Spice Traders, Island Tramps and Sea Gypsies: A Voyage from Ternate to Kendari with ‘SeaTrek Sailing Adventures’

30 Jan – 10 Feb 2018

  • Region:
    • Asia
    • Indonesia
    • Spice Islands
  • Status: limited
  • Code: 21848
Your leaders

“Clothed in mystery and lost in uncharted seas, the Spice Islands of the early sixteenth century tantalized European imagination to the point of obsession. As the only place on Earth where grew the “holy trinity” of spices – cloves, nutmeg, and mace – these minuscule islands quickly became a wellspring of international intrigue and personal fortune, occasioning the rise and fall of nations across the globe.”

Charles Corn, The Scents of Eden: A History of the Spice Trade.

Tour Highlights

  • Seafarer, maritime historian-ethnographer and Indonesian speaker, Jeffrey Mellefont, shares a lifetime’s knowledge of this beautiful archipelago, its peoples and seas.
  • Sail on spacious Ombak Putih (‘White Wave’), a magnificent Bugis sail-trader outfitted in air-conditioned luxury, with water-sports craft and all modern safety & navigation gear.
  • Witness the spectacular seascape where four perfect volcanic-cone islands emerge in line from the sea, brilliant green and clad in clove plantations, right next to the Equator.
  • Well-restored forts on Ternate and Tidore recall battles of the Spaniards, Portuguese and Dutch to control the world trade in priceless cloves and nutmeg.
  • See the colonial house where Alfred Russel Wallace penned his famous ‘Letter from Ternate’ to Charles Darwin, with his own theory of evolution by natural selection.
  • At our remotest landfall, Mantarara in the Sula islands, villagers welcome us with dance and betel nut – they had never seen a tourist until our last visit.
  • Snorkel from ship’s tenders or off deserted white tropical beaches over the abundant reefs of the Coral Triangle, which holds the world’s greatest diversity of marine life.
  • Trek through lowland jungle in Eastern Sulawesi to encounter Indonesia’s last animist shifting agriculturalists, the Wana.
  • Meet the sea gypsies, Sama-Bajo people recently settled on remote coral cays or stilt-hamlets over underwater reefs in the Padea Islands of S.E. Sulawesi.


A gorgeous schooner from a bygone era, beautifully refitted, cruising tranquil waters!  Our visits to isolated islands with fascinating histories provided an insight into Australia’s closest neighbour, whilst at the same time we shared beautiful Indonesian meals, snorkelling and the companionship of other ASA travellers in the expert hands of experienced and friendly guides and crew.  An optimum blend of intellectual stimulation and total relaxation.  Peter, VIC.

12-day Cruise from Ternate to Kendari

Overnight: 11 nights cruising aboard the Ombak Putih

General Description

This 12-day voyage on a traditional Indonesian sail-trader follows ancient monsoon sailing routes over the sheltered seas of Indonesia’s eastern archipelagos – and visits some of its remotest and loveliest islands and reefs. You board in Ternate, a spectacular island-volcano and seat of an historic spice sultanate. We visit Moluccan islands that were once the only place on earth where cloves grew. Surviving forts and palaces tell of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English interlopers fighting to locate and then monopolise a commodity once worth its weight in gold. Crossing the wakes of explorers such as Magellan, Drake and Alfred Russel Wallace, we traverse the truly remote Sula and Banggai Archipelagos. Far beyond the tourist trail, we land daily to meet diverse, welcoming maritime communities accessible only by sea and our ship’s small tenders. Isolation makes them just as curious to meet us. We reach the fabled Celebes – Sulawesi – to encounter forests, wildlife and Indonesia’s last animists, ending our cruise in the Joseph Conrad-esque island port Kendari. All within the renowned Coral Triangle, pausing often to snorkel amid the world’s greatest diversity of tropical marine life. Our voyage reveals the true nature of this island nation, an oceanic crossroads of sea-borne trade, migration and cultures. The luxuriously outfitted, air-conditioned Ombak Putih (‘White Wave’) is herself a part of this heritage. This story of rare spices, traders and explorers, adventurers and naturalists, slavers and pirates, ship builders and sea-gypsies is unfolded day by day by ASA’s guest lecturer, Jeffrey Mellefont. He works with cruise director Narto, selected for his local knowledge of communities and natural history, dive-master and guide Eva, and an attentive Indonesian ship’s crew to look after all your needs.

About the Islands

The Moluccas form a chain of largely volcanic islands on the Halmahera Plate within a geological ‘collision zone’, which accounts for current tectonic activity. They lie to the east of the ‘Wallace Line’ that separates two very different ecosystems. There are over 1,000 islands spread over an area of 80,000 square kilometres, with a current population of around 2.5 million.

History of the ‘Spice Islands’ (Moluccas)

There can be no more exotic, isolated, yet historically significant groups of islands than the ‘Spice Islands’ (Moluccas) in the eastern Indonesian archipelago. Today they remain as remote and mysterious as they were to Europeans in the 16th century. They are situated off major transport routes, and little has changed in the lives of their peoples who harvest nutmeg and cloves in essentially the same way as they did 2,000 years ago. It was the same nutmeg and cloves, indigenous only to this island group and valued throughout the world like gold, that underpinned the Arab-controlled maritime ‘spice routes’. These trade routes distributed the spices to Europe and acted as the stimulus to Western Europe to develop the navigation systems and ships that undertook incredible voyages, to establish a continuous sea route in order to access eastern spice markets.

This trade played a key role in the emergence of the first truly global economy, in which, for example, spices in the Moluccas could be paid for by silver mined in Mexico and carried east to the Philippines by the Spanish ‘Manila Galleons’. Over 400 years this trade raised the wealth of the world, was the focus of global conflicts, saw the transition from a stable trade based on the entrepôts of Malacca and Makassar, controlled by local sultanates, to an era of colonial conflict. The earlier phase saw a hectic mix of eastern traders using Malay as their ‘trading’ language whilst spreading Islam to the coastal East Indies. Western traders from the Iberian Peninsula destroyed this stable system when they conquered Malacca, took control of sea routes and established their own bases in the east.

Far more successful were the Dutch, whose exploratory expedition in 1599, using Portuguese charts stolen by Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, determined that the Portuguese had only an unstable, tenuous control over the area and its trade. The Dutch formed the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie – VOC) whose strategy was to displace the Spanish and Portuguese, to establish a major base at Batavia on the north coast of Java, to exert influence over the traditional entrepôts of Malacca and Makassar and, most importantly, to control completely the island sources of nutmeg and cloves. They formed alliances with the local sultanates and brutally replaced indigenous plantation workers with an imported workforce under Dutch masters; the VOC was responsible for the migration of some 1 million Europeans to the area. The commercial success of this strategy can best be understood in terms of an average annual dividend paid by the VOC to its shareholders of 18% for 200 years.

Trade was broadened to include luxury goods that had sustained the ‘Silk Road’ from Xi’an to the Venetian and Genoese ports on the Black Sea. This was achieved from Batavia by following Portuguese patterns of trade with China at Macao and with Japan at Nagasaki. European imperial power struggles crystallised in the Seven Years War of the 1750s and the Napoleonic Wars. These led to a new order of international commerce and with a focus on colonisation and greater influence in the ‘Far East’ by England, which now dominated the world’s oceans. The English East India Company had, in fact, established a presence on the islands of Run and Ai, part of the ‘nutmeg island group’ in 1603. The Dutch overwhelmed these islands in 1620. Such was the value of the Banda Islands that following the Second Anglo – Dutch War, at the Treaty of Breda, the island of Run, first British colony in the region, was exchanged for the island of Manhattan.

After the British defeated Napoleon they occupied the Moluccas, leading to the migration of nutmeg production to British colonies such as Ceylon and Grenada. The Moluccas were returned to the Dutch as the colony of the ‘Dutch East Indies’ that remained until Indonesian independence in 1945. Mohammad Hatta, intellectual catalyst for independence, was imprisoned by the Dutch on Banda in the 1930s and it was here that he developed many of his ideas that were then disseminated from the island. Thus the Moluccas retained their pivotal role in world history right to the 20th century. Of equal importance was the residence of Alfred Wallace within the Indonesian – Malay Archipelago between 1854 and 1862 that led to two incredibly important ideas – evolution and continental drift; the latter formed the basis of our understanding of ‘plate tectonics’. His famous ‘Ternate Essay’, which he sent to Charles Darwin in 1858, outlined his independent conclusions regarding evolution by natural selection was based largely on his observations in the Moluccas and written on Ternate (‘On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type’). Wallace contributed to later notions of continental drift and plate tectonics through his observations of zoological ‘clustering’ either side of a line as narrow as 35 km, passing through the Indonesian archipelago (the ‘Wallace Line’), leading to the idea that ‘earth and life evolve together’.


Itinerary Alterations and Alternatives
Our written itineraries must be approached with reasonable flexibility. When touring at sea, weather, currents, and even harbour masters don’t always co-operate with our planned itinerary, which sometimes make our planned schedules challenging or even impossible to carry out. Your tour leader and ship’s captain are always working hard to create an itinerary that best suits each situation and the needs of each guest onboard. Sometimes this means suggesting additional or alternative activities and destinations that they believe would be an improvement to your original itinerary. The flexibility to make these kinds of alterations (in addition to those due to circumstances beyond our control) in the best interests of all are part of the adventure.

The tour price includes breakfast daily, lunches/picnics and evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch/packed picnic and D=evening meal.

Trip Schedules
Indonesia is known for its “jam karet” or rubber time, meaning that time and schedules are considered flexible. However, your Captain and Tour Leader will do their best to provide an accurate time schedule for land activities. Your Tour Leader will keep you updated on departure times and procedures.

Motoring and Sailing
The Ombak Putih is a motor Bugis gaff ketch. In order to adhere to our planned itinerary, the ship depends on motor cruising. The itinerary is scheduled so that the boat usually begins its longer journeys in the afternoon or during the night, so that you can fully enjoy land activities during the day. The seven beautiful sails are raised when it is beneficial, and the wind and weather are in our favour.

Lecture Program

Each night during your cruise Jeffrey Mellefont will give a richly illustrated lecture delving into the following topics:

  • Silk, Spice and Gunpowder – the world’s most ancient and valuable trade: how nutmeg and clove from Maluku drew traders from all over the world to explore and conquer, leading to the beginnings of globalisation and the first multi-national companies.
  • Tanah Air Kita – Indonesia, this ‘land of water’, and the early mariners who burst out of mainland Asia to settle this huge, wide archipelago before conquering all the other adjacent oceans – and the brilliant sailing technologies they pioneered.
  • Mighty Maritime Empires – how great Indonesian mercantile states arose through control of the Indonesian archipelago’s sea lanes, and fell in turn; how maritime trade brought currents of world history swirling through the islands introducing Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity and the cultures of China, India, the Middle East and Europe.
  • A Tapestry of Seafarers – Indonesia’s many different sailing cultures and their brilliant innovations – the Sea Gypsies (Sama-Bajo); the Madurese, the Mandar, the Butonese, the Bugis and Makassans – and Bali’s secret, hidden fleet!
  • Celebes Ships – the story of our own ship Ombak Putih and her lineage, developing from the unique maritime traditions of the famous Bugis and Makassans of South Sulawesi, down the turbulent centuries as their sultans fought colonisers and their sailing fleets dispersed them throughout these islands.
  • Great Guest Voyages – many Europeans have been inspired by Indonesian sailing traditions. Sail the Moluccas with Captain Thomas Forest on a native kora-kora in 1775; Alfred Russel Wallace searching for the bird of paradise on a Bugis prahu in 1856; colonial administrator G E P Collins ordering his own Celebes palari cruiser in the 1930s.
  • The Best Language – Bahasa Indonesia: this fascinating, user-friendly language unites an incredibly diverse maritime world. The history of the language is a maritime history of this archipelagic nation. After this simple introduction you’ll be trying it out yourself ashore, with guidance, help and cheat-sheets at hand.

Ternate, North Maluku

Day 1: Tuesday 30 January, Arrive Ternate
  • Arrival Airport Transfer
  • Board Ombak Putih: Welcome & Briefing
  • Orientation tour of Ternate incl. Royal Mosque, Grand Palace, House of English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace & Fort Tolukko

You’ll be escorted from Ternate airport to board our ship Ombak Putih in her spectacular anchorage beneath towering Mount Gamalama. Your tour leader will brief you on all the activities and safety aspects of the cruise and introduce your friendly and helpful crew, recruited from all round Indonesia. Meals are usually enjoyed in fresh air beneath the awning on the main deck of this traditional timber pinisi.

One of the four, historically powerful Moluccan spice sultanates, Ternate is still a vital trading outlet for fragrant cloves, nutmeg and mace. From here the great 19th-century English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace sent Charles Darwin his crucial ‘Letter From Ternate’ offering his own theory of evolution. We visit the 17th-century, pagoda-style royal mosque and the grand keraton (palace) of Ternate’s surviving sultan. Attractively restored Fort Tolukko introduces the turbulent centuries of spice wars fought by Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English rivals. Near old lava flows, a spectacular volcanic crater lake is a source of local legends and home to an elusive white crocodile!

Each day you enjoy sunset cocktails and dinner on board, as we continue our journey southwards and westwards towards the island of Sulawesi. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) LD

Tidore, North Maluku

Day 2: Wednesday 31 January, Tidore
  • Tidore: Local Blacksmith, handicrafts market, Palace of the Sultan & Seashore monument

Tidore, a major producer of cloves, has a highly significant and complex history of interactions between the Sultans of Tidore and Ternate and the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch. The powerful Sultanate of Tidore aligned itself with the Spanish, who aided it against its rival, the Sultanate of Ternate. The Spanish, for their part, wanted access to Tidore’s clove exports, which constituted 25% of the world market. Portugal, on the other hand, allied itself with the Sultanate of Ternate against Tidore and the Spaniards. However, Ternate, expelled the Portuguese, who ultimately returned to Ambon. When Portugal came under the control of the Spanish king Philip II in the 1560s, the Spaniards and Portuguese joined with Tidore to defeat Ternate; this gave the Iberians control of the Northern Moluccas. The Dutch, who were well aware of the value of the clove market, began their conquest of the area between 1606 and 1663. They allied themselves with Ternate against Spain and the Sultanate of Tidore, which ultimately resulted in the Spanish withdrawing to Manila. The Spanish, Portuguese and later the Dutch built a number of fortresses on Tidore, whose ruins survive.

The neighbouring island of Tidore is another perfect volcanic cone rising from tropical seas, with graceful clove plantations adorning its slopes. Originating only in these few islands, cloves were so rare and precious that local sultans and European powers fought for centuries to monopolise them. Today it’s a picturesque island of gaily painted village houses. We visit a blacksmith working ancient piston-bellows, a vibrant market for local handicrafts, and the rebuilt palace of the Sultan of Tidore with stunning views across the strait to mountainous Halmahera Island. Nearby are two more restored colonial strongholds: Portuguese Fort Torre and Spanish Fort Tahula. A seashore monument marks the 1521 visit of Magellan’s battered fleet on the first-ever circumnavigation of the world. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Bacan Island, North Maluku

Day 3: Thursday 1 February, Bacan Island
  • Goro-goro village & trek to view waterfall, black macaque monkeys and hornbills
  • Snorkelling at Kusu Islet

We sail by night across the equator and you awaken in the southern hemisphere at Bacan Island, another seat of the historic spice Sultanates where outsiders like us rarely if ever venture. On every island people speak a different mother-tongue, but our guides communicate easily in Bahasa Indonesia, the old seafarers’ and traders’ language that’s become the national language. Going ashore at Goro-goro village, we’re led up a riverbed winding through steep, jungle-clad limestone karst formations to a spectacular waterfall, looking out for black macaque monkeys and hornbill birds. After lunch we motor around the coast to uninhabited Kusu Islet, snorkelling from our ship’s tenders. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Obi Islands, North Maluku

Day 4: Friday 2 February, Obi Islands
  • Snorkelling at Belang Belang Island
  • Obi Latu Island: Manatahan Village

We anchor off deserted, white-sand Belang Belang Island to spend the morning swimming, snorkelling crystal waters or playing on the ship’s paddle boards and kayaks. Over lunch we sail to nearby Obi Latu Island, going ashore at the isolated village of Manatahan. Settled just a few generations ago by roaming Butonese mariners from their islands to the south-east of Sulawesi, its steep hills are covered with attractive groves of clove trees. We’re sure to see cloves, nutmeg and mace drying on mats laid on village pathways. The surrounding seas, once dotted with the sails of spice trading galleys, Portuguese caravels, Spanish galleons, Dutch jachts and English pinnaces, are now plied by locally built outrigger dugouts, sampans, island ferries and a few old trading sloops still working under sail. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Taliabu Island, Sula Archipelago, North Maluku

Day 5: Saturday 3 February, Taliabu Island, Sula Archipelago
  • Taliabu Island: Waikoka village

Today we reach the remote Sula Archipelago, where you are least likely to encounter a single foreign visitor! These islands were once plagued by formidable, swift raiding galleys called kora-kora, favoured by pirates and slavers. Today the name kora-kora is given to large ceremonial canoes propelled by banks of paddlers. We sail along the southern shore of Mangoli Island to Taliabu Island, going ashore at the small Muslim village Waikoka. Generally the entire village takes an interest and hordes of children will likely accompany us. This village was hit by a tsunami a 15 years ago, and many relocated inland. We reach the new settlement by a picturesque path winding through extensive coconut groves. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Day 6: Sunday 4 February, Taliabu Island, Sula Archipelago
  • Taliabu Island: Mantarara Hamlet

Local boats can find quiet seas on either side of the Sula Archipelago, depending on the season… some still carry spices and valuable forest or sea products such as damar resin, rattan, beche-de-mer and pearl shell on their way to larger trading centres. We can expect a warm welcome at the Christian hamlet of Mantarara on the southern shore of Taliabu, as they’re unlikely to have had foreign visitors since our ship’s last visit – when they told us we were the first foreigners ever to visit! The whole village turns out to present dances with origins in their pre-Christian past, including the dramatic mock-battle of the cakalele war dance. With the right tides we can visit a hot spring or explore a forest river that flows over sand bars into the sea. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Banggai Archipelago, Central Sulawesi

Day 7: Monday 5 February, Banggai Archipelago
  • Banggai Port: Tour by rickshaws incl. local market & Sultan’s Timber Palace
  • Snorkelling, Banggai Islands

Approaching the big island of Sulawesi, the scenic Banggai group of islands small and large are still remote and very little-known. Banggai’s main port is a lively hub for colourful interisland ferries. Here we enjoy a tour in chartered bentor – raffish two-passenger motorcycle rickshaws that will turn heads as our flotilla of foreigners motors through town. Visits include a bustling market and the modest timber palace of the local sultan. There’s an unusual, sacred community gathering-house whose revered elders guard its pre-Islamic rituals and cult objects – happily co-existing with the mainstream mosques of this Muslim port town. Nearby is an island that’s something of a beachcomber’s retreat, where we enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking or snorkelling from its beaches. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Baturube, Central Sulawesi

Day 8: Tuesday 6 February, Central Sulawesi
  • Bay of Tolo
  • Ranger-led tour of the Peo River: In search of the maleo, (megapode scrub fowl)
  • Baturube

The Bay of Tolo is our first stop on the forest-clad east coast of mainland Sulawesi. The fancifully shaped island, that some liken to a spider or a human figure, drifted together a mere 3 million years ago, during the great Pliocene collision of the South-East Asian and Australasian tectonic plates. Ranger-guides of the Morowali National Park accompany us to the Peo river to look for maleo, the megapode scrub fowl, in their casuarina forest habitat. They dig deep burrows in the hot beach sand to incubate a large, single egg. Up-river, the banks are lined with luxuriant mangroves on a scale you’ve probably never seen. Nearby Baturube is a neat coastal town with a mixture of churches and mosques, proud winner of a regional ‘tidy town’ contest. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Day 9: Wednesday 7 February, Central Sulawesi
  •  Morowali National Park & the Indigenous Wana Tribe

We leave early with the ship’s tenders to visit the Morowali National Park, hoping to meet the last indigenous tribe of Sulawesi. The semi-nomadic Wana people have a shamanistic, animist culture that’s unique in Indonesia. It’s based on shifting agriculture, hunting with blowpipes and snares, fishing and harvesting forest products such as rattan and damar. Morowali comprises lowland alluvial forest, mountain forest, swamp forest, mangrove forest and moss forest. Our Wana guides lead us up-river and through dense forest – thankfully flat going, and with crew members carrying our pre-packed lunches! Note: we always advise of likely walking conditions, leaving guests the option of choosing a quiet day at anchor. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Padea Islands, South East Sulawesi

Day 10: Thursday 8 February, Padea Islands
  • Sama-Bajo Village, Saaringa Coral Cay
  • Snorkelling at Labengke Island

Down the mountainous eastern shore of Sulawesi we reach the isolated, offshore Padea Islands to visit the Sama-Bajo village on the coral cay Samaringa. Our cheerful hosts are the famed sea-gypsies, who in the past spent their entire lives on their small sailing boats, from conception and birth to death. Landless, they belonged to no nation and lived exclusively from the sea. Now they’ve settled on uninhabited scraps of islands or built their stilt-houses on reefs or over tidal zones. They’re still exclusively sea people, fishing, farming seaweed, harvesting beche-de-mer or trochus pearl-shell. At nearby Labengke, in a pretty cluster of hilly, jungle-clad islands, we can snorkel, kayak and paddleboard from a deserted white-sand beach. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Pulau Wowoni, Konawe Islands, South East Sulawesi

Day 11: Friday 9 February, Pulau Wowoni
  • Seaside town of Kekea
  • Farewell Party

Reaching Pulau Wowoni, a big island just in front of the Bay of Kendari, South-East Sulawesi, we step ashore to the seaside town of Kekea for a final ‘meet the people’ stroll around the town. Among other produce of the gardens and forests are breadfruit, copra and cashews, while on the beach the catch is landed from locally built koli-koli – the local word for a dugout canoe or sampan. Depending on the weather and wind we may have a final chance to get Ombak Putih’s lovely blue sails up again, to experience the joy of sailing and to ensure everyone goes home with great photos our Bugis pinisi under full sail. The final night of our cruise always brings a great farewell party as a fitting celebration of a fantastic voyage. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Kendari, South East Sulawesi

Day 12: Saturday 10 February, Depart Kendari, Sulawesi, TOUR ENDS
  • Departure transfer

Today we reach Kendari, the small city and busy port that is the capital of South-East Sulawesi. We have now entered the homelands of the Butonese people – one of the noted seafaring groups of Indonesia (along with the better-known Bugis and Makassans of South Sulawesi). Their sailing sloops called lambo roamed widely around Indonesia, carrying anything and everything from copra and live turtles to lumber and groceries for remote eastern islands like the ones we’ve been sailing through. After farewells to the tour guides and crew, you will be transferred to the airport. BL


12-Day Cruise from Ternate to Kendari

  • SeaTrek Cruise (11 nights): Aboard the Ombak Putih –  a traditional Indonesian gaff ketch custom built from ironwood by Buginese shipbuilders. Her keel was laid in Batulicin Kalimantan in 1995, and she became operational in 1997. The Ombak Putih is 42m long, and provides accommodation for up to 24 guests in 12 comfortable cabins. With approximately 400 square metres of public space divided over 2 main decks, the Ombak Putih offers both open and covered space in abundance, allowing for privacy and serene relaxing. All cabins are located below deck and offer private bathroom, portholes, individually controlled air-conditioning, and ample storage space including safety deposit box. The gaff ketch is led by Captain Feri and 14 dedicated crew members coming from all regions of the archipelago. www.seatrekbali.com/our-ships/ombak-putih

Ombak Putih Deck Plan. Courtesy: Sea Trek

Ombak Putih Deck Plan

Practical Information: Ombak Putih

  • 12 superior cabins
  • Overall length: 36 metres (118 feet)
  • Beam: 10 metres (33 feet)
  • Draught: 3.5 metres (11.5 feet)
  • Rig: Gaff rigged ketch – 600 m2 sails, 2 mains, two tops, three jibs
  • Cruising speed: 7-10 knots
  • Maximum speed: 12 knots
  • International Standard Navigation & Safety equipment (with satellite phone)

En Suite Facilities
Each cabin contains a private toilet, a hot/cold water shower and locally produced shampoo and soap. The Ombak Putih provides a modern marine toilet system, which functions just like any western toilet.

Air-Conditioning and Electricity
Each cabin has an individually controlled air-conditioning unit. Each room is equipped with an electrical outlet suitable for round, 2-pinned European plugs that are compatible with 220 Electric Voltage. The salon has additional sockets for charging, and a large power strip that accepts most plug styles. Additional adaptors are available onboard.

Towels and Linen
Beach and bath towels are provided for each guest. In order to conserve water, bath towels will be changed after 3 days and beach towels will be changed after 5 days. Bed linen is changed mid-trip.

Valuables and Care for Personal Belongings
There is a small safe in the Captain’s cabin for stowage of your valuables or documents should you need it. There is a lockable cabinet in each cabin that may be secured with your personal luggage lock.

A limited laundry service is available to guests, free of charge. To conserve water, guests are limited to two pieces per day.

Communication & Internet
A satellite phone is available for passengers on board for a fee of US$ 3.00 per minute for international calls and US$ 1.00 per minute for local calls. Local mobile phone signal may be available at certain times during your trip. Internet access is NOT available on board ship, however you may be able to access the internet via your mobile phone when the Ombak Putih arrives at port (the speed of internet connection may vary).

Meals can be taken either in the salon or on the open air dining area on the foredeck. A breakfast buffet is offered in the salon between 7:00 and 9:30, or before the morning’s land excursions, while lunch and dinner times are announced by the salon bell. Between meals local fruit, crackers, biscuits and assorted nibbles are made available at the bar. The Ombak Putih offers a fresh, healthy menu full of local specialties that should suit the varied tastes of our guests. The crew sources the freshest local fruits, vegetables, and fish available and a trip to the local market with them can be real adventure. If you have any dietary preferences or restrictions, please advise ASA well in advance of your trip. 

Coffee, cocoa and a variety of teas, as well as soft drinks and fruit juice are all complimentary and available at any time. Wine and spirits are heavily taxed in Indonesia, therefore generally fairly expensive by international standards. The bar menu offers a limited selection of imported and local wines as well as a range of spirits and delicious cocktail creations at reasonable prices. Alcoholic beverages are provided at an additional charge to our guests. You should feel free to bring your own favourite beverages. 

Although we sometimes cross channels that provide us with some exciting waves, most of your cruise should experience calm seas and sunny days.

What to Bring 
Your Tour Leader will usually arrange most essentials for your land excursions, however, a bottle of water, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent are items you should bring with you at all times. Don’t forget your camera (with charged batteries and ample memory) as well as some money for souvenirs if you wish.

Footwear/ Shore Landings 
Flip-flops or sandals are usually sufficient footwear for most land tours, but in some cases sturdier shoes, sports sandals, or water booties might be more appropriate. Landings on shore from the tenders may be either dry or wet due to fluctuations in tidal levels. In the case of a wet landing, water might come as high as the knees, therefore suitable sandals or carrying your shoes to be put on upon land (as well as rolled up pants or shorts) might be recommended. Your Tour Leader will try to make recommendations for appropriate footwear for each occasion.

Cultural Dress / What to Wear 
In the streets of Jakarta or the tourist areas of Bali, revealing clothing may be more socially accepted, but many of the remote villages we visit are accustomed to more conservative dress. In order to both respect our hosts and not draw uncomfortable attention, we usually suggest more conservative clothing when touring a village. This means that ladies should avoid plunging necklines and bare shoulders while both sexes should cover the knees. On board you can feel comfortable in your swimwear as our crew is used to this, however a revealing bathing costume might cause offence in the vicinity of a village.

Exploring the underwater world is a highlight of any trip. Snorkelling equipment is made readily available on board.

Bar and ‘Boatique’ Bill 
At the end of your cruise, you can pay for additional purchases and your bar bill with cash (Indonesian Rupiah or major foreign currency at the current exchange rates) or credit card (Seatrek only accepts VISA).

Triple Stateroom, Ombak Putih. Courtesy: Sea Trek

Twin Stateroom, Ombak Putih

Double Stateroom, Ombak Putih

Double Stateroom, Ombak Putih

Dining area, Ombak Putih

Dining area, Ombak Putih


How to book


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $2500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 12-day voyage involves:

  • 11 nights cruising aboard the Ombak Putih involving motoring and sailing on open water from Ternate to Kendari.
  • A moderate amount of walking where many of the sites are large and unsheltered.
  • Visiting sites where you will encounter steps, rocky and uneven ground, slopes.
  • Activities include swimming, snorkelling, village walks and rainforest treks.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Passports and Visas

Please ensure that all necessary travel documents are valid and effective and in your possession. Passports are required for all participants and MUST be valid for at least 6 months after your date of return. Please assume full responsibility for checking and verifying any and all passport, visa, vaccination, or other entry requirements. We may provide information or advice on general matters such as climate, clothing, baggage, and special equipment in good faith as a courtesy to you, however, please ensure that you are properly prepared.

Health Requirements and Medical Care

This trip has varying levels of demands and fitness requirements. To participate, you must complete the ASA Reservation Application Form. Medical care beyond basic first aid, due to the often remote regions visited, is often not immediately available. If you have a physical, dietary, or other condition for which you may desire special attention, please inform us in writing when the booking is made. ASA and SeaTrek assumes no responsibility for any medical care provided to you.

Tour Price & Inclusions

USD $6950.00 Land Content Only Twin-share**

The price for this tour is given in USD. Based on the current exchange rates (1AUD =  .75USD), this is approximately $9270.00 AUD. The final tour price will be confirmed 4 months prior to departure.

Note: due to the limited number of cabins available on the Ombak Putih, cabins for single use are not currently being offered. If you are interested in this option please contact ASA for further information.

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • 11 nights aboard the Ombak Putih in double or twin-share cabins
  • Meals as indicated in the tour itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal
  • Non-alchoholic beverages during meals and bottled water during site excursions
  • Arrival/Departure airport transfers
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Entrance fees
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Ternate, Kendari-Australia
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Personal spending money
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas (if applicable)
  • Tips for the staff and crew on board the Ombak Putih (estimate of $100.00 US per person)
Terms & Conditions

A non-refundable deposit of $2500.00 AUD per person is required upon reservation.

Cancellation Fees

Payment conditions and cancellation fees that apply to this tour vary from other ASA tours. These conditions have been modified in order to comply with payment & cancellation fees applicable for the Sea Trek Sailing Adventures cruise. If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • Initial deposit of $2500.00 is non-refundable
  • 95-66 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 65-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price.

Cancellations or Changes by Us and Flexibility

We reserve the right to cancel, alter or modify this tour without prior notice for the safety and/or comfort of clients due to local circumstances or events. On rare occasions, a tour cancellation may occur in which case a full refund will be issued to you less any airline ticket cancellation fees and non-refundable deposits. This will constitute full settlement of claims you may have arising out of our cancellation.

Force Majeure

SeaTrek and ASA will not be deemed in breach of this agreement by reason of delay in performance or nonperformance of any of its obligations under this agreement to the extent that any such delay or nonperformance is due to any Force Majeure. “Force Majeure” means any circumstances beyond the reasonable control of SeaTrek or ASA.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 95 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 95 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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