All You Need to Know About Cruising Indonesia
Indonesia was our first international destination and as such, a big learning curve. I correlated all the information we gathered during our five months in Indonesia and have since added to it after spending another month cruising Indonesia. New visa requirements have come into place, but not surprisingly, there is a lot of confusion and some cruisers are still getting asked for a CAIT which you no longer need. Of course this post only includes the places we went to, and the experiences we had, but we did gather a lot of information I believe will be helpful to those cruising to Indonesia for their first time. It’s all you really need to know… go explore and have fun. You will be glad you did!
Cruising Indonesia was wonderful. Peaceful at times and chaotic at others. Indonesia’s archipelago of over 17000 islands has it all. Large hectic cities, tiny villages, booming tourist spots and uninhabited islands. It is a wonderfully diverse, interesting and friendly place. When stopping at the islands expect to be visited by the people of the village or fisherman selling their catch – we traded a mobile phone for a mackerel once, but most of the time we paid in rupiah for the fish, octopus or squid that we bought. We cruised Indonesia in their wet season and therefore we saw very few other cruising yachts. We also had very little wind and had to motor most of the time; luckily fuel is cheap in Indonesia.
Note: Don’t rely 100% on your GPS! We saw some uncharted rocks and our charts were out by 1/2 a mile at times. There has been several times when our GPS shows us anchored on land. It was at its worst around Komodo Islands and the east side of Borneo.
IDR – Indonesian Rupiah written here as Rp
The requirements for visa and entering Indonesia have recently changed. This is the current information I have gathered.
- 1 month – visa free (for 169 countries)
- 1 month visa on arrival, with the option to extend for 1 month – USD $35.00
- 6 month visa – visit an embassy before arriving in Indonesia. Apply for 6 months and you will receive two months visa with the option to extend monthly for four months. You need a sponsor letter for the social visa.
- Click here to see what countries get free visa.
- There are 18 ports to check into and out of Indonesia.
- An application form should be filled in online and printed before arrival in Indonesia. Click here to fill in application form.
- NO CAIT NEEDED.
- NO NEED FOR AN AGENT
- A vessel declaration form, filled in online, replaces the PIB or Temporary Import Permit. Basically it says you will not sell the boat in Indonesia etc. With this form you can leave your boat in Indonesia for 3 years. The vessel declaration will become null and void when you leave Indonesia, and you will need to apply again on the next visit.
- It is also required that the Indonesian courtesy flag must be larger than the boat’s state flag.
- Arrival on a Friday afternoon should be avoided. As a predominantly Muslim country, it is not unusual for most people to finish working by midday on a Friday.
- Clearing into and out off Indonesia is free (apart from your choice of visa).
- For more information about checking in or out of Indonesia click here.
- This website has lots of general information about Indonesian visa and immigration
- For a more in depth look at Indonesian entry & exit formalities have a look at this link.
In Sabang early 2016 we were required to put up our quarantine flag and wait to be boarded by quarantine and then immigration, then we had to go to shore to see the harbour master and then to immigration to pick up our passports.
Don’t forget – take the time to ensure you have your paperwork organised
- Have many photocopies of your passport, crew list, boat registration.
- Have a crew list with name of vessel, flag, captain and crew names and passport details.
- HAVE A BOAT STAMP.
- To clear in you need to visit Quarantine, Customs, Immigration and harbour Master (Port Authority)… don’t cut corners or it will come back and bite you on the arse!
- Dress neatly and respectfully when visiting the offices.
- Don’t leave extending your Visa until the last moment.
- Overstaying your Visa cost about USD$30 per day
Our experience clearing in and out of customs Nov – Dec 2014
Clearing out of Australia -was easy and painless. We cleared out in Darwin and the customs officials were very helpful with everything, including information about tax refunds. Once we cleared we had three days to get organised and go.
Clearing into Indonesia – Don’t be blaze` about clearance into Indonesian. Make sure you cross your t’s and dot your i’s. As I mentioned earlier, it was our first international trip and a steep learning curve. Finding information about Indonesian visa etc is not that easy – www.noonsite.com is a good place to start. Before I found out about noonsite I had a hell of a time trying to find the information I needed. Emailing the Indonesian Consulate didn’t help. In the end with the help of noonsite we had the name of an agent and put it all in her hands. AN AGENT AND CAIT ARE NO LONGER NEEDED.
We cleared in at Maumere on the island of Flores. The customs officers were really friendly and helpful – they even gave us a lift to the immigration which is miles away. After filling in the customs paperwork we went out to the Thorfinn with a couple of customs officers. They asked about drugs/medication, weapons and alcohol. They of course hinted towards an offer or “gift” of a bottle of alcohol, luckily the bottle, the customs officer, saw in our stockpile was a bottle of sticky bubbles “I don’t have that one”, he said! Dwayne was a little upset I had given away his sticky sweet wine!
After the visit to Thorfinn we were dropped off at immigration where a very surly man sorted out our paperwork. He was upset because we didn’t have a ‘boat stamp’. Apparently using a stamp makes them feel that you respect their official capacity more. From there we went to the Quarantine office. Quarantine was straight forward and from there we should have gone to the Harbourmaster.
We extended our visa in Surabaya. Go to – Kantor Imigrasi Tangung Perak Jl. Darmo Indah 21 Surabaya
Take all the relevant paperwork and a black ink pen (YES Black not blue.) Black pens are for sale there, and there is a photo copying service. The process will take 3 to 4 days.
We didn’t have any problems with pirates… touch wood. But acts of piracy – steeling from a boat do occur.
- Pontianak is full of thieves and if it is not bolted down it will be gone (I know that is a grand sweeping statement but I’m still a bit peeved with the whole place!) We had our outboard stolen while we slept. I have since read about an unfortunate couple who lost their outboard motor as well as a lot of stuff from inside their boat… while they slept (at Pontianak)! After having our outboard motor stolen we moved the boat to the customs wharf. Unless you are going to Pontianak for a particular reason (we were flying to Malaysia for visa) don’t bother going.
- Kumai, Kalimantan, if you do the orang-utan river trip – which I strongly recommend you do, as it was fantastic – your tour guide should be able to organise a boat boy to sleep in your cockpit for you. We did have a boat boy but some of our outboard fuel still managed to go missing but nothing else.
Eating out in Indonesia
When cruising Indonesia it is almost not worth cooking for yourself when you are near a village, or town, that has a warung. It can be so cheap; but it will depend on where you choose to eat.
- Small carts and warung are usually the cheapest. A warung (pronounced wa-roong) is basically a small eatery that will serve local food and usually not many choices (will specialise in one or two things). A meal can cost anything from IDR10000 (AUD1.00) and you would be hard pressed to spend more than IDR60000 (AUD6.00). Bakso from the carts is usually delicious, as are the sates.
- A rumar makan (roo-mar ma-kan) translates literally to house food. This is a local restaurant. These places are usually a little more expensive and serve a larger selection of food, but still so cheap.
- A resto is usually a more upmarket restaurant which would sometimes serve western food as well as Indonesian but you will pay a lot more for it, found in larger cities and touristy places.
- Masakan Padang – is a place that serves a variety of food. In most you can point to the dishes you’d like to try which they will serve you with rice. In others you will sit at a table and they will bring you many small dishes of food, including curries, fried chicken, eggs, vegetable etc. If they place food in front of you like this, be aware you only pay for what you eat. If you try everything like Dwayne and I did it will cost you a lot.
- Bali and other touristy places have a huge range of warung, rumar makan and resto. Not always cheap in Indonesian terms.
For more information about eating in Indonesia, have a look at eating in Bali. It includes the price.
Not everything is cheaper in Indonesia
Somethings are hard to find in Indonesia and somethings are as expensive, if not more expensive, than in Australia. Things I would recommend stocking up on include:
- Sunscreen is no cheaper than in Australia and quiet expensive in places like Bali.
- You cannot find normal (what we use in Aussie) vinegar and if you did you could guarantee it would not be cheap. If you use vinegar to clean the heads I recommend stocking up on the cheap ‘no name’ stuff in Australia.
- Cheese and cream hard to find. Expensive.
- Wine hard to find. Expensive.
- Bacon, ham and pork hard to find. 85% of Indonesian’s are muslim hence no pork.
- Tampons are basically not available in Indonesia. I did find some in Bali but they were few and far between and cost at least three times the cost in Australia.
Getting around Indonesia on land
When we could, we hired a scooter in order to be able to get around and see more of Indonesia on land. Riding a motorcycle or scooter is not for everyone. Indonesian road rules are very relaxed to non-existent. Don’t expect people to ride how you think that they should. You should always be aware of what everyone else on the road is doing. Don’t expect them to get out of your way. We bought helmets in Bali and have since used them many times. Well worth buying your own helmet if you think you’ll be hiring motorbikes, as the helmets you are given with the bikes are smelly and don’t fit correctly. (As my father-in-law would say $10 head $10 helmet!)
- Bali scooter hire RP50000 -RP70000 per day. BUT if you are hiring it for more than a day I would pay no more than Rp50000 per day.
- Apart from places such as Bali it was difficult to find a scooter to hire. Labuan Bajo we found a bike and Batam and in several other smaller islands we borrowed/hired a bike from friendly locals (Kumai and Bawean)
- Taxi’s are cheap – but make sure the taxi has a meter and it is turned on.
- Another option is to hire a driver. We didn’t do this but from what I have found out around 4 – 5 hours costs about Rp350000 (AUD35.00).
- In surabaya public transport consisted of becaks and mini vans. No body speaks good English. It was easier and very cheap to get a cab.
Phone and Internet
Internet connection is very poor in Indonesia. Free wifi, only in touristy areas, we found it in Bali, Gili, Labuan Bajo and shopping malls in Surabaya. Sim cards – phone and internet are cheap. Internet reception not very good.
We have a small washing machine on board which we use most of the time. In Bali it was easier to get laundry done on shore. At Kuta and Serangan we found laundry as cheap as Rp10000 per kilo (AUD1.00) but you will need to shop around for that price.
Serangan – Anugrah Jaya Laundry – Jln. Tukad Semanik No. 6 Serangan (RP10000/kilo)
Nongsa Point Marina – had free washing machines and driers.
Bartering, trading and gifts
If you think you will want to trade for fish from fishermen or give gifts to people at villages the following are the things we found they asked for the most. Handy to have some on board.
- Old working mobile phones
- Reading glasses
- Sun glasses (we bought a heap of them in Bali at 4 for Rp100000 AUS $2.50 each)
- Fins or flippers.
Gifts for island schools
- childrens story book (written in English) this help with their English lessons
- English – Bahasa dictionaries (the teacher is sometimes still learning English as they are teaching, the dictionaries are invaluable to them)
Island Supplies – fuel, groceries, fruit and veg, hardware
Some of the islands had small shops or local people selling their fresh produce – many did not. Very few had beer.
Getting fuel in Indonesia is not easy. We suggest getting fuel whenever you can. As it stands in April 2015 it is not possible to fill jerry cans at the petrol stations so you basically have to ask around until you find someone who has a permit (or knows someone) and can get your cans filled for you. Sometimes people will come out to your boat to ask if you need fuel and water. We paid between RP9000 and Rp16000 per litre of diesel (solar). Petrol is called bensin.
Water – we have a water maker so did not need to organise water. Did see clean drinking water for sale in places such as Maumere.
Dress appropriately when visiting an island village. Most of the people (85% of Indonesian population) are Muslim. Cover shoulders and knees.
The following are the main places we visited (click on the blue links for more info):
- Pulah Leti – Didn’t go ashore but had a snorkel, water was awesome.
- Kisar – where we anchored there is a small shop at the wharf area.
- Wetar (Village of Kalisana) – friendly village. People came out in their canoes and encouraged us to visit their village. Protestant church. Minister took us to see the school. Someone climbed a coconut tree to get us a refreshing coconut to drink.
- Palau Kawula (village of Balurin) a couple of small shops, a warung, beer, locals selling fresh fruit and veg and we were able to get diesel and a phone card. We moored alongside the wharf and spent the night there. Very friendly people. We had kids visit us (all day) and took us for a walk around the village.
- Flores (anchored Tk Hading) – Didn’t go ashore, but the snorkelling was beautiful.
- Maumere – We cleared customs into Indonesia here. It is a large town with plenty of shops, hardware, warungs etc. To organise fuel, anchor off the Seaworld Resort.
- Labuan Bajo – tourist town. Wet markets – fish, fruit and veg. Bars, restaurants, warungs, diving tours, komodo dragon tours, resorts. Can hire scooters. Has airport.
- Komodo Islands – It cost about Rp270000 for the Komodo trek to see dragons (for two of us). Awesome creatures.
- Palau Satanda – Has a lake in the middle of the island. Rp50000 (each) to visit it. We had a dip in the lake – water warm.
- Gili Islands – Really liked it here. We spent our time on Gili Air. Very relaxing. Walking, snorkelling, paddle boards, restaurants, bars, massage and trips to the other islands. Has a small shop with fruit and veg and limited sundries.
- Bali – most supplies available. We stocked up on meat, fruit, veg and beer. Has a marina but expensive and very rundown. Better to get a mooring at Serangan.
- Serangan, Bali – Moorings at Serangan cost are dependant on the length and type of the boat. The price for a monohull using small or medium mooring start from Rp 130,000/mooring/day, where as big moorings start from Rp 180,000/mooring/day (the price of both moorings include the village tax and shower). To grab a mooring, contact Ruth at Isle Marine Services on +628123847850 or [email protected]. Serangan has warungs, laundry, scooter hire and surf beach.
- Madura (near ferry terminal) – we anchored here. Madura has a couple of mini marts and warungs nearby. Ferry to Surabaya Rp5000 (AUS $0.50) Someone approached our boat about diesel.
- Surabaya, Java – second largest city in Indo. Extended our visa here. Large shopping malls. Cinema – movies very cheap. Get around by taxi. We stocked up on food, fruit, veg and beer.
- Palau Bawean – warungs, hardware, fruit and veg. Not sure about beer. We borrowed Ary’s scooter and went around the island. It is a gorgeous island, so green and full of rice paddies. Other little islands nearby, nice beaches and snorkelling.
- Palau Noko – a tiny cay near Bawean. Nice snorkelling.
- Kumai, Kalimantan – warung, hardware, paint, wet markets (fish, fruit and veg) and mini mart. No beer, but if you ask someone might find it for you but it will cost a fortune. Orangutan tours. We did a two night tour and it was amazing, cost AUS $500 for the two of us. Included all food, water, tours, accommodation (bed, mozzie net etc on boat). Fantastic!
- Punkalan Bun, Kalimantan – 20 mins inland from Kumai. Large town. Hardware, supermarkets and department stores. Warung, resto etc. No beer but I think there is a couple of hotels that might sell it. We borrowed a scooter from Mr Yono (who organised our orantutan tour) to ride to Punkalan Bun. Can get a taxi.
- Pulau Karimata – Small shop in a village. Sold beer! No fresh fruit and veg when we were there. Conservation area with great snorkelling at some of the other islands nearby.
- Pulau Busung – Nice Snorkelling
- Pulau Bulu – Fantastic snorkelling
- Pontianak, kalimantan – Large town all supplies available. Not a very friendly place. I am generalising… we did meet some friendly people. Pontianak is on the equator and they have a monument that you can visit (we didn’t get to because they asked us to leave!) Has international airport – we flew to Kuching at the top of Borneo for a visa run.
- Pulau Benan – warung, shop with some fresh produce and hardware stuff. Homestay accommodation. Snorkelling and diving tours. Nice place for a stop. A few places to eat, very friendly.
- Batam – Nongsa Point Marina. Resort bar, pool, restaurant.
- Batu Besar – 10mins away from Nongsa Point on scooter, there are many warungs, rumah makan, beauty salons, markets, fruit, veg, beer and supermarket. Cheapest beer we found in Indo
- Nongsa Point Ferry Terminal – you can buy duty free spirits and wine. Ferry to Singapore.
- Batam city – large shopping malls, cinema – cheap movies.
- Sabang – Cleared in and out of Indonesia in early 2016 for the Sabang Marine Festival.
- Pulau Weh Many shops, markets, hardware, banks, ATM, dive shops, fantastic snorkelling and diving.
- Pulau Rubiah – tourist snorkelling spot. Mooring bouys are available. Snorkelling and diving. A couple of small restaurants on the island.
- Pulau Seulako – awesome snorkelling and diving.
- Pulau Rondo – Small navy base watching Indonesia’s northern-most point. Some good snorkelling and diving.
- Sumatra – Banda Aceh. Large town. Many shops, markets, things to see and do.
- Pulau Deudab – Snorkelling – really good coral, visibility very poor.
- Pulau Keureuset – snorkelling – some nice corals close to shore, viability poor.
- Pulau Breeueh – snorkelling – visibility ok. some really nice plate and staghorn coral.
Food store in Labuan Bajo that stocks more “exotic” products like cheese.
UD Bajo Jaya
Contact Linda on 081 353 278 724 or HP: 0821-4413-3471 / 0821-4413-3491
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: Jl. Raya Sernaru No. 68, Wae Kelambu Komodo, Manggarai Barat
If you Email them they will send you a price list.
I emailed them for more information to pass on to cruisers on my website and got no response… so I cannot confirm this information sorry.
Learning some basic Indonesian will come in handy as most local islanders know very little English.
Good-morning – Salamat Pagi
Good-afternoon – Salamat Sore
Good-evening – Salamat Malam
Good-bye (to those leaving) – Salamat Jalan
Good-bye (to those staying) – Salamat Tinggal
Welcome – Salamat detang
Thank-you – Terima Kasih
Please (help) – Tolong
Please (please be seated) – Silakan (Silakan Duduk)
My name is – Nama Saya
What is your name? – Siapa namanya?
Husband – Suami
Wife – Istri
Child – Anak
Children – Anak-anak
Buy – Beli
How much? – Berapa harganya
Fish – Ikan
Squid – Cumi (choo-mee)
Prawn/shrimp – Udang
I need – Saya perlu (Per-loo)
I want – Saya mau
May I have – Boleh saya minta
What is that? – Apa itu?
What is this? – Apa ini?
Where is? – Di Mana?
Where is an eatery? – Di mana warung?
Ke mana? – Where are you going?
Dari mana? – Where are you from?
Don’t forget to save, pin or share with fellow cruisers!
Don't miss a thing! Join the crew and we will send you free email updates. But don't worry, we promise not to bombard your inbox with too much awesome stuff!
Something went wrong.