Ambon and Ternate.are the region's air hubs. Both have several daily connections to Jakarta, mostly via Makassar or Manado (Sulawesi). There are several connections from Ambon to Papua but only one weekly flight to Nusa Tenggara, Merpati's heavily booked Ambon-Kisar-Kupang run.
Four Pelni liners visit Ambon on bi-weekly cycles from Bau Bau (southeast Sulawesi, 12 hours), Makassar (31 to 36 hours), Surabaya (60 to 68 hours) and/or Jakarta (Tanjung Priok; four days). Newest and fastest is Dempo, which bypasses Bau Bau. Ciremai handily continues east via the Banda and Kei Islands. Along with the Nggapulu, these three ships continue on to various ports in Papua. The Lambelu instead swings north via Buru and Ternate to terminate in Bitung (northern Sulawesi). Sinabung and Dorolonda both stop in Ternate between Bitung and Sorong. The Pangrango links Kupang to Ambon using a thrillingly offbeat loop via Saumlaki, Tepa, Leti and Kisar. Slower Kelimutu makes only monthly loops, is infamously variable and often claustrophobically crowded.
Non-Pelni vehicular ferries and/or slow kapal motor (wooden boats) from Sulawesi (mostly Bitung or Manado) run to Ternate, Tobelo (Halmahera) and the Sula Islands.
Merpati and Trigana Air operate numerous regional flights. However, with only four aging little prop-planes between'them, engine trouble, bad weather or one-off charters can and will throw out the schedules for days. Annoyingly, Merpati only sells one-way tickets booked from the departure point, making return trips hit and miss. Smaller planes have 10kg baggage limits. Pelita (Ternate-San,ana-Ambon), Express Air (Ambon-Saumlaki-Langgur) and Wings (Ambon-Langgur) all advertise intra-Maluku flights but as yet only the Wings flight actually operates.
Pelni services within Maluku are patchy and notoriously changeable. Some medium-range hops are served by uncomfortable ASDP ferries or by wooden boats known as kapal motor. The latter have limited wooden-board 'bed' spaces, but you may need to arrive several hours before departure to grab one. Perintis cargo boats are bigger but not at all designed with passengers in mind. Bring waterproofs. Speedboats link nearby islands and roadless villages. Locals use very specific terms for boat types: if there isn't a spid (covered multi-engine speedboat) to your destination, there might still be a Johnson (outboard-powered longboat) or a ketingting/lape-lape (smaller, short-hop motorised outrigger canoe). Regular speedboats often depart very early in the morning when seas are calmest. If chartering, smaller or diesel-powered speedboats will be slower but significantly cheaper than multi-engined petrol ones.
In mountainous Maluku, the few asphalted roads are often potholed and narrow while many areas have only mud tracks or no roads at all. On most islands shorter routes are operated by bemo (minibus), known locally as mobil. On Halmahera and Seram, pricey shared Kijangs (fancy seven-seater Toyotas) are more common than long-distance buses. Renting an ojek (motorbike taxi) is a pleasant, inexpensive way to travel if the rain holds off.
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