Maluku Travel Information - Seira

Seira: Caves, Islands & Splendid Ikat

Seira is a fairly large, flat, and mostly deforested island off the southwestern coast of Yamdena. The people here are ethnically Fordatan, like those in much of North Tanimbar. They are a rather modern lot though, living in five continous villages that together form the largest settlement in the Tanimbars besides Saumlaki and Larat. Unspoilt, traditional paradise it may not be, but Seira has some very nice off-shore islands, interesting cave systems, and is known for producing the most colorful traditional ikat in the Tanimbars.

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

The New Church

The pride and symbol of Seira, the huge new Protestant church towers over the villages, visible from afar. It boosts fine, landscaped grounds and some local-style decorations.

The Old Church

The old, colonial-style Protestant church standing in the middle of the settlement below is now used for various non-religious purposes. I was told it may even be demolished soon, which would be a pity.

The Miraculous Springs

At the southern end of the villages, right on the shore, a new freshwater spring has surfaced in recent years. Locals claim it has miraculous healing powers. Should you wish to test these, you will need to dig your own pool into the sand first, and that too will only be possible when the tide is low.

Pulau Yayaru

This tiny island surrounded by broad, white sandy beaches and extensive reefs is consiodered to be Seira's main "tourist attraction". Note that snorkeling is best quite a distance from the shore, at the edge of the reefs.

Pulau Sukler

Closer to the villages, this larger island is also surrounded by inviting-looking white sand beaches. The waters around it are very shallow though, making it less than ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Sukler is very popular with local women though, who like to come here to hunt for shellfish on its reefs at low tide.

Off the Beaten Track

The Old Well

About 2 kms from the villges, across near the eastern coast of the island, a small patch of forest has been traditionally set aside to protect the main water supply of the island.An old stone well, still functioning, is said to have been dug by the island's original settlers. The well itself may not be horribly exciting and the forest ever-shrinking, but it still makes a good excuse for an excursion from the villages, and much to my surprise, this turned out to be the only place in the Tanimbars where I managed to spot the islands' endemic species of megapode (scrubfowl).



At least three sizeable caves are found just north of the village in a karst hill. Unlike in many places in Maluku, locals seem to have no fear of entering thewm, so you should be able to find willing guides to take you through them easily enough. Inside, a mix of spacious chambers and narrow passages await. Bring torches and strong footwear!

Local Culture

Ikat Cloth

Seira is well-known for producing the most colorful and intricately patterned ikat cloth in the Tanimbars. Most old pieces have been snapped up by antique collectors though, and these days weaving activity is far less obvious than on Fordata or Selaru. Handspun cotton thread is very rarely used. And yet, if you happen upon a traditional ceremony in the villages, you will see a range of beautiful ikat cloth worn by the local women.

Getting There and Around

The weekly Egron ferry between Saumlaki and Larat stops at Seira during much of the year. There are also local boats to Saumlaki maybe once or twice a week. Another option is to charter a boat to Batuputih or Latdalam villages on Yamdena, and continue to Saumlaki by road.

Seira's numerous ojeks most carry passengers within the villages, as the 2 km battered track across to the east coast is the only "road" on the island.

There is no formal accommodation on Seira.
Thanks to the large and concentrated local population, cakes and simple rice meals are sold from houses here. The many Chinese-owned shops also sell a good range of foodstuff.