Ngurtafur’s White Sand Beach in The Kei Archipelago
Filled with charm and a sense of magic, from the beauty of the blue sky, to the endless stretches of sea and sand. Historically recognized as the legendary Spice Islands, the enchanting Maluku Province is home to much more than just mace and nutmeg.
Here in Southeast Maluku, on the tiny Warbal Island in the Kei island chain, lies a peculiar, yet entirely captivating beach. Unlike most beaches which stretch along the coast of an island, Ngutafur Beach extends out to sea. An unbroken sandbar of about 2 kilometers in length, and 7 meters in width, Ngurtafur beach is a fine line of powdery white sands, bordered on either side by a clear and almost impossibly blue ocean. Strolling down this narrow beach is like taking a stroll through the ocean itself, with the added benefits of staying dry.
This strange and magical isle is covered in soft white sands, its surrounding areas adorned with lush green trees. But even with the charming views along Ngurtafur, a second landscape remains hidden beneath the surface, waiting to be discovered. Maluku waters are rich in coral reefs, many even visible from your vantage point in your boat. Hundreds of species of fish and other marine life thrive within these reefs, so be sure to grab your snorkel and goggles and take a look.
Also frequenting this beach are the giant Leatherback Turtles, known as Tabob by the local community. The turtles are a protected species, whose nesting grounds on Ngurtafur Beach are monitored by WWF. Other visitors to Ngurtafur include large flocks of Pelicans, who migrate from Australia and Papua New Guinea to the Maluku islands.
The Kei Islands are part of Wallacea, a group of Indonesian islands which are separated by deep waters from both the Asian and Australian continental shelves, and are therefore part of neither.
Warbal itself has no accommodations, but various homestays are located on the nearby Kei Kecil Island.
Coaster Cottages is located on Pasir Panjang Beach in Ohoililir Village, Kei Kecil. This small collection of villas is set on a forested hill overlooking the beach.
Penginapan Delima is a small place in a secluded location on the southern end of Pasir Panjang Beach, Kei Kecil. It is set amidst tropical foliage, about 50 meters from the beach. Tours of the island and surrounding islands are also organized at this homestay.
The “Tourism” Cottages are more spacious than other villas, and offer air-conditioned rooms and individual terraces. These are also near Pasir Panjang beach in Ohoililir Village as well as Ohidertawun Village.
Warbal Island is quite secluded and not too easy to access, so do not plan this trip if you are in a hurry. The quickest route to Warbal Island is through the Pattimura Airport on Ambon Island, about 36 kilometers from Ambon City, the capital of Maluku. This is a domestic only airport, with flights available from Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, Kupang, and several other smaller cities.
From Ambon, catch another flight to Dumatubun Langgur airport in the Kei Islands. This destination is served by Trigana Air, Wings Air and Xpress Air, and will take approximately 1.5 hours. Once in Kei, make your way to Tual Port, and rent a motorboat to take you to Warbal. Boats have a capacity of up to 15 people, and will cost approximately 700,000 – 1,000,000 rupiah for a return trip. Getting to Warbal Island will take about 1.5 hours.
Alternatively, you can take a ship direct from the Yos Sudarso Port in Ambon. This is a long voyage of about 18 hours. Before reaching Kei, the ship will first dock at the Port of Banda Neira before continuing to Tual. From there, take a motorboat to Ngurtafur Beach in Warbal.
It is recommended to bring your own food supplies from Tual or Langgur, as there aren’t many “shops” near Ngurtafur. While staying on the beach, usual meals will consist of a basic fish and rice meal.
It’s best to visit during the Dry Season which is usually between April and September.