Islands of Indonesia: Australia to Sulawesi

In the Wake of the Makassans aboard the Coral Adventurer


Over four centuries ago, the Makassar people began to venture down from their homeland in South Sulawesi to the shores of Australia’s Kimberley and Arnhem Land, while fishing for sea cucumber. Images of their boats can still be discovered in rock art today. The Coral Adventurer will make her own journey from Darwin up through the straits of the Indonesian archipelago on her way to Makassar, and return on the same course for the reverse itinerary. These two separate voyages explore the undiscovered paradise of Indonesia’s secluded islands. Traditional lifestyles still thrive in these regions of astounding beauty. Encounter music, ceremonies, textiles, and cuisine from Pulau Alor, to Lamalera, Sagori, Torajaland and Tana Beru. Along the way, snorkel, dive, swim, and explore these fascinating islands and waters.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1
Arrive to Darwin, Australia

Upon arrival in Darwin you will be transferred to your group hotel for a welcome event and overnight stay. Relax and unwind before you embark on your expedition cruise.

Day 2
Darwin, Australia

This morning you are welcomed aboard the Coral Adventurer. Join your expedition team as they introduce you to the journey and the many experiences ahead.

Day 3
At Sea

Cruise across the Arafura Sea, attending presentations by your guest lecturers and relaxing on the ship's deck. This evening join your fellow travelers for the Captain’s welcome drinks.

Day 4
Kupang, Indonesia

Welcome to Indonesia! Clear into Indonesia and visit Tablolong Beach for swimming and snorkeling. One highlight is hearing the traditional ‘sasando‘ being played, along with cultural performances and refreshments.

Day 5
Pulau Alor

This very rugged island is home to around 50 different languages or dialects. The traditional villages are full of life, and you will visit Kadelang Market and Takpala village. This is a great chance to watch cultural shows or shop for the famous handwoven Ikat textiles. Snorkeling and water activities may be offered in the afternoon, time permitting.

Day 6

Lamalera is one of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia. Although slowly dying out, the ancient tradition of whaling is still the principal economic activity here—as the many whale bones in the village prove. Whaling boats are made entirely of wood with wooden pegs instead of nails, and sails are made of palm leaves. The patterns of the whale and the boats are often seen in Lamalera’s handwoven ikat textiles.

You'll be welcomed by the villagers on the beach and invited to traditional activities and dances. Depending on the sea conditions, there may be an opportunity to actually go on a “mock” whale hunt in the local boats. Otherwise, the villagers will bring their boats close to the Coral Adventurer and will demonstrate how they hunt large marine creatures. The women will give a weaving and dying demonstration and textiles will be available for purchase.

Day 7
Ende, Flores

Head to shore to visit the city of Ende in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara.  Your journey will take you to the Kelimutu National Park, stopping along the way at an orphanage. After refreshments, continue your journey into the mountains, taking in the spectacular views of the valley below. A hike to the extraordinary tri-coloured crater lakes of Kelimutu is not complete without throwing a stone for good luck.

Day 8
Rinca Island / Komodo Island

Enjoy a morning nature trek on Rinca Island (you'll have several options for walking distances) to encounter the Komodo dragons. In the afternoon, snorkel off the famous Pink Beach on Komodo Island.

Day 9
Komodo Island

Explore Komodo Island. While both Rinca and Komodo Island are home to the Komodo Dragon, each island has a different landscape and its own beauty. Time permitting, follow a path through the island and visit Komodo village to meet the people who live among these ancient creatures. In the afternoon, water activities may be available.

Day 10
Taka Bonerate National Park

Arrive at Jinato Island and visit the peaceful village. A welcoming ceremony by the local Bajau and Bugis people will lead you ashore. Admire the unique construction of the village, built on raised platforms, and enjoy cultural attractions and performances. Enjoy demonstrations of local music and crafts. Gain insights into the cottage industry of the village with the making of coconut oil, traditional dishes, fishing nets, and boat building. Move on to Tinabo Besar where you are invited to join conservation activities such as planting a tree or transplanting coral, assisted by National Park staff.

Day 11
Selayar Islands

The Selayar Islands are the gateway to the extensive Taka Bonerate National Park.  You'll have the option to partake in village and cultural activities, or snorkel and dive in the gorgeous Taka Bonerate atoll—the third largest atoll in the world. The biodiversity of the reef is incredible, and there will be opportunities for spot dives and drop-off dives. The waters inside the atoll are magnificently turquoise, surrounded by the deepest blue imaginable.

Day 12
Sogori Island

Sogori Island is one of the smaller islands off of Kabaena Island in Southwest Sulawesi. It is populated by the Bajonese and Buginese people. The surrounding white sandy beaches, as well as several shipwrecks, make it a great place for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and exploring.

Days 13-14

Disembark at Palopo for an overland trip to Tana Toraja. The drive takes you through an enchanting landscape of rice fields and local villages. As you climb into the highlands, take in the marvelous views of pine trees, rainforests and plantations. During your time in Toraja, you'll witness the local lifestyle and traditional houses at Marante, visit the stone grave with Tau-tau effigies at Lemo, and explore the famous traditional stone and hanging burial sites of Bori Parinding. You'll have the chance to stroll through a Torajan market, where buffalo and pigs are sold for funerals or other ceremonies. You'll also discover Kete Kesu, a quaint traditional village concealed in the mountains. The village is over 400 years old and currently functions as a living museum, where one can experience first-hand the culture and traditions of the ancient Torajan people. Overnight at Misiliana Hotel and enjoy a buffet dinner accompanied by local music and dancing. The following day you'll continue experiencing Tana Toraja as you make the overland trip back to the ship.

Day 15
Tana Beru

In Tana Beru, Phinisian boats have been crafted by the Bugis boat builders since the 14th century. Ceremonies mark each stage of the building, and the boats are scattered along the coast in various stages of construction. Learn about the traditional construction methods, unchanged for centuries, and climb into a boat to explore the incredbile craftsmanship of these boat-builders. Phinisian boats were used by the Makassans to travel as far as Australia and Madagascar. This afternoon, visit a local village and participate in water activities on Liukang Island.

Day 16
Makassar / Disembark

Arrive in Makassar for disembarkation. Depending on charter flights, a city tour may be included.

Reverse Cruise Program
Arrive and Depart in Darwin

DAY 1: Arrive Darwin, Australia and transfer to your group hotel
DAY 2: Charter flight to Makassar / Embarkation
DAY 3: Tana Beru
DAYS 4-5: Torajaland
DAY 6: Sogori Island
DAY 7: Selayar Islands
DAY 8: Taka Bonerate National Park
DAYS 9-10: Rinca Island / Komodo Island
DAY 11: Ende, Flores
DAY 12: Lamalera
DAY 13: Pulau Alor
DAY 14: Kupang, Indonesia
DAY 15: At Sea
DAY 16: Arrive in Darwin, Australia / Disembarkation



Visit Lamalera, one of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia, and witness a "mock" whale hunt
Hike to the tri-colored crater lakes of Kelimutu and throw a stone for good luck
Trek through the wild landscapes of Komodo Island and snorkel off the famous Pink Beach
Embrace the warm welcome of island villages, and share their local music and crafts
Take an overland trip into Torajaland and visit the stone graves at Lemo and hanging burial sites of Bori Parinding
Learn about the traditional Phinisi boat-building techniques
Snorkel and swim in remote waters off the shores of pristine islands


Length: 16 days
Cost From: $11,990  
Arrive: Darwin, Australia
Depart: Makassar, Indonesia
Lodging: 13 nights aboard an expedition ship, 2 nights hotel
Meals: All meals aboard ship included
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Hiking / Trekking, Diving, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

15-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
Cruise collection 2020 brochure

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