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

6 Feb – 17 Feb 2020

  • Region:
    • Asia
    • Indonesia
    • Spice Islands
  • Status: open
  • Code: 22052
Your leaders

“The beauty and brilliancy of this insect are indescribable, and none but a naturalist can understand the intense excitement I experienced when I at length captured it. On taking it out of my net and opening the glorious wings, my heart began to beat violently, the blood rushed to my head, and I felt much more like fainting than I have done when in apprehension of immediate death. I had a headache the rest of the day, so great was the excitement produced by what will appear to most people a very inadequate cause”

From Wallace’s 1869 book The Malay Archipelago.

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 airconditioned 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, Dutch, English and local sultans to control the world trade in priceless cloves and nutmeg.
  • Cross paths with Alfred Russel Wallace, whose famous ‘Letter from Ternate’ to Charles Darwin set out his own theory of evolution by natural selection.
  • Sultan’s palaces, spirit houses and mosques of remote townships including Labuha, Sanana and Banggai, far off the tourist routes, recall isolated seaports of Joseph Conrad’s East Indies.
  • At coastal Mantarara, accessible only by our ship, villagers welcome us with dance and betel nut – they had never seen a European until we first visited.
  • Snorkel from ship’s tenders or off deserted white tropical beaches over 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 shamanist shifting agriculturalists, the Wana (‘forest’) people.
  • Meet the sea gypsies, or Sama-Bajau people, recently settled on remote coral cays and stilt-hamlets over underwater reefs in the Padea Islands off 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 but luxuriously outfitted Indonesian sail-trader follows ancient monsoon sailing routes across the sheltered seas of Indonesia’s eastern archipelagos –visiting 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 rajahs and sultans and the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English interlopers fighting to monopolise spices once worth their weight in gold. Crossing the wakes of explorers such as Magellan, Drake and Alfred Russel Wallace –including the island where he found that butterfly! – we traverse the truly remote Sula and Banggai Archipelagos. Far beyond the tourist trail, we meet diverse, welcoming maritime communities accessible only by sea and our ship’s tenders. They are just as curious to meet us. Reaching the fabled Celebes – Sulawesi – we encounter forests, wildlife and Indonesia’s last shamanist tribe, ending our cruise in the island port Kendari. All within the renowned Coral Triangle, where we 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 seaborne trade, migration and cultures. 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 the ship’s Indonesian cruise director and dive master, selected for their local knowledge of communities and natural history, and an attentive Indonesian ship’s crew, to look after all your needs.

About the Islands

The Moluccas, Sula and Banggai archipelagos, along with Sulawesi, form a chain of largely volcanic islands on the Halmahera Plate within a geological ‘collision zone’, which accounts for current tectonic activity. Comprising well over a thousand islands, many of them sparsely populated, they are located in the transition zone known as Wallacea lieing to the east of the ‘Wallace Line’ that separates the two very different ecosystems of Asia and Australiasia.

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 Dutch East Indies, leading to the migration of Moluccan clove and nutmeg production to British colonies such as Ceylon and Grenada. The East Indies were returned to the Dutch and remained their colony until Indonesian independence in 1945. Mohammad Hatta, intellectual catalyst for independence, was imprisoned by the Dutch on Moluccan Banda in the 1930s and it was here that he developed many nationalist ideas. Thus the Moluccas retained their pivotal role in world history right into the 20th century. Of equal importance were the travels of Alfred Wallace within the Indonesian-Malay Archipelago between 1854 and 1862 that led to two incredibly important ideas – evolution, and continental drift which formed the basis of our understanding of ‘plate tectonics’. His famous ‘Essay from Ternate’ (‘On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type’), sent to Charles Darwin in 1858, outlined his independent conclusions regarding evolution by natural selection. It was based largely on his observations in Sulawesi, the Moluccas and other islands that we will visit. Wallace contributed to later notions of plate tectonics through his observations of zoological ‘clustering’ either side of a line 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: Thursday 6 February, Arrive Ternate
  • Arrive Sultan Babullah Airport, Ternate, transfer to Ombak Putih
  • Welcome & briefing
  • Orientation tour of Ternate incl. royal mosque, sultan’s palace, Fort Tolukko, Ngade crater lake

After being met at Ternate Airport, or your hotel, you will be escorted to our ship, Ombak Putih, at her spectacular anchorage beneath towering Mt Gamalama (1715 metres). On board, you’ll be given a safety briefing and meet your fellow guests before going ashore to explore Ternate City.

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 Russell Wallace, penned his famous ‘Letter from Ternate’ to Charles Darwin on the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. We will visit a colonial house like his, near the splendid 17th-century, pagoda-style royal mosque and the Sultan’s palace with its rich collection of heirlooms. There’s a choice of forts to visit, such as well-restored Fort Tolukko (Portuguese from 1540, Dutch from 1610), signifying the turbulent centuries of spice-related alliances, treacheries and wars between the sultans and Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and English rivals. Towards sunset we visit spectacular Ngade, a volcanic crater lake, with the stunning view of perfect volcanic-cone islands emerging in line from the Equatorial sea. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) LD

Tidore, North Maluku

Day 2: Friday 7 February, Tidore
  • Toloa Blacksmith village & island market
  • Forts Torre & Tahula, Spanish shipwreck artefacts
  • Soa Siu Sultan’s palace
  • Magellan expedition landing place

Tidore is another perfect volcanic-cone island rising from the tropical seas. Kiematabu (1730 metres) is extinct, but its slopes feature plantations of the graceful clove trees that were once found only upon this and a few adjacent islands. On this island of gaily painted village houses and tropical blooms, we visit a specialist village where blacksmiths work an ancient design of piston-bellows to forge knives and machetes. An island market introduces other handcrafts and produce of the Moluccas. Picturesque port Soa Siu is dominated by two strongholds: Portuguese Fort Torre established in the 1570s, and Fort Tahula, begun by the Spanish in 1610 (after the Iberian Union of 1580) to protect their ships loading spices in the port below. The forts overlook the palace of today’s Sultan of Tidore, a one-time rival to Ternate’s sultan. Nearby, fascinating relics of an Iberian shipwreck include a mountain of ceramic jars and a huge, baroquely decorated bronze Portuguese cannon. Elsewhere a seashore monument marks the 1521 visit of the battered remnant of Magellan’s fleet on the first circumnavigation of the world. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) LD

Bacan Island, North Maluku

Day 3: Saturday 8 February, Island of Bacan
  • Labuha Sultan’s residence, Barneveld Fort & green-stone bridge
  • Afternoon snorkelling

An overnight passage crosses the Equator and brings us to Labuha, a small port town in a perfectly sheltered bay on the island of Bacan. This is another seat of the historic Moluccan spice sultanates. Here, we can visit the Bacan Sultan’s kedaton or residence in a Dutch-colonial era mansion. Nearby Fort Barneveld, begun by the Portuguese in 1558 and recently restored, encapsulates turbulent colonial times. It was taken over by the Spanish who lost it in 1609 to the fleet of Dutch Vice-Admiral Simon Hoen in alliance with the Sultan of Ternate. The Dutch added the present four bastions and renamed it Barneveld. We stroll riverside promenades where a picturesque footbridge is paved with famous Bacan green-stone, a lovely colour-changing gemstone known as chrysocolla chalcedony. With luck we’ll find it for sale as affordable jewellery from street vendors on our way to the vibrant seafood and produce market. In a forest at the edge of town live some rare black macaques – the only monkey species this side of the Wallace Line, introduced from North Sulawesi.

Upon our return to Ombak Putih, we cross to a small island near Bacan harbour for snorkelling. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Belag-Belang & Obi Latu, North Maluku

Day 4: Sunday 9 February, Obi Islands
  • Snorkelling at Belang-Belang Island
  • Manatahan village, Obi Latu Island

Anchored off the deserted, white-sand Belang-Belang Island, we 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 (‘Where shall we endure?’). 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 shapely 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 Butonese trading sloops still working under sail. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Sulabesi Island, Sula Archipelago, North Maluku

Day 5: Monday 10 February, Sulabesi Island
  • City tour: Sanana fort, market, mosque & mangrove walk
  • Afternoon snorkelling

Today we reach the truly remote Sula Archipelago, where we are least likely to encounter a single foreign visitor! These untouched islands are the cultural crossroads of Maluku and Sulawesi. In the past, the Sula archipelago was controlled by the Ternate Sultanate, and the southernmost of its three main islands, Sulabesi, became a port of call for spice traders. Going ashore at the capital, Sanana, we land in a colourful port where sail-traders still anchor. We can expect a touching ritual greeting as honoured guests, and a welcome with local spiced coffee, tea and snacks. Impressive Fort de Verwachting, with its history of renovations and name changes starting in 1623, has four bastions, two watch towers and a wall-top walkway around the parapet. Malay inscriptions in an ancient script indicate its use by the Moluccan sultanates as well as Dutch forces. There’s a startling modern mosque, the biggest in Eastern Indonesia, with a back-story that will amaze. We pass our first sea-gypsy village on the way to a picturesque bamboo walkway through a tidal mangrove forest.

There are some beautiful beaches in the area and we will seek suitable places for snorkelling in the afternoon. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Taliabu Island, Sula Archipelago, North Maluku

Day 6: Tuesday 11 February, Taliabu Island, Sula Archipelago
  • Waikoka village, Taliabu Island
  • Mantarara hamlet, Taliabu Island

Cruising along the southern shore of Mangoli Island, we reach Taliabu Island where we go ashore at the small Muslim village of Waikoka. The entire village takes an interest, and young and old will most likely accompany us. Usually we present textbooks to the isolated village primary school. This village was hit by a tsunami in 1999 and many of the residents relocated inland. We reach the new settlement by a picturesque path winding through extensive groves of the tallest coconut trees you’ve ever seen, and can inspect the copra production which, along with fishing, is the economic mainstay.

Later, we can expect a warm welcome at the Christian hamlet of Mantarara further along the southern shore of Taliabu. Like Waikoka, it’s totally isolated on this remote coast, accessible only by sea. The residents here are unlikely to have had any foreign visitors since we last anchored here. This is a community of Kadai people, the indigenous tribe of Taliabu. To welcome us the youngsters perform the cakalele war dance originating in the Kadai’s pre-Christian past. With the right tides we can also visit a hot spring or explore a forest river that flows over sandbars into the sea. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Banggai Archipelago, Central Sulawesi

Day 7: Wednesday 12 February, Bokan Islands
  • Snorkelling off Mbuang-Mbuang
  • Swimming with golden jellyfish at Paisu Batongan Lake

Entering the region of Sulawesi, we spend the day at charming Mbuang-Mbuang in the Bokan Islands of the south-east Banggai archipelago. This area is known as the ‘Raja Ampat of Banggai’ for its beautiful island landscapes, caves, beaches, lakes and coral reefs. A highlight of our snorkelling here is the spectacular underwater conservatory of giant clams with iridescent colours, protected by the fishermen who welcome us to their tidy village built over white sand and turquoise waters. It’s the region’s first entirely solar-powered community.

Nearby, the rare saltwater lake, Paisu Batongan, offers us the unique experience of swimming among its thousands of stingless, golden jellyfish (Mastigias papua). Symbiotic algae living in their bodies photosynthesise in sunlight, producing a form of sugar that the jellyfish metabolise to swim, grow and reproduce. The jellyfish have evolved in this completely enclosed, sun-warmed lake of seawater, moving toward the sunrise each morning and remaining in sunlight all day. We enter their fragile environment with the utmost care to observe this extrememly rare phenomenon. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Day 8: Thursday 13 February, Banggai Islands
  • Banggai port: Rickshaw tour incl. Sultan’s palace & spirit house
  • Snorkelling, Bakakang Island

We spend our second day in the scenic Banggai group of islands, small and large, 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, guarded by two ancient, weathered Portuguese cannon. We’re escorted to an unusual rumah keramat or sacred community house near ancestral, royal burial grounds where a megalithic stone sarcophagus has recently been unearthed. Revered elders guard this ‘spirit house’ and its pre-Islamic rituals and cult objects – co-existing with the mainstream mosques of this Muslim port town.

Nearby Bakakang Island is something of a beachcomber’s retreat, where we can enjoy paddle-boarding, kayaking or snorkelling from the beach. With luck our dive master will lead us to the rare and endangered Banggai cardinal fish (Pterapogon kauderni). (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Baturube, Central Sulawesi

Day 9: Friday 14 February, Central Sulawesi
  • Meet-and-greet walk around Baturube township
  • Zodiac expedition up Peo River

Some of this morning is spent at sea as we complete our voyage to the shores of Sulawesi, the big island draped like an orchid across the Equator. The rugged, forested peaks of its central ranges loom large as we anchor off the township and small port of Baturube. We go ashore to explore the tidy streets, houses and gardens and chat with the friendly inhabitants of this quiet settlement that’s still far from the island’s main population centres. They’re mostly migrants from other districts, come to open up this remote province. Later we’ll take a relaxing trip in the ship’s tenders up the Peo River, looking out for bird life among its pristine stretches of luxuriant mangrove forests. We may see nesting sites of the beautiful, endangered megapode, the maleo fowl (Macrocephalon maleo), that buries an egg a quarter of its body mass in hot sandy beaches, to incubate. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Morowali National Park, Central Sulawesi

Day 10: Saturday 15 February, Central Sulawesi
  • Forest trek to meet the Wana tribe
  • Down a forest river by dugout long-boat

Our sheltered anchorage is overshadowed by the towering, forested mountains of Morowali National Park. We leave early with the ship’s tenders, up a scenic estuary to begin our quest to meet the last semi-nomadic tribe of Sulawesi. The Wana (‘forest people’) have a shamanistic culture that’s unique in Indonesia, based on shifting agriculture, hunting with blowpipes and snares, fishing and harvesting forest products such as rattan cane and damar tree resin. Accompanied by some of our crew, we’re lead by Wana guides through dense estuarine forest – thankfully flat going, though the guides’ machetes are often needed to clear the way. (Note: we always advise of likely walking conditions, leaving guests the option of choosing a quiet day at anchor.) We lunch in the longhouse of the village headman and shaman, learning of their life in the forest. To shorten our return trek, we’re ferried part of the way down a small jungle river, a delightful downstream paddle in a fleet of local dugout long-boats. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Salabengka & Padeo archipelagos, South East Sulawesi

Day 11: Sunday 16 February, Umbele & Samaringa Islands
  • Umbele village island walk
  • Visit the Sea-Gypsies of Samaringa
  • Offshore snorkelling at Samaringa
  • Farewell party

A big day. After breakfast we explore Umbele Island in the Salabengka archipelago, home to cheerful Butonese, Buginese and Bajau (sea gypsy) migrants… you will never have been asked to pose for so many selfies. With luck we can see more exquisite little Banggai cardinal fish hovering in groups in clear seawater around their stilt houses. Endemic to this region off central Sulawesi, they may soon be gone from the wild because of demand from the world’s aquarium trade.

Cruising down the mountainous eastern shore of Sulawesi over lunch, we reach the isolated Padea Islands and visit the coral cay Samaringa to meet those famed sea-gypsies, the Sama-Bajau. Last of the true marine nomads, for centuries they belonged to no nation and lived afloat from birth to death. In recent times governments pressured them to settle: on uninhabited scraps of islands, often building their stilt-houses over tidal zones or even on offshore reefs. Yet our good-humoured hosts are still exclusively sea people, fishing, reef-gathering, farming seaweed, harvesting sea cucumbers or trochus pearl-shell, and boat building.

After a final snorkel as dusk approaches, on a rich coral drop-off teeming with life, we finish the final full day of our cruise with a big farewell party featuring traditional festive fare, and song and dance led by the crew. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Kendari, South East Sulawesi

Day 12: Monday 17 February, Kendari
  • TOUR ENDS Departure transfer to
  • Wolter Monginsidi airport, Kendari

Today we reach Kendari, the busy port city that is the capital of South-East Sulawesi province. These are the homelands of the Butonese mariners whose boats fill this busy harbour along with those of their neighbouring Sulawesi seafarers, the Mandar, Buginese and Makassarese. The harbour is developing fast, and is now famous for its huge new floating mosque.

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 $7250.00 Land Content Only Twin-share**

The price for this tour is given in USD. Based on the current exchange rates (1AUD =  .70USD), this is approximately $10,357.00 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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