Kei Islands – The most accessible part of southern Maluku, the Kei Islands are rapidly regaining their reputation as the place to go to look for perfect, unspoilt beaches.
The most popular destination is the island of Kei Kecil, which is connected by a bridge to the neighbouring island of Dullah. The bridge also connects the twin towns of Tual and Langgur that make up the capital of the entire Kei archipelago, and as such, the two islands form a practical unit.
In contrast to these two flat, deforested islands, Kei Besar, the largest of the Keis, is long, mountainous and forested.
The other islands in the Kei archipelago tend to be of the little white sands and coconut palms type, but the remotest of them, Tanimbar Kei, is noted for its traditional culture.
On the outer rim of southern Indonesia, much closer to Darwin than Jakarta, the 250 Kei islands are edging on to the visitor horizon. Best known for the snowy white Pasir Panjang beach, said to be one of the best in the country/world depending on guide book, they can give you the ultimate tropical idyll if you just want to chill.
But they have a lot more to offer – rain forest, African style bush, soaring peaks and man friday atolls, as well as a buzzy harbour town.The islanders have their own language and culture plus a long history of overseas links. Local blends of the traditional and cosmopolitan produce quite distinct villages, and even islands. Part of the old Spice Islands, we think Kei is Indonesia in microcosm.
The trump cards for the Kei Islands are kilometres of stunning white-sand beaches and a deeply hospitable population. Beneath the mostly Christian facade, Kei culture is fascinatingly distinctive with three castes, holy trees, bride prices paid in lela (antique table cannons) and a strong belief in sasi (a prohibition spell). In Kei language bokbok means ‘good’, hanarun (li) means ‘(very) beautiful’ and enbal (cassava) is a local food staple. The driest season is September to December, with Belang war-canoe races held in November. While the islands are all reef-fringed, illegal fishing has seen dynamite and poison take a heavy toll on coral.
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