mount Binaya.
We spent our New Year’s Eve with the guests as well as the resort employees and danced our night away to traditional song such as Poco Poco. We came back from the trip to Jakarta to be greeted with a headline on a local newspaper that said “Ora Beach that feels like Maldives” to realized that indeed it was a magical retreat for both the body and soul.
The best time to visit Ora Beach is between April and August as the water is then the clearest with great visibility for snorkeling.
Ikan Kuah Kuning
When returning to Ambon again try to dine at Sari Gurih restaurant and have the best time eating the most amazing seafood! Make sure to order their signature dish ‘Ikan Kuah Kuning’ along with Indonesian traditional sago congee ‘Papeda’. Two other great places are The Patita Resto for fresh tuna steaks and Sibu Sibu where they serve delicious avocado smoothies!
One thing that I treasure the most from this trip is the warm welcome from the so-called long forgotten spices island. Till next time Maluku!
If you are thinking where to go next after Ora Beach then I can definitely recommend the Banda Islands. From Ambon you can take the fast ferry from Ambon’s Tulehu port to Bandaneira.
Do You Have Some Great recommendations of Hidden Islands in Indonesia? Please I would love to hear!
This blog post has been written by Fransisca Angela a photographer and travel blogger who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia.