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Cruising Notes for Boats Heading to Kupang

By Sue Richards last modified Nov 07, 2011 09:53 PM

Published: 2011-11-07 21:53:35
Countries: Australia , Indonesia , Vanuatu

Includes notes on importing dogs, sailing Indonesia during the monsoon season and kite/surf spots around Kupang.

From: Veronique Bardach

Sailing from Vanuatu to Kupang - Weather 2011 (Sept-Nov)

We had strong winds (average 20+) from Luganville Vanuatu (Departed Sept 15th) all the way to Darwin (Arriving October 8th). We spent an idyllic week in the Louisiades, which we highly recommend. Winds stopped around Oct 17th. We left Darwin (see info about temporary clearing-into Australia) around the 19th of October and motor sailed to Kupang (3 days). Once we arrived, we had a welcome breeze (13 knots) for our first week. We've been told that arriving in Kupang any later (Nov 1 and beyond) can be tricky as the only anchorage in front of town can get rolly and difficult. While we were there it was always calm in the mornings and choppy as of noon. The weather in Darwin was hot and stuffy compared to Kupang which was hot but breezy.

From November 1 on, in the area of West Timor, Sumba and Flores, all passages were made motor sailing. However, fishing was bountiful catching two fish on both lines at the same time more than once!

We have been told that the rainy season begins in Bali around late October. As of this writing (Nov 8th), we've been told that rains have started in earnest during the day in Bali. The more east you go from Bali (Lambok, Flores, Alor, Timor, Tanimbar, Ambon/Banda) the later the rainy season starts. To avoid the intense rains in this region (even Timor has a rainy season although it starts in December and goes through March) head to the Banda Islands and Ambon area (Northeast) where the rainy season starts in April and goes through to September.

Clearing-in to Indonesia

We contacted an agent to help us prepare our entry into Indonesia. You'll need a CAIT (sailing permit) and, most likely, a visa. We obtained our visas in Noumea, New Caledonia, but could also have picked up our visas in Darwin or Port Moresby. We were told that the consular office in Darwin usually takes 3 days to turn around a visa. In Noumea it was minimum one week. We're unaware of consular services in the Solomon Islands. Our social visa had to be used within three months of issue so we needed to arrive in Kupang at least two months and 29 days from the issue date of our visas.

If you use an agent, your CAIT can be renewed by email (a photo copy is good enough) and your visa, assuming you have a renewable visa, can be renewed in any big city (for example, if you have a social visa and want to extend it, you can find another sponsor in most cities (travel agents can act as sponsors). We plan to extend our visas in Ambon. You don't need to be in Bali to do this.

Kupang (checking-in and facilities)

In Kupang you want to anchor near 10°09.445S to 123°34.646E. Napa, the local agent if you used Haryo at Bali Marina, is extremely efficient and can have your paper work ready in a day if you make sure to notify him at least 48 hours prior to arrival. You can email Haryo ([email protected]) who will notify Napa, or contact Napa directly by phone (he does not have email yet). His phone number, if dialing using a local phone is 08 133 941 2321. If dialing internationally it's (+(62)8 133 941 2321). Alternatively, you can call him on VHF 16 when you arrive but he's not always on unless you've warned him (or Haryo at BaliMarina) of your time of arrival.

Napa lives 5 minutes from the above waypoint and will be waiting for you on the beach. He'll come to your boat on a dugout to pick up your papers. He cleared us in the same day. No officials came aboard. We kept all food and alcohol items on board. We also have a dog. That was a none issue.

We found Napa to be extremely trustworthy, efficient and kind. His English was the best we found in Kupang!

If you tell him in advance, he can arrange for fuel. Since all fueling is done by jerry cans you'll pay a little bit more than you would if you bought the fuel yourself, however, the quality was good (we used our baja filters but the filter was pretty clean). He can also arrange day trips.

To go to town you have two options, you dingy to the nearby beach and pull your dingy up onto the beach, allowing Lambert (Napa's trusted side kick and kind gentleman) to watch over it, or Lambert can pick you up in his dugout (an experience on a wavy/windy day. Don't wear your Sunday best). If necessary, Lambert can get a motor boat to take you to land, but this will likely cost a little (nothing is very expensive in Kupang). Lambert and his daughter Metris are charming and will not ask to be paid for these trips or for watching your dingy, however, a tip at the end of around 50,000 rp is reasonable (depending upon how frequently you used him).

You will have no problems loading up on fresh fruit, vegetables and spices in the exotic local pasar (market). There are several to chose from depending on how much you need and how far you're willing to go. I'd recommend taking a motorbike (3,000rp to the nearby pasar 2 km from town) or the bus (2,000 rp) to the market. It's a fun adventure. You may need an interpreter in the market. Napa can help you there too.

In town, you can withdraw money from the local ATMs (be sure to take more than you need if you're going to visit the nearby islands as ATMs are hard to come by, and get smaller bills of around 10,000rp) and buy some basics (beer, refreshments, rice, basic crackers but nothing too fancy - so no cheeses, soy milk, specialty flours etc).

There are some hardware stores but they're pretty basic. The butcher has limited cuts of beef and pork. Chicken is available in the pasar (market).


Our Blackberries worked as soon as we approached Kupang. They even worked on Roti (the nearby island where we stopped for the weekend before checking-in in Kupang).

Lavalon (a bar in town) has good internet, it's also the place to get general information. We've been told by a reliable local source that there are cell towers everywhere in Indonesia, even the most remote islands. So far, we've been to the southernmost island in Indonesia with a very small population of a couple hundred thousand and there was good cell coverage and 2G internet (if you use cell data to WiFi for your internet). The local telecom company TELKOMSEL/Simpat has voice and data packages you can buy in Kupang.

Kitebaording/Surf spot

Kiteboarders should head to Northern Roti (10°26.107S by 123°21.980E). Arrive by daylight as there is a 1 meter rock that comes out of the water about 400 meters to the North east of this way point. The anchorage is rolly but the wind is steady and, if you can't launch from your boat, there is a beautiful white sand beach just in front. The spot had great snorkeling too.

There is another Kite spot to the Southeast of Roti (around the corner east of Nembrela surf village) but by the time we got down there the wind had abated.

For paddle boarders who like small/big surf, try Nembrela. Market day in Nembrela is on Tuesdays. If you miss that, you can rent a motorbike for 60,000 rp a day and ride to one of the other villages that may have a market. There are bike rentals in the town of Nembrela and one bar (Janet's) but not much else during the off season (off season starts in October).

Importing Dogs into Indonesia by Boat

I don't know what the regulations are officially. I have tried to obtain these but every time I am told it's very complicated and that no one cares. Once you arrive in Indonesia and settle in, you'll understand why this is so. There are so many more important things the government has to worry about than your dog and they already have rabies. It is too early to tell if we'll have problems with this "don't ask don't tell" policy anywhere else, but so far it does appear to be working as promised.

A couple of notes worth sharing.

People everywhere are generally frightened of dogs, so don't expect your pooch to be welcome - although they do seem to adapt once they see that the dog belongs to a foreigner. Other dogs in the islands around Timor were friendly and not a problem. Most islands have chickens, pigs, buffalos, goats and horses running free. Also, we have heard that as of November 2011 there still is a rabies outbreak in Bali.

Finally, a note of caution, we know of one boat who sailed to Indonesia in 2011 with their dog (small terrier) who unfortunately was killed by a komodo dragon when they went hiking in one of the Rinca islands (near Komodo island).

Veronique Bardach