Kei, Pulau Kei Besar

Pulau Kei Besar

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Scenic Kei Besar is a long ridge of lush, steep hills edged with remote, traditional villages and several picture-perfect beaches (better for taking photos than for swimming). Expect intense curiosity from locals and take your best kamus (dictionary) as nobody speaks English.

Attractively set on a bay featuring three tempting sand-fringed islets, Elat is Kei Besar’s main village. It has a market and a few rice-and-fish rumah makan. All close by dusk, so eat early or snack on biscuits from the few tiny evening shops.

Southwest of Elat, a lane through palm fronds and bougainvillea leads 6km to Pantai Daftel, a superb, if shallow-water, white-sand beach that stretches 1.8km to Lerohoilim, where there’s a scattering of ancient graves atop a rocky outcrop called Batu Watlus. Other easy ojek excursions from Elat include picturesque Yamtel village (20 minutes east), Waur (15 minutes south), or the charming west-coast villages of Ngurdu (3km), Soinrat (4km), Bombay (7km) and Watsin (8km), all with bay views, stone stairways and rocky terraces.

The east coast has attractive, tidal rock pools but no beaches. Villages are comparatively isolated, steeped in superstitious traditions and locals tend to speak the local Kei language rather than Bahasa Indonesia.

Torpedo-shaped 50-seater speedboats shuttle between Watdek (Langgur) and Elat (35,000Rp, 65 to 80 minutes), leaving when full. That’s roughly hourly between around 8.30am and 4pm.

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