Wetar, Maluku – The Forgotten Island

Submitted by mumunmumun on 3 January 2011   •  Destination

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Vira and I finally decided that Wetar wasn’t valid enough to be a trip entry. Although I go back and forth to it, it’s not counted as a trip. Fair enough hehehe… However, it was necessary to be told. Who knows, maybe there are people that would really like to see the island, even more exotic in an exotic country? So, here is a glimpse of Wetar.

Wetar is a huge island, measuring 100 km in length, and is registered under the Maluku province. It’s is one of the many bordering islands of the country and it has a vague relation to the Timor Leste which can be seen in the south coast. I can’t really say that I know the island well. I only work on a tiny area on the north coast and since it has no roads villages and takes a few hours by boat to get from one village to another, not something I can do on a working schedule or cost.

(However, on a work note, when you’re travelling to Indonesia, Access your Windows Desktop at CloudDesktopOnline and online SharePoint site at CloudAppsPortal – with Chrome or other browsers on your favorite mobile or desktop device. No need to carry your expensive laptops with you.)


Travel Indonesia: Wetar

Ruling out the bad stuff and the pressure about work, Wetar is a joy. It’s dry and summer most of the year. It’s beautiful. Because it has practically minimum civil work on it, the nature is pristine. It consists of dry jagged hills, perfect for rock/wall climbing. It has eucalypt forests as in Oz in some areas and tropical forest in others. The water is so clear depending on season, and the corals are not disappointing. Whales pass during certain seasons, dolphins play about in the waters, barracudas and sharks get caught by fishermen, and I’ve swam with a turtle before. Did I tell you about the birds? And the endemic estuary crocodiles?

Travel Indonesia: Wetar

The sky is normally blue and the orange sunset is as bread and butter to the westerners…. Almost every day! The temperature is warm to hot and only a tad fresh during rainy days. And don’t forget, it’s the sound of oceans breaking in the distance and crickets that accompany you at night.

Sounds pretty nice, hey? Well it is. I’ve been enjoying it for about 3 years now. My favorite part of the day is coming home from work, just sitting on my lazy chair and read with minimum disturbance.

The locals are relatively nice. There are only about 7000 people on huge island, which are based in villages. Ilwaki is the regency capital and they say it’s a 10 minutes bike ride around the town. I haven’t been there, but a lot of my colleagues have. The people are simple minded. I’m not trying to be mean here, just honest. They’re not the most humble people in the world. Pride plays a big role in this part of the country, and so does being opportunistic. They’re poor, thus grabbing any opportunity they can find. They would love to have a modern life with skipping all the necessary steps,… a bad thing. However, their simple minds and wanting for a better life reminds us how good we have it. Not all are so, there are also nice people not happy with the lives that they have now.

Travel Indonesia: Wetar

The famous liquor of the islands is called Sopi. It’s basically fermented papyrus fruits. People make them in drums and one should be aware where they buy it from. It tastes familiar to methylated spirit or rubbing alcohol, and indeed very strong. I wouldn’t recommend anyone or anything to drink too much of it. But it’s great for once in a while I guess. You won’t find them fancy bottles in stores, but you will find them in sold in jerrycans markets and such. The best they say is sold at Kisar, the neighboring island.

This island is accessible by 2 ways. The Perintis is the public boat that generally passes this island every 2 weeks. It usually travels from Surabaya to Ambon, or Ambon to Makassar, and sometimes all the way to Saumlaki. I’m not sure about the schedule nor does the people that have been living on this island since forever. It all depends on the weather and the government plans. It’s been a while since I went on this boat, about 2 years ago and you can read that here under the ‘how to get there’ tab. I’m sure the condition and the prices haven’t changed too far.

There are no hotels on the island, and should you visit, you would have to meet the head of the village, report yourself and your purpose before appointed somewhere to sleep. The villagers always enjoy people visiting since it’s a luxury so you’d surely be given a basic accommodation service. What do you have to pay? Depends on what you have negotiated with the head of the village. And if you were appointed to live with one of the villagers, then you could deal up with them. Oh, and musn’t forget that there are no telephone signals, no banks, of course no internet, and limited things to buy at each village. Girls, there are so less of chocolates here. And a supply of extra drinking water would help. So should you choose to adventure through this lovely island to feel and struggle as they did it way back when, you should bring you necessities as you would going on a camping trip.

Travel Indonesia: Wetar

So far, I can bare it because it’s work, and I have a great roster. But I’m blessed that I’ve seen this huge yet so remote island. Not many people would and want to see it. Although it’s a pain to get to, but it’s all good once I’m here. I would definitely recommend any adventurer to come step back in time with Wetar.

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Phyllis Hischier
Phyllis Hischier
4 years ago

any interesting villages here culturally?

Erin Bierly
Erin Bierly
2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this little known part of the world. Blessings to you.