Seram island in Maluku is one of the best kept secrets of Indonesia. The beautiful Ora Beach Resort has views like Bora Bora, and most 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, beaches, and wildlife.
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 great snorkeling opportunities without the crowds you’d see in places like Bali.
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!
How To Get To Seram Island
Seram island is located near the busy island of Ambon in 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 ferry port in Tulehu. Here, you’ll catch a fast ferry to Amahai port on Seram island. The boats are old, but comfortable, and take about 2 hours to get to Amahai.
How To Get To Ora Beach In Seram Island
Once you arrive at 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 plenty of broken spots.
Your hotel in Ora or Saleman can arrange a car and driver to pick you up in Amahai and bring you to the bay. Our guesthouse 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 Resort for 350k Rupiah per boat, or you could do a full day tour to several places in the area for 900k per boat.
Where To Stay In Seram Island
There are a bunch of new guesthouses in the Ora bay area that are high rated, budget friendly, and relatively comfortable.
This is a very 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 best options:
- Ora Sunrise View — Overwater bungalows in Saleman village, with overwater hammocks. They were closed for renovation when we visited Seram in 2021, otherwise this hotel would have been our first choice. The rooms have a fan, clothes rack, and electric socket, and the bathrooms have a basic toilet and shower.
- Air Belanda Resort — Beachfront bungalows on the ‘Dutch water beach,’ with a dining room and hammock. The rooms have a balcony, window, fan, electric socket, and a nice jungle background. The bathroom has a basic toilet, shower, and sink.
- Nusa Nalan Beach Resort — Beachfront bungalows near Saleman village. The rooms have a fan, mirror, TV, and socket, and the bathrooms have a basic shower and toilet.
- Sing Key Beach Hotel — Beachfront bungalows near Saleman village. The rooms have a fan, window, socket, and clothes rack, and the bathrooms have a basic sink, shower, and toilet.
- Pasir Putih Homestay — Overwater bungalows in Saleman village. This is the guesthouse where we stayed in Seram, and our room was basic, but clean and comfy. It had a fan, window, and power outlets, and the bathroom had a cold shower, water bucket, and squat toilet.
We booked our stay with 3 meals per day included, and all of the food was very good and filling, including fish, chicken, deer, rice, veggies, fruit, and more. The homestay owners were friendly and helpful, although all of our communication with them was in Indonesian.
All of these guesthouses in Saleman have great views of the karst mountains, Ora bay, the ocean, and the sunrise and sunset. Some of them are built over shallow water about 2-3 meters deep, and you can see fish swimming below you.
The only downside is you’ll occasionally see some trash floating near the village. It’s a priceless location and it 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 at Ora Beach Resort 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 (on a day trip from Saleman), but I wouldn’t recommend staying there unless things improve. Stay at one of the places by Saleman village instead.
Best Things To Do In Seram Indonesia
• Ora Beach
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.
• Sawai Cliff
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!
• Keramba Heart
This was another spot we visited on our boat tour. It’s a giant Indonesian 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.
• Dutch Water Beach (Air Belanda)
Air Belanda is a small, quiet beach that’s located halfway between Saleman village and the Ora Beach Resort.
The interesting thing about this beach 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 colonial Dutch sailors while they were looking for spices in Maluku.
More Things To Do In Seram Indonesia
• Manusela National Park
The Manusela National Park is a centrally located park in Seram that’s home to many kinds of animal species living in the jungle, including some of Maluku’s endemic birds and butterflies, as well as the deepest known vertical cave in Indonesia (Goa Hatusaka).
Exotic and colorful bird species in Seram include the great-billed parrot, eclectus parrot, purple-naped lory, salmon-crested cockatoo, and Moluccan king parrot.
• Mount Binaiya
Mount Binaiya is one of the ‘seven summits of Indonesia’ since it’s the tallest mountain in the entire Maluku region. 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 long and 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.
• Roulessy Hill Viewpoint
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.
• Seven Islands (Pulau Tujuh)
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 been something like 1.5 million Rupiah (~$100 USD) for the boat and petrol.
The boat ride to Pulau Tujuh takes about an hour, and you can see a bunch of different islands there with nice white sand beaches and snorkeling.
What To Bring To Seram Island & Ora Beach
- Snacks: The food is good at the guesthouses, but sometimes you might crave a chocolate bar or trail mix for variety.
- Snorkel: There are a bunch of good snorkeling spots, so you’ll want to bring gear for it.
- Power Bank: This is handy just in case there’s a power outage and you want to charge your electronics.
- Dry Bag: A waterproof bag is essential for protecting your camera and other electronics if you plan to do boat tours in Seram.
More Tips For Seram Island & Ora Beach
- Religion: There’s a mix of Christianity and Islam in Seram, but the village of Saleman is Muslim. I would recommend dressing conservatively except when you’re at the beach or swimming. There are mosques in the village, but we didn’t really hear them at night.
- Electricity: The Saleman village had 24/7 electricity in our experience, although there may be short outages from time to time.
- Cell Service: Our phones had decent 4G reception with Telkomsel in the Saleman village area, and also at the Ora beach pier.
- People: The locals in Saleman village are still not used to seeing foreigners, and they didn’t seem very friendly, but the homestay owners are nice and so was our driver.
- Language: The people in Seram don’t speak much English, and that’s also true for the guesthouse owners. You’ll have to be patient with the language barrier. However, this place is already starting to become popular with international travelers, so where there’s a will, there’s a way!
- WiFi: We didn’t have any WiFi in the village, of course, although that may become a possibility before too long as tourism in the area continues to grow.
- Mosquitoes: We didn’t see many mosquitoes, but there were a few. According to this Lancet study from 2018, there’s been a major reduction of malaria incidence in Seram island, although it still may be present to some extent. We were very careful to use bug spray and avoid mosquito bites, but we didn’t take malaria prophylactics.
- Crocodiles: I’ve never heard of any saltwater crocodiles appearing near Saleman village or the Ora beach area, and it’s a fairly popular destination for Indonesian tourists now. However, if you go exploring some of the remote and wild corners of Seram island, there may be crocodiles, especially in jungle areas with mangroves, rivers, or estuaries. Keep that in mind if you go exploring off the beaten path.
The Orang Bati Of Seram Island
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 out of the mountains every night consistently around 6 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 the birds 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 day 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!
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Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for Ora beach and Seram island in Maluku, Indonesia.