When visiting Medan, capital city of North Sumatra, and you are looking for some real excitement, why not try Rafting down the rushing Asahan River.

Located at the center of Bandar Pulau subdistrict in the Asahan Regency, the Asahan River track is praised as one of the Best White Water Rafting spot in the World after the Zambesi River in Africa, and Colorado River in the US. Asahan, one the major rivers in North Sumatra province, has its source in the great Lake Toba and offers endless excitement for rafting enthusiasts especially professionals.

The outstandingly fast and continuous river is a 22-kilometer course that will definitely give you endless adrenaline rush as its water debit can at times reach up to 120 cubic meter per second. With an average depth of 5 meters, the rafting courses are classified from Grade 4 to 5 difficulty levels (in the scale of 1 to 6).

How to get there

The best way to get to Asahan River is by taking a rented car. From Medan's Kualanamu Airport, it will take around 4 hours to drive to Kisaran City and from there, just continue driving to Pulau Raja village, and after passing Bandar Pulau subdistrict, you will arrive at Tangga village — and start your rafting adventure. Total trip time is around 5-6 hours. Please note that different operators may offer different routes.

 

Getting around

River rafting is the most challenging and desirable activity at Asahan River, and you should have your rafting adventure pre-arranged from Medan. Bonafide adventure travel agencies here can do that for you. Kayaking, cycling and jungle trekking are sometimes included within the package. Depending on your length of stay, you may want to include a trip to Lake Toba.

Besides river rafting, you can also have a moment of joy contemplating and blending in under the cool breeze of the famous 250-meter high Sigura-gura Waterfall.

Asahan area has several magnificent waterfalls. The famous ones are Simanik-manik Waterfall, Simonang-monang, and Ponot.

Kampar is a long river that rushes down from the Bukit Barisan mountain range that forms the spine of the island of Sumatra along its west coast. The river then meanders through the Riau province, to finally pour out in the Malacca Straits, on the east coast of Sumatra. Along its long course the river divides itself into two large branches known as the Kampar Kanan (the right branch of Kampar) and Kampar Kiri (its left branch).

They then converge at Langgar in the district of Pelalawan at Kampar’s estuary. Here they are joined by many other rivers causing Kampar to funnel out into a wide river mouth. At each high tide, high waves from the sea flow in and meet the down stream current of the Kampar. Where the two opposing energies meet, and furthermore, caused by the funnel shape of the river, Kampar’s phenomenal tidal bores emerge, rushing deep inland reaching to over 60 km upriver.

These tidal bores are known locally as “Bono”, which rush in with loud roaring sound at a speed of 40 km an hour. The surf on the river can rise as high as 4 to 6 meters, at times creating barrels, the darling of surfers.

Best site to surf by the village of Teluk Meranti, although there are other spots like Tanjung Sebayang, Tanjung Pungai, and Pulau Muda, all in the district of Pelalawan. Although quite used to the phenomenon, local inhabitants are mostly scared when the Bono appears, which they believe are spirits of the Seven Ghosts. Many boats have sunk in this river when caught in the bore.

 

Get There

To get to Teluk Meranti one must travel through Pekanbaru, capital of the province of Riau.  As a busy business airport, Pekanbaru is served from most major cities in Indonesia, most often from Jakarta, Medan and Batam.

Internationally, Pekanbaru is served from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by Air Asia. It takes some 4-7 hours by car from Pekanbaru north to Teluk Meranti. There are car rental companies in Pekanbaru.

The ride from Pekanbaru to Pangkalan Kerinci lasts 1.5 hours, then from here to Teluk Meranti takes another 4 hours. Alternatively you can take a speedboat from Pangkalan Kerinci to Pulau Muda or Teluk Meranti, which takes around 4.5 hours.

Whereas, when you travel from or through Singapore, the journey to Teluk Meranti is by sea through a rather arduous route. From Singapore’s Ferry Terminal take a boat to Sekupang in Batam, then connect with a ferry to Tanjung Batu, in the Karimun islands, where you can find ferries to take you to Teluk Meranti.

 

Kofiau Island is the smaller and least visited amongst the major islands in Raja Ampat, the world’s coral diversity bull’s eye. This island is comprised primarily of raised coral limestone and some volcanic hills covered in low lush rainforest, all offering a wealth of nature & beautiful scenery. If you ever wanted to go where few others have been, head this way.

Swimming and sunbathing on the beaches, snorkeling, diving and underwater photography in marine-rich coral reefs. Take care not to damage the coral anywhere in these areas which are more likely no-take zones. Exploration by dingy, shore hiking, beachcombing.

Take an adventurous hike to an inland lake opposite Deer Village. Hopefully if you’re lucky, somewhere along the way you may witness the dance of the dazzling red bird of paradise, or glimpse a slithering Kofiau Green-tree python, or catch the flapping of passing hornbills, or hear shrieks of the crested cockatoo. To the southwest of Kofiau Proper lie a group of flat sandy islands, including Walo where a couple of recognized dive spots await your exploration. There may even be more.

 

Get There

It takes six hours by flight from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia to Sorong in North West Papua. You may also fly to Sorong from Bali. At Sorong, join a tour by pinisi boat from there to Kofiau, or charter a boat or yacht from the Papua Diving Resort. Scheduled trips with full service (most on live-aboards) are organized for visiting the area.

West Sumatra is iconic for its amazing natural wonders, its looming mountains, deep canyons, green rice fields, interspersed with large houses whose roofs are shaped like buffalo horns; it maintains its lasting traditions and recently it is loved for its yummy food, in particular its award-winning Rendang. But aside from these, the province has only now revealed its new secret destination which is fast gaining popularity: The Mandeh Islands, in the south west of the province facing the Indian Ocean, located not too far from its capital city: Padang.

Now popularly dubbed the Raja Ampat of West Sumatra, the Mandeh archipelago is nestled in the Carocok Tarusan Bay and counts a number of islands, among which are the Tarajun, Setan Kecil, Sironjong Besar and Sironjong Kecil, Pulau Merak and the Cubadak Island. Among these only one has a tourist resort called the Cubadak Paradiso, owned and managed by an Italian entrepreneur.

Covering an area of 70 hectares of underwater beauty, the islands are fringed with 389 hectares of mangrove forests and white beaches. Its undulating landscape of luxuriant hills and pristine bay area is studded with small islands, a perfect photogenic post card panorama! Only one hour’s drive from the city of Padang, the beaches of Mandeh slope to calm blue seas luring all to just jump in and swim in its cool waters.

Today, tourists go to Mandeh to snorkel, scuba dive, go camping, do skydiving, banana boating and go fishing.

Make your way to the top of Mandeh Hill, and be prepared to be mesmerized by even more breathtaking views of the Carocok Tarusan Bay and its environment. Exotic tropical plants of Coconut Palms, Hibiscus and Jackfruit Trees fringe the white sandy beaches. Mandeh stretches over seven villages, encompassing three sub-districts known locally as Nagari, with a population of almost 10,000 people. Take time to explore this scenic underwater wonderland, with vivid colored sea life.

 

Get There

Upong arrival at the Minangkabau International Airport in Padang, you can choose either land transportation or take the sea route. Taxis or rented cars can be found at the airport that can take you straight to Carocok Painan Beach area within 2-3 hours. Remember to check the meter. Or agree on the price before you board the taxi. Mandeh is located at Koto Sembilan Tarusan, some 56 kilometer south from Padang.

There is also public transport, but this will require you to take several different kinds in a single trip to Mandeh. First take a mini bus to Pasar Raya Padang, then hop on a Travel van towards Pasar Tarusan and finally ride the Bentor or Becak Motor to Carocok Terusan Harbour to take a boat to Mandeh Islands.

If you prefer sea transport, you can choose to ride fast boats from Teluk Bayur or Bungus. The Bintang Mandeh tourist boat is another choice departing from Muara Padang Harbor.

Get Around

If you travel in a group, it will be more convenient to rent a minibus or van to take you around the Mandeh region. To hop around the smaller islands, you need to find a trusted boatman and experienced guide, who can also show you where are the best diving spots.

 

Beautiful underwater gardens featuring fascinating coral reefs decorated with various shapes, sizes, and colors of many sea creatures, that is the view that awaits snorkelers and divers under the crystal clear waters of Abang Island, south of Batam in the province of the Riau Archipelago. Abang Island is surrounded by many other small islands, most of which are conservation areas for coral reefs, while the main island of Abang only measures around 10 square km.

With relatively shallow waters (around 15-18 meters deep), this fascinating underwater wonder is a perfect spot for both diving and snorkeling. Its beauty is often compared to that of the waters around Komodo Island National ParkBunaken and Raja Ampat, since COREMAP (Coral Reef Rehabilitation and Management Programs) itself has also designated the area as site for a special underwater coral reef observation center.

Above the surface, the landscape of Abang Island is still pristine with hills dominated by granite rocks. Most of the shores are still decorated with beautiful mangrove forests. The most fascinating feature of the waters of Abang Island is the existence of a rare species of coral known as Blue Coral which only lives in clear waters with excellent water quality. Among some of the fish species that find shelter under its calm waves are selar, lencing, red snapper, red sand fish, blow fish, pinang, and many others.

Over the years, the people of Abang Island have constantly been taught awareness of the importance to preserve the coral reefs both as tourism assets as well as their significance for the global environment. In turn, they can also benefit from tourism activities next to their daily activity as fishermen or traders. This has ultimately led to the well maintained beauty of Abang Island.

 

Get There

Abang Island is located south from Batam or about 50 km from Muka-Kuning, Batam Island. To reach the island, it takes approximately 1.5 hours drive from Batam to the Barelang Bridge. From there, the journey continues by boat along the River Burdus until you reach Abang Island which is about 12 km away using motorized boats, which the locals call Bot Pompong.

Situated some 150 nautical miles northeast of Batam Island as well as from neighboring country Singapore, Anambas Islands in the Riau Islands Province is a pristine tropical paradise in the southern part of the South China Sea. Anambas and even further up north, the Natuna Islands, form the most northern border of Indonesia.

Among the many islands in Anambas archipelago, Bawah stands out as a favorite dive destination as well as an exclusive luxurious getaway that offers the perfect serenity away from the hustle and bustle of modern city life.

Teeming with colorful fish and other unique sea animals as well as pristine coral reefs, Bawah Island was voted First among Asia's top five tropical island paradises selected by CNN.com, surpassing popular Koh Cang (in Thailand), Langkawi (Malaysia), Halong Bay (Vietnam), and Similan Islands (Thailand). For its outstanding beauty, the island was even dubbed the Maldives of Anambas.

Bawah itself is part of a cluster of 5 islands with Bawah as the largest and the 4 islets named Sanggah, Murbah, Lidi and Elang. These five islands form an oval blue lagoon. At low tide the islands connect seemingly quite borderless, as the white sand and reefs together link to create a land bridge separating the lagoon from the open South China Sea. The lagoon offers the perfect snorkeling experience with fantastic underwater splendor. The lagoon floor is also flat white sand, decorated with reefs of various colors and size and schools of fish that are clearly visible even from the surface.

A luxurious exclusive resort called Bawah Private Island, is slated to open on the island in mid2017, Ensuring conveniences and complete experience for tourists. A playground of over 300 hectares, 3 crystal blue lagoons, 13 powder white beaches, lush jungle canopy for trekking and more importantly a philosophy of environmental and conservation policies. Bawah Private Island is a project of love to integrate people with nature and will set the benchmark for future destinations around the region.

Taking the route that "less means more", Bawah Private Island will only accept a maximum of 70 guests at any one time. With 35 Safari Tented Villas the accommodation gives you the privacy of your own space but also invites you to enjoy nature that surrounds Bawah Island. From 3 Garden Villas that embrace you in green flora, to 21 Beach Villas overlooking the lagoons and 11 Water Villas that catch unbelievable sunrise and sunset.

How to Get There:

If you wish to visit these islands, you must be sure to have plenty of time at your disposal since they lie quite far out in the South China Sea and away from most of the other Indonesian islands. To reach Anambas by air you must fly to Tanjung Pinang, capital of the Riau Islands province, located on the island of BintanGaruda Indonesia and Lion Air operate daily flights to Tanjung Pinang from Jakarta and other main cities. From Tanjung Pinang, Xpress Air serves flights to Matak Airport on Matak Island, which is the main airport of the Anambas Islands. The flights are twice a week, Operating Mondays and Saturdays. From Matak airport you still need to take a boat to Tarempa, which is the capital of the Anambas Islands Regency. From the main harbor at Tarempa, you can rent a speedboat to take you to Bawah Island.

With a total area of less than 1 hectare, Lengkuas is located within the Sijuk sub-district, Belitung Regency. While it may be small in size nevertheless it offers a wide range of splendors. This humble little island offers idyllic landscape, lush palm trees and staggering boulders that are great fun to climb on or swim beneath. Lengkuas Island is blessed with a pristine beach, turquoise blue waters and distinct huge granite boulders, the icon of Belitung beaches, located north of Tanjung Binga Village in Belitung. Adding to the splendor is the existence of a hundred years’ old Lighthouse which offers complete fascinating views of the island and its surroundings.

One can reach these unique, giant granite clusters by walking across the shallow waters that are no deeper than 1.2 meters. The water is so transparent that the bottom of the sea is clearly visible. Below the surface, the waters around the island are filled with colorful fish of various kinds, pristine coral reefs, a large number of starfish and more of the fascinating granite boulders. The moderately calm and shallow water makes it a perfect place for swimming and snorkeling, while on the beach the fresh breeze will truly indulge those who lay down on the soft white sands.

The pride of Lengkuas Island, however, is the iconic old lighthouse. Built by the Dutch in 1882, it still maintains its main function today in guiding ships sailing through and out of the island of Belitung. Approximately 50 meters in height, it is as tall as a 12-storey building. While the lighthouse itself is an exceptional feature, the spectacle it offers from the top is truly spellbinding. Here one can get a complete 360 degree view of the fascinating Island and all the wonders that surround it, including the crystal clear waters and other spreading tiny islands.

 

Get There

To reach Lengkuas Island you can rent a boat available at several beaches in Belitung such as at Tanjung Kelayang, Tanjung Binga, or Tanjung Tinggi. From Tanjung Kelayang the boat trip will take approximately 20 minutes, while from Tanjung Binga or Tanjung Tinggi it will take about 30-45 minutes.

Along the way you’ll be presented with fascinating sceneries of several small islands off the coast of Belitung. As boats have a capacity of up to 10 persons, it is wise to share the boat with others to reduce costs.

Wayag Island is one of the islands within the Raja Ampat district in the province of West Papua. The island is known for its beautiful atolls and amazing underwater life covering a total area of 155,000 hectares, about 383,013.3 acres. Here, you find pristine beaches with unique Karst islands that look like mushrooms sprouting out from the sea. Along these beaches, tourists can see fairy tale panorama, more captivating than Leonardo DiCaprio’s getaway in “The Beach”. The crystal clear waters around Wayag Island appear like unreal windows to various types of flora and fauna that live underwater.

Wayag Island never ceases to amaze. Divers, especially, have been overwhelmed not only by the rich underwater displays, but also by the panoramic beauty of the island as they climb up to its highest platform and observe coves and atolls around. It is a dream come true, truly a dream fulfilled. The island is 10 km north of the equator. Liveaboards are the best choice for travelers with a love for adventure and romance. Social contacts with other travelers will only be a call away. Dive briefings are enriching, so that just being there with other divers and the exotic looking staff, you will feel as if you are already drawn into the depths of Wayag’s surreal beauty.

 

Get Around

How to get around in Wayag Island actually depends on where you are staying. So, plan your trip carefully and decide where to stay. If you choose to stay in one of the resorts on one of the Raja Ampat Islands, you will  need a boat to visit Wayag Island. But if you choose a liveaboard package, you just need to sit back and enjoy the breeze in your cabin and let the schooner pass the beautiful islands.

Liveaboard packages are a comfortable alternative, and you can find these boats in Sorong, or as far away as Bali which is their  marketing hub and port for businesses offering dive packages. Some of the liveaboards are very luxurious, and some are unique and quite fantastic. The facilities are inclusive. Many agree that liveaboards are indeed the best alternative considering time and convenience. At around US$ 300 a day, this is actually good value for money. Liveaboards usually run 10 day cruises out of the port of Sorong, in West Papua.

It will not take a long time to travel around the unique beaches of Wayag Island. But it takes very good physical condition to enjoy the beautiful panorama from the top of an atoll, as you must climb the atoll’s steep walls for about 30 minutes.

A dinghy is probably the best means to go island hopping in a day. It is a beautiful interruption between your diving, sleeping and eating routine on your vacation in the Raja Ampat Islands. When hiring a speedboat as alternative, observe the surrounding islands and stop at the clear water to cool yourself after a long hour of the fast seafaring trip. Taking a speedboat is convenient as you can decide your own program.

Get There

Wayag Island is located in the West Waigeo area of the Raja Ampat Islands, northwest of the large island of Papua. Several connecting flights are needed to reach Papua. Then you must sail to Raja Ampat by boat.

First, fly to Sorong’s Domine Eduard Osok Airport, in West Papua. Sorong is the entry point and nearest city to Raja Ampat. There are several airlines to choose from Jakarta or Makassar to Sorong.

For sea transportation, ships calling on Port Sorong are the Dorolonda, Labobar, Gunung Dempo, Sinabung, and the Tatamailau. Upon your arrival in Sorong, you can take a fast boat from the Sorong Fishery Port to Waisai, the capital city of the Raja Ampat district. The journey takes around two to four hours. Then from Waisai you must take a longboat to Wayag which takes some six to eight hours. Rental of this longboat is about Rp 6 million (about US$ 550) per day.

Alternatively, you can hire a speedboat to take you straight from Sorong to Wayag for a five-hour journey. This will cost about Rp 9 million (about US$ 750) a day.

If you love underwater treasures, traveling to Pahawang Island would be the right move for you. This island is often said to be a paradise for snorkelers because of the beauty of its underwater biota. Located in the South Lampung district of Lampung province on the great island of Sumatra, Pahawang Island is divided into two areas, Pahawang Besar (Big Pahawang) and Pahawang Kecil (Small Pahawang).

One of the most popular activities to do on this island is snorkeling. All snorkelers would be fascinated by the colorful corals and sea life beneath the crystal clear waters of the island. There is also one snorkeling spot that is also the breeding site for clownfish, popularized by the cartoon Finding Nemo. There is also a spot where you can find corals that were transplanted by the locals.

Aside from the two Pahawang Islands, there are many other islands surrounding the area. Most activities are located in Pahawang Besar while Pahawang Kecil is comprised of small cottages and an alluring beach. Some say that Pahawang Kecil is rented by a French couple, who provide visitors with cute little cottages to stay in. There are many agents offering one-day trips to Pahawang Island for Rp150,000-250,000. If you plan to spend the night, the trip would cost around Rp450,000.

 

Get Around

In Pahawang Besar, you could travel around the island on foot or by a motorcycle. According to the locals, it takes around 30 minutes by motorcycle to travel around the island. Meanwhile in Pahawang Kecil, your feet are the best transportation mode to explore around the island.

 

Get There

From Jakarta, you can get to Pahawang Island via Merak Harbor. From there, you can take a ferry to Bakauheni Harbor in Lampung Province. You can travel to the port leading to Pahawang Island using a rented car or public transportation.

Another way to get to Pahawang Island from Jakarta is by taking a flight to Lampung city. Then, you can follow the instructions below for those traveling from Bandar Lampung.

From Bandar Lampung, you can head to the beach in Klara sub-district located in Pesawaran district. This beach is the site where travelers intending to go to Pahawang Island should go. The journey from the beach to Pahawang Island takes around 90 minutes using a regular ferry.

The island of Bintan in the Riau Islands Province never ceases to amaze visitors with its enchanting natural landscape. The smooth roads on this island, accompanied by spectacular sceneries are ready to take you to some of the amazing splendors beyond your imagination. One of these roads will lead you to a secluded small island off the coast of Bintan: Nikoi Island, a tropical paradise in South China Sea.

Nikoi Island: Tropical Paradise in the South China Sea

Located less than 85km from Singapore, Nikoi is a 15 hectare exclusive island 8km off the east coast of Bintan. To reach the island, one must take a fast boat from the Kawal Pier at the Agro Beach Resort Bintan or a Ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Port in Singapore.

Long regarded as one of the most stunning islands on this relatively unspoilt coast, Nikoi is fortunate to have retained its pristine condition. It is ringed with white sandy beaches and coral reefs of spectacular color and diversity and has a coastline studded with granite boulders that seemingly defy gravity. Rising to a height of 30m, the island also boasts a rain forest where giant trees, including native Banyan trees, provide a sanctuary to a diverse population of local birds.

The island is managed by a small group of expatriates who have lived in Asia for most of their working lives and share a passion for the outdoors, nature, food and wine. The name Nikoi is a local variation of the Chinese Hokkein word for papaya (paw paw) – a fruit that was originally grown on the island.

Today the island resort features beach houses that reflect both traditional Indonesian architecture and contemporary form.  Using driftwood and ‘alang alang’ grass roofing to blend into the environment, each beach house incorporates a modern ensuite bathroom.  Thus, provides a “simple barefoot luxury” in a superb setting.

A spectacular pool has also been built in amongst the granite boulders on the north-eastern side of the island and provides a destination within a destination.  Set high above the sea it overlooks one of the prettiest beaches on Nikoi and provides an uninterrupted view over the South China Sea.  There is also an adjacent wading pool for young children and a bar.

The ability to hire out the entire island for groups of up to 60 is also attractive for corporate groups wanting to focus on team building or smaller style conferences. The island has also become popular for groups of friends celebrating milestone birthdays and other occasions. In May 2007 Nikoi was opened to the public and has fast become a popular destination for Singapore expatriates and visitors from further afield. Many of these guests have already returned for their second, third and fourth visits.

Nikoi Island is fully booked on weekend months in advance. With weekday bookings filling up fast it appears the secret of Nikoi is well and truly out.

Get There

There are a number of airlines that serve daily flights between Jakarta-Tanjung Pinang on Bintan Island, capital of Riau Islands Province. From Tanjung Pinang you can rent a car to go to Kawal Pier which takes about a half hour'sr drive. The boat ride from Kawal Port to Nikoi Island will take approximately 30 minutes. It is better to contact the management of Nikoi Island to arrange your transport from Singapore or Bintan to Nikoi Island.

 

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