Maluku Travel Information - Getting There & Around

Maluku: Getting There & Around

BY AIR

TO/FROM THE REST OF INDONESIA

Lion Air, Sriwijaya, Garuda, and Expressair fly to the two provincial capitals (Ambon & Ternate) from Java, Sulawesi. Merpati also has flights to Maluku from Timor, though these may not last long. Wings flies between Ambon and several towns in western Papua. From Manado in North Sulawesi, you could even fly directly to the remote airports of Kao and Galela in Halmahera! There are no direct flights from Bali to Maluku, you must fly via Sulawesi or Java.

See my Ambon and Ternate pages for more details.

WITHIN MALUKU

Inside Maluku, Trigana, Expressair and Wings do fly to a number of smaller islands from Ambon and Ternate.
Flights within Maluku can seem unreasonably expensive when comparing the distance flown to that elsewhere in Indonesia! On the other hand, some subsidized flights on Merpati and NBA can also be ridiculously cheap (and accordingly hard to get on).

Again, see my Ambon and Ternate pages (as linked above) for more detailes.

BY SEA

TO/FROM THE REST OF INDONESIA

Travelling by sea is the ultimate (and often only) way of getting to and around Maluku.
The large, government-run Pelni ships connect the two provincial capitals, Ambon and Ternate, plus a couple of smaller towns like Namlea, Bandaneira, Tual, Dobo and Saumlaki with the rest of Indonesia, notably Papua, Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Java.

WITHIN MALUKU

Once in Maluku, there are lots of smaller, local ships of all sorts and descriptions travelling between neighbouring islands.
These range from larger boats with cabins and sleeping bunks, or car-ferries with seats only serving longer routes to speedboats and wooden boats with an outboard propeller for shorter hops.
Many of the remoter islands are only served by Perintis cargo ships. These run on erratic, irregular schedules and conditions aboard are so horrible that they make even economy class on Pelni feel like a Caribbean cruise! Definitely only a very last resort for the hardiest of travellers!!!
Finally, chartering might be necessary to reach really remote places.
BY ROAD

On those islands that do have roads to start with, buses, minibuses (bemos), shared taxis (kijangs) and motorcycle taxis (ojeks) may run between settlements.
On longer routes, transport usually leaves in the morning only.
Compared with more developed places like Java or Bali, road transport tends to be slower and more expensive in Maluku.
Minibuses also run on set routes within the few larger towns like Ambon, Ternate and Tual.