Maluku Travel Information - Seram

Seram: The Mother Island of Central Maluku

Seram is the largest island in southern Maluku Province, and according to local beliefs it is the "Nusa Ina" or Mother Island where all the people of Central Maluku once came from.
The island is very mountainous and includes 3027m Gunung Binaya, the highest mountain in all Maluku.
Needless to say, it offers excellent (but hard) trekking opportunities, the best known of which is a long trek right across the island through Manusela National Park.
An added bonus is the island's unique birdlife which includes several endemic species, though is not always easy to spot.
For the less energetic, Seram's main attraction is beautiful Sawai village on the northern coast, with its gorgeous setting at the foot of towering cliffs, nice accommodation, good snorkelling and interesting off-shore islands.

Attractions Off the Track Activities Local Culture Getting There Accommodation Food

Main Attractions


The main town on Seram, and the capital of Central Maluku Regency, Masohi is a friendly but rather dull place. There is pretty much nothing to do here besides resting up before or after exploring further afield, and stocking up on supplies.

Goa Akohi

This very impressive, large cave is well worth a day-trip from Masohi.
It is on the south coast, near the village of Tamilouw, where you will have to look for the caretaker to ask for permission to visit, and to get some guides. Of course this will involve paying a fee - we ended up paying 50.000 each, which turned out to be well worth it.
Initial impressions are misleading - the concrete entrance and walkway leading down vanishes after a while, when it is real hard scrambling. Try to avoid damaging the beautiful stalactites as best as you can!


This pretty village, located at the foot of towering limestone cliffs, is Seram's most popular tourist-destination. Apart from its scenic setting, it offers great accommodation, good snorkelling, birdwatching, and is a possible starting point for treks through the interior.


East of Sawai, the larger town of Wahai is another good gateway to Manusela National Park, though Wahai itself is quite unremarkable. Nevertheless, if you've been exploring more remote parts of Seram, its fine losmen and well-stocked stores will be a pleasant surprise.

Manusela National Park

Manusela was Maluku's first national park.
It covers a huge chunk of Central Seram's interior and reaches down to the north coast west of Sawai and east of Wahai. The park offers great scenery and good (but tough) hiking, though wildlife, even birds, can be hard to spot - I found the lowland forest east of Wahai the best area for birding.

The Manusela Valley

This large valley in the very centre of the island is surrounded by the national park on all sides.
There are several villages up here, making them some of the most remote in Maluku. but don't expect "primitive natives" - they are all Christianised, and the houses are of the typical, modern(ish) style. Still, the valley is a good place to spend a few days on a cross-island hike, and the people are very friendly.

Off the Beaten Track


The village of Huaulu has preserved its traditional architecture and customs to a greater extent than most in Seram.
Most houses are still of the traditional style, traditional religion is practiced, and while everyone wears modern dress, they also wear the traditional red turbans typical of interior people in Seram.


Diving & Snorkelling

There are some established dive-sites at the far western end of Seram, off the Hoalmoal Peninsula. However as there are no dive-shops on Seram itself, these are mostly accessed from Ambon.
Snorkellers who bring their own gear can look under the water throughout Seram, though the most popular snorkelling area is around Sawai.


Its mountainous interior with native villages makes Seram Maluku's most appealing trekking destination.
The only popular trek leads right across the island through Manusela National Park. Starting point is Hatumeti on the south coast, and either Sawai or (more commonly) Wahai on the north.
It is quite a hard slog and can be very muddy, and takes about a week! Guides and preferably also porters are necessary, but accommodation can be found in villages along the way. A tempting diversion from this trail can be climbing Gunung Binaya.


Seram has 21 species of endemic birds (the 2nd highest number in Maluku) including the spectacular Moluccan Cockatoo and the beautiful Purple-naped Lory - the latter sadly easier seen as a pet (as on the photo) than in the wild.
The most popular place to look for these is along the trail through Manusela National Park, but a good number can also be seen around Sawai or better still, east of Wahai.
Unfortunately, due to widespread trapping, many of the parrot species here are scarce and harder to see than those in Halmahera.

Local Culture

The People of Seram

Seram has the most diverse population mix among all Malukan islands, with dozens of different languages spoken here. Many of the native ethnic groups used to live in the mountainous interior, but most were resettled along the coast during the Dutch colonial era. Some still remain in the interior to this day.
Religiously, the island is quite mixed. Muslims form the majority, but there are also plenty of Christians, especially around the West and in the interior, and a few communities have even managed to stick to their traditional belief systems.
People from the interior tend to be noticeably darker-skinned than those traditionally living along the coast.


Catching wild parrots and cockatoos is a major source of income for the interior people of Seram - even though several species are technically protected.
Here a man from Manusela carries a dozen Moluccan Cockatoos down to the coast in bamboo tubes.

Getting There and Around

By Air

There are Merpati flights from Ambon to Masohi and Wahai on Seram.
Some of the flights to Masohi continue to the Bandas.
All these flights are very cheap, heavily-booked and unreliable.

By Sea

There are several ways of getting to Seram by sea from Ambon.
The cheapest and most popular option is the car-ferry from Liang on Ambon to Kairatu on Seram, which is also used by the direct buses connecting the two islands.
Those in a hurry to get to Masohi can opt for speedboats, or even a daily hydrofoil from Tulehu.
Remoter villages and towns around western, northern and eastern Seram are reached by boats leaving from the harbours in Ambon city itself.
There are also speedboats from the Lease Islands, Haruku, Saparua and Nusalaut to Seram, the last two using a jetty behind Namano village just south of Masohi.

By Road

Seram has a decent road-network going right around its western half, though sections along the northern coast are still very bad. Eastwards it reaches Tehoru on the southern coast. There is now a road from Masohi to Wahai on the northeast coast and on via Kobi to Bula.
On most of these roads there is public transport in the form of buses, shared-taxis and ojeks.
Buses even connect various towns on Seram with Ambon via the ferry.


Many Options

Seram is large enough to have accommodation in several towns around its coast, with the regional capital Masohi offering the widest choice.
However easily the nicest place to stay is the only losmen in Sawai.


Not Too Bad!

Several towns and villages around Seram have warungs or restaurants offering the usual range of local dishes: rice with fish or chicken.
Masohi itself has some better restaurants though, and surprises can be had elsewhere, too - such as this mouthwatering plate of shrimps in Wahai!