Trippin' Turpins

Cruising Indonesia

02 July 2015
Indonesia was our first international destination and as such, a big learning curve. I write this blog to put all the information we gathered during our five months in Indonesia into one place. Of course it only includes the places we went to, and the experiences we had, but I hope it is helpful to those cruising to Indonesia for their first time. All prices are approximate or in the case of when I give a firm price it was current as of April 2015.


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 serval times when our GPS shows us anchored on land. It was at its worst around Komodo Islands and the east side of Borneo.

Indonesia Travel Notes (November - April 2015):

Clearing in and out of customs

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.

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 - 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.

Organising your visa and sailing permit to sail Indonesia takes at least a month - ours took nearly six weeks - so give yourself plenty of time to organise it. I found it easiest to use an agent because it is so complicated and there is (was) very little helpful information. I'm not sure how one would go about getting a 'social visa' (two month) if not for an agent as you need a sponsor letter. We have used three different agents in the end as we had a little trouble here and there.I think most of our problems stemmed from our lack of knowledge about what was expected of us, and Dwayne's sometimes blaze` approach to it.

The worst part about port clearance etc in Indonesia is the lack of consistent rules. Each office is different with their own set of rules i.e some expect a PIB (temporary boat import) and others don't; some want a bribe and others don't.

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/mediacation, 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 wine!

Customs at Maumere

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.... Dwayne was over it all by then, so we didn't!

Clearing out of Batam was made difficult for us due to the fact we had let our PIB expire (we didn't even know we had one!....tip - read all your paperwork when you get it!). We had an agent sort it out for us but it took a week, and hours, of Dwayne sitting at the customs office.

Extending Visa We tried to extend our visa in Bali but due to a communication breakdown between us and our agent, the paperwork didn't get in in time. You need to get the paperwork into Immigration at least one week before it expires or they will reject it, as they did ours. So we then had to fly out of Bali and back in to get a new visa.

We had a nice little holiday in KL and arriving back in Bali got a 30 day Visa. We then extended that Visa in Surabaya which took four days. There are a few immigration offices in Surabaya and we finally got the right one on the third try!

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 flew out of Pontianak for a new visa the next time.

Some tips to organising Visa etc include:

Give yourself plenty of time to organise your paperwork to travel to Indonesia.
Have lots of photo copies of your passport, boat registration and of your CAIT, sponsor letter etc. when you get them.
To clear in you need to visit customs, immigration, quarantine and harbour master... don't cut corners or it will come back and bite you on the arse!
Dress neatly and respectfully when visiting the offices.
Have a crew list with name of vessel, flag, captain and crew names and passport details.
Don't leave extending your Visa until the last moment.
Overstaying your Visa cost about USD$30 per day



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 orangutan 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 Rp10000 (AUS$1) and you would be hard pressed to spend more than Rp 60000 (AUS $6). 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 infront 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 bit.
Bali and other touristy places have a huge range of warung, rumar makan and resto. Not always cheap in Indonesian terms.


Hungry somewhere on Lombok

For more information about eating in Indonesia, have a look at my blog Dwayne Eats His Way Through Asia. This is where we write about the places we have eaten including 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 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 inlaw would say $10 head $10 helmet )

Sanua Bike Park

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.
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 he turns it 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 (AUS $35).
In surabaya public transport consisted of becaks and mini vans. No body speaks good English. It was easier and 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 (AUS$1.00) 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.

Pulau Benin

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)
Mask and snorkel
fins or flippers.

ISLANDS Supplies - fuel, groceries, fruit and veg, hardware

What to do - what we did!

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 of 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:

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 -  A mooring at Serangan cost about Rp100000 per night, that's about AUS$10 compared to the $35 per night at the marina. To grab a mooring, contact Ruth at Isle Marine Services on +628123847850 or 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!IMG_2151
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.


To see more of the islands we stopped at, and for more information about the places we visited, click on categories - Indonesia - to read our other Indonesia blogs.

We also have information on our google map, including some basic stuff about the anchorages. Google map - click on the link below.

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?

Listen for:

Ke mana? - Where are you going?

Dari mana? - Where are you from?

Vessel Name: Thorfinn
Vessel Make/Model: Adams 45
Hailing Port: Adelaide, South Australia
Crew: Dwayne & Kelly Turpin
About: After seven years of planning we sold the house and moved aboard Thorfinn in October 2013. Our journey started in May 2014 in Australia and, if all goes well, it will continue for many years with many seas to sail and places to visit.
Extra: Intrepid sailors, perpetual travellers, enthusiastic fisher people and lovers of food. Visit our other blogs at Like our Facebook page - Trippin' Turpins - A Sailing Adventure.
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