Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 20 July 2015 • Destination
“Oh my god, that’s so beatiful! Where is that??” is the kind of response I often get when showing photos of Sara Besar Island.
“It’s near Talaud Island, way north of North Sulawesi.”
Then conversation usually continues with matters of how to get there, how much it would cost, etc., but never ended with a, “Okay, it’s now in my list of places to visit!” That quite puzzles me.
Getting to Sara Besar Island could require an effortful journey, depending on where you’re starting. For us, we flew 4 hours from Jakarta to Manado, then took another 1,5 hours flight with a propeller plane to Melonguane, the main town of Talaud Island. From Talaud, we took a speedboat ride for about half an hour one way.
It sure sounds such a hassle, especially after I told them that we went back to Manado by a ferry for 17 hours straight, before then continuing to Jakarta by plane again. However, there is so much to see and do in all of the places we stopped by, like diving in Bunaken, mingling with the Manado men on Jalan Roda, and seeing cute tarsiers in Tangkoko. So indulging in such a beautiful beach like Sara Besar is really the super cherry on top of the whole exciting journey in North Sulawesi.
Mumun and I were the only visitors on the island, while the boatman waited for us a few meters from where he dropped us. Sara Besar is an uninhabited island, but it does get visited by the Talaud people every weekend. It’s their closest weekend island getaway and I envy them for that.
The beach is of very soft and white sand, bordering with clear seawater that gradually turns turquoise and finally deep blue. Sitting on the beach or floating in the sea you could see Talaud island across, a lump of green lush forest with beetle-size houses on the horizon. The only sounds I heard were of the ocean, once a while boats in a distance, and Mumun screaming “This is crazy awesome! The beach is beautiful and is practically ours!! Woohoo!”
We were prepared with our own snorkeling gears, having predicted that there wouldn’t normally be any rental on an isolated beach like this. The water was calm enough for us to have relaxed snorkeling and swimming sessions. However, the underwater view was not to be compared with the view on the surface.
The underwater view consisted of only a handful of small fishes and, sadly, plastic wraps and beer bottles scattered at the bottom of the sea, and absent of healthy corals. According to the boatman when we talked on the boat later on, the trash is mostly the local visitors’ doing. I guess they don’t know how good they have it in terms of this heavenly and serene beach.
Other than Sara Besar, there are a few other small islands near Talaud you could visit for some scenic beach time, like the Sara Kecil Island and a few that I forgot the names. These are only the ones closest from Melonguane, but I think you could also go to more islands from other towns in Talaud.
Prices of transportation in April 2014: