Yamdema Island

The main island of the Tanimbar archipelago, home to the regional capital Saumlaki and the largest island by far, Yamdena also has the largest range of places to stay and places to visit in these parts. In addition to the beaches and off-shore islands you can automatically expect in southern Maluku, it also has several intriguing historical sites, whether they are ancient megaliths or ones associated withthe locally prominent Catholic faith. Unfortunately, it is less immediately impressive as far as scenery and nature is concerned, with the main road along the SE coast of the island taking you past largely deforested, rolling hills. Budget travellers should also be warned that costs here are just about the highest in Maluku, with accommodation being particularly poor value. The locals, while still maintaining much of their interesting traditional culture, can also sometimes be a rough lot. So a typical tropical paradise it may not be, but interesting Yamdena surely is!


The capital of the Tanimbar Islands, Saumlaki is a rather small and scruffy little town. Along its single main street, it retains several of the old-fashioned Chinese shophouses that lend it a little charm, but there are no real sights to speak of here. As noted above, the locals here can also be a bit less welcoming than in most of Maluku: there is a bit too much idiotic shouting at foreigners by local youth sometimes (especially once they are drunk) involving requests for money. Still, as the only place with accommodation and a range of places to eat and shop, as well as being the main transport hub for the Tanimbars, it is likely that every visitor will spend some time here.