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Quick trip report for Alor and Pantar in eastern Indonesia

Posted by somtam2000 on 17/4/2017 at 07:24 admin

Thanks to a cracked rib, I'm just back yesterday from a trip to this area of Indonesia and while I'll have the detailed write up for all this online in a few days (probably by the end of the week), here is the quick and dirty summary on the slim chance someone is heading there tomorrow!

My routing was:

Flew Bali -> Kupang -> Alor to get there
Stayed in Kalabahi four days at Cantik Homestay
Moved to Kepa Island where I stayed three more days at L'a Petite Kepa
Because I missed the ferry to Baranusa on Pantar (it left early) I got a public ferry from Kalabahi to Kabir on Pantar (3 hours) then chartered a boat (long story) from there to Baranusa.
Spent three nights at Baranusa at Mukhtar Abdullah Accommodation
Public ferry from Baranusa to Lewoleba on Lembata (nine hours) stayed at the Olympic Hotel.
Public ferry Lewoleba to Larantuka (four hours) stared at Hotel Lestari
Taxi to Maumere (three hours) for flight back to Bali.

I cracked my rib while snorkelling at an island off Pantar and by the time I got to Lewoleba I was in enough pain that I thought it was prudent to return to Bali, rest for a couple of weeks then return to take up from Lewoleba. So there is more coming!

I liked here quite a bit, I rode around the deer's neck bit to the northwest, on the west coast there are some terrific beaches and great snorkelling, notably the dropoff that starts between Alor Kecil and Alor Besar on the west coast and further north at Sebanjar (where there are salas you can relax in and so on). Further north, Bota Beach is also good and very secluded, but the water was quite murky. After this the road deteriorates to little more than a goat track in places before improving again once you reach Batu Putih, which is absolutely stunning.

Had time to visit just the one traditional village, Takpala, that is easy to visit and so, by Alorian standards, sees a lot of visitors, but practically this means almost zero. Onwards from there visited Tuti hotsprings which, are or debatable value given the time and effort to reach them!

Another day went to Biantal waterfall (in Mataru district) which was quite impressive, but was quite an expedition, including the guide needing to hack our way through the jungle with a machette. It was the best part of four hours to get there, three hours back - a long way for a waterfall, but the scenery was also great—very Australian.

Cantic Homestay is fine, 200k a night, but there are a few others places to stay. The only smart place in town in the Pulo Alor (from 549k), others, like Pelangi Indah (from 200k) and Hotel Nur Fitrah (from 110k for a single) were not much chop.

Mama's down on the water, while a little out of the way if you're staying at Cantic, was great for a feed and I ate there at least once every day I was there!

Next stop was the French run La P’tite Kepa on Kepa Island. I loved it. It is not particularly cheap I paid 325k full board for a traditional hut with shared cold water bathroom, but I loved it - and have already booked a return stay with the family in June. It is primarily diver-focussed but non-divers can stay. Meals are communal, near uniformly Indonesian and very good. If you're ok with the price, I'd definitely recommend it. Some of the off beach snorkelling is great (swimming with sharks etc) but the currents do require some care.

After this was on to Pantar.

Baranusa is a blink and you'll miss it joint, one losmen, Mukhtar Abdullah Accommodation (50k per night shared cold water mandi, he's almost finished a new building which will be 75k), one warung (that I could find, and it was closed half the time, and a hardware shop that sells cold beer. Mukhtar lived in Sydney for a spell and speaks solid English. He can arrange guides and bikes etc, but be careful to check prices etc.

From here I went and climbed Sirung volcano which is well worth it, but the logistics ended up being a bit frustrating—I'll leave the details of that for the full write-up. Suffice to say if you do it, confirm what everything will cost and what you're actually paying for upfront—assume nothing!

Another attraction on Pantar is Pantai Tiga Warna (three colour beach) which is a little over an hour from Baranusa by scooter - about a third of it down a jungle path—you will need a guide to find it unless there is an alternative paved route we didn't use. The beach is very very pretty and if it was in Thailand they'd be a dozen resorts here, but as it is in Indonesia, there is nothing at all. Aim for later afternoon for better light with tremendous views down the beach to the volcano. It looked like it had a decent wave at high tide.

Lastly, I chartered a sampan from Baranusa to take me to the two offshore islands of Pulau Lapang and Pulau Batang. The former has exquisite snorkelling off the southeast corner—the reef if is very good condition and I saw a turtle, eagle ray and tonnes of fish including a school of tuna that scared the hell out of me. We tried two spots on Batang and both were bombed out, though you could explore more of the island with more time—and, if you had your own kit you could certainly camp there.

Lapang was where I cracked my rib, so from here on it was about getting back to Bali, so not much else to report.

As far as I could determine there are no local, daily ferries between Baranusa and Lewoleba—it seems the Ileape is the only option.

I only overnighted here, so not much to say other than when I return in a few weeks I'll stay at Rejeki - especially friendly and informative owner. Also worth mentioning the Ileape uses a port about 10km to the west of town so watch out for some online reports that talk about being able to walk to town from the pier. You can walk from the local pier (and the one the smaller ferries use to Larantuka etc), but not the bigger ferry.

The schedule for the Ileape is currently, take the timings with a bit of salt, but right ballpark :

Kupang -> Lewoleba 12:00

Lewoleba -> Solor 07:00
Solor -> Larantuka 09:30
Larantuka -> Solor 12:00
Solor -> Lewoleba 13:30
Lewoleba -> Deri 18:00
Deri -> Baranusa 23:00

Baranusa -> Kalabahi 07:00
Kalabahi -> Bakalang 12:00
Bakalang -> Kalabahi 14:00

Kalabahi -> Baranusa 08:00
Baranusa -> Deri 12:00
Deri -> Lewoleba 20:00

Lewoleba -> Larantuka 04:00
Larantuka -> Lewoleba 08:00
Lewoleba -> Kupang 12:00

No service

No service

Questions, ask away, but as mentioned, all the details will be online in a couple of days.

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,093

Posted by flijten on 19/4/2017 at 02:23

This and some very pretty instagram imagery solidly convinced me to include alor into this summer, thx! Take care with the ribs!

#2 flijten has been a member since 19/12/2016. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 80

Posted by somtam2000 on 19/4/2017 at 19:23 admin

Thanks - the rib is killing me—so glad I came home.

Should have all the research up tomorrow.


#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,093

Posted by SBE on 20/4/2017 at 03:14

Thanks for this and sorry to hear about the rib....hope it stops hurting soon! I've been meaning to check out La Petit Kepa for yonks but never quite got round to it which is a pity because their rates were a lot more affordable a few years ago.

Sounds like there's some pretty good snorkeling around there....have you invested in an underwater camera yet?

#4 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by flijten on 20/4/2017 at 15:12

Somtam2000 do you know anything of that big vulcano island just off of alor kecil to the west?

#5 flijten has been a member since 19/12/2016. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 80

Posted by somtam2000 on 20/4/2017 at 19:25 admin

The Alor material is now all live, Pantar later today.

@SBE Thanks - yes the rib is killing me and am very glad I decided to cut the trip short. Yes at first glance La P'tite is a bit pricey, but bear in mind it is full board and that most places I looked at in Kalabahi started at around 200k a night, which makes it not such a bad hit, but yes, not cheap. I like it a lot and am returning with the family in June for a week or so. You can read my full review of it here.

As far as snorkelling goes, I joined their dive boat one day (100,000 for snorkellers) and snorkelled off Ternate and Pantar, both were good, not outstanding, but good. The divers though said it was awesome further down. I also snorkelled off some of the house beaches, was cool with the reef sharks, but do need to be careful with the currents.

When I was on Pantar I chartered a sampan out to a couple of islands and some of that snorkelling was superb - turtle, eagle ray, reef in amazing condition etc. I'll have that research up later today.

No underwater camera yet :-)

@flitjen That island is Pulau Pura. You can climb to the top (though I didn't have time). Gunungbagging has a good, fairly recent report on how to climb Pura.

#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,093

Posted by flijten on 21/4/2017 at 01:06

Sweet, thanks. I definitively see a 10 day trip coming together. Laid back Island, volcano to climb, some snorkeling, a motorbike trip. Good stuff :)

#7 flijten has been a member since 19/12/2016. Location: Netherlands. Posts: 80

Posted by somtam2000 on 21/4/2017 at 01:35 admin

Yeah, I'm gutted I had to cut trip short and am looking forward to getting back to Lembata as soon as I can.

Essentially you could start in Alor, spend a few days there and on Kepa, continue to Pantar and climb the volcano etc (or climb Pura), then continue to Lembata, which looks very interesting, especially the road around the volcano apparently has some good snorkelling as well. Also ikat, if you're into that. Then from there is easy to continue to Laratuka and fly out, or continue through Flores etc. In Lewoleba, stay at Hotel Rejeki, the owner Richard is very handy for info and can arrange scooters etc.

10-days to two weeks would be ideal for those three islands.

#8 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,093

Posted by gecktrek on 21/4/2017 at 13:06

hey, back in 2015 the road around ile api was very pot-holed and bumpy, but some of the water, beaches and local villages were beautiful, it was a full days travel with stops... also, consider adonara (even more rarely visited, the ferry stops there anyway) between lembata and larantuka. finally, richard goes out of his way to help, in my case, having stupidly left my phone (it became known as the phone in a red condom) in kupang airport and arranging for it to be flown back to lembata! hope you enjoy your time there!

#9 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 182

Posted by somtam2000 on 21/4/2017 at 20:10 admin

@gecktrek Did you climb Ile Api? Richard suggested some very good snorkelling on the east coast of the peak. I'm hiring him for a few days when I go back to have more of a poke around, but you find anything else worth a look? Go further out east?

Al also aiming for the whaling season kickoff on May 1 (assuming the rib heals enough in time) You get down there?

Adonara - have much of a look around there?


#10 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,093

Posted by gecktrek on 21/4/2017 at 23:59

hey, didn't climb ile api, only as east as api (again roads very potholed) and didn't stay on adonara. another guy at the hotel rode down to lamalera, took a day, very bumpy, but it wasn't the whaling season...

#11 gecktrek has been a member since 24/3/2013. Location: Australia. Posts: 182

Posted by somtam2000 on 27/6/2017 at 03:22 admin

Just wrapping up another ten day stretch on Kepa Island... (School holidays, so this was a real holiday!) Off to Lembata tomorrow via Kupang to continue from the above. Any new leads on Lembata, Solor or Adonara appreciated!


#12 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,093

Posted by laverysean on 21/8/2018 at 20:50

Is there a link to the full write up of your trip through the alor archipelago? I went through lembata and adonara last year and loved it and I'm keen to go back! You are right about the Rejeki on Lembata; Richard is a wealth of Info

#13 laverysean has been a member since 13/6/2013. Posts: 16

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