In the 19th century, the pinisi were vital to inter-Asian trade. Boats were loaded with European and Chinese goods in Singapore and taken all the way to the Dobo and Aru Islands. When returning to Singapore, they stopped in Indonesia where traders gathered birds-of-paradise feathers, sandalwood, spices, gold and pepper, to sell them at a high profit to Indian and Chinese merchants. Today, the Bugis pinisi are still used to carry many types of cargo, including cement, rice, sugar and even motorcycles to sell them on the many islands of the archipelago. But they have also received a new purpose.
Bugis pinisi were recently discovered as a unique type of live-aboard that could be used for divers and travelers to go to remote locations in the Indonesian islands. Modernized versions of this sturdy traditional boat now come with complete cabins, kitchens and fully-equipped toilets to accommodate travelers from around the world as they discover South-East Asia’s serene marine landscapes and take in the beauty of nature.