Rote Island

62e45_easttimor2_113 Nemberala

Rote is the small island just west of Timor. It is famous for Nemberela, a surfers hangout.

You can get there by boat from Larantuka in Flores and from Kupang in Timor.

The fast ferry from Kupang takes around an hour and a half, while the regular ferry takes 4 to 5 hours.

62e45_easttimor2_115They leave from different harbors but both end up in Pantai Baru in the middle of the island and the middle of nowhere.

You will want to catch a bemo there in the harbor to Ba`a or al the way to Nemberela if that is your final destination.

To Ba`a it is around 15,000 rupiah and all the way to Nemberela is variable but at least 50,000 rupiah.

62e45_easttimor2_121I got there to Ba`a late and had to organize an ojek (motorcycle taxi) to Nemberela for 50,000 so the trip cost me 65,000 plus the 28,000 rupiah for the slow ferry. Still under 10 US.

There is not a lot of transport on Rote and the schedule seems to revolve around when the ferry is in.

If you rent a motorbike you could really have an interesting time here.

62e45_easttimor2_118It is what I imagine Bali was like 40 years ago. Rice paddies and a simple slow way of life. The people are very easy going and fun to talk to.

There is accommodation in Ba`a that is good but you might prefer to get a place on the beach in Nemberela instead. The loseman there charge 65,000 and up per nite including 3 meals. I do not remember the name of the place I stayed but there is a big selection of losemans.

62e45_easttimor2_143There is even a high end surfer’s resort that costs over 100 US a day. They have their own dingy that runs surfers out to the break which is a ways out.

Seaweed is grown right off the beach and is collected and dried on shore. I think this is the stuff used by cosmetic firms.


The fishermen here catch a long thin fish with a pointed nose and very sharp teeth. Their long noses are cut off before they are brought to the market so they don’t snag on everything.

When you are planning to leave, organize your transport with the loseman that you are staying. There are very few microlets making the trip to town so you don’t want to miss your ride.

You will leave around 6 am and hang around in Ba`a for a couple of hours. This gives you time to check out the market and get something to eat.

Rote hat.


There are some neat traditions in Rote. Some wear a funky hat that they are quite proud of and it does look cool.

It is like a woven palm cowboy hat with a unicorn type horn on top.

surfer at sunset – Nemberela, Rote

nemberela surfer at sunsetNemberala surfer at sunset after a long day

Rote – Indonesia

Jun 2, 2006

8 responses to “Rote Island”

  1. Dear all;

    That hat is cvalled Ti ilanga and was shaped after the elaborate Portugese hats of the begin 16th century ca.,who were here short…before the Dutch people.You can also recognized=a person,or a raja from his hat,where he comes from.Even a raja has a special hat.

    Hormat saya:
    DP Tick

  2. Dear all;

    Ever been to the Savi islands.Isolated,bit not backward area.
    But tradition still strong here.Very fascinating place.You can reach it via plane,or boat.For the latter way you must know,if the weather is good,or not.Anyway:if the weather is no good,you can not take the boat.The plane connection has been improved.On the island is an Austrian RC priest called Father Franz Lackner,who is since the 1960-ies in the Rote/Savu area.Now in Seba on Savu.He knows so much about these area and he can help you for a bit money(he is not greedy!).
    Father Franz Lackner
    Pastoran RK,Mebba,Seba
    Sabu 85391
    hp:0062-815-47102677(not super connection)
    or home phone:0380-861293.

    That man is a superhelpfull man to all mankind.
    Anyone,who plans to go to Savu;please;contact me then before at pusaka.tick @ .

    Salam hormat:
    DP Tick

  3. Hi, I love your take on Rote. My parent originally from Rote but I have migrated to US for years.

    My heart though is still for the beautiful secluded island of Rote.

    I am laughing with joy to hear your interesting description of the Ti i Langga hat:))Glad to hear you had fun time in Rote.

    Please join us at Rote Foundation in Facebook:)

  4. hi my name is max,my dad original rote island,rote it is beautiful island mainly the beach.every year i bring my family from australia to nemberela and boa beach they loveit…people very nice and fun still natural life style over if you guest visit indonesia dont forget visit rote island…if you wanna knew bali like 40 years ago come visit rote island

  5. Yes! The hat’s name is: “Ti’i Langga” It’s a traditional hat for Man in Rote. And Nemberala beach is awesome! Did you figure out that it has three different colors of sand? The tide and sunset are also the best part in Nemberala… :) Thanks for sharing this article….

  6. Been all over the world but never found that balance between people and nature.
    What a natural beauty as well land or ocean with all the small beach .islands offshore.
    Lost my hart totally there and spent almost the last five years on rote.
    There is so much more to see then only the surf spots. Rent or try to find private
    people who want to rent their bikes by day ( 50.000) rp . Go with the local fishermen
    to all the small islands around. You will meet : big mantas, huge sea turtles, the whale
    shark,the blue whale, sharks, big tuna, and so much more. This all in their little gas oil
    supported, fishing-transport boats.
    All kind of sports can be done under best circumstances like : mountain bike, hill climbing , beautiful walking pads , surfing , kite surfing , canoe ,hobby cat sailing,
    fantastic big game fishing, spear fishing , snorkling, horse riding, motor cross, diving, and of course swimming in the clear blue-green water with its really white white sandy beaches.
    Take a ride to oesilie, oeboe, nusa manuk, landu, nusa lai, kuli, the northern part with its beautiful lakes like yoy seemed to be in finland or norway.
    If you want more info about rote for transport , hotels, quides,ect ect please let me know. This island deserve so much more then only surfers.


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