KEI ISLANDS – THE SECRET PARADISE OF INDONESIA
All you need to know before visiting the Kei Islands
On our second trip to Indonesia we wanted to explore beyond Bali, Gilis, Nusas or Komodo. After researching and discarding Raja Ampat because it was out of our budget, we discovered the Kei Islands, a group of remote islands in the east of Indonesia about which there was not much information on the internet but they looked great and the truth is that to this day they are still one of our favourite destinations in Southeast Asia.
What to do in the Kei Islands
The Kei Islands are a group of islands located in the east of Indonesia, almost touching Papua New Guinea. Because they are so remote, few tourists venture there, which makes them even more special.
The main island is Kei Kecil, where you will find the best beaches, accommodation, supermarkets and hospitals.
The main attractions of the Kei are the below.
Pasir Panjang Beach
The best beach on the whole island, Indonesia and probably in all Southeast Asia. When we arrived at the beach the first impression we had was wow! 2 kilometres of white sandy beach, crystal clear water and practically deserted, so deserted that we only found one other couple from another accommodation walking along the beach.
Despite the lack of tourists, there are small shops with fridges along the beach in case you want to have a drink and rest from the sun.
Also known as mini Raja Ampat, it is located in the north of the archipelago and is a group of islands that form an inland lake.
To get there you have to hire a boat, which usually costs 700k-900k (45 Eur) Rupees with taxi included to be shared between all the people going with a maximum of 8 people. All the accommodations offer this trip, and they will even tell you if there are other people on the island who want to go so that you can share the costs, if you want.
You will also be taken to some really impressive snorkelling spots during your trip. However, it is recommended that you bring your own snorkelling equipment as it is not included in the price and we don’t really know the condition of the equipment that you can get there.
Air Goa Hawang
This place is a small lake of turquoise water in a cave surrounded by stalactites, stalagmites and the most turquoise water we have ever seen.
It’s a bit impressive when you dive in and enter the cave as you only get light through the water and you’re under a big rock, but it’s still a super refreshing cold water swim.
Despite being popular among the locals, there were no more than 5-6 people when we were there. The entrance fee is 20k (1,15Eur) per person, which helps the maintenance of the site and the surrounding villages.
This beach is located in the north of the island. Apart from its white sand, the most spectacular thing about this beach is how the tide changes depending on the time of day you go. When the tide is low, you can walk more than a kilometre into the ocean and the water is still below your knees.
At the end of the beach on the right hand side are some cliffs with caves in which, according to those who live there, human remains can be found.
According to what we were told, decades ago, fishermen who were not from the island were not very well received by the locals, so they were left there and it seems they have no intention of moving them from there for a long time.
There are also paintings on the walls of the cave, which are said to be thousands of years old, although no studies have been made and it has not been proven how long they have been there, they are interesting to see.
Another wonderful beach located in the south of the island, when we went there the waves were a bit rough so we didn’t enjoy the bathing as much as we did at Pasir Panjang. It is about two hours from the accommodation up north. There is nothing, but nothing at all on this beach, so remember to pack enough sun cream and water. Highly recommended if you want to feel like you’re on a desert island.
This beach, also known as snake beach because of its shape, is a 45-minute boat ride from the west coast of Kei Kecil.
It is a 1 kilometre long, 10 metre wide beach surrounded by crystal clear water where the only inhabitants are the pelicans that migrate to Australia.
Make sure you go there when the tide is low, because at high tide, it is about 50 centimetres under water and loses all its charm.
On the way to the town of Tual, right next to the bridge that crosses the island of Kecil with Dullah, you will find this colourfully painted fishing village. The best view of the village is from the café just opposite the river, where you can enjoy a good panoramic view and sample the local cuisine.
How to get to the Kei Islands
We have written a separate post explaining the options to get to the Kei Islands.
The easiest way is by plane from Jakarta, with a stopover in Ambon, but if you are in Bali there are also other options.
If you want to know more, read our article here.
Where to eat in the Kei Islands
As you can imagine, there are not many dining options on the island, especially if you go outside the town, Langgur, where there are a few warungs.
On the beaches, where you will probably spend most of your time, you can eat in the beachfront accommodations without any problems.
Savannah cottage is the best option in Ohoidertawun, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner to their guests and anyone else who wants to come along.
In Pasir Panjang Beach, you will find Coaster cottage where they also offer the 3 meals to their guests, and although we didn’t stay there we did eat there one day and if we have to choose, we liked more the food of Savannah cottage, which was our accommodation the first days.
For the few options available, the prices are only slightly higher than Bali and the food is abundant and tasty.
When you get to the point where can’t eat the same food again, Langgur has a fairly large supermarket where you’ll find almost everything you need.
It’s called Gota supermarket and you can find it here.
Getting around the Kei Island
If you get away from the city, Langgur, traffic is virtually non-existent. The roads are really good for Indonesian standards, sphalt roads without many curves or potholes, we were pleasantly surprised.
Renting a motorbike costs around 100k (5.8 eur) per day and it is not difficult to find a place to fill the tank.
Renting a car with driver costs between 600k-700k (35 eur) for 12 hours and depending on where you want to go.
The journey from the airport to any location is around 200k (11.5 eur) and any of the accommodations can help you organise this.
We also met a driver who drove us several times, good price and super punctual, if you need the contact send us a message and we will be happy to share it.
Where to stay in the Kei Islands
In our opinion, the accommodation on the Kei Islands is very good value for money.
For less than €40 a night you can get a hotel room with breakfast included for two.
For budget travellers or backpackers there are options from €8 on the beach.
We have written a post herewith all our recommendations.
What to pack
Despite the remote location, the islands have a supermarket where you can find almost everything, the variety is small but it will surprise you for the better.
However, some medicinesmay not be available, so if you have to take a certain medication, it is preferable to bring it from home.
Snorkelling equipment, even if it’s just goggles and snorkel, highly recommended for snorkelling along the beaches, the water is usually calm and with incredible visibility.
Sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Although you can find it in the supermarket, as it is only tourists who buy it, the price is quite high, so it is best to buy it before you go.
Safety on the islands
From what our host told us, there is no police in the Kei Islands, they have the village police, i.e. if someone commits a crime, like stealing or worse, the village gets together and decides what to do with them. Generally what they do is kick you off the island, so we don’t think that many people are stealing around the islands. Apart from that, we found the island to be completely safe and had no feeling of insecurity at any time.
In case of an accident, Kei Kecil has several hospitals to treat you as well, luckily we didn’t have to visit any of them but knowing they are there is a relief.
We hope our guide has answered most of your questions, and if you have any other doubts or questions we will be more than happy to help.
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