Top Indonesia sea voyages are meant as suggestions for the interesting courses that ships may follow through the archipelago. The routes are for planning purposes only and one must keep in mind that the itinerary and program may have to be modified as a result of unfavorable winds or other circumstances. This itinerary from Ambon to Ternate covers about 500 miles and we suggest duration of about 10 days but it could of course be amended depending on your personal interests and preferences or made in reverse. In any case we recommend that you stay a few additional days in the final destination.

The Moluccas or the Spice Islands have been a magic destination for over ten centuries.  The first seafarers from faraway countries to explore the region, as early as the 8th century, were Chinese, later followed by the Arabs in the 1200s.  The name Maluku is thought to have been derived from the Arab trader's term for the region, Jazirat al-Muluk ‘'the island of the kings” and an ancient Arab text places the islands rather precisely “fifteen days sailing east of Jaba”.  What the Arab traders brought back to their home ports, were exotic spices: cloves, mace and nutmeg. These were sold to Venetian merchants and became known in Europe as “the nuts from Muscat”.  Because of the high value of these spices in Europe and the large profits they generated, many adventurers followed in the wake of the Chinese and the Arabs… first Portuguese and later Dutch and British. This ten day voyage retraces the route many ships have followed to the fabled sultanate of Ternate.

Sailing from the capital of Maluku province you first round the southern Cape of Ambon Island before you settle on a Northerly course towards the island of Manipa at a distance of 60 miles. Drop your anchor off the small village of Tumalehu on the east coast.

The next morning you should visit Benteng Wantrouw (Fort ‘Distrust’), a 17th century Dutch fortress that used to be the headquarters of a Dutch garrison established to control the local production of clove trees. In the course of the day you could make a stop at one of the fishing villages along the same coast before you proceed to Namlea, the capital of Buru, the third largest island in the Moluccas. Overnight at anchor.

Because of its remoteness Buru served as the notorious island of internal exile during the Suharto era. Thousands of political prisoners were imprisoned here including Indonesia’s most famous author, Pramudya Ananta Tur. During this third day you may want to go on a short river cruise into the jungle of the interior in an effort to spot endemic birds, such as pittas, sunbirds and kingfishers. In addition Buru is home to the peculiar Babirusa, an animal that partly resembles a pig, and partly a deer and is found only in Sulawesi and Buru. Its ancestry is lost in the mists of time. However we suggest you leave Namlea in the late afternoon for an overnight passage of about a hundred miles across the Ceram Sea towards the Sula Islands.

On the fourth day you reach the Island of Sulabesi and when you go ashore in the principal town Sanana, you find an ancient Portuguese fortress, with its characteristic pinnacles at the four corners of the walls still reasonably intact. Outside the main town is a Bajao village where you may wander through a maze of wooden foot-bridges that connect the houses, all built on stilts over the sea. In the afternoon we suggest you continue the voyage on an easterly course towards the Obi islands.

On the fifth day the first destination is Obilatu Island. You could visit one of the small settlements on the north coast or relax in one of the bays. Afterwards you may want to explore the area between Obilati and the main island of Obi Mayor. Once the sun has set continue on a Northerly course to make your way towards Bacan Island.

As the sun rises on the morning of the sixth day you reach Bacan, a mountainous and forested island west of Halmahera's southernmost arm. Drop anchor in front of the small town of Labuha, capital of the district and visit the early morning market, a colorful scene of vegetables, fruits and spices and a delight to photographers. The history of this island is as colorful as the market. Bacan used to be a powerful sultanate way back into the 14th century. It was an important producer of clove and frequented by Arab and Persian traders long before the western powers entered the stage. Half an hour from Labua Harbor we will find Fort Barneveld, a stronghold built by the Dutch in 1615 to help protect the clove monopoly.

After your visit of Labua you must follow the coast northward and carefully navigate your way between the adjacent islands toward the North coast of Bacan. There are many coral reefs in the area and during the day there will be several opportunities to go snorkeling. Spend the night at anchor in one of the Northern bays. 

Go ashore on the seventh day for an early morning trek from the village of Geti. When you enter the rain-forest you have a good chance to spot some of the endemic species of parrots, cockatoos or lorikeets and perhaps even the elusive cuscus or a rare black macaque.

in the course of the next morning you cross the equator and enter the northern hemisphere. You are off the island of Kayoa and your captain should look for a good anchorage nearby to celebrate the event.

On the ninth day you reach Tidore, seat of Ternate’s arch-rival since time immemorial, the Sultan of Tidore. Visit the ruins of Portuguese fortresses and stop at clove and coconut plantations. It is certainly worthwhile to visit the local museum in Soa Siu where the Sultan’s crown and other royal paraphernalia are on display.

On the tenth day you reach Ternate where you say goodbye to the captain and crew. Yet, before you travel on we recommend you spend a few more days to experience this historic island. Top Indonesia will assist you with all further travel arrangements.
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From Ambon to Ternate 500 miles 10 days
Blue banded Pitta Kubah
Obi Island
kuskus beruang ailurops ursinus
Traditional village in Tidore's small crater
Ternate - Benteng Tolukko
Soya Dance