Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 26 September 2012 • Itinerary
Traveled Ambon Island in March 2012.
You can never stay dry on Ambon Island, Maluku. This small little island has beaches and bays lined side by side like wood on a perfect picket fence. If not to swim, you’ll definitely want to soak your feet in the fresh sea water once you see how blue and clear the waters are. As I stole time from my 4th business trip here, I still managed to find a few more great waters to swim in or just hang out to drink coconut. This little island has so many beautiful coasts I can’t imagine what the whole province has to offer!
Pintu Kota –the iconic arch above land that is said to welcome those traveling by sea. It translates to ‘city gate’.
Namalatu Beach – A beach not far from Santai Beach, where I did my dive. It’s good for hanging out and soaking your feet, too.
Diving –two dives around at ‘Pintu Kota’ and ‘TanjungKilang’,for IDR 1,000,000 which included dive equipment, lunch, and speed boat ride.
‘Blue Rose’, Jl. HariAti, Santai Beach, Latuhalat.
Eat & Drink
Gandaria fruit – A local fruit that tastes like a mix between oranges and mangoes.
Sibu-sibu coffee shop – Another coffee shop that serves coffee, traditional cakes, and is a more relaxed place to hang out. It’s on Said Perintah street.
Kopi Balabu – A coffee shop which had light coffee and traditional coffee, and the only one open that morning. The new address is behind the old store , near Sekawan alley.
Swiss-Bel Hotel – It’s a business trip guys. I had the pleasure to stay there thanks.
Jl. Benteng Kapaha 88 Ambon 97124
Tel :+(62-911) 322 888; Fax : +(62-911) 322 777
How to Get There
Garuda Indonesia flies to Ambon twice a day for IDR 1,700,000 / paxone way.
Becak –becaks still roam the city and are still very effective considering the city isn’t huge.
It was a business trip with hidden agenda. Sound familiar? If you’ve traveled for work but rather travel for pleasure, then you know what I’m talkin’ about. Muhaha! Coincidentally, I had a meeting in Ambon on a Friday morning. This definitely calls for an extension. So I extended my trip to Sunday. Can I get a ‘Woohoo’?!
This iconic rock is said to be “the gate of the city”, a literal translation from ‘pintu kota’. If one is sailing from the east side of Ambon Island, this arch would be the official sign that one has arrived in Ambon. I see land, matey!
Everyone will recommend you to visit ‘Pintu Kota’. Ok, honestly, I’m not really sure what everyone is fussing about, because ‘Pintu Kota’ is just a rock with a whole in it. There might be some legend attached to it, but I’ve heard none so far. I personally didn’t have butterflies in my tummy seeing it. It’s not as big as I thought either. But once I walked up the man-made pathway to the top of the arch, that’s when my tummy started to tingle.
From the top, you could see the blue bay of ‘Pintu Kota’ decorated with jagged rocks. Now, that’s a sight to fuss about! It really makes you wanna jump in to the water, no matter how terrifying it looked. I sat on top of the rock for a few moments just to enjoy it. This was my version of ‘Pintu Kota’.
There are mini stalls along the path if you need munchies or drinks.
This beach is located east of Santai Beach, where I did my diving (notes below). There were more stalls and a more established setting with concrete huts lining up on the beach. If I had more time, I would have spent it on this beach with my driver, eating more local snacks and having a cup of coffee. But I didn’t, so I took a quick stroll along the beach to just soak my feet in to the water.
Oh my, the water was fresh! I wanted to wiggle in it like a disco fish.
Diving was one of the things that I hadn’t done on this island, yet it was on my to do list. Since I had time to wait for documents that Saturday morning, I decided that it was about time that I did some dives. So I made some calls, including to Mad, and booked myself a dive trip with Blue Rose Dive, located on Santai Beach. My goal was set. I was ready to strike off one of my travel destinations: the ‘pintu kota’ dive spot.
This is an iconic dive spot in Ambon. It’s an underwater arch surrounded with life. Personally, I was excited because I really enjoy spots that have different types of terrain. Once plunging into the water, I could see the hole in the rock.
Heading down to the arch, I felt the strong current pushing me away. I had to swim with a little effort just to get to the arch. This current is a regular around here and that’s why we also found a few pelagic fishes not too far away. The dive itself is to circle around the arch. The fun part was to go in the small caves and holes in the deep. Not to mention diving upside down in the arch, as the fishes did, and just hang for a bit.
Now, who knew Ambon Island had a gate above AND underwater in the same area? I guess not a lot of people dive hence never really know that there is two archs. ‘Pintu Kota’ thus really mean gateway both for man and visiting marine beings.
This is another random spot Franki, my dive master, took me to. I didn’t have any other diving destination after the ‘PintuKota’ so I gave him the authority to take me to any spot he wanted. A fun and relaxed dive was preferable after that current. This spot is a shallow slope in to the deep sea. It has random fishes.
According to Frankie, the worst time to dive Ambon Island is around May-September. The winds are way too strong for boats and the waters are murky. Just not possible. The rest of the year is commonly great. Frankie also succeeded in persuading me to want to come back and dive in Ambon with them. He said that the Mandarin fishes could be found in Ambon. There are plenty there and you can see them all day. And here I thought they were only in Bandaneira (but that doesn’t take Bandaneira out of my destination wish list). Then he convinced me that the cave dive in Hukurila is awesome. Heugh! Stroke off one thing from my list to add another two. My life is a mess, LOL!
I did the two dives for IDR 1,000,000, which included equipment, lunch at the end of the trip, and speed boat ride. The boat was way too big just for myself and lunch was a big portion enough to feed 2 of me. I’m sure I could have gotten it cheaper if there were more people.
Jl. Hari Ati, Santai Beach, Latuhalat.
I was ready to find some hostel to crash for the next 2 nights. Since luck is such a relative perspective, I’d say I was lucky that I had to still work my way through Saturday afternoon, ending me up in a … *drum roll* star hotel! YAY!
There isn’t much to say about this hotel except that it was luxury in the middle of town. It’s a walk or a beack ride away from everywhere in town. It has nice beds, clean rooms, awesome views, and everything that you would hope for in a star hotel. The breakfast was yummy and they had wifi in the lobby. It’s just expensive. Room prices were about IDR 700,000 / night.
Jl. BentengKapaha 88 Ambon 97124
Tel: +(62-911) 322 888; Fax: +(62-911) 322 777
Garuda Indonesia flies to Ambon twice a day. Add to that, it was coming in to the weekends where prices are always higher than your usual weekdays. Then there’s more to pay on short notice. In the end, the ticket is something my office would pay for anyways. Tickets are about IDR 1,700,000 /pax one way.
If you didn’t want to spend so much on plane tickets, there are options like Lion Air, Batavia Air, and Sriwijaya Air. For more information on prices and availability, come check out our booking box on our sidebar 😉
These babies still roam the streets of Ambon because it’s such a small city. Locals still use becak to and from markets and destinations that aren’t very far. For me, this was the option to take to find that local coffee bright in the morning. There’s not point of using cars so early on a Sunday. The streets are quiet because most of the people are attending church, and it’s not too hot to go outside.