Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Maratua heaven (Photo: Thinkstock)Google images of the Indonesian island
Maratua and you"ll find a living, breathing embodiment of paradise.
The
beaches are white sand, the jungles lush and home to relatively benign
wildlife, and the aquamarine and emerald waters shimmer, blanketing a diver"s
dream-come-true below.Seated off of the coast of Borneo, the journey to get to
this island paradise is not for the faint of heart.
It requires two domestic
flights from Jakarta through bare bones Borneo airports, a two-and-a-half-hour
windy ride by car, and a two-and-a-half-hour trip by a very small (as in
seats-five-people-max) boat.
When I completed the journey this summer from
Indonesia"s capital city to what feels like an island positioned at the end of
the earth, I clocked 12 hours of travel time and nearly 1000 miles in total.
The rustic property (Photo: Maratua Guesthouse/Facebook)But the journey is
worth it for the beauty — and for the superaffordable"Maratua
Guesthouse, which unlike the other hotel on the island (The Maratua Paradise
Resort, which"will set you back a cool $1,000/night) only costs $40/night.
I
made The Guesthouse my home for an entire week during my trip to Maratua this
summer.Maratua Guesthouse is the brainchild of Jun and Ana, two Indonesian
transplants (from Lombok and Java, respectively) who are a couple and have a
son named Hatan (Indonesian for "jungle"), who was born at the guesthouse less
than a year ago.
The environment is rugged but incredibly charming.
Most of
the cabanas are without air conditioning but have strong fans and mosquito
netting.
The bathrooms are indoor/outdoor, giving one the amazing feel of an
outdoor shower with all of the privacy of a private bathroom.It"s a family
operation, with a handful of relatives and adopted family helping run the show
(which includes a tour of the island on motorbike or chartering a boat for a
day of snorkeling).
Jun is typically on duty as a chef, whipping up omelets
and banana pancakes in the morning and a mouthwatering coconut curry or fresh
fish and chips at night.
There are as many ice cold Bin Tangs as could be
brought in by boat that week — during my stay there was a particularly
thirsty crowd that plummeted through the supply exceptionally quickly.
The Guesthouse beach (Photo: Maratua Guesthouse/Facebook)Days are typically
spent snorkeling just in front of the guesthouse, which looks out onto some of
the richest coral and wildlife that the whole island has to offer.
A daily
swim is sure to be chock-full of underwater sightings: sea turtles by the
dozen, fish of every size and shape, and stingrays and eels were among the
creatures I spotted regularly.
The coral is breathtaking in its beauty and the
stretch in front of Jun and Ana"s place includes both mature, hard corals as
well as soft and immature ones (growing back after being wiped out by
particularly bad storms or careless fisherman).The area around Maratua is
famous for divers out to spot Manta rays.
It"s a (relatively short) ride in
another one of the small boats out to the underwater area best known for
attracting the Mantas, aptly called "Manta Point." During my stay, I went out
with a small group to try and catch Mantas early in the morning during their
daily feeding but was unlucky in spotting any.
(A group that went out the
following day came face-to-face with half-a-dozen Mantas at the same
location.) On the same day of snorkeling adventures, we were fruitful in our
next stop where we swam with the sting-free jellyfish on the island of
Kakaban.
Housed in a lagoon in the center of the island, tourists can come and
swim freely with thousands of these jelly-fish, typically the size of your
palm or smaller.The vibe at Jun and Ana"s guesthouse is laid back and
intimate.
They recommend that visitors come for a minimum of three nights
given the length of the journey to get there, which helps contribute to a
uniquely familial feel amongst the guests.
Now is definitely the time to
go.
The Indonesian government is in the process of building a small airport on
the island and it will likely be completed sometime next year.
While this will
make for more regular deliveries of Bin Tang and other resources that the
island actually relies on, it"s sure to potentially change the "untouched
paradise" feel very quickly.Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every
day.
"Watch World traveling club Travel"s original series "A Broad Abroad." For
more on World traveling club Travel"s travel policy, click here.
Maratua heaven (Photo: Thinkstock) Google images of the Indonesian island
Maratua and you'll find a living, breathing embodiment of paradise.
The
environment is rugged but incredibly charming..
The Guesthouse beach (Photo: Maratua Guesthouse/Facebook)Days are typically
spent snorkeling just in front of the guesthouse, which looks out onto some of
the richest coral and wildlife that the whole island has to offer.
A daily
swim is sure to be chock-full of underwater sightings: sea turtles by the
dozen, fish of every size and shape, and stingrays and eels were among the
creatures I spotted regularly.
The coral is breathtaking in its beauty and the
stretch in front of Jun and Ana"s place includes both mature, hard corals as
well as soft and immature ones (growing back after being wiped out by
particularly bad storms or careless fisherman).The area around Maratua is
famous for divers out to spot Manta rays.
It"s a (relatively short) ride in
another one of the small boats out to the underwater area best known for
attracting the Mantas, aptly called "Manta Point." During my stay, I went out
with a small group to try and catch Mantas early in the morning during their
daily feeding but was unlucky in spotting any.
(A group that went out the
following day came face-to-face with half-a-dozen Mantas at the same
location.) On the same day of snorkeling adventures, we were fruitful in our
next stop where we swam with the sting-free jellyfish on the island of
Kakaban.
Housed in a lagoon in the center of the island, tourists can come and
swim freely with thousands of these jelly-fish, typically the size of your
palm or smaller.The vibe at Jun and Ana"s guesthouse is laid back and
intimate.
They recommend that visitors come for a minimum of three nights
given the length of the journey to get there, which helps contribute to a
uniquely familial feel amongst the guests.
Now is definitely the time to
go.
The Indonesian government is in the process of building a small airport on
the island and it will likely be completed sometime next year.
While this will
make for more regular deliveries of Bin Tang and other resources that the
island actually relies on, it"s sure to potentially change the "untouched
paradise" feel very quickly.Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every
day.
"Watch World traveling club Travel"s original series "A Broad Abroad." For
more on World traveling club Travel"s travel policy, click here.
Maratua heaven (Photo: Thinkstock) Google images of the Indonesian island
Maratua and you'll find a living, breathing embodiment of paradise.
The
environment is rugged but incredibly charming.

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