Seram island in Maluku is one of the best kept secrets of Indonesia. The beautiful Ora beach has views like Bora Bora, and much of the island is still relatively unexplored.
This is one of the best places to visit in Indonesia if you’re looking for a secluded paradise with jungles, mountains, wildlife, and beaches.
Seram island is not exactly easy to reach, and Ora bay is even more isolated, but you’re rewarded with stunning scenery and lots of good snorkeling opportunities.
This travel guide will explain how to get to Seram island and Ora beach, where to stay, best things to do in the area, and everything else you need to know before you go!
Seram island is located near the busy island of Ambon in South Maluku, Indonesia. Getting there is quite a journey, with several steps involved.
Currently there’s no active airport in Seram island, so you can’t fly there yet. The nearest airport is Pattimura International Airport in Ambon (AMQ), which has direct flights from Jakarta, Makassar, Ternate, Sorong, and other places in Indonesia. You can shop for flights on Skyscanner.
Once you arrive in Ambon, you’ll need a taxi for the 1 hour drive from the airport to the port in Tulehu. Here, you’ll catch a fast ferry to Amahai port on Seram island. The boat was old, but comfortable, and took about 2 hours to get to Amahai.
Once you arrive on Seram island, the next step is getting to Saleman village and Ora Beach. It takes about 2 hours to drive from Amahai to Salemen, and it’s a scenic jungle road that winds through the mountains. The road is paved all the way, although there are some broken spots.
Your hotel in Ora bay can arrange a driver to pick you up in Amahai and bring you to the bay. Our hotel connected us with a friendly driver named Rudi, who handled our transfer to Saleman village and back. The price was around 600k Rupiah (~$40 USD) each way, although that was during Covid so the price may have gone up a bit now.
Once you arrive in Saleman village, you can get to Ora Beach by boat in just 10 minutes. The guesthouse where we stayed in Saleman had half day boat tours to Ora beach for 350k Rupiah per boat, or you could do a full day tour to several places in the area for 900k per boat.
There are a bunch of new guesthouses in the Ora bay area that are high rated, budget friendly, and relatively comfortable.
This is a remote part of Indonesia, so don’t expect luxury, but the comfort level is surprisingly good for something this isolated.
Here are some of your options:
We booked our stay with 3 meals per day included, and all of the food was very yum and filling, with fish, chicken, rice, deer, veggies, fruit, and more. The homestay owners were friendly and helpful, although all of our communication with them was in Indonesian. The homestay is built over shallow water about 2-3 meters deep, and you can see fish swimming below you.
All of these guesthouses in Saleman have great views of the karst mountains, Ora bay, the ocean, and the sunrise and sunset. The only downside is you’ll occasionally see some trash floating near the village. It’s a priceless location and really needs better conservation. Hopefully the locals there will start to take this more seriously.
The prime place to stay in Seram used to be Ora Beach Resort, but sadly it sounds like it has gone downhill recently. This was the original hotel in Saleman, established in 1997. The bungalows are beautiful and so is the location, but I’ve seen some very bad reviews lately about the lack of maintenance ever since Covid happened. It sounds like the bungalows there are totally run down and falling apart.
Don’t get me wrong, you should definitely visit Ora Beach for sightseeing and snorkeling, but I wouldn’t recommend staying there unless things improve. Stay at one of the places by Saleman village instead.
One of the main attractions of Seram island is the extremely beautiful Ora beach. The view of the overwater bungalows with the mountains in the background is just wonderful, like something from French Polynesia.
Ora is a small beach with soft sand and a palm tree swing. You can go snorkeling right off the pier and see lots of nice fish and coral.
If you visit the beach without staying in the bungalows, they charge an entrance fee of 25k Rupiah per person. It’s totally worth it! We went there twice.
The Sawai cliff is a giant white limestone cliff that can be reached in about 10 minutes by boat from Ora beach, or 20 minutes from Saleman. We visited this spot on a day tour.
The water below the cliff is relatively shallow, making it a great spot for swimming and snorkeling, and there’s a small sea cave to explore. It also has a little wooden platform and gazebo where you can sit and relax.
The water here was very calm, and we were able to see lots of nice fish and corals while snorkeling, including some nemo fish hiding in the anemones!
This was another spot we stopped on our boat tour. It’s a giant keramba (fish trap) shaped like a heart, which makes for some fun drone photos, especially if you can capture the cliffs of Seram in the background.
The owner was friendly and he showed us some of the fish they caught, including a nice reef triggerfish with bright colors. Don’t worry, even though it’s a beautiful fish, they are very common all over the Indo-Pacific ocean, and they’re not endangered at all.
The Keramba heart is just a 20-30 minute boat ride from Ora beach, so it’s pretty easy to reach.
This is a small, isolated beach that’s located halfway between Saleman village and the Ora Beach Resort.
The interesting thing is that there’s a little stream of cold spring water flowing from the mountains into the ocean here. If you walk in the water, you can notice a big difference in temperature compared to the ocean water!
The Indonesian name is ‘pantai air Belanda’ which means ‘Dutch water beach.’ The story we were told is that this beach and natural spring was accidentally discovered by a group of Dutch sailors while they were looking for spices in Maluku.
The Manusela National Park is a centrally located park in Seram that is home to many kinds of animal species living in the jungle, including some of Maluku’s colorful and exotic birds and butterflies, as well as the deepest known cave in Indonesia (Goa Hatusaka).
Endemic bird species include the great-billed parrot, eclectus parrot, purple-naped lory, salmon-crested cockatoo, and Moluccan king parrot.
Mount Binaiya is one of the seven summits of Indonesia, meaning there are seven geographical regions in the country, and this is the tallest mountain in Maluku. It has an elevation of 3,027 meters (9,931 feet).
You can hike to the summit of Binaiya and back in about 5 days starting from Piliana village. It’s a great hike with a lot of variety in the terrain, but it’s also a very hard hike. There are inclusive trekking packages offered by Climb Indonesia, although I’m sure you could do it cheaper if you arrange everything yourself.
In any case, a guide is a must for this hike. It’s a very remote and wild part of Indonesia, so I would never consider doing it without a guide. If you go alone, it would be very easy to get lost or worse.
This is a nice viewpoint on the hill above Saleman village. You can drive partway there in about 5 minutes, and then hike the rest of the way to the top in about 30 minutes.
From the top of Roulessy hill, there are panoramic views of the village and the mountains of Seram island. You can see all the way out to Ora beach! It’s also a great sunrise spot.
The seven islands (Pulau Tujuh) are a group of small islands near Seram that you can visit on a day trip from Ora bay.
We decided to skip this activity because there was no one to share the cost with us at the time, and it would’ve cost something like 1.5 million Rupiah (~$100 USD) for the boat and petrol.
The boat ride to Pulau Tujuh takes about an hour, but you can see a bunch of different islands there with nice white sand beaches and snorkeling.
The locals of Seram believe in a mythical bat-monkey flying creature called the Orang Bati that haunts the island, and abducts and eats children.
We never saw the human-sized Orang Bati, but we did see a long cloud of mysterious small bats or birds flying of the mountains every night consistently around 6:00 – 6:30 PM and going back again at 4 AM. Sounds like bats, right?
The locals insist they are birds and not fruit bats, even though they supposedly have a tail and a rat-like face. They call these the Lusiala birds. One time they followed them to their cave, but inside they found no animals and no droppings, which has only deepened the mystery for the locals.
In any case, there are thousands of these flying animals, and they almost looked like a trail of smoke leaving the mountains every evening. It was very interesting to watch every night from our guesthouse in Saleman village.
If only I had my zoom lens with me at the time, I could’ve tried to take a picture!
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for Ora beach and Seram island in South Maluku, Indonesia.
Don’t forget to check out my Indonesia Travel Guide and my list of the best places to visit in Indonesia!
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