Maluku Travel Information - Lelei & Guraici

Lelei & Guraici: Some of North Maluku's Finest Beaches!

Tiny Lelei, along with its even tinier neighbour Guraici, boasts some of the very finest white-sand beaches I have seen in North Maluku.
They are part of the Kayoa Islands, located west of Pulau Kayoa itself.
Lelei has two small villages inhabited by ethnic Makianese and Galelarese. The reefs off the beach are rich in fish despite increasing damage from fishing with poison and dynamite. They are also a great spot for shark-watching. I saw several harmless reef-sharks while snorkelling here - one in knee-deep water!
Should you be afraid of these, note that they stick to the reefs - you won't encounter them on the sandy beaches. :-)
Lelei is locally famous as the home island of the current governor of North Maluku. Perhaps partly due to this, it has recently received healthy funding for tourism development. Several fine wooden chalets have been built to accommodate visitors, and there are several jet-skis, speedboats, banana boats and even diving facilities for the guests!

Attractions Activities Local Culture Getting There Accommodation Food

Main Attractions


Lelei is the main island of the Guraici archipelago as far as transport and tourism infrastructure is concerned.
It has all the accommodation and watersports facilities, a walking trail up its hill, and a paved walking path right around the island.


Tiny, uninhabited Guraici is just a few hundred metres from Lelei.
It once had great coral reefs, but sadly it has now been all but totally destroyed - though lots of colorful fish remain. lnfrastructure on land is limited to a few picnic shelters - hopefully it will stay that way!

And beyond...

From the watchtower on Lelei there is a stunning view of the other islands of the Guraici Archipelago out to the West. Most of those islands seem to be ringed by mangroves, but one of them is supposed to be frequented by Manta Rays - something i unfortunately couldn't confirm with my own eyes when visiting it.



Preparing for the yet-to-happen influx of visitors, the North Maluku Tourism Office has invested heavily into buying and depositing various watersports equipment on Lelei.
This includes several jet-skis (a mixed blessing IMHO), speedboats, a "banana boat" and diving equipment.
Back in 2007 they were all available for use by visitors free of charge, and this included the diving, but those days are now over and a modest fee is being charged for using the dive equipment.


For those who are looking for a diversion from beach-based activities, a hiking trail has been built up to Lelei's small "peak", complete with several resting shelters along the way and a (now increasingly derelict) viewing tower on the top.
Obviously, you should not expect a serious climb! :-)

Local Culture

Welcoming Ceremony

Visitors to Lelei might be treated to a welcoming ceremony, involving a nice dance by traditionally clad Makianese youth.
Of course this is more likely to be arranged for groups than for a single visitor! ;-)

Togal Dance

Togal is the traditional dance and music style of the Makianese people.
It is still very popular and is often performed for traditional festivities and ceremonies.
On Lelei visitors might be treated to it, too.

Makianese Music

The Togal music accompanying traditional Makianese dances is played on gongs and drums much like most traditional music in Indonesia.
However it also uses a string instrument and may be accompanied by signing.
Overall, it has a strongly Islamic/Arabic feel to it, more so than most other traditional music styles in Maluku.

The Guraici Festival

While it lasts (and it may not survive the change of governors in the next election) the yearly Guraici Festival held on Lelei around November is a great chance to see traditional dances from various parts of North Maluku. There are also other events like cooking, fishing and underwater photography competitions.

Getting There and Around

By Sea

There are ships to Lelei from Bastiong harbour in Ternate at least twice weekly.
They go on to the islands of Taneti, Muari and Lata Lata before ending their voyage on Kasiruta or Bacan.
If you don't want to wait for these, you could take one of the more frequent ships to Pulau Kayoa (make sure it goes along its western coast) and charter from there.


The "Cottages"

The North Maluku Tourism Office has erected sg. like a dozen large chalets (imported from North Sulawesi!) on Lelei, each of which has three double-bed rooms and bathrooms, as well as spacious sitting and eating areas.
They should ideally be booked through their office in Ternate, or better still, by contacting their English-speaking officer Azis (+6281334435241).


For cheaper accommodation, several village homes, especially in Galela village, have opened homestay accommodation. Note that these are not purpose-built homestays just rooms in the villagers' own homes. All should have a springbed and a fan though. The designated homestsays are identifiable by numbered signs at their doors.


Places to Eat?

There are no warungs on Lilei and accommodation doesn't automatically come with meals.
You can still organize simple rice and fish meals easily, but several visitors have found the quality of meals poor and the prices high. And of course if you want anything more fancy, you should bring it with you from Ternate!