Maluku Travel Information - Buru

Buru: Maluku's Third Largest island

Rugged and rarely visited, the island of Buru is best known in Indonesia as a place where "communist" political prisoners used to be exiled in the Suharto era. The island was off-limits to outsiders back then, and though this is no longer the case, visitors are still very rare. Buru has some fine beaches and trekking possibilities through its mountainous interior centred on Danau Rana, though apart from a decent range of accommodation in Namlea, it offers almost no visitor facilities as such.

Attractions Local Culture Getting There Accommodation Food
Main Attractions


The capital of Buru is mostly still a quiet little town sitting on the shores of a large bay, overlooking imposing mountain peaks. There is basically nothing to see here, though it has all the basic facilities a visitor needs, including faster internet acces than any I could find in Ambon!

The New Mosque

Much new construction is taking place inland. Of all the new buildings, this impressive mosque is the only one tourists may find interesting - it is indeed one of the finest modern mosques in the whole of Maluku.

Jikumerasa Beach

About 15 kms west of Namlea on the north coast road, the village of Jikumerasa is home to Buru's finest, readily accessible white-sand beach.

Jikumerasa Lagoon

Also in the same village, a few hundred metres inland from the road is a large, brackish lagoon. A narrow walking trail can be followed a good distance along the shore, or hire a canoe to explore it by paddling.

Kayeli Fort

The quiet little village of Kayeli, across the bay from Namlea, was Buru's original capital and is home to its main historical sight, a largely unrestored fort.

Buru's "Little Java"

The broad floodplains stretching dozens of kilometres inland from the western end of the bay are now home to Javanese transmigration settlements. Originally, the rice-fields here were actually established by the forced labour of the political prisoners interned here in the Suharto era! Today the area has a real feel of rural Java.

Danau Rana

This remote, large mountain lake high up in the very centre of Buru looks very intriguing on any map of the island. It requires a bit of an effort and determination to reach though. Once there, I found it a bit disappointing. Its shores were swampy, far from ideal from walking around. The surrounding villages were not particularly interesting either, and most forests in the surrounding area had been logged.

Local Culture
Unlike other large (and many small) islands Maluku, Buru is almost totally homogenous ethnically, with the native Burunese speaking the same language, even if with dialect differences, throughout the island. As far as religion is concerned, Muslims are concentrated in the north, Christians down south and in the interior, where some communities even stick to their traditional religion. Of course there are also migrants living on Buru, notably those from the Sula Islands who settled mostly in northwest Buru.
Getting There

By air

Two weekly flights are scheduled from Ambon to Namlea in North, and Namrole in South Buru - keep your fingers crossed!

By sea

Two Pelni ship stops at Namlea between Ambon, Ternate and Bitung (in North Sulawesi) about 4 times a month in total. Be prepared that the ships drop anchor out in the bay in front of Namlea, and passengers have to disembark into small longboats that will take them to the shore! Smaller local boats also go from both Ambon and Sanana (in the Sula Islands) to Namlea, and from Ambon to Leksula passing other villages in the South. There is even a daily hydrofoil from Ambon to Namlea taking less than 2 hours. Boats are the only way of getting around South Buru.

By road

There is a fairly long road on the North coast of Buru, with a bus service heading west from Namlea along it. The road going inland through the transmigrant villages is also in decent condition, served by regular minibuses, and has actually been extended (but remains in poor condition with no regular transport) all the way to Namrole on the south coast.

Buru's main town Namlea has a couple of decent hotels catering to locals. Outside Namlea accommodation is limited, though there are a few losmen in the Javanese transmigrant area, too.

Basic choice

There are a few basic warungs in Namlea, and probably also in a few other settlements on Buru.