“Dari Sabang Sampai Merauke berjajar pulau-pulau,
Sambung menyambung menjadi satu, itulah Indonesia…”
“From Sabang until Merauke lined islands,
concatenation into one, that’s Indonesia…”
If you are Indonesian, you must have heard that line from a national song right? Exactly as described in the song, Indonesia consists of thousand of islands that lie from Sabang at the west to Merauke at the east. There are more than 13.000 islands in this country that makes Indonesia become the biggest archipelago country in the world and also become a country that has the longest beach line in the world. The beauty of the islands? You don’t have to ask, Indonesia is the champion. A lot of people know Bali, Lombok, Bintan and Mentawai. This time I will tell you a story about a pretty island that lays at the east of Indonesia, called Bair Island.
Bair Island is located in the cluster of Kei islands, Southeast Maluku. To visit this beautiful Island, we can stay in Tual, Kei Kecil Island because Bair Island is uninhabited. To reach Kei Island from Batam is not a short way. Going on an airplane, we have to transit in Jakarta or Makasar and Ambon and from Ambon we have to take another flight approximately 1 hour to Tual city. In Tual, there are a lot of lodging and housing and other facilities to support our vacation around Kei Island including Bair Island. Well of course if you want to take a ferry from Ambon or from other cities to Kei Island, that’s another story. That’s definitely would take a lot more time than taking an airplane.
To reach Bair Island from Tual, we can go by car or motorbike for around 30 minutes and continue using boat for around 1.5 hours to the island. We cannot say the journey to Bair Island by boat is easy because the wave would be pretty big and the distance is not that near. It can be a challenge to visit the island, but compare to the destination ahead, it would be worth the sacrifice. Along the journey to Bair Island, we will pass some small islands that have white beach sand and very pretty so the 1.5 hour journey with the boat is enjoyable.
Entering the Bair Island, we will be welcomed by the white beach sand that looks like an entrance gate to a bay formed by the island. Bair Island is dominated by a high cliff and white beach sand with turquoise clear water. The cliff surrounded this island forms two bays that makes the beach shallow and have calm waves. Bair Island is also rich in mangrove vegetation that becomes a habitat for a lot of species of fish. If you are lucky enough, you can even meet a baby blackpit shark and manta ray around the island.
Swimming around the coast is mandatory activity on this island. The beach is clear, calm and shallow, making swimming activity can be done just by using swimming goggles or even without any equipments. The island is also suitable for kayaking or fishing because the water just like a natural swimming pool.
On the beach, there are three floating huts that are made for the visitors for resting or having lunch or maybe just for relaxing on the beach. However, since my departure until leaving this island, I came across only a few people who stopped at this beautiful island for a few minutes just to take pictures and left without swimming on the beautiful beach. Aih, such a shame …
The other activity offered by the island is snorkeling. We could see schools of fish and stingrays when touring the Bair Island. But it is recommended for beginners who want to snorkel around the island to be accompanied by an experienced person or putting on life vest, because the current can suddenly change.
Bair Island is also called Raja Ampat from Maluku. The series of cliff that surround the island and beautiful sea color, at a glance, make Bair Island looks like Raja Ampat . For photography enthusiasts, the beauty of this island is certainly a very interesting object to take the pictures of. (visit my galley for more Bair Island Pictures)
Here are a few tips that I can share if you want to visit Bair Island:
- Frequently check for air ticket promotion because the location is very far so the ticket fare would be relatively expensive and there are only a few airlines that serve Ambon – Tual route. Also, don’t forget to check the departure time of each airplane so you can catch the connecting flight.
- Delay or flight cancellation can be done by the airline due to weather reasons. Based on my experience, flights can also be transferred into the next day. Therefore, you should have enough leave permit (if you are working) if you want to visit the island in order to have a comfortable vacation.
- Use sunscreen / sunblock with a high spf. The beauty of this island can make us forget the time when do the activity, the sun also sometimes feels very strong so if you use sunblock with low spf, prepare to get the sunburn after that. Do not forget to reapply sunblock every 3 or 4 hours.
- Bring enough food and drink to the island. Since the island is uninhabited there are no food stalls or whatsoever. You have to bring your own food from the city. And remember to stay hydrated.
- Don’t forget to re-charge your camera or mobile phone so you can capture the beauty of the island. But of course it’s optional.
- Keep the island clean and beauty. As someone said, leave nothing but footprint, take nothing but pictures.
- Safety first. Remember to be aware of what happen around you. Do not engage in activities that endanger yourself or others. Of course we don’t want our holiday becomes disaster right?
The beauty of Bair Island add some more reasons to visit Maluku which famous for its beautiful beaches. Now not only we know the beauty of Lombok or Bali, but also the beauty of Bair Island. But if someday you come to the Kei Islands in Maluku, do not just stop at the Bair Island, there are many other attractions that as beautiful as Bair island and I believe the beauty can make us grateful to be born in Indonesia.
Article originally published in Bahasa Indonesia on Batam Pos, 18th December 2016.
english article editor: Anneis Kusumaputri