Honestly, I guess I’m not the right person to be writing this. I’m what you might consider as a Chionophile (if that’s even a real word) or someone who thrive in winter conditions. I guess back in the days, it was an ultimate dream of mine to live in a tropical island, but it make a 180 turn. OK enough about me and guess what? I did it. OK this does not just happened, it happened like a while back and I got mixed feelings about this trip. Don’t worry, mostly good things.
The journey started in Jakarta on one fine morning. I took a plane to Tarakan in Borneo (Kalimantan) and was picked up there. I was then transferred to the Tarakan jetty (like 10 minutes away, including traffic) and grab a quick instant noodle breakfast before embarking by boat to Maratua Island. Because the weather was not a good sport, it took me 4.5 hours to get there (normally the longest is around 3 hours). So, be sure to stocked up on water and snacks (or even some nasi bungkus or packed rice). I brought 1 medium size luggage filled with food and drinks that is probably like something you would see in a scene from Preparing For Doomsday. OK, don’t assumed that I’m dramatic by doing this. But when going to the island, I was riding this small boat powered by motor with absolutely no phone signal, no GPS, with just 2 guys commanded the boat and I was there in the middle of the open sea which I can’t see anything else but myself there. But no worries, I got there and back just fine.
Well after that choppy ride, I finally arrived in the island and got myself a room above the sea. The room is actually quite big. It is fully air conditioned and has a complete bath room and a fridge in the room. For you guys who wants to bring your family there (and have children), I recommend the beach chalet which has access to the beach. After settling in, I went to their restaurant. By the way, the room comes with 3 meals per day + 1 afternoon snack. Drinks are also available all day long in the restaurants (water, coffee & tea for free, and soft drinks that will be charged later). Unfortunately I arrived after lunch time. But, they offered to cook me an a là carte dish for my lunch. No objections here.
After that, I jump straight to the sea and do a bit of snorkeling. The sea has crystal clear water with many sting rays, turtles, and other fish. Be sure to use your fin because in some areas of the sea bed, you might encounter some sea urchins. So, better be protected. Once the sun began to set, I move to the beach and just enjoy the view. The island does not have that many residents, making it safe & calm all day long.
The day ended with another meal in the restaurant. I was so lucky that time because they are serving many local seafoods. All are cooked in a simple way, and the chef let the true flavors of the sea food to take center stage. Fruits were also served, and depending on the season. For me, I got those really sweet watermelons that is so juicy. So, that’s the end of my day 1 in the tropics and will get back to you guys with more island hopping stories (and an encounter with manta rays).
Note: there are many ways to get to Maratua. Like me, I opted to take a plane ride to Tarakan and go straight to Maratua by boat (the pick up & boat were arranged by the resort). Another way is to fly from Berau, drive to the jetty (around 2 hours) and continue with a 2.5 hours boat ride (through the river & sea). As for the resort, they will arrange all your needs in the island and if you want to go island hopping. An experienced guide will be with you at all times. It is with no extra charge. Just need to take care of your plane tix.