A hidden paradise of Central Maluku – that’s what Ora Beach is often known as. It is definitely with good reason that people call it this way. The beauty of this beach is often compared to the likes of famous destinations such as Bora Bora and Maldives. Some people even refer it as The Little Maldives of Indonesia. Whether you agree or not, this beach has its own appeal and beauty that money can’t buy!
How to get there
Just like other known hidden paradise, you gotta spend a lot of money and time to get there. To reach Ora Beach, it requires you almost a half day from the main city of Ambon. Located in Ambon Island, the city of Ambon is the capital of Maluku province. The city is well-connected from Indonesia’s major cities, such as Jakarta, Makassar, and Surabaya. On average, there are around 4 flights a day from Jakarta and it takes about 4 hours to get there.
As Ora Beach is located in another adjacent island called Seram Island, you need to take an express ferry from Tulehu, a village about an hour away from Ambon. Unless you have a lot of time to spend in Ambon, I would recommend you to ask your resort/accommodation to arrange a full transport to Ora Beach. This will save you a lot of hassles as the complete Ambon-Ora journey is done using car-ferry-car-boat. Due to the bad road conditions on the way to Saleman village, I was told that many drivers will often refuse to go there, especially when the sun already sets. There is no electricity along this road and the treacherous conditions of the dirt road mean that the car may get stuck on the way. So it is better to have the transportation arranged as the resort will have someone who is used to the road condition to drive the car!
From Tulehu terminal, the express ferry to Amahai terminal, Seram Island departs daily at 9 AM and 4 PM. The ferry is surprisingly very comfortable and it has the options of the economy, VIP, and VVIP classes to choose from. If you are not on a budget, then a VIP class would be better as it is much less crowded than the economy class. The price ranges from 130k Rupiahs (economy) to 260k (VIP). Make sure you take the contact number of the driver who is going to pick you up from the terminal to make it easier to communicate. Here’s the full schedule of the ferry as of March 2016:
- Ambon (Tulehu) to Seram Island (Amahai)
- Monday to Saturday: 9 AM and 4 PM
- Sunday: 11 AM
- Seram Island (Amahai) to Ambon (Tulehu)
- Monday to Saturday: 8 AM and 2 PM
- Sunday: 3 PM
As soon as you arrive at Amahai, you will continue the journey by car for about 2.5 hours. You will pass the main town, Masohi, and continue all the way to the north of the island. The last 5 kilometres before reaching the Saleman village (to take the boat to Ora Beach) are arguably the worst road you may ever pass through. It would be exciting to drive here during the day as you will be amazed by the driving skill of your driver :P. However, if you take the 4 PM ferry, then chances are that you will be here after dark. It is quite scary as there is no electricity and no other vehicles passing this road. You will be hoping that your driver is skilful enough not to take the wrong turn into an invisible hole 😛
At Saleman village, you will need to take a short 10-minutes boat trip to the Ora Beach Resort. The village is also the last point to get to other accommodation nearby. Finally, the journey to the hidden paradise ends here. I have warned you before that it is not completely easy to reach the resort! But trust me, you won’t regret it!!!
Where to stay
Ora Beach Resort
Ora Beach Eco Resort is the main accommodation in this area. It is also the first resort to be set up in Saleman village back in 1997. The resort was barely known by Indonesians until recently. Before this, it was only known outside of Indonesia. Nowadays, it is frequented by local and foreign tourists alike. During holiday seasons, the cottages by the beach are fully booked, leaving only the rooms on the island. I don’t know about you, but for me, there is no point of going to Ora Beach without staying at this cottage. Yes, it may cost you an arm and a leg, but the rate is still cheaper compared to the resorts in Raja Ampat, Maldives, or other favourite holiday destinations. The view from your room balcony is spectacular and the sound of crashing waves make you feel that you are sleeping in the wild! Avoid weekends, public holidays, and local school holidays if you prefer a quiet environment. I went there at the end of March, a week after the school holidays ended, and we felt like a royal family as we were the only guests in the resort (for two days)!
For reference, below is the package I got from the resort. Please note that this is a local price and they may charge you extra if you are a non-Indonesian. The package includes transportation to/from Ambon airport/city, 3 meals a day, boat trip to Mata Air Belanda (“Dutch Spring”) and some caves, tax and other charges.
We did extend our stay for one more night at our “sea cottage” and that cost us around 1.8 million Rupiahs including meals. Read more about my experience in Ora here.
Lisar Bahari Guest House
If you are really on a budget, then you can opt for Lisar Bahari Guest house located in Saleman village. I saw that there were some new guesthouses under construction around the area too, which may be ready by next year or, which is worth checking out. But for now, those are the only options.
What to Do
You can do snorkelling around the resort (we did it twice or thrice a day!) or just chilling at Ora Beach. To explore other things around the area, you would need to rent a boat and this package is sold by the resort.
Pulau Tujuh (literally “Seven Islands”) refers to the 6 islands nearby Saleman village (one island is believed to have sunk). While the islands do have beautiful white soft sands, the main attraction is the coral reefs. I was totally blown away by these corals! I had never seen anything like this (except on TV, of course!). The corals are still alive and very colourful! Pulau Tujuh is definitely a must visit place when you are in Ora! Yes, you can see these corals just by snorkelling!
For more information, read: Pulau Tujuh – A Must-See Spot of Ora Beach
Caves – Mata Air Belanda – Lobsters
We took this tour, which was included in the package, on our second day of stay at Ora. We visited a cave in which we could swim underneath it. Quite awesome albeit not so impressive. At the end of the tour, we visited a fisherman who caught lobsters and some other fish. We bought 2 fresh lobsters from them and ask the resort to cook these lobsters. Read more about it here.
I came to Ora rather unprepared. We just had our wedding and I just wanted to relax and do nothing. So I did not think about doing any hikes during our visit to Ora Beach. If I were to go here again, I would have definitely hiked this mountain! The view of Ora Beach, Seram Sea and Saleman village is quite amazing, as seen from this blog post.
How much it costs
So here is the breakdown of costs:
- Flight from Jakarta to Ambon: IDR 933,473 per person
- Flight from Ambon to Jakarta: IDR 923,500 per person
- Sea cottage at Ora Beach Resort: IDR 6,860,700 per person (5D4N)
- This includes 21% tax, 3x meals, transport from & to Ambon, and boat trip to the caves and Air Belanda
- Trip to Pulau Tujuh: IDR 1,500,000 per boat
Where else to go
There are many places you can go to after/before your visit to Ora Beach. If you are on a budget and time is not your concern, then I would suggest planning your trip along the Pelni ship schedule to visit other main islands (see below). Otherwise, you can take a flight from Ambon to these islands.
Kei Islands are located in the south-eastern part of Maluku, roughly between Papua and Australia. You can either take a 1.5-hour flight or take a ship from Ambon. Kei Kecil/Little Kei is the main island, where the airport is located. It is also home to one of the best beaches in Indonesia. Read more about Kei Islands here:
- All You Need to Know about the Kei Islands of Maluku
- 8 Reasons Why You Should Visit Kei Islands of Maluku, Indonesia
Banda Islands are located in the south of Seram Island. Historically, the islands were once the world’s only producer of nutmeg and mace — which was the reason why the Portuguese, Dutch, and British tried to conquer these islands. In the present day, the islands are very popular for diving and snorkelling. I, myself, have never set my foot on Banda Islands, but I would love to go there one day! To go to Banda Islands, you can either take a flight or Pelni ship from the capital city of Ambon.
The northern part of Maluku attracts me and we almost went there, before changing our mind for Kei Islands. Ternate seems to be an interesting city/island. Halmahera and Morotai islands also can’t be missed! Well, I wish I can write more about this part of Maluku, but for now, I can only dream of going there 😀
Central Maluku is not far away from Papua. If you have a lot of cash to spend, why don’t you go to Papua as well? Raja Ampat is the one that gets people excited. Going there would cost me an arm and a leg so I’ll go somewhere else first!