Indonesia Kei islands Guide
Touted as “The Next Bali,” the cluster of pristine Kei Islands is a precious stone buried deep in Indonesia’s eastern frontier. They’re tucked away in the east of the Banda Sea, surrounded by beaches with some of the whitest, softest sand, including Pasir Panjang – said to be one of the best in the world. Difficult to reach, a journey to Kei is a spellbinding experience in itself, full of adventure, with tales of spirits and ghosts whispered by locals in their own language. Kei offers the ultimate tropical idyll with a wide mix of nature and culture; African-style bush, rainforest, skyscraping mountains, a buzzing harbor town, and intriguing history as part of the old Spice Islands. Kei is Indonesia in microcosm.
Kei Islands belong to the South Maluku province of Indonesia. The South Moluccas (also known as Forgotten Islands) is a 1,000 km chain of archipelagos, stretching from Timor to West Papua in the Banda Sea. If you are seeking a remote destination and explore uninhabited, pristine islands, then the aptly nAmed Forgotten Islands is a dream come true. Kei archipelago is the last frontier of the Forgotten Islands, tucked away from a regular tourist route, and it can be challenging to reach the islands. But isn’t that the most beautiful part once you learn how many gems the Kei Islands hide?
Kei Archipelago is made up of 47 islands, including Kei Besar (Great Kei) and Kei Kecil (Little Kei), which connects by bridge to Kei Dullah. Kei Kecil serves as the first touchpoint for hopping around the islands. The town of Langgur (home to the airport) is mostly Catholic and lies on Kei Kecil, while Tual (home to the seaport) is primarily Muslim and lies on Kei Dullah. Both islands are extremely friendly and welcoming of the few travelers who find their way to this final exotic frontier before Indonesia’s West Papua. Kei Islands are culturally Austronesian, and the small communities that inhabit some of the other islands of the archipelago have strong beliefs in folklore and myths.
You should aim for your visit to the Kei Islands during April-November. The best time to set your feet on this tropical paradise is between April and May and October to November. April and May feature the peak of the high season that offers calm and turquoise waters and sunny weather. During May, you can share the paradise with beautiful pelicans who’re migrating from Australia. If you’re into diving, November is known for a manta season where you can swim with gentle manta rays, turtles, and even whale sharks.
Currently, the accommodation options are only available on Kei Kecil and Kei Dullah that is attached to it. Choose between the towns of Langgur and Tual, with Christian or Muslim populations, respectively. The colorful Tual is a popular place to stay for a day or two as it’s a cultural center of the islands. For a secluded and romantic experience surrounded by untouched nature, head over to the western part of Kei Kecil, to Ohoililir village. There are so many spectacular beaches to explore on Kei Kecil, that you can stay on its western shores forever, literary by yourself. For the true off-beaten-path, head over to the eastern part of sister island Kei Dullah, at Ohoitheit village. With Islander, you can also charter a yacht holiday and experience all the natural beauty of the Kei Islands living aboard for a week.
If you want to get from Singapore to the Kei Islands, there are several options. The fastest way is to take a flight to Makassar, Indonesia, first. Once in Makassar, book a direct flight to Langgur/Tual on Kei Islands. The second option is to fly to either Jakarta or Manado and then to book a flight to Ambon. From Ambon, it is possible to charter an incredible sailing holiday with Islander. You can experience the best of Banda Sea liveaboard, sailing across the fAmed Banda islands before reaching the paradise on Kei Archipelago.
The fastest way to get to Kei Islands from Jakarta is by booking a flight to Ambon. Once you reach Ambon, there are three direct flights daily to Langgur/Tual. If it sounds like too much flying and you’re looking for complete relaxation on sea – you can book a yacht holiday with Islander. The most popular route is to cross the Banda Sea from Ambon across the famous Banda islands before reaching the Kei Archipelago.