Just south west of Timor, about three hours by boat from Kupang, is the small island of Roti, size 1.214 sq. km. Like on Sawu much of the life here depends on the “lontar” palm tree, used for everything from nutrient to building material. The population are mainly occupied by fishing, some agriculture and weaving of “ikat”. Traditionally Roti was divided in as much as 18 districts, but after a bloody campaign the Dutch in 1681 put their own allied as rulers of the island. Roti became a source for slaves and other resources to the Dutch base in Kupang.
The Rotinese began the convertion to Christianity in the 18th century and with aid from the Dutch they built a good education system. From having a status as slaves they became a sort of elite in this region, but their openness for outside influence also led to some loss of traditional culture compared to islands like Sawu. Still it is possible to see traditional festivals in some areas, and the island is famous for it’s unique music and dance. The music is played on a 20-string instrument called “Sasando”, related to the guitar.
According to local legends the people here mixed with shipwrecked Portuguese hundreds of years ago, and the women is said to be very beautiful. Roti is a great place for diving with a rich marine life and crystal clear water. The island is also said to have the best surfing conditions in the entire Nusa Tenggara region. The main city is Baa on the northern coast, most visitors prefer to go from here to the Nemberala city on the southwest coast where there are lovely, white beaches and good conditions for surfing and snorkeling. There are some good facilities here, and the city is a good base for further exploration of Roti.
Just south of Roti is the small uninhabited island of Pulau Dana, also called Ndana. Local history says that nobody is living here because the entire population was killed during a revenge attack in the 17th century. The small lake on the island was red of all the blood from the victims. Today the island is inhabited only by deer, a large number of bird species and turtles who come to lay their eggs. Pulau Dana is the southernmost island in Indonesia.