The Scents of the Spice Islands with ‘SeaTrek Sailing Adventures’

15 Sep – 26 Sep 2020

  • Region:
    • Asia
    • Indonesia
    • Spice Islands
  • Status: open
  • Code: 22053
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.
  • Cruise glittering seas to beautiful islands that are inaccessible to most travellers.
  • Enjoy dramatic views of volcanic islands and enjoy garden paradises that have provided easy sustenance to natives for centuries.
  • Follow in the footsteps of European explorers and spice traders through the Banda archipelago which was the world’s sole source of nutmeg and Ternate / Tidore, its sole source of cloves.
  • Understand how the Moluccas (‘Spice Islands’) became a key nodal point in the medieval and Early Modern world trade system and contrast the pre-colonial system with later European exploitation.
  • Immerse yourself in the distinctive way of life of a people whose culture has been little changed for 500 years.
  • Explore methods of harvesting and processing nutmeg and cloves that have remained unchanged since the 16th century; we visit the islands at harvest time.
  • Visit the historic trading hub of Makassar with its fascinating mix of local, Muslim and European colonial architecture.
  • View Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and British forts from the colonial period whose distribution reflects the sequences and types of interplay between the local sultanates and the Europeans.
  • Visit the residences of Mohammad Hatta, the philosophical driving force of Indonesian independence and Alfred Wallace, where he wrote his famous ‘Letter from Ternate’.
  • Explore the war graves of Ambon, a memory of the Battle for Ambon and the fateful ‘Gull Force’ tragedy.
  • Snorkel on some of the world’s most magnificent coral reefs and marvel at the island archipelago’s rich marine life.


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 Ambon to Ternate

Overnight: 11 nights cruising aboard the Ombak Putih


Many travellers will know of the importance of spices such as cloves and nutmeg to medieval and Early Modern European – especially Venetian, Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch – trade. This 12-day cruise aboard the Ombak Putih, a moderately sized luxury sailing vessel, sails sparkling seas through the Spice Islands. ASA’s guest lecturer, Jeffrey Mellefont, will introduce this trade from the point of view of the island exporters. We learn of the spice trade before European exploration and colonial intervention, when the Spice Islands formed a hub in the medieval world trade system. We also explore the conflicts between local sultans and between the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and English for hegemony over the islands. On islands of the North and South Moluccas, many of which are seldom visited by tourists, we see many deserted fortresses, as well as colonial mansions and churches that reflect this colonial conflict and hegemony. We also encounter ancient nutmeg and clove plantations, sources of the complex conflict over the islands. We visit isolated villages in which the local way of life has not changed for 500 years and have the option to climb a dormant volcano and to snorkel on some of the world’s best coral reefs. This is a tour to an unspoilt paradise that hides its past of bloody conflict over those most precious of spices.

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. The main islands we visit are in the South Moluccas (Ambon and the Banda group) as well as those 600km to the north (Halmahera and Ternate).

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.

Island of Ambon, Central Maluku Archipelago

Day 1: Tuesday 15 September, Arrive Ambon
  • Arrival Airport Transfer
  • Board Ombak Putih: Welcome & Briefing
  • Orientation tour of Ambon: the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Hitu Lama (the ancient port of the Spice Trade), Waipauwe Mosque, Immanuel Church and Fort Amsterdam

Upon arrival at the Ambon airport cars will be waiting to take you to the Ombak Putih at her mooring in the harbour. After you have settled in on the vessel, had a safety briefing and freshened up, we will take an (optional) short tour of the surrounding area. We will start with a visit to the Commonwealth War Cemetery, where many Allied troops from World war II are buried. We will then head to the north of the island and visit Hitu Lama, the ancient port of the Spice Trade that was in use for centuries before Europeans made it to the Indies. We will visit the market and see a traditional Balieo house. Also on our tour will be the Waipauwe Mosque (1414), the Immanuel Church (1512) and finally to Fort Amsterdam (1514) one of the first European forts built in Maluku. After this we will return to the boat for lunch before heading out and on our way to the Banda Islands. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Banda Islands, Central Maluku Archipelago

Day 2: Wednesday 16 September, Banda Archipelago
  • Neira Island

Today we will reach the renowned, remote Banda archipelago. Famous for natural beauty and cultural heritage, and their well-preserved remnants of an extraordinary history of imperialist rivalry, these islands are quite simply one of Indonesia’s highlights. Banda was originally the world’s only source of nutmeg and mace, valued for their rarity and high cost by aristocrats and elites. Today Banda’s quiet and charming ambiance belies a dramatic and often tragic history, including war, massacre, earthquake and eruption. This is a very special destination. Since conditions of wind and tide will determine the order in which we visit various Banda islands, our activities here can’t be assigned to a particular day. Here’s what we aim to cover. In the capital Bandaneira, on the biggest island, Neira, we land near the elegant arches of Hotel Maulana – a little slice of Somerset Maugham. It’s a pleasant stroll through the quaint colonial outpost’s characterful streets, inspecting notable residences, a museum, churches and a waterfront market. Brooding over all is the medieval-looking Fort Belgica, its five crumbling bastions now solidly rebuilt. The population is a handsome mix of Malay, Arab, Dutch and Melanesian. Just across the harbour is Banda’s perfect, jungle-clad volcanic cone Gunung Api (‘Fire Mountain’ – 640 metres). The fit and ambitious might make an early morning ascent up a challenging track to the top for stunning views. Or we can snorkel over the black lava stream of its last eruption. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Days 3 & 4: Thursday 17 September & Friday 18 September, Banda Archipelago
  • Fort Revenge, Island of Ai
  • Nutmeg plantations & Fortress Hollandia, Island of Lonthoir

We choose from some of the other small islands of the Banda archipelago – Lonthoir, Ai, Run, Hatta – each of them with its own remnants of old plantations, Dutch cemeteries and fortifications. The tiny outlying island of Run was the subject of an unbelievable real estate deal when in 1667, under the Treaty of Breda, it was ceded by the English to the Dutch in exchange for Manhattan. Yes, the Manhattan where New York stands. On the island of Ai we can visit Fort Revenge, built by the English before being captured by the Dutch. On Lonthoir you can enjoy the tranquil beauty of nutmeg groves, where the shapely fruit-bearing trees grow in the shelter of towering, gigantic kenari or native almond trees. You can observe the age-old technique of harvesting by hand, and can taste (and buy) baked goods, condiments and jams flavoured with fresh mace, nutmeg or their fruit casing. We will climb up to fortress Hollandia and go on to meet the last of the ‘perkeniers’ – the small-holder farmers who managed the plantations for the Dutch, on land parcels known as ‘perken’. You’ll learn of more recent wars and eruptions that shook these lovely islands, and value even more their current peace and tranquility.

Leaving Banda we will navigate through the Sonnegat (‘Sun’s gap’) between Neira and Gunung Api, possibly escorted by kora-kora – the big Moluccan galleys used traditionally for ceremony and warfare, propelled by banks of warrior-oarsmen. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Lease Islands, Central Maluku Archipelago

Day 5: Saturday 19 September, Saparua and Nusalaut Islands
  • Dutch Fort Duurstede & town market, Saparua Island
  • Eben-Haezer Church & Dutch Fort Beverwyck, Nusalaut Island

On Saparua we land beside Dutch Fort Duurstede (1691), stormed in 1817 in a revolt led by Ambonese Kapitan Pattimura, a national hero and martyr. His story is told by vivid museum dioramas. Brightly painted bemo mini-buses will take us to a morning market before we sail to nearby Nusalaut. Rarely visited by outsiders, this island is home to a Christian community after early missionaries planted their faith here at the same time that Islam was spreading through the archipelago. We will visit the Eben-Haezer church founded in 1719. Nearby is the restored Dutch Fort Beverwyck, built from 1657 in a distinctive architectural style we’ve not yet encountered. A highlight here is a lunchtime feast of wonderful local dishes – freshly prepared by villager hosts from forest, garden and sea produce. It’s your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try papeda, the most famous and unusual of the many sago dishes. Our next destination is the Island of Manipa. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Manipa Island, Central Maluka Archipelago

Day 6: Sunday 20 September, Manipa Island
  • Town of Uwe, Manipa Island
  • Afternoon snorkelling

Manipa Island is said to have magical powers, because none of the Portuguese, Dutch or WW2-Japanese who occupied the surrounding islands ever landed here. The spell doesn’t apply to Indonesian ships, so we land at Uwe township for lessons in village technology. Its gardens produce cashews, while the leaves of forest Melaleuca cajuputi are pot-distilled to make a volatile oil called kayu putih or cajeput. It’s famed throughout Indonesia as a universal panacea: cosmetic, antiseptic, insecticide, decongestant, analgesic, expectorant, anti-spasmodic, stimulant and tonic! We also view production of the traditional Moluccan food staple, sago, a nutritious flour washed from the fibrous trunk of the cycad-like sago palm. Sago can be baked into easily transportable cakes, while the palm also provides building timber and thatch. After an afternoon snorkelling, we will cruise on towards Belang-Belang. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Obi Islands, Northern Maluku Archipelago

Day 7: Monday 21 September, Belang-Belang
  • Snorkelling at Belang-Belang Island
  • Manatahan village, Obi Latu Island

Deserted, white-sand Belang-Belang is a real beachcomber’s paradise, where we can launch our full flotilla of watercraft, kayaks and paddle boards. At Obi Latu, mountains clad in forest and clove plantations plunge spectacularly into the sea. We will visit isolated Manatahan, a village of migrant Butungese from Sulawesi hundreds of miles to the west. Migration is not unusual in this island world where people are accustomed to moving by boat, and islands are sparsely populated or uninhabited. In past times the picturesque channels around Obi were dotted with the sails of local spice traders, Portuguese caravels, Spanish galleons, Dutch jachts and English pinnaces. Now we encounter friendly fishers and their outrigger dugouts, colourful timber island-trading craft and sometimes little lambo sloops still trading under sail. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Bacan Islands, Northern Maluku Archipelago

Day 8: Tuesday 22 September, Doworalamo Island
  • Village of sea gypsies, Doworalamo Island
  • Swimming & snorkelling

By today you will have lost track of time and place, but your crew won’t have. They will have delivered you on schedule to the Patinti Strait and Doworalamo, where we visit a village of the famous sea gypsies, known in Eastern Indonesia as Sama-Bajo. Scattered widely through South-East Asia, sea gypsies spent their entire lives from birth to death on their small sailboats called lipa-lipa. Now the modern world has pushed them ashore. Landless, their homes are always built on stilts over coral reefs or the tidal margins of remote islands such as this one. We will also have opportunities for swimming, snorkelling and beach-combing before our ship continues on its northerly course. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Day 9: Wednesday 23 September, Bacan Island
  • Get or Goro-Goro village & trek to view waterfall, black macaque monkeys and hornbills

We will wake up off the north shore of Bacan, another seat of Indonesia’s historic spice sultanates. We go exploring ashore at the isolated village of Geti or its neighbour Goro-Goro, walking up a rainforest-clad river valley. Bacan is where Alfred Russel Wallace discovered the golden birdwing butterfly and the giant mason bee, Chalicodoma pluto. We’ll keep a close watch for these and a host of species, some of them endemic, including parrots, cockatoos, lorikeets, hornbills, the elusive cuscus or a rare black macaque – the only monkey in Maluku. It’s the wrong side of the Wallace Line for monkeys; these ones were introduced from North Sulawesi. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Makian & Halmahera Islands, Northern Maluku Archipelago

Day 10: Thursday 24 September, Islands of Makian & Halmahera
  • Volcanic-cone islands of Makian, Moti, Tidore & Ternate
  • Trek to forest waterfall, Halmahera Island

Sunrise finds us in Indonesia’s most stunning seascape. Four perfect, brilliant-green volcanic-cone islands emerge from the sea in a straight line stretching south to north, parallel to the rugged, forested spine of the big island called Halmahera. They are Makian, Moti, Tidore and Ternate. Makian is dominated by volcanic Mount Kiebesi (1357 metres) towering over its palm-fringed, white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. There are interesting expeditions ashore and good places to snorkel. Later we cruise towards Payahe Bay on the mainland of Halmahera, which was another of the Spice Sultanates, formerly called Gilolo. Our landfall is a remote beach full of outrigger fishing craft, for an easy afternoon trek towards a forest waterfall. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Day 11: Friday 25 September, Halmahera Island
  • Village of Dodinga – Birthplace of Wallace’s Theory of Natural Selection, Halmahera Island
  • Afternoon snorkelling

Today we will wake up just across from Ternate off the coast of Halmahera, with the mighty peaks of Ternate and Tidore as our dawn backdrop, ready to head ashore to the village of Dodinga after breakfast. This is the very place where Alfred Russel Wallace was staying when, in a fit of malarial delerium, he came up with the idea for the mechanism for evolutionary theory. He promptly wrote to Charles Darwin when he recovered and set in motion the formalization of the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Dodinga is a pretty little riverside village with friendly people, colourful houses and the ruins of an old Portuguese fort, and its importance in the history of science icannot be understated. After spending some time with the villagers, sharing some fresh coconuts and enjoying thier hospitality, we will head back to the boat for lunch and then go off for an afternoon of snorkelling and relaxation. (Overnight: Aboard Ombak Putih) BLD

Ternate, Northern Maluku Archipelago

Day 12: Saturday 26 September, Ternate, TOUR ENDS
  • City tour of Ternate
  • Departure transfer

We reach the island of Ternate and our final destination. This colourful city has been the centre of the spice trade for several centuries, where the imprint of the Dutch and the Portuguese can still be seen. In fact, its warehouses are still filled with fragrant piles of clove and nutmeg. Nearby is 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, introducing the turbulent colonial era, such as well-restored Fort Tolukko (Portuguese, 1540). After that we will go back to the Ombak Putih to say goodbye to our expert guide, the captain and the crew, and you will be transferred to the airport and your flight to Jakarta or Bali. BL


12-Day Cruise from Ambon to Ternate

  • 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.

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 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-Ambon, Ternate-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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