17 Islands Riung Marine Park is such a secluded heaven for a perfect getaway. Altough it is not easy to reach, without a doubt it has succeeded to make tourists fall in love to its own natural beauty.
From the fishing village of Riung, the dancing rose of sea on the ocean floor, to the mesmerizing jungle deep, this archipalgic paradise deserve its status as UNESCO World Heritage.
Actually, the archipelago does not consist of 17 islands, but 24. The name 17 is given as a remembrance of Indonesia’s Independence Day on August 17th. Some of the islands worth visiting on this clusters are Ontoloe Island (the largest island), Pau Island, Borong Island, Dua Island, Batang Kolong Island, Lainjawa Island, Besar Island, Halima Island (a.k.a. Nani Island), Patta Island, Rutong Island, Meja Island, Bampa Island (a.k.a Bampa Island or Tembang Island), Tiga Island (Long Island), Tembaga Island, Taor Island, Sui Island, and Wire Island.
Surely, each island has their own attractions. To find which one suits your dream the most, please check out the list below:
- Meja Island and Tembaga Island
The water around these two islands is habitat for Acroporas and several kinds of soft corals. This divine marine heaven is quite rocky. It is also full of colors because it has plenty species of both marine flora and fauna, including some schools of Dakocan fish, an endemic species of fish who live on that rocky coral formation.
In Indonesia, the word “Meja” means “table”. It is named that way because under the water, there is a soft coral formation that looks like a table, with plenty of fishes like those are foods served on the table.
- Batang Kolong Island
If you really wish to encounter the famous Rose of the Sea, then the water you need to dive into is around Batang Kolong Islands. The underwater has more population of Sea Rabbit (Hexabranchus sanguineus) so it has the higher chance for them to lay their eggs there. The color of Rose of the Sea may vary from red to bright orange. The size could reach up to 30 centimeters in diameter.
Besides the Rose of the Sea, Batang Kolong underwater also has a large population of corals and sea sponges. The coral parks sometimes become habitat for sea turtles so you might encounter some of them.
- Sui Island
If you love marine photography or you want to make an underwater video, there is no better place than Sui Island. The sharp bay has a deep underwater cliff fully covered with Acropora and plenty kinds of rocks. Schools of fishes swimming around in many colors, making the scenery even more amazing.
- Tanjung Toro Padang Island
Tanjung Toro Padang is actually still a part of Flores main island that just formed like a cape. This point is the most western side of the marine park. The ocean is mainly dominated by acropora and soft corals. The island also is the habitat of Biawak Mbou, a species similar to Komodo in smaller size.
- Rutong Island
If you are a diver who loves challenge, try doing your thing on the water around Rutong Island where thermoclin phenomena happens. It means the water temperature drastically changes. On the surface, the water is still warm especially during the day when the sun is shining. But as you goes one meter below, the water drastically turn to be very cold.
- Tiga Island
In Indonesia, “Tiga” means “Three”. The island is named that way because if you see it from distance, it looks like three islands. But actually, it is just one island with three hills. It is one of the most visited island as it has beauty to offer both under the water and above the land. Climb to the highest hill and look around. You will see the whole archipelago and the color gradations of the ocean. On the southern side, there is also a diving spot with high chance od Rose of the Sea phenomenon.
- Ontoloe Island
The greates thing to experience in Ontoloe Island is by trekking deep to the mangrove where there is some big colonies of fruit bats. Around the sunset, they became very active. Monkeys are swinging around, picking fruits from the mangrove tree.
- Kawat Island
If you are a newbie diver, then Kawat Island might offer you the most comfortable diving spots. It does not have much current so it would be easier to control yourself. This small islet is located nearby the Bajo village on Nangamese district.
Along the beach, there are groups of mangrove. This island is also photographer’s favourite as they can capture the innocence of the village with mangrove and sunset on the background.
- Lainjawa Island
For diver who wish to see plenty of unique fishes, Lainjawa Island is a must to visit. Here under the water, there are many of Napoleon (Cheilinus Undulayus) sized around one meter long.
Giant sea eel (locally known as Kerondong) could reach the size up to 2 meters long with head diameter of about 10 centimeters. Altough there are not much of coral after depth of 10 meters, you can still find numerous amount of angel fish (locally known as Kambing Kambih) and Butana fish.
- Wongkoro Island
Located between Ontoloe and Toro Padang islands, Wongkoro Island acts as an underwater barrier reef stretching up to 10 meters wide. In the depth of more than 3 meters, colorful corals are filled the ocean floor. Multi-branched acropora corals are also decorating this marine scenery for more than 10 meters deep. There is also an interesting sand hole about 10 meters wide.
- Pata Island
If you are a fan of big sea creature, try visiting Pata Island where there are whales living on the ocean around. The best chance to encounter them is by exploring the northern side of the island. You can dive down the ocean or simply sail on a boat to watch them. On rainy season, the warm water will lead them to Riung Bay.
After a long day of adventure, you must be having a starving stomach. But finding a dinery to spoil your appettite is not easy. Mostly, you can eat on simple local eateries called warung. But if you want something fancy, here are you best options:
- Pato Restaurant
This one man business serves indonesian foods that meets the taste of westerners. The dishes may be delicious and the price is reasonable. But you might need to wait a little longer before you get what you order because everything is prepared freshly. Their signature dishes are sweet sour fried fish and pasta with vegetables.
- Murah Mariah
Located beside the Market of Riung Village, this restaurants offer a various menu in reasonable price. Soup and vegetable dishes cost around $2 while other dishes might be higher than that. Their signature dishes are spicy sour fish soup and squid satay with ginger sauce.
- Cafe Del Mar
It is likely to be the only place that serves alcoholic beverage, Bintang. The menu consists of plain rice, fried rice, several choices of vegetables, and grilled fish of your own choice. One person would likely to spend about $4 per meal, depending the kind and size of fish that you order.
Getting back home from Riung seems to be easier as there is a bus that goes to Maumere, Moni, Ende, and Mbay. You can simply ask your hotel staff to call the bus management for arranging a pick-up. On the bus, you can tell the driver where you want to make a stop. The trip will take 1.5 hours to Mbay, 4-5 hours to Ende, 5-6 hours to Moni, and around 7 hours to Maumere.
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