30 June 2016

Explore Indonesia by boat

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As an archipelagic nation, travel in Indonesia for any significant length of time will inevitably involve stepping off of dry land at some point of another. If you’ve got untested sea-legs, the good news is that most journeys by boat in Indonesia are relatively easy compared to other regions of the world due to the relative tranquillity of seas surrounding many of Indonesia’s islands.

Also good news is the fact that, exploring Indonesia by boat is often the best way to do it. Whether simply using the boat as a way to transit from one island to the next, going on a formal cruise, or careening through some of the many lakes and rivers throughout the archipelago, you’re almost sure to see and experience sides of the country that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Another bonus of riding boats in Indonesia is that, typically, they’re of the traditional variety. Jukongs are typical of the archipelago. While ranging in size and general appearance, the one thing they all have in common is the use of suspended posts on either side of the boat as a means of stabilizing them in the waves. 


There is a wide range of options for those seeking to take part in more traditional cruises on live-aboard boats from one island to another. One of the most compelling of these cruises takes travellers along an almost surreal path of islands from Bali to the Komodo Island. This journey passes the Wallace Line, which is the boundary between the Asian and Australasian continental plates. In doing so, you traverse territory that is as wild as it is variable, culminating in a visit to Komodo and Rinca Islands- home of the infamous Komodo dragons.

For a decidedly different approach to cruising, consider a riverboat journey along the Kahayan River. It’s the largest river in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Along the way, you stand a very good chance of being able to witness wild orangutans as they bathe in the Rungan River near Bapallas Island. You’ll also have a chance to visit rustic riverside villages such as Kanarakan and to paddle through Lake Tahai. The cruise offers great opportunities to not only witness incredible wildlife along the riverbanks, but also to gain intimate insight into culture of the Ngaju ethnic tribe that inhabits the region.


Although Indonesia lacks pronounced seasons found elsewhere in the region due to its proximity to the equator, most agree that seas are generally calmest mid-October to Mid-December. This time also happens to coincide with one of the drier periods throughout the year, when the chances of your boat trip being spoiled by rain are slimmest.

Insider Tip:

Bring motion sickness pills such as Dramamine from your home country. It’s not impossible to find in Indonesia, but bringing them along is a great way to save yourself a potential hassle- particularly if you’re prone to motion sickness. The seas between islands are generally quite languid, but this isn’t always the case. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


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