Our Travel

Tual, Triton Bay and nearby Kaimana Indonesia – April 2015

Warning:  Charts for Indonesia can be very wrong, by miles, not meters.  If you do not already have Google Earth kap charts to use with Fugawi or OpenCPN, then please see the webpage at GE2KAP files for Indonesia and get a set for your cruise.

Waypoints and tracks:  You can download  a single gpx file to load in OpenCPN or Fugawi. This file has all our waypoints for anchoring and tracks for Raja Ampat, Trition Bay, Kaimana and Tual.  Click HERE and then in the new window double click on the file named "WaypointsEastIndo2015.gpx" and download it to your PC.  This gpx file is best viewed by placing in OpenCPN layer (you may need to read their "help"on this, or simply import using the "Route and Mark Manager" in OpenCPN.  The file can be input into Google Earth too.  They should work in most chartplotters, but have only been tested in a Raymarine MFD.  At the very end of this page are four illustrations of the main areas in the Tual, Kaimana and Triton Bay areas where we cruised.  


We left Darwin Australia on 11 September and had good SE trade winds to Tual in the Kai Islands. The harbor in Tual is very protected and busy enough to be interesting, but not too busy. The current Navionics charts are very good. There are lights and markers for the channel. Lots of shallows near the channel, so keep a lookout for the navigational markers. We anchored at S 005 038.027 & E 132 044.219 in about 15 meters, close to the harbor terminal, coast guard/harbor master and quarantine (building near the coast guard powerboat boat at the NE corner of the passenger terminal wharf. Here you can tie the dinghy, see GPS coordinates below)) and the adjacent traditional market with fresh fruit, veggies and high quality halal vacuum packed frozen chickens. There are lots of small shops around the terminal area. You can take a bemo/taksi across the bridge and ask for the supermarket. It is not great, but it has plenty of the basics.

Best dinghy landing is at the very small jetty where the coast guard boat is tied up. Just smile at the guys there and ask if it is okay to leave your dinghy there. Some of them will chat with you in English. This little jetty is to the left of the passenger/freight terminal. The Harbour Master and Quarantine offices are adjacent to this little dock. Nice people in the Harbour Master office who will issue you new clearance when you are ready to leave. Andy, the quarantine guy, is very nice, speaks English and has an official list of fees. He is the only one that charges in Tual and the fees are 35,000 arriving and 20,000 IDR leaving.

On the topic of getting port clearances, I would suggest that you have one at all times. We were stopped by navy once and by a Harbour Master once. Each time they were satisfied when we showed them our visas, CAIT and clearance. The clearance costs nothing and only takes an hour to do. I suggest that you request a clearance to somewhere far away. We chose Sorong and then before leaving Sorong we reported there only once to get a new one back to Tual. Nobody seems to care that there are months between issuance of a clearance and reporting-in.Immigration and customs is in large modern buildings located high over the terminal area, about 15 minutes on foot. Immigration will stamp you in while you wait. If you need a visa renewal, they can do this, but usually require 24 hours and may require payment of fingerprinting and taking a photo.

Customs is in an adjacent building and may require you to post a boat bond. They did for us, but there was no charge, just a lot of paperwork done in the same day. When we left Indonesia after six months we exited via Tual and again there was a lot of paperwork and they insisted upon an inspection of the vessel. The inspection was no big deal, but we all had a wet dinghy ride out to the boat where they were very polite and ask to look around and to see our "drugs". We showed them our prescription meds and all was fine. Immigration and customs are professional though a bit on the slow side. No bribes or delays just nice people in no hurry. As an aside, when we arrived in Darwin and had the Customs/Immigration meet us to check in at Cullen Bay Marina, they brought a dog to search the boat for drugs. The dog had no problem finding our prescription meds.

Diesel (solar) is available from a number of dealers on stilt houses to the right of the terminal areas. Look for the 55 gallon metal drums and small fishing boats tied up.

Some useful Tual area GPS coordinates which may be used with Google Maps or Google Earth Kap charts and even the Navionics iPAD app:
Dinghy dock in harbor terminal complex: S 05 38.032, E 132 44.55
Quarantine Blue Building: S 05 38.01, E 132 44.553 (Harbormaster and dinghy dock within 50 meters)
Gate out of harbor terminal complex: S 05 38.032, E 132 44.57
From here turn Left to go to Immigration/Customs: S 05 38.113, E 132 44.58
Continue uphill and turn another Left here: S 05 38.11, E 132 44.69
Immigration office: S 05 38.038, E 132 44.70
Fuel Docks: S 05 38.194, E 132 44.48


Triton Bay and Nametote Strait

East of Tual about 100 miles is the Triton Bay area. This area is well described in the Birdshead Seascape book which also lists many of the dive sites. It is best to check-in with the Harbour Master in Kaimana 35 miles north of Triton Bay before going to Triton Bay. Visitors are supposed to pay 500,000 IDR for a permit. This is the same concept as in Raja Ampat. The main difference is that there are very few visitors and thus they are not efficient as in Sorong. Jimmy and Lisa or Triton Bay Divers can get them for you if ask ahead of time. Alternatively, you can go to the tourist office and get them.

Kaimana Harbor is not very sheltered, but it works okay as the winds die in the evening. Navionics charts are out by a mile or two; however, just for the immediate Kaimana harbor area the C-map charts in the Jeppesen iPAD app are spot on. For Triton Bay, Aiduma Island and Namatote Island, C-map and Navionics are both off, but in opposite directions. Like most of eastern Indonesia, the official government charts are pretty accurate, but less detailed. I suggest you download our Google Earth kap charts and install in either Fugawi or OpenCPN on your PC before you go. Go here for the necessary info.

Kaimana. Dinghies should land on the wall or the adjacent beach to the south of the freight and passenger ship jetties. The beach is a natural point that extends out into the sea and provides good protection for swells and wind. The Harbour Master's office is in a two story blue building labeled PERHUB. We checked in and were told to return the next morning (Saturday) for clearances out to Sorong, all was in order when we returned. No monies requested. We stayed in the area over one month before going to Sorong.

Near the Harbor master's office inland one block is a street right from a movie set. Nothing has changed in 50 years. Many shops with staples. The hardware store has freezers with froze items like whole halal chickens (very good quality too). Take a bicycle rickshaw for a quick tour. There is a BRI bank with ATM machines that take Master Charge cards and a Mandiri Bank that takes Visa cards. The bemo's; called taksi in Kaimana patrol the street. About 4000 IDR/person for a ride to the large, modern veggie/fruit market a 15 minute ride away. For assistance in Kaimana, call Rizal an English teacher who hails from Sulawesi. He speaks fluently and can be most helpful. Offer him 50,000 IDR for a couple of days help. He can organize fuel, laundry, repairs, showing you where to find the internet cafe etc. Rizal organized a large (1200 liter) purchase of diesel for us and it was brought to Villa G and poured through filters into our tanks under our supervision, but local guys do the heavy lifting. There was a small charge for the delivery, but we felt it was money well spent.

Whale SharkWhale sharks. Stop to see the whale sharks on the way to Triton Bay (Teluk Triton). As you sail south from Kaimana, around the point to the left is a large bay called Teluk Bitsyara which extends to the north and also is the entrance to a channel called Selat Nametote which runs east between Nametote Island and Papua mainland. It is this area where about 10 fishing bagans are found. These small ships have extended outriggers and shine lights into the sea and drop nets at night. The nets come up just as dawn breaks (5am). It is a good idea to anchor in the afternoon and then go around to the bagans closest to the sea (not down the strait) and ask about the whale sharks. They believe the whale sharks bring good luck and love to see them too. Ask "ada ikan besar" (have big fish?) or "ada hui paus" (have shark whale?). The key is to get some to say yes and to be welcoming when you come back before dawn. They will feed the big guys small fish for you if you ask (say "ikan Kecil" and make some sign like pointing down or pouring something. If they feed the whale sharks and/or dolphins, it is probably a good thing to give the 100,000 IDR before you leave. We anchored in 15 meters at S 003 042.66 & E 133 052.80 with good holding in sand and protection from the S wind. There are shoals around this area, so have a lookout. Villagers will come by to sell coconuts either for money or treats like biscuits or candy and, of course, cigarettes for the men. They get very few visitors, mainly live-a-boards. The Harbor master in Kaimana said we were the first sailing yacht to come there. Note: likely to be a lot of dolphins coming to the bagan too. It was great to see them attach the small fish being poured into the sea. When you go to the bagans at dawn, be prepared to hop into the the water after tying up to the bagans and saying hello and asking if they have the big fish. If they say yes, ask if you can snorkel (same word in Indonesian, snorkel) and then jump in. Note there may be a notable current.

An alternative anchorage near here is in Teluk Raf right off of Nametote Strait It is a great anchorage and most comfortable S 03 44.73 & E 133 55.01.

We returned to the area in February and March 2015 with SV Brickhouse, SV Ocelot and SV Per Ardua. The whale sharks were at home and we had some really good snorkels with them.

artTriton Bay. After a day or two with the bagans, head southeast down the strait toward Triton Bay. It gets deep about a third of the way down. About two thirds of the way toward Triton, just south of the entrance to Teluk Raf, are walls on the mainland side with historically significant rock art. If you have time, it is worth anchoring and checking these out with a dinghy.

There are not a lot of good anchoring places in Triton Bay, but the two we mention are excellent and provide good protection. Firstly, we spent 3 weeks anchored in the Selat Iris next to Aiduma Island, not far from its confluence with Triton Bay; S 003 55.99 & E 134 007.09. More about anchorages below. There are three nice beaches in the bay off the big channel. The small peninsula off of Aiduma to the east of this anchorage has a new dive resort being built October 2014 called Triton Bay Divers. Liza and Jimmy hope to be open by New Years. It is on the east side of the little peninsula, so you will not see them without a ride around to the other side. There is great snorkeling by the two big rocks near their resort. Diving in this area is superb! Saw manta rays, masses of soft and hard corals; hundreds of species of fishes. The snorkeling is good to; especially the south side of the Dive Site called Little Komodo. Be cautious about the currents! If you want to go diving with Jimmy and Lisa, email to [email protected] and see www.tritonbaydivers.com. They are really nice and have few customers yet. We never saw another European while in the Triton Bay area. Conservation International have an office in Kaimana and staff visit Triton Bay regularly. There is an unlisted dive site that is absolutely one of the most beautiful ones I have seen and it is also a manta cleaning station. I won't give away the location, but contact Jimmy and Lisa and go dive there with them.

Lobo Villa Triton BayWe took a beautiful 5 hour cruise up Triton Bay to the town of Lobo. This town previous had been a Dutch outpost and has a memorial to solders at the fort. You will not recognize this town as an Indonesian one. It is populated by people that could easily be mistaken for the local black folks in the low country of South Carolina, picket fences, gardens, houses and churches put together. Anchoring in the bay/harbor for Lobo is excellent, good bottom and very protected by 500 meter tall mountains on 3 sides. It is a stunning setting. They say dugongs can be seen in the river estuary that feeds into Triton Bay near Lobo. They apparently feed on the sea grasses that thrive in the incoming fresh water. No shopping in Lobo. They grow everything they need for themselves. We anchored at S 003 045.83 & E 134 006.38. We met the head man on the jetty and he was welcoming. The village is full of nicely dressed kids and women with smiles. Rather more shy here, so very little "hey mister".

There are other sites to anchor in the Triton Bay/Selat Iris area. One recommendation is to look further SE in Selat Iris toward the SE end of Aiduma Island, in the area of Christmas Rock (great snorkeling here and this is where we saw our first wobbegong shark). Turtles abound around all the rocks. Just keep a sharp eye for them. One other last note about this area. The local people are quite nice, but have their own rules. They do not hesitate to come up to you boat and step aboard to say hello and maybe ask for some medicine or sale you some fish. If you don't want them on your boat, just say "tidak bagus" (not good) and smile. We had a guy walking around on our deck at 10:30pm one night after we were asleep. He was delivering freight from Kaimana to the resort, but needed to know where it was or if he had gone past it. Once I told him it was only 5 minutes further, he hopped off and motored on. All the area is owned by family clans so they simply feel at home. Not much Bahasa Indonesian spoken either.

We returned to the Kaimana/Triton area in late January and stayed another month. This time the winds were more from the west or NW, so the anchorages needed were a bit different. We were now very comfortable right in front of Triton Bay Divers resort. Anchored at and later nearby S 03 56.30 & E 134 08.27. Plenty of room for our friends to join us too.

islandsTwo other absolutely beautiful and very comfortable anchorages were enjoyed: 1) across Iris Strait from the resort in a long bay that gets shallow enough for several boats S 03 53.94 & E 134 10.01 and 2) on the NW side of Triton Bay in a Wayag-like area S 03 41.15 & E 134 01.17. Both of these are easy to enter if you use our Google Earth kap files. These two are good of either SE or NW monsoon season.



Four main anchorages in the Tual, Kaimana and Triton Bay areas

 These documents are in PDF files and can be download from the same link as the gpx files mentioned above.  You can also enlarge them simply on your PC screen by using Shift-+ and Cntl; then print them directly.