Maluku Travel Information - Nusalaut

Nusalaut: The Little Gem of Lease

Quiet little Nusalaut is the smallest inhabited island in the Lease group east of Ambon.
It lies just off the south-western corner of Saparua, the major gateway here. Nusalaut has an all Christian population and has escaped the troubles plaguing the rest of the region unscratched. Its villages retain lots of colonial style houses and churches, two of which compete for the title of being the oldest church in Maluku. There is also an old fort.
The island is great for coastal walks or lazing on its beaches, though most visitors have so far come here to dive off the reefs of Ameth - reputedly one of the best dive spots in Lease!

Attractions Off the Track Activities Local Culture Getting There Accommodation Food
Main Attractions


The village of Ameth is the administrative centre of Nusa Laut, and the only place with accommodation.
Its reefs are the top diving/snorkelling spot around the island, and it has a unique, octagonal-shaped colonial church.


This church in the village of Sila is claimed to be the oldest in Maluku.
It has recently been renovated and is immaculately well-kept, so it does not LOOK very old though!

Beverwyk Fort

This small Dutch fort from the 17th century is also in Sila village, near the sea.
Despite some renovation work done to it, it remained very atmospherically overgrown until late 2007.
That's over now.
The fort has been completely restored by early 2008, fenced around, and the doors locked.
You could get the keys from the Raja of Sila, or else just climb in - even right inside the fort through its "windows"!

Off the Beaten Track

Hot Springs

There are undeveloped, natural hot springs on the coast near Sila and Nalahia villages.
They are pretty shallow so don't expect to be swimming in them - taking a scoop to pour the hot water over yourself would be useful.
Also, you must go at low tide, as otherwise they might be under sea level!

Batu Pintu

Approached on a steep track over Sila village, these rock "gateways" lead to several caves.
Locals say the Dutch Baron resident on the island fled up here when the Japanese invaded during WW II. He lived in the caves, and shreds of pottery on a rock shelf are supposed to be his food-containers.
Eventually, his servants from the coast stopped coming up with food for him, so he died up there, and turned into stone!
The stone in question is still there.

A short distance further uphill is the old site of Sila village.
There is nothing left to see there, but it's interesting to ponder over how different life on the island must have been when the locals were still warlike "savages" living in the interior!

Around the Island

The road/track around Nusalaut is only 27 kms long.
It could make for a fine walk if you feel up to it, otherwise you could hire an ojek to take you around. The latter will require some bargaining - I finally got one for 70.000 Rp, justified by the often atrocious road conditions.
You will pass very quaint villages south of Ameth, with lots of clove plantations and in season cloves being dried right on the road.


This village in the island's South hosts a fine monument dedicated to the island's famous anti-colonial heroine Martha Christina Tiahahu.
It also has a pela monument, and some intriguing old tombs nearby.


Diving & Snorkelling

The reefs off Ameth are the best spot, and their popularity with divers has allowed the village head to introduce a fee for diving there!
He might also try and get this from snorkellers, but I could get out of it.
There are also other spots around the island.
Note that diving equipment is not available on Nusalaut, so divers must come with a dive-shop from Ambon or Saparua.
Even snorkellers should bring their own gear.

Local Culture

Makan Patita

During my third visit to the island, I could take part in a large feast in honour of the departing lady pastor of Sila village.
All families cooked traditional food at home, then spread it out along the main road through the village on mats.
A huge buffet for the whole village!

Dance from Sila

Traditional dances of Nusalaut are only performed on special occasions.
I was lucky enough to see dances from Sila and Ameth on two different occasions, ironically both of them taking place on Ambon, where the Nusalaut villagers went to visit their pela and gandong partners.
This dance from Sila was performed at the huge Panas Gandong ceremony in Asilulu, Ambon.

Cincau Dance from Ameth

This dance, themed around the collecting and processing of "cincau" sea-weed, was performed by the Ameth villagers during the coronation ceremony for the new raja in their pela partner Uring on Ambon.
Like the dance from Sila, it showed obvious European influence in the traditional dresses of the girls.

Getting There and Around

By Sea

The most popuar way of getting to Nusalaut is from Saparua.
On market days (Wed & Sat) there are several small boats returning to villages all over the Nusalaut from Kota Saparua around noon, but on other days you may have to charter.
There is also a hydrofoil to Nalahia village on Nusalaut from Tulehu on Ambon every day from Monday to Saturday, and an additional slower boat that comes from Tulehu to Nalahia via Haria on Saparua three times a week, continuing to Seram, and returning the next day. On Tuesday a slow passenger-car ferry also goes to Nusalaut from Tulehu via Kulur in Saparua, and continues to Seram, returning the next day.

By Road

During my first visit, work was just started on the first road connecting the villages of the island.
As little progress was made over the years, be prepared to have to walk!
Otherwise ojeks are an option, charging upwards of 100.000 Rp for a round-island tour.


Penginapan CV Relasi: The Only One!

Ameth village has Nusalaut's only real guesthouse, an unmarked pink house towards the village's southern end opposite the football ground.
Its fan rooms with private bathroom are a great bargain, and the owners are very friendly.
They can also provide meals.
This is the place referred to as "Parinusa" in the LP Indonesia guide.

Sila Homestay

The family home of the local English teacher Roberth Abrahams also takes in guests just before the fort in Sila village. Please note that this is not a purpose-built homestay, just a typical, simple little local home! As such, you can't expect private bathroom or aircon. You will live as one of the family, sharing their meals. It is certainly more suitable for those interested in a cultural experience rather than for those looking for comforts. Advance bookings are unnecessary - just show up. You are more likely to find Roberth himself at home after 4 pm, otherwise his mother or sister should take care of you. If still keen to contact Roberth in advance, try +6281248541183 or +6282399256758


Eat Where You Stay!

There is no restaurant or even food-stall on Nusalaut, but the guesthouse in Ameth serves meals to its guests.
Otherwise, there are simple stores in the villages selling soft drinks, biscuits and the like, and the odd road-side stall selling snacks or fruit. And that's it!