If there was a glimpse of heaven on earth, this might be it.
On my last month-long leave in Ambon, me and Francy took a little trip to Ora Beach Resort. We heard all about it from the locals, saying how beautiful the place is, and how me and Francy have to visit it. From their description it’s one of those exotic remote beach resort, with the little huts constructed above a sea of corals and surrounded with amazing landscapes.
Now where exactly is this Ora Beach? It’s located in Pulau Seram, just above Pulau Ambon. For those of you with rusty geography like myself, here’s a map to play around with:
The red pin is Ambon, the green pin is the Ora Beach.
Me and Francy hesitated to go actually, since we’re uncertain of the conditions of the villas and it is quite a long way to get there, and we’re not sure will the trip worth it.
But we decided to give it a shot. Hey, you’re travelling. Get some adventure going.
We packed little clothes but heavy gears, as in cameras, chargers, underwater casing, fins and snorkels.
We arranged the rooms, which cost 500K IDR for a night (quite steep for local tourism standards) and transportation (a Land Rover from the port of Masohi to the Saleman village resort) for 600K IDR/one person/two ways.
First, Victor, our host while we were in Ambon, drove us from Kota Ambon to the port town of Tulehu. That’s about 90 minutes of driving.
The Port of Tulehu
View to the strait
There we bought two tickets for 100k IDR a piece for a ferry to Masohi on Pulau Seram. The view is so beautiful. Thick dark seas with the bright blue sky.
Here’s a video (YouTube) of us getting through the port:
And here’s another one of us getting inside the ferry:
Tip: Always gather information about transportation fees. Most tourists get ripped off in this part. Be smart, be polite even when you know they’re upselling you. Don’t be a jerk in another man’s land. Most of the time, if they see your street smart look, they won’t dare to trick you. Btw, in all of my local trips I’ve never got ripped off. Mostly its unproven prejudice. Locals will be nice to you when you are this nice, polite (but smart) tourist.
The ferry took about 2 hours. We slept along the way after watching these beautiful blue skies gracing our windows.
After we arrive in Masohi, we were picked up by our driver, as promised. He took us right to the rover, and we began the long trip of crossing this Pulau Seram, from Masohi in the south coast, to Saleman in the north coast. The trip took 3 hours, going through flatlands at first, but then we turn into these steep, winding roads while crossing the thickest of woods. Beware if you get car sick easily.
The winding road going deeper into the hills
Francy here probably as scared as I was, hahaha…
Can’t help but wander after the rover got deeper and deeper into the woods, “If the car stops then we got robbed and killed and dumped right here, nobody would know.” Hahaha… Maluku was a conflict area after all. But I have to admit that was kinda dumb thinking.
We finally arrived at the end of the road: a high point overlooking the seas north of Pulau Seram. You can see from the picture here, there’s a little bank of sand just after the trees. That’s the beach.
That tiny patch of white to the left of the trees is the Ora Beach
With the trusty ranger
Going downhill from there we arrived in Saleman, a tiny fishing village. The view was absolutely magnificent. It’s this virgin bay, fenced by the green mountains on the right and the horizontal line on the left. The water was so crystal clear, mixed with greenish blue hue. It was a view to watch.
Here we waited for a small motor boat to pick us up, courtesy of the resort.
View from the Saleman dock
Don’t you just wanna dive in?
Eden in the middle of nowhere
The ride with a small boat was only 15 minutes, and there we saw it: The resorts. It was like those resorts that I’ve seen only through brochures. Five little huts above water.
The huts. We stayed on the second one from the right
Arriving in the docks and looking around, I cannot help but think, “This is the island they shot Jurassic Park. We’re doomed!” :)
But it did ring a bell. Gloomy skies, rolling clouds, dark green mountains. Just add a couple of Tyrannosaurus and screaming resort residents.
See? Just like the movie
The resort is like divided into four areas: The main hall, which is this big lot of cemented floor with a roof, then the jetty hut, where we had all our dinners, the villas on land, and the villas on water. The staff is from the Saleman village, we were completely cut off from everywhere.
The wooden decks going to the villas
Probably a slice of heaven
I remember feeling, “How did I got here again? Just the two of us in the middle of nowhere?”
An Instagram shot of the huts. In the middle of nowhere.
The hut next door
We were ushered into our room. Not bad. Clean sheets. Shower. Tiled bathroom floor. A porch with steps into the water. And, my favorite feature: we were directly above this garden of corals. You can see them all colourful with it’s Nemo’s world residents directly.
You can literally enjoy the garden from above
No time to waste, we put the Canon S95 into the loaned underwater casing, grab our snorkel and fin, and went directly to the water.
Boy, o boy. Admittedly I’m no underwater expert, but so far the most beautiful corals I’ve seen was on Tanjung Setan in Morella. But this one is different. It was so beautiful. Lots of playful terrains, covered with various colours and shapes, and full with fishes.
Basically that’s what we did for 2 days: Just snorkel and snorkel. There was nothing else to do :) We swam along the coast with our heads below the surface, sometimes just floating there, watching the fishes dance. It was kinda surreal, being able to just get into the water after you just woke up. Hey, it’s on your darn porch :)
The only shoes we ever needed
Oh yeah, and we take a lot of underwater shots. It was so fun, like shooting a totally different world. I will definetely get into this underwater photography thing. With a real camera of course :)
Here’s a couple of my shots underwater taken while I was there. Amateurish, pffttt… But these just to show how wonderful the garden is.
First time ever to see fish schooling. They just kept circling around and around and around.
This is also my first. They just move around whenever I try to go near them. It was like a cloth of aluminum going around me.
A rare water mammal species trying to sink himself. A difficult feat.
Might not be for everybody
We initially wanted to stay for 2 days and three nights, but we cut that short into two nights since it was too… desolated.
Don’t get me wrong, the silence and the remoteness is beautiful and exotic, but maybe if you are travelling with one or two more couple, it would be a lot more enjoyable. You would have longer talks, more games, more activites. For both of us, the ‘emptiness’ it’s too much :)
But it just might because we both have been spending reflective time in Ambon for almost a month. If we were dropped here after a crazy year in Jakarta, the place might work just fine.
Then the night fell
We had this amazing sunset gracing our porch, which is perfectly situated facing west. Like any night spent so far from civilization, you can see the stars in the vast night sky.
Like a boss
Like a she-boss
One of the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen
Kinda surreal watching the sun go down, the two of us alone with just the sound of the water hitting the supporting beams below us
Conclusion: what are you waiting for?
So I think I’m gonna stop here to keep this from being the longest blogpost in the world (Hey, you’re still here! Thanks!)
My take: A remote heaven, amazing view and great-great underwater garden. Go with another great couple. Bring books, monopoly. Bring an iPad full of How I Met Your Mother episodes for night entertainment :) And most definetely: bring an underwater camera.
The hotel might not be a St. Regis, but hey, it’s something that we can be proud of as an Indonesian. And if you’re adventurous, this would be the perfect setting.
Can you imagine, alone with that lover of yours in this place? Sounds of waves hitting the decks, these exotic breeze you’re feeling on your skin, no one else in sight, so you can take off your clothes whene…
Okay I better stop.
Thank you for reading. Please share this to friends that might be interested in these kinda adventure. Perhaps you can plan on going together.
Hopefully this will inspire you to just go. Go.
Look Ma, I’m in heaven!
PS: If you want to any question regarding how to arrange the trip or more details about our experience, just hit me on the comments section.
This one’s from the archives. I shot Randy’s sister Petty (the always present face throughout my portfolio, could you guess which one is she?) and since Randy’s also went to college in Melbourne, he wanted to get shot there too. Came Nelly, one of the classiest faces ever showed up in my viewfinder. She got […]