There are plenty of beautiful islands reachable within 1 1/2 hours from Port L. Say. in Maumere. This chain of islands includes Pulau Besar (‘big’ in Indonesian), Pulau Babi (‘pig’ in Indonesian), Pulau Pangabatang, Sukun, Palu’e, Pemana Besar, and Pemana Kecil – also known as Kambing (‘goat’) Island.
The Pemana islanders mostly originated from Sulawesi (formerly Celebes). Thus the majority of the islands’ inhabitants are Muslims. As descendants of the proud seafaring Bugis ancestral line, the islanders still live an ocean-focused life. You will most likely witness their wooden boat-building skills, or you may even get a chance to join them exploring the surroundings and far-flung islands in a Bugis style of traveling.
As all the islands are very close to each other, it is a perfect place for island hopping. The best way to do this is to charter your own boat. By negotiating with the local fishermen, you can rent the boat and simultaneously hire a captain as well. This allows you to explore the islands of your liking before arriving on Pemana Besar for an overnight stay.
Pemana Besar is the main island. Docking at Gunungsari Village’s port on Pemana Besar, you can start exploring the island. It is a great place for diving, snorkeling or just relaxing in an idyllic setting. Without even setting one foot in the water, you can enjoy observing large schools of colorful tropical fish from the dock. Everywhere, the water gazes back at you in crystal clarity. An exploration of the island’s lake, its caves, and cheerful mingling with the Pemana Besar people are other fun activities that wait for you on this versatile island. Your return boat to Maumere will dock at the port in Pemana Village, the neighboring village to Gunungsari.
If you are awe struck by Pemana’s island atmosphere, you can also stay there the night. The calmness will grant you a restorative sleep. It is advisable to bring your own provisions, and sharing them with the local host will surely bring you enhanced interaction with the local residents. Do not forget to bring your sleeping bag or blankets for your overnight stay.
Not far from the main island, the smaller islands such as Pemana Kecil (Kambing) and Pulau Babi offer great spots for diving, snorkeling, and relaxing.
As the area is not touristic yet, it is not recommended to swim in a bikini there – best to bring a fast-drying t-shirt and a pair of board shorts.
As the Pemana Islands are still untouched, you should organize water sport activities before you depart. Snorkeling equipment can be rented in Maumere and dives as well should be organized here as there is no equipment on the islands.
Gunungsari Village hosts a seawater desalination project. You will be warmly greeted by the head of Gunungsari Village, Mr Syarifuddin if you phone before your arrival. He will be happy to show you around the project and provide you with a simple communal hut for the night, if you choose to stay over.
How to get there
The Pemana Islands are located roughly 7km from Port L. Say., Maumere. From there, some public boats can take you to the islands within about 1 1/2 hours. The boats leave from Maumere to Pemana at 1pm and drive back to Maumere at 8am.