Maluku Travel Information - Tanimbar Islands

The Tanimbar Islands: Home to a Unique Culture

The Tanimbar Islands, southwest of the Keis, have a distinct culture most similar to that found in Southwest Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara.
They remain a major centre for the production of traditional crafts like ikat cloth and carved wooden statues in Maluku, and also have their own forms of music and dance, though as usual, you will have to be lucky (or pay up) to experience these first hand. Cultural attractions apart, the Tanimbars also have their own distinct fauna, including 8 species of birds endemic to the archipelago, and the usual fine beaches.
Most of the above attractions can be found on the main island of Yamdena, which is also home to the regional capital Saumlaki. This is the most accessible of the islands, and the main focus of most visits. Of the other islands, Larat in the north, with its town of the same name is the most accessible one, and the only one to offer any facilities.

Getting There

By Air

There are now 2 airlines offering flights from Ambon to Saumlaki:  Expressair and Trigana. Between them, they fly at least daily. Trigana also flies from Saumlaki to Langgur (in the Kei Islands) while Expressair flies the other way, from Langgur to Saumlaki. Fares are high, though as competition increases, they seem to be going down. Merpati also connects (at least in theory) Saumlaki with Kisar in SW Maluku, and both Saumlaki and Larat with Langgur in the Keis.

Within the Tanimbars, Merpati is scheduled to have at least one weekly flight between Saumlaki and Larat, though this is usually very heavily-booked and frequently cancelled.

By Sea

Two Pelni ships stop at Saumlaki a few times a month between Nusa Tenggara, Central Maluku, Tual and Papua.

There are also several Perintis cargo ships from Ambon, SE Maluku and the remoter islands of SW Maluku.

The most regular way to reach the Tanimbars by sea had long been the weekly Karomolin car ferry from Tual in the Keis (on Tuesdays), but as of 2010 that was no longer serving Saumlaki, just Larat in the northern Tanimbars, and that service tended to be cancelled when the sea was rough. Sometimes it didn't run for 2 months!