Maluku Travel Information - Obi

The Obi Islands: North Maluku's South

Obi is a largish, hilly island in the south of North Maluku. It is surrounded by a number of smaller inhabited islands. South of here, the next major island is Seram in Central Maluku, but there are no regular boat connections there, making Obi a dead-end for travellers.
Like the Bacan Islands, the Obis have no native population and are inhabited by Galelarese, Tobelorese and Butonese migrants. The main economic activity, apart from agriculture, is logging and mining.
For visitors, this remote archipelago has few obvious attractions. The hilly, sparsely-inhabited main island certainly has potential for hiking, and there are some good beaches, especially on the smaller off-shore islands.
Naturalists may be interested in the one endemic species of pigeon and cuscus, or the poisonous Death Adders for which Obi is famous in the province!

Attractions Off the Track Activities Getting There Accommodation Food
Main Attractions


The capital of the Obis, located on the north coast of Pulau Obi itself, is a sleepy place with no attractions besides its limited facilities. It forms a continuous strip of settlement together with the neighbouring villages of Baru, Buton and Jikotamo, and between them these are home to the Obis 2 main ports and the only accommodation options.

Pulau Sambiki

This idyllic little uninhabited islet just off the coast at Sambiki village, ca 45 mins east of Laiwui, is Obi's main tourist attraction.
It offers great beaches and snorkelling.
You can hire someone to row you over here in a canoe from the village.

Anggai Gold Mine

Just east of Sambiki, the village of Anggai is the site of a minor gold rush. Walk inland for a mile or so to see n entire little township of miners and makesift mining equipment. It's all unofficial, a so-called "People's Mine".

Off the Beaten Track

Western Obi

Obi's very sparsely-inhabited west coast is mostly noted for the huge nickel-mining operation at Kawasi village. Visitors may also find the lighthouse at Suligi village interesting, while naturalists can find unspoilt forests reaching right down to the shoreline here.

South Obi

Obi's remote southern coast is home to a few mostly Galelarese villages. The hills beyond them offer some enticing hiking possibilities, and former logging tracks offer access to the intrerior here.

Pulau Bisa

Bisa is the largest of the islands suroounding Pulau Obi itself. Lying to the north, it is actually the first port of call for ships coming from Ternate and Bacan. Named after and notorious for its poisonous Death Adders ("ular bisa"), the island is actually largely deforested and not all that interesting. However, keep your camera sharpened when rounding its east coast, where a line of very scenic stilt houses stand off the shore. The main settlement of Madapolo also offers great seafood sold to passengers of assing ships.


The remote village of Galala out on Bisa's west coast is home to a great series of waterfalls and a long cave.

Pulau Tapa

West of Bisa, the island of Tapa is home to just 2 villages on its east coast facing Bisa. Aptly-named Pasir Putih is situated on a white-sand beach with some snorkelling possibilities.

Pulau Belang-belang

South of Tapa, Belang-belang is another fairly large, but flat and totally uninhabited island. It has a very inviting white-sandbar on its north-eastern cape, surrounded by shallow coral reefs. The island's forests are teeming with birdlife, and are noted for their coconut crabs, too.

Pulau Obilatu

South of Belang-belang and west of Kawasi on Pulau Obi, Obilatu is a very rugged, mountainous island home to 4 Butonese villaes and a small-scale nickel mining operation.

Pulau Gamomo

The southernmost island in the Obi group, Gamomo is home to just 2 poor fishing villages. It has some good beaches and coral reefs on its eastern and western ends, but is otherwise unappealing, covered almost entirely with coconut plantations. Occasionally, village boats go from here to Ambon, but not on anything like a regular schedule.



The Obis have many unexploreed caves, often full of stalactites and bats. The one near Galala on Bisa is probably the most accessible.

Watching Wildlife

The Obis have an endemic species of cuscus and a pigeon, both of which may be seen in any forested area. Despite all the scaremongering about them, the poisonous Death Adders are actually very elusive and rarely seen.

Getting There and Around

By Sea

The only way to reach Obi is by boat.
Boats come to Obi's Jikotamo harbour from Bastiong harbour in Ternate via Kupal on Bacan and Madopolo on Bisa almost daily. Some of them continue on to Obi's south coast as far as Voi, and once a week a boat goes on to Namela on Buru, in Central Maluku.
Boats are also the only way to reach most villages around the coast of Obi - connecting boats to ther islands tleave from another smaller pier in Laiwui itself.

By Road

There is a short stretch of poor road connecting just a few villages around Laiwui, from Kampung Baru in the West to Anggai and Air Mangga in the east. It is in very poor condition but is nowadays fairly busy with traffic. Down on Obi's south coast former logging tracks connect villages, and in good weather are possible to traverse by motorcycles that may need to cross rivers on raft-ferries!



Laiwui is now home to maybe half a dozen simple, homestay-style penginapan, all close together near the main market area.


Limited but Adequate

The food situation is better than the accommodation in Obi.
Several villages have warungs, offering the usual, basic fish and chicken dishes. The best selection of food in the archipelago is offered to passengers of transiting ships in Madapolo on Pulau Bisa though - the plate 4 cooked crayfish on this photo set me back to just over $4!