Maluku Travel Information - Tayando Islands


Tayando: Kei's Western Neighbour

The Tayando Islands, a few hours west of the Keis, are still well off the tourist track. While they are surrounded by white sand beaches, the waters here are mostly too shallow even for swimming, let alone to nurture fine reefs. The local people are all Muslims, and speak a distinct dialect of the Keiese lnguage. While there are no facilities for visitors whatsoever, some intriguing historical relics and cultural attractions may be seen on these islands.

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

Pulau Heniaar

The central island of theTayando group, and the smallest of the three inhabited ones, Heniaar is home to the district capital of Tayado and as such usually the easiest island to find transport to. It is surrounded by very shallow waters on most sides, which makes swimming and snorkelling off its white sand beaches a less tempting option though. At low tide, you can actually walk across to the larger but uninhabited neighbouring island of Walir.

Goa Kepala Tujuh

About half an hour's walk from the village on Heniaar, this is a skull cave similar to those found more commonly in the Tanimbars and the Southwest. The name means "Seven Heads Cave", and though we only saw fragments of a single skull here, locals were adamant that from time to time, all seven skulls are still present! Good luck...

The Ancestral Village

Across on the island of Tayando (proper) are the intriguing ruins of what was once the archipelago's original settlement. The entire site is surrounded by stone walls resembling a fortification.

The Old Mosque

Inside the walls, a bref walk brings you to the ruins of an old mosque built of coral rocks. It reminded me of Swahili ruins along the coast of East Africa, and is probably the most interesting old relic of Islamic presence in southern Maluku.

The Old Graveyard

Nearby is a similarly old and interesting old Muslim cemetary with coral walls and arched gateways.

The "Tourism Island"

Locals consider the uninhabited, tiny islet surrounded by wide, white sand beaches and deep blue waters standing between Walir and Tayando islands to be the archipelago's main tourist attraction. Back in the 1970es it even used to be a port of call for cruise ships! These days you are likely to have it to yourself.

Off the Beaten Track

Pulau Tam

The southernmost island of the archipelago, hilly Tam is quite different from its neighbours to the north. It hasan inviting mix of forested hills and white sandy beaches, and as the waters surrounding it are less shallow, there are better coral reefs, too.

An Unusual Resource

Around Tam you will see a number of local boats covered with what seems to be hay. These boats are used to collect eggs of flying fish - a major resource for the isanders. The yellow eggs are dried, sold to traders, and then exported to East Asian markets like Japan.


Tam is also interesting for its traditional pottery, very similar to that produced by the Bandanese on Kei Besar. In the past, these pots used to be sold far and wide around SE Maluku, but with the availability of plastic buckets and aluminium pots, they no longer have a commercial value. You coud still buy some as very authentic, unique local souvenirs, though they tend to be both abit big and fragile!

Local Culture

A Wedding in Tayando

Our visit to the islands coincided with a local wedding - always a good chace to see a display of local traditions. The wedding herewas a lavish affair, though as the groom was Butonese, the young couple wore the traditional dress of Buton, not Tayando.

Traditional Music

A few hours after the foral part of the wedding, a party involving traditional music and dances was held in the evening. The music, played on drums and a guitar,  was typical to Muslim parts of Maluku, with a heavy Arab influence.

The Ladies' Dance

At first, perhaps partly to our benefit, a typically Malay-style dance was performed by the local ladies - and the groom. It was very similar to dances seen all the way up to North Maluku, though here it seemed to be going out of fashion, and only a few women could dance it well.

The Men's Dance

Much more popular was the Arab-style dance performed by pairs of men and boys. As only two people could dance it at a time, these went on for hours!

Getting There and Around

The Koromolin ferry calls at Tayando once a week on it way between Tual and Kur. On other days, you may find small village boats to various villages in Tayando in the ferry port in Tual. Note that these definitely do NOT run daily - you will almost certainly have to stay a few days if you go on one.

Within the Tayandos, there is no regular transport between the islands so you will probably have to charter. Small ketinting would be fine between Heniaar, Wulir and Tayando, but to far-flung Tam you will need a longboat or speedboat.

There is no formal accommodation, or places to eat, anywhere in these islands.