Eastern Indonesian Anchorages
A very comprehensive report by Susan Bright of SY Yindee Plus, who cruised Eastern Indonesia in 2014 with the Sail2Indonesia Rally. Detailed anchorage information and a very useful summary of the cruising guides and resources available for this area.
Published 8 years ago, updated 4 years ago
Anchorages in Eastern Indonesia (route of new Sail2Indonesia Rally)
We sailed from Saumlaki in the Tanimbar islands to Bali (where we were forced to stop and make gearbox repairs) between August and October 2014.
We bought the following cruising guides:
Cruising Guide to SE Asia Volume II.
This contains very useful general information about the region and it would be difficult to negotiate the straits between the islands without it. Note, that to complement the information in the guide, you also need to know the timing of the upper and lower transits of the moon. You can download this from the internet or buy a current year’s Sailing Almanac. The guide was not helpful for anchorages, although there are plans and information for each of the main ports in Indonesia.
Southeast Asia Pilot.
We bought the brand new fourth edition because it included a new section on Indonesia. The limited number of anchorages covered had good plans and information, but there were nowhere near enough of them to make the book worth buying for this large area. We are hoping it will earn it keeps further north.
Indian Ocean Cruising Guide.
Again, we bought this after reading that it had excellent information on SE Asia in it. It only covers a couple of anchorages in Indonesia but is very good for the west coast of peninsula Malaysia.
101 Anchorages of the Indonesian Archipelago.
This book is a recent publication and a very welcome addition too. When it arrived it looked very thin and insignificant, but we found that once we reached the region it covered (mostly Flores and further west), the boats in our group used it more than any other guide. If they decide to print another edition in the future, then adding in anchorages between Saumlaki and Wetar would be a great idea.
We also used digital versions of Sailing Directions for the areas too and downloaded all the cruiser blogs, guides and Noonsite info. available. The best two were: Yacht Elenoa and the Hacking Family (Google for more info).
We found that once connected to the internet in Indonesia, Google Earth was very useful for working out the approximate whereabouts of reefs in anchorages we were planning to enter. Remember that it’s called Google Earth, not Google Sea: you can’t rely on it to show reefs unless they are attached to the land.
SE Asia on a Shoestring, Lonely Planet Guide.
We regretted buying this. Because it covers such a huge area, the information on Indonesia just concentrates on the islands where tourists fly in for holidays. A much better option would have been the Lonely Planet Indonesia guide.
Indonesian Phrasebook and Dictionary (Lonely Planet)
A really useful, pocket-sized book, for general tourist activities. For a nautical vocabulary, use the glossary sections at the backs of the Cruising Guide to SE Asia Vol II or Sailing Directions.
Weather / Hazards
We had brisk SE trade winds from Saumlaki to Leti. Once we got to the north coast of Wetar, the wind died and we only had light land and sea breezes until we reached the straits at Lombok and Bali. If you have plenty of time and some light airs sails, it’s quite possible to travel that coastline without burning too much diesel. It does take some planning and patience though. Most boats use their motors a lot. The number of fish traps and boat increases as you travel west and the islands become more populous. If you need to move at night when we found that if we stayed at least 5 miles offshore we could avoid most fishing activity. This doesn’t apply once you leave Bali though.
Many of the small canoes are now lit, after a fashion. With the advent of cheap LED solar lamps, some of the local fishermen can now afford to display one light. This one light, which may be any colour of the rainbow, might be a warning for a whole group of boats though. We watched in amazement at dawn one day as the single purple flashing light we were leaving well to starboard materialised into an entire extended family in three canoes, some nets and a couple of barrels.
Sometimes we would come across groups of boats with nets set between them and this was much more difficult to negotiate as, until very close, it was impossible to see which boats and flags belonged together. You just have to take it slowly and be prepared to detour around them.
Anchored at 07°58′.578S 131°17′.196E in 20m; good holding in mud; plenty of room; couldn’t get close enough to shore for wind protection so choppy most of the time and very rolly with the southerly swell. Very wet dinghy ride to shore (even with waterproofs on). Dirty water, so not a good location for watermakers.
Dinghy dock at the hotel was excellent (safe, flat water, easy shore access) but couldn’t be used around LW. Dinghy tie-up at ferry wharf steps subject to swell and not easy but could be used at all stages of the tide. Dinghy anchor useful to keep dinghy off rocks.
Shops selling: basic grocery provisions; clothes; hardware; cellphones; For sim cards for internet/phone go to Telkomsel, about 0.5mile north of the hotel. This is the best chance to get your internet and phone connections sorted out before Maumere. Cellphone internet is very cheap but often extremely slow.
Market: tomatoes, cucumbers, pak choi, shallots, garlic, ginger, eggplant, green beans, pumpkin, bananas, coconut, some herbs, sweet potatoes, green papaya, cabbages, limes, lots of fish, chicken. We didn’t see any large onions until Flores so if you don’t want to peel shallots every time you cook, bring plenty with you.
Photocopy shop: make lots of copies of your CAIT, passports, port clearance and boat papers to hand to harbour masters.
Street stalls selling pastries and bread (mainly white and small loaves/rolls)
Cafes and street stalls selling local food: very cheap and tasty (meal for $1.50 US). Hotel food is good but comparatively v expensive.
Selaru (island south of Yamdena)
Anchorage on the west side of this island 08°07′.70S 130°58′.61E
Anchored in 13m, sand/mud, Not able to get close enough to shore for wind protection but no swell coming into the bay. Fishing nets around entrance and reefs on each side. No access to the shore. Locals visited some boats and boarded one boat while owners were out in dinghy; thought to be curiosity.
Anchored north of Wharf 07°52′.012 S 129°35′.475E
Sand 7.5m gently shelving, no coral reef at the head of the bay. Lots of room.
Excellent wind protection. Slight swell worked its way in occasionally. Tie dinghy to post on the scruffy beach with local boats and put dinghy anchor out.
Ask for Mr Joseph or Aristotle. Joseph is a school teacher and speaks good English. Aristotle is his assistant. They will help you to visit all the necessary people. Allow plenty of time to see the Harbour Master, Chief of Police, Chief of Army, Head Chief, Local chiefs etc. Have photocopies of passports and port clearance papers to give them if they ask. Very interesting rural experience if you have the energy for it. They don’t get many foreign visitors here. Joseph and Aristotle will arrange any tours you would like on the back of their motorbikes (no cars here).
The town has a cafe, which is unusual in these remote islands. Cheap and friendly.
There are several small shops selling basic groceries, clothes and some hardware. A market sells some vegetables.
Anchored west of wharf to try to drop anchor in a patch of sand: 08°09′.981S 127°39′.40E, coral and sand bottom. We got a hold but didn’t feel it was a good anchorage for any sort of bad weather.
Other boats had anchored east of wharf but several had had to dive to free their anchors. We found erratic depths there and a coral rubble bottom.
Took dinghy to the small beach at the base of the wharf on the east side. The lady harbour master speaks good English. She wanted copies of our passports and port clearance. Walked to the main village, Sewaru. Small shops with very basic groceries and one had some tasty pastries. Very friendly locals ashore.
Wetar north coast
Anchored 07°37′.830S 126° 25′. 437E in 7m, gravel and stones about 80m from steeply shelving shore. Some katabatic wind from hills kept us streaming away from shore. Slight swell worked it’s the way in. Beautiful. No habitations. Keep clear of river mouth as lots of shoaling around it.
Wetar west coast
Anchored 07°51′.215S 125°49′.547E in the lovely horseshoe-shaped bay. Anchored in 12m, sand. Onshore breeze most of the day but offshore at night. Small village ashore. Saltwater crocodile reported by an earlier boat but not seen by us.
Kalabahi, Alor island
Anchored at 08°13′.423S 124°30′.286E. Deep, apart from shelving edges of the bay, which were mostly not coral. We were in 25m. Room for 20 boats but some in water over 30m deep. Good holding. Bottom quality unknown. The wind, in late August, blew up the long bay (from SW) from 10 am – 4 pm but didn’t enter this indented area as much as the town anchorage. No wind at night. Water springs at the head of the small bay; take advantage of easy access with the dinghy to do laundry next to the local women. Superb internet/phone reception here as the mast is right next to Anchorage.
Access to shore at all states of the tide. Tie dinghy to the wall by houses and walk through to get to the road. Locals are exceptionally friendly and helpful here. Turn right at the road to walk to town (about 20 minutes) or wait for a bemo to pass.
Town has a full range of shops selling all the usual basics, plus a small air-conditioned supermarket but with very few western products. There is a small market in the centre but a larger one further out (ask for Pasar Kaduela on the bemo). There are several small cafes in town and a western style one (with equivalent prices) near the large market. Banks with ATMs. You can get fuel here but they have limited supplies; if you order too much then the local people go short.
Pasar Suba on Lomblen Island
08°30′.471S 123°13′.629E in 6.5m sand. Some coral heads. Beautiful scenery. No village is visible. Swell rolling onto the beach but we didn’t roll much.
08°22′.139S 123°24′.650E 6.5m depths, sand. The anchorage has beautiful views of the volcanoes and the waterfront is cleaner than other towns we’d been in. Mostly flat water (and always calm at night) but when the north setting the current in the Boleng Strait combines with the afternoon sea breeze, it sets up a chop in the anchorage which makes the boats pitch and bounces around. Not dangerous, just annoying and only lasts a few hours.
Shoreside facilities best so far. Dinghy dock with locals to help tie up. The tourist office is next to dock with local people who could speak English and could arrange laundry, water delivery, fuel etc and book local tours.
Cafes and sheltered seating area next to the dock. Entrance to docks guarded by sentries so very secure.
Town was cleanest we’d seen so far in Indonesia. Market excellent. Roads outside the main town are terrible. It took 2 hours to travel about 10 miles.
Tour up the volcano fantastic. Leave at 1 am and hike up in the dark (just as well as the incline is scary in the daylight) while it’s cool. On the top for sunrise. Walk around the inside of the caldera next to smoking, sulphurous areas, then down again by 10 am. Very tiring; a tough walk but our 11-year-old twins managed it. You will get filthy with ash/dust so wear clothes that don’t matter or can be easily washed. We carried plenty of water but only drank about 2L each as it wasn’t hot. Coconut water available on way down. The cool temperature on top but only needed a light jacket.
NE Adunara Island (Anchorage 10 in 101 Anchorages in Indonesia Guide)
Anchored at position 08°14′.396S 123°19′.171E in 23m in sand and coral. Lovely views of surrounding islands and volcanoes. Small sand cay is good for sundowners and exercise. Good snorkelling off smallest of outlying islands. Current in the anchorage of about 1.5 knots. Note: Navionics Gold charts are not accurate when approaching from Lembata. Good light overhead needed to see the reefs clearly.
North East Flores
Tanjung Gedong (Anchorage 12 in 101 Anchorages Guide)
08°04′.608S 122°50′.709E in 8m sand and stones. There is only room for one yacht in this depth of water, the rest of the bay is deeper (about 20 – 25m). Very attractive bay and lovely local people who sold us fruit and chatted without being too persistent. Saw monkeys on the shore.
Teluk Hading (Anchorage 11 in 101 Anchorages Guide)
08°13′.672S 122°46′.018E in 4m sand and small coral heads. Note that the lat/long in the 101 guides is incorrect; it’s the same as the one given for number 10. There is a large area of reef in the entrance to the bay (position of western end is 08°13′.806S 122°45′.925E). Beautiful spot: white sandy beach, turquoise water and some interesting snorkelling opportunities. No village ashore and just the occasional local person on the beach or in a boat.
North Coast of Flores
The winds we had in late August / early September were all light land and sea breezes. Just occasionally we’d see evidence of SE trades, breaking through to the north coast but not often. This area is remote and peaceful: lots of small, quiet anchorages with friendly villagers.
Waimalung (Number 15 in 101 Anchorages Guide)
08°25′.334S 122°35′.369E in 8m sand. The reef provides some protection from the swell. Very friendly locals. The coastal road goes through the village but very little traffic. School teacher, Powell, speaks English and will show you where the ikat weaver lives. Very small shop in the village.
Maumere / Sea World Hotel Anchorage
08°38′.138S 122°18′.375E sand, good holding. Further out its coral rubble; less good holding. Onshore breeze most afternoons but offshore at night. Numerous fish traps on approach to Anchorage. Pull dinghies up onto the beach in front of bar/restaurant. Water from a tap near the dive centre. Access to the main road (sealed and no pot-holes) via hotel. Some small fruit and veg stalls along the road. You can arrange laundry, fuel, drinking water, fruit and vegetables and rubbish disposal with ‘boat boys’ in the anchorage. We wanted to give them some trade but didn’t need much so one bag of rubbish was disposed of for 15,000 RP! We expect the veggies they provide are pretty expensive. Loud music from the resort several nights a week until very late / early.
You can arrange for a driver and air-conditioned car to take you where you want to go for about 100,000 RP / hr or walk to the main road and catch a bemo.
Two supermarkets. Roxy is the main one (at the back of the church which faces the football ground – you only know it’s a football ground if you look carefully for the two goal posts). It sells quite a lot of western foods including cereal, tinned butter, long life cheese, olive oil, mayonnaise, crisps, chocolate, beer, sodas and crackers. There’s another supermarket, which sells some different products, right next to the My Bread bakery, on the south side of the football ground. The air-conditioned bakery had some pretty cupcakes and doughnuts but the bread was lightweight i.e. no good for filling up two 11-year-old boys.
The run-down market has the usual range of fruit and veg but much of it was cheaper than other towns we’ve been to. There’s a bigger market further out of town to the west which we didn’t visit.
Apparently, you can find an English speaker in the cellphone stores in town to help with internet issues and many cruisers were able to sort out their connection problems here.
There is a laundry in the town.
Golden Fish restaurant: we were looking for a proper local place but ended up here at lunchtime, having recognised the name from the Lonely Planet Guide. It had a nice balcony overlooking the sea but the food was unremarkable and prices were hotel ones: not good value for money.
This was the first town we went to in Indonesia where the locals didn’t bat an eyelid when foreigners walked down their streets: no ‘hello mister’, ‘photo please’ or anything else.
Batu Boga East (Anchorage 19 in 101 Anchorages book)
08°28′.228S 121°57′.318E in 10.5m sand. Enter in good light and the reef is easily seen. Google Earth is helpful. Absolutely silent apart from birdsong. No signs of human habitation at all. Very arid hills surrounding the anchorage and not really fjord-like but a very beautiful remote anchorage and well protected from swell and wind.
08°30′.430S 121°48′.159E 14m sand. Quite choppy with afternoon breeze and a small amount of swell works it’s the way in. This was a real stop and not an anchorage we would have selected. Having said that, there was a very good Tourism team here and they could arrange some interesting tours. Some of the rally boats went to visit local plantations and watched palm sugar being made and learnt about cashew nut and arak production. Not sure if the team are permanent or just set up when the rallies are in town. No market here.
Anchored 08°31′.655S 121°20′.135E in 5m sand. Some wave protection from reef north of the village. See Google Earth for the image. Lots of room for many boats. Small market in the village but most produce sell early in the morning. Villagers tend the rice fields along the coast. Saw a soccer match in the village with each player wearing full kit; surprising given the lack of other material possessions here. The town is dusty and impoverished but has a quite different architecture to previous places, which was interesting.
Lingeh Bay (no 22 in 101 Anchorages book)
Anchored 08°17′.301S 120°35′.936E 12m sand. Plenty of space. Excellent holding. The reef at the entrance to bay keeps most of the swell out. Kids came to the boat in canoes, asking for books, clothes, hats. Gave them each a pencil and bought a green coconut from them and they went away smiling.
Gili Bodo (No 23 in 101 Anchorages book)
Anchored in a patch of light blue sand (visible on Google Earth) 08°22′.165S 120°00′.912E in 16m (streamed back to 5m with afternoon on-shore breeze). Can be choppy as not much protection from the reef. Pretty, although coral not the best for snorkelling. Saw a black and white striped sea snake here.
Anchored off the Laprima Hotel at 08°30′.356S 119°52′.476E in 16m sand. The main harbour (no 24 in 101 Anchorages) is far too busy for cruising boats to anchor in now and those who did try were advised that the bottom is too soft and they would drag. Local guys in boats will offer services e.g. fuel, water, laundry etc. They are helpful although some of the services were not high quality. Many boats were disappointed with the laundry, which came back damp and didn’t smell clean. Some of the diesel supplied was very dirty.
Security was not an issue in this anchorage. Dinghies can be safely left on the beach in front of the hotel. You can use the hotel bar and restaurant and swimming pool, although the staff seemed to have different charging policies for this each day (it was too expensive for us). Fairly easy walk from the hotel into the town. Roxy Supermarket, bakeries, cafes, restaurants and tour operators. The market is at the far end of town by the dock and has a lot of fish and not so much fruit and veg, but you can easily find enough to provision here. I can recommend the simple hair salon opposite the market. I had a wash and cut for $5. No English is spoken but sign language worked fine.
The airport has a brand new terminal and tourism is starting to take off here: expect it to be much more developed in a few more years. We needed to access medical care in Bali and flew there from here. We booked our tickets online with Nusatrip (cost $100 each one way). Good service.
Komodo National Park
Although in theory the trade winds should have meant wind coming from the SE, we found all sorts of different wind directions here (although none were more than 20 knots) and only modified versions of land/sea breezes. We wondered if some of the wind was current-generated by the straits.
Loh Buaya, Rinca Island (39 in 101 Anchorages book)
Anchored in the inlet near the Ranger Station 08°39′.182S 119°42′.803E in 16m mud, good holding. Good breeze blowing out of this bay during the daytime. Tie dinghy to dock (no steps, so a bit of a climb up the supports at low water) and walk to Ranger Station via Komodo Dragon archway. Good paths and well organised National Park staff. Various charges are applicable and we paid $63 in total for them all. That included a tour with a ranger lasting a couple of hours. We saw plenty of Komodo dragons, Long-tailed Macaques and Buffalo. Tours seem to be available anytime but we chose to go early the next morning so it was cooler on the hike. Very interesting although lots of tourists and feels a little like a production line. There is a small shop in the ranger complex which sells snacks and souvenirs (the first postcard we came across). They do have saltwater crocodiles here, although the last one seen was 10 months ago.
North Komodo (48 in 101 Anchorages book)
08°29′.656S 119° 32′.946E at the head of the large bay, south of mooring buoys, 11m over coral rubble and sand, good holding. Saw wild pigs on shore one morning. Local tour boats use the moorings to stay overnight. Good location to dinghy to the pass (1.3M away) for drift snorkel/dive. The small bay right next to the pass and directly north of this anchorage has a sign saying “no anchoring” on the shore.
Gili Lawa Darat (northeast of the previous anchorage)
A dive boat beat us to the bright orange mooring buoy. The other buoy was far too close to the reef for our liking so we found a mound of coral rubble at 08°28′.107S 119°33′.873E and anchored there. Stunning coral all around the edges of this bay; great snorkelling but we discovered to our consternation that the coral rubble we anchored in was, in fact, pristine coral. We left. Don’t advise anchoring here: just take mooring if available to avoid damage to the environment.
Batu Moncho (NW Komodo)
08°26′.483S 119°27′.024E in 20m on sand and coral. Watched Manta Rays feeding in a current stream near the boat. Great snorkelling in the north east of the bay although the recommended spot in 101 books is on the north-west of the bay, which we didn’t visit. Nice beach for sundowners. Deserted.
North coast of Sumbawa Island
08°08′.423 S 117°46′.028 E in 16m sand and weed. The ‘shallow’ shelf that runs parallel to the beach probably has room for three or four boats. Lovely clean beach and friendly locals. They have a market on a Friday morning, which we missed, but we managed to buy some veggies from the small shops. Met a young man called Arif, who showed us around and explained what was happening on the beach (a large crowd of fishing families from Wera who were temporarily living on the beach while they caught and dried flying fish) and an area covered with pieces of a root from the island opposite, which is cooked and used in soups. The island opposite reportedly has a lovely lagoon inside which you can walk to easily. There are a couple of mooring buoys which were unfortunately occupied when we went to have a look. Some rally boats did use the moorings though.
Medang island (52 in 101 Anchorages book)
08°08′.646S 116°22′.343E in 6.5m sand, good holding. The turquoise sand patch is obvious in good light and would hold about 7 or 8 boats, and further out. This bay is deserted of settlements although fishermen use it to anchor off and collect lugworms. The water is lovely for swimming and it’s very pretty. Snorkelling not that special but there is plenty of reef fish. Stayed two nights here as it was so nice.
Northwest Lombok island
Medana Bay Marina
Picked up a mooring. Intended to only stay 2 nights but stayed 5; it was so great. British ex-pat Peter and his Indonesian wife Ace, have created a lovely, quiet haven for yachties. They can help you arrange fuel, water, laundry (the best anywhere in Indonesia and nearly the cheapest) and tours of the island. They also have a great cafe with nice food and inexpensive prices. The employ some very helpful local people too. Highly recommended.
Teluk Kombal, NW Lombok (58 in 101 Anchorages book)
08°24′.223S 116°04′.537E in 25m sand. Lots and lots of moorings here (but none that were obviously for rent) and difficult to find room to swing between them given the anchorage depths. Lots of traffic to and from the Gilli Islands, so washing is a feature too. Hardly recognisable from the description in the 101 Guide. This anchorage seems to have changed a lot since the entry was written and is not recommended unless you can arrange a mooring.
SY Yindee Plus
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