Islands of Indonesia: Australia to Sulawesi

In the Wake of the Makassans aboard the Coral Adventurer


Over four centuries ago, the Makassar people began to venture down from their homeland in South Sulawesi to the shores of Australia’s Kimberley and Arnhem Land, while fishing for sea cucumber. Images of their boats can still be discovered in rock art today. The Coral Adventurer will make her own journey from Darwin up through the straits of the Indonesian archipelago on her way to Makassar, and return on the same course for the reverse itinerary. These two separate voyages explore the undiscovered paradise of Indonesia’s secluded islands. Traditional lifestyles still thrive in these regions of astounding beauty. Encounter music, ceremonies, textiles, and cuisine from Pulau Alor, to Lamalera, Sagori, Torajaland and Tana Beru. Along the way, snorkel, dive, swim, and explore these fascinating islands and waters.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1, Apr 7, 2021
Arrive to Darwin, Australia

Upon arrival in Darwin you will be transferred to your group hotel for a welcome event and overnight stay. Relax and unwind before you embark on your expedition cruise.

Day 2, Apr 8, 2021
Charter flight to Makassar / Embark

Arrive in Makassar and be welcomed aboard the Coral Adventurer. Join your expedition team as they introduce you to the journey and the many experiences ahead. Depending on charter flights, a city tour may be included.

Day 3, Apr 9, 2021
Tana Beru

In Tana Beru, Phinisian boats have been crafted by the Bugis boat builders since the 14th century. Ceremonies mark each stage of the building, and the boats are scattered along the coast in various stages of construction. Learn about the traditional construction methods, unchanged for centuries, and climb into a boat to explore the incredbile craftsmanship of these boat-builders. Phinisian boats were used by the Makassans to travel as far as Australia and Madagascar. This afternoon, visit a local village and participate in water activities on Liukang Island.

Days 4-5, Apr 10-11, 2021

Disembark at Palopo for an overland trip to Tana Toraja. The drive takes you through an enchanting landscape of rice fields and local villages. As you climb into the highlands, take in the marvelous views of pine trees, rainforests and plantations. During your time in Toraja, you'll witness the local lifestyle and traditional houses at Marante, visit the stone grave with Tau-tau effigies at Lemo, and explore the famous traditional stone and hanging burial sites of Bori Parinding. You'll have the chance to stroll through a Torajan market, where buffalo and pigs are sold for funerals or other ceremonies. You'll also discover Kete Kesu, a quaint traditional village concealed in the mountains. The village is over 400 years old and currently functions as a living museum, where one can experience first-hand the culture and traditions of the ancient Torajan people. Overnight at Misiliana Hotel and enjoy a buffet dinner accompanied by local music and dancing on Day 4. The following day you'll continue experiencing Tana Toraja as you make the overland trip back to the ship.

Day 6, Apr 12, 2021
Sogori Island

Sogori Island is one of the smaller islands off of Kabaena Island in Southwest Sulawesi. It is populated by the Bajonese and Buginese people. The surrounding white sandy beaches, as well as several shipwrecks, make it a great place for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and exploring.

Day 7, Apr 13, 2021
Taka Bonerate National Park and Selayar Islands

Arrive at Jinato Island and visit the peaceful village. A welcoming ceremony by the local Bajau and Bugis people will lead you ashore. Admire the unique construction of the village, built on raised platforms, and enjoy cultural attractions and performances. Enjoy demonstrations of local music and crafts. Gain insights into the cottage industry of the village with the making of coconut oil, traditional dishes, fishing nets, and boat building. Move on to Tinabo Besar where you are invited to join conservation activities such as planting a tree or transplanting coral, assisted by National Park staff.

The Selayar Islands are the gateway to the extensive Taka Bonerate National Park.  You'll have the option to partake in village and cultural activities, or snorkel and dive in the gorgeous Taka Bonerate atoll—the third largest atoll in the world. The biodiversity of the reef is incredible, and there will be opportunities for spot dives and drop-off dives. The waters inside the atoll are magnificently turquoise, surrounded by the deepest blue imaginable.

Days 8-9, Apr 14-15, 2021
Rinca Island / Komodo Island

Enjoy a morning nature trek on Rinca Island (you'll have several options for walking distances) to encounter the Komodo dragons. In the afternoon, snorkel off the famous Pink Beach on Komodo Island. Time permitting, follow a path through the island and visit Komodo village to meet the people who live among these ancient creatures. In the afternoon, water activities may be available.

Day 10, Apr 16, 2021
Padar Island

Padar Island offers a chance to stretch our legs with an energetic hike to a hilltop lookout where hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of picturesque islands and sweeping beaches.

Day 11, Apr 17, 2021
Ende, Flores / Kelimutu Crater

Head to shore to visit the city of Ende in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara.  Your journey will take you to the Kelimutu National Park, stopping along the way at an orphanage. After refreshments, continue your journey into the mountains, taking in the spectacular views of the valley below. A hike to the extraordinary tri-coloured crater lakes of Kelimutu is not complete without throwing a stone for good luck.

Day 12, Apr 18, 2021

Lamalera is one of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia. Although slowly dying out, the ancient tradition of whaling is still the principal economic activity here—as the many whale bones in the village prove. Whaling boats are made entirely of wood with wooden pegs instead of nails, and sails are made of palm leaves. The patterns of the whale and the boats are often seen in Lamalera’s handwoven ikat textiles.

You'll be welcomed by the villagers on the beach and invited to traditional activities and dances. Depending on the sea conditions, there may be an opportunity to actually go on a “mock” whale hunt in the local boats. Otherwise, the villagers will bring their boats close to the Coral Adventurer and will demonstrate how they hunt large marine creatures. The women will give a weaving and dying demonstration and textiles will be available for purchase.

Day 13, Apr 19, 2021
Pulau Alor

This very rugged island is home to around 50 different languages or dialects. The traditional villages are full of life, and you will visit Kadelang Market and Takpala village. This is a great chance to watch cultural shows or shop for the famous handwoven Ikat textiles. Snorkeling and water activities may be offered in the afternoon, time permitting.

Day 14, Apr 20, 2021
Tablolong Bay

Welcome to Indonesia! Clear into Indonesia and visit Tablolong Beach for swimming and snorkeling. One highlight is hearing the traditional ‘sasando‘ being played, along with cultural performances and refreshments.

Day 15, Apr 21, 2021
At Sea

Cruise across the Arafura Sea, attending presentations by your guest lecturers and relaxing on the ship's deck. This evening join your fellow travelers for the Captain’s welcome drinks.

Day 16, Apr 22, 2021
Darwin / Disembark

Disembark and depart on homeward-bound flights.



Visit Lamalera, one of the last two traditional whaling villages in Eastern Indonesia, and witness a "mock" whale hunt
Hike to the tri-colored crater lakes of Kelimutu and throw a stone for good luck
Trek through the wild landscapes of Komodo Island and snorkel off the famous Pink Beach
Embrace the warm welcome of island villages, and share their local music and crafts
Take an overland trip into Torajaland and visit the stone graves at Lemo and hanging burial sites of Bori Parinding
Learn about the traditional Phinisi boat-building techniques
Snorkel and swim in remote waters off the shores of pristine islands


Length: 16 days
Cost From: $10,600  
Arrive: Darwin, Australia
Depart: Makassar, Indonesia
Lodging: 13 nights aboard an expedition ship, 2 nights hotel
Meals: All meals aboard ship included
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Hiking / Trekking, Diving, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

15-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
Cruise collection 2021 brochure

Download Brochure

We’ve searched the world to find the finest small ships with the most intriguing cruising itineraries, from the High Arctic to Patagonia to the great rivers of Europe.

View our online digital brochure on your computer or mobile device, or download as a PDF! Or request a printed copy to be sent by mail, or by calling 800-368-2794.