Water transportation plays a crucial role in connecting people and supporting the economy in the Wakatobi Islands in Southeast Sulawesi.
While there are modern powerboats that provide fast and comfortable transportation between islands, most people living Wakatobi still prefer to ride motorized wooden boats for their affordable fares and unique riding experience.
Travel time between two islands is around two hours. The longest ride is from Kaledupa Island to Binongko Island, which takes up to six hours.
Instead of seats, wooden boats provide two-tier wooden boards covered with thin mats as seating in the cabin. Passengers who want to enjoy the ocean breeze can sit on the deck. Some boats even allow passengers to watch the captain control the steering wheel in the boats’ bridge.
The captains’ job gets more challenging between April and August as they have to conquer high waves and strong winds in the Banda and Flores Seas.
The wooden boats also transport cargo of various sizes – ranging from televisions and washing machines to motorcycles and cars.
Wakatobi’s magnificent barrier reefs and diverse marine life have attracted tourists from around the globe. While its tourism economy has brought modern transportation to the islands, wooden boats remain the locals’ choice.[yps]