Asei Island, the Beautiful West Papuan Travel Destination in Lake Sentani

West Papua

Anyone looking for travel destinations in West Papua will find Lake Sentani as one of the recommendations. While known as the largest lake in Papua, the body of water itself is not the only charm. Asei, the island situated in the middle of Sentani, offers numerous attractions you should not miss when visiting Lake Sentani.

Here is everything you need to know about this popular West Papuan travel destination and what to expect when you visit it.

View of Asei Island in West Papua


West Papua

Asei is not the only island situated in the middle of Sentani. There are about 21 small islands in the middle of this lake. However, Asei is clearly the most popular one. The island is associated with a legend about the origin of the locals living around Lake Sentani. They are thought to descend from ancestors that originated in Papua New Guinea, who came by riding a dragon. When the dragon fell, one of the pieces of its body turned into Asei Island.

When you finally reach the edge of the island, you will see rows of semi-permanent shacks standing near the water. This is one of the most popular sights in this lake of West Papua. Since locals are used to seeing visitors and welcoming them, getting off the boat is a memorable option, especially if children are running toward the visitors.

Asei is not a big island. You can explore the entire area in around one hour. However, the small size offers a lot of things to see and do. Aside from the lake, you can see the Cyclops Mountains in afar when climbing into the high ground.

Main Interests in Asei Island

West Papua

Despite its size, Asei Island offers some of the most unique points of interests in West Papua. They are:

  • Traditional Building Experiences

Houses that stand on stills are common sights on Asei Island. They were built to handle the geographical condition of the island. Some of the buildings are larger than others, with spacious floors. Islanders use them for communal activities, from village meeting to important events.

Staying in these houses is a unique experience. According to locals, tourists from abroad often seek experiences by sleeping on these buildings when they have to stay instead of hotels.

  • Tree Bark Painting

Wood carving by Asmat or Kamoro artists is not the only great artworks to enjoy in West Papua. Asei islanders are known for their tree bark paintings. They use the bark of khombo, an endemic tree of the island that cannot be cultivated in other areas. Common motifs are traditional objects like tifa (drums), war dance, and dragon from their folklore.

The artists get the coloring materials from natural or simple materials from daily activities. For example, the white color is a mixture of breadfruit tree sap and lime powder. Meanwhile, red and brown are from soil and fruit peel, and black is from soot. Despite the simple materials, the artists are able to turn these paintings into iconic souvenirs from the Lake Sentani area.

  • Historical Sites

Asei Island is known as one of the historical sites from World War 2 in West Papua. History enthusiasts can explore the island to see artefacts, such as fuel tanks, weapons, and old machinery. Moreover, there is also a beautiful church situated on the highest spot of the island. Built in 1928, the church still functions as a worship house for locals. The location of the church is also a great place to see the view of Lake Sentani.

  • Interacting with Locals

Local people in Asei are very welcoming toward travelers. Many of them work as farmers and fishermen, although more younger generations now choose to work in mainland towns or cities. Asei islanders are very proud of their folklore of origins and will regal visitors with past stories, songs, and small talks. These talks are great for history enthusiasts since many islanders have lived in Asei for generations.

  • Annual Festival

Every year, Asei becomes one of the venues of the Lake Sentani Festival. Usually held in mid-June, the festival showcases decorative boats, dances and music, traditional ceremonies, and local cuisines. This festival is also one of the most iconic events in West Papua.

How to Reach Asei Island

West Papua

Reaching Lake Sentani is quite easy because it is a popular destination. From Sentani Airport, you can use an “airport taxi”, which is usually a regular car used as a rented passenger vehicle. There are also motor taxi and public transportation. The trip from Sentani Airport to Lake Sentani takes around 20 to 30 minutes.

Once arrived, travelers can rent boats to cross the lake. The trip to the island usually takes around 20 to 30 minutes. As a bonus, you can enjoy beautiful sights iconic to West Papua’s largest lake.

Asei Island is more than just an island situated in the middle of the lake. Its culture, history, and people create unique charms that contribute to the appeal of West Papua tourism.