As a maritime country, Indonesia has a lot of oceanic tourism spot with clear water and breath-taking view underwater. One of those places is the exotic Morotai Island on Halmahera Archipelago, North Maluku Province.
In 2012, the government of Indonesia even held a big event called Sail Morotai 2012. The international sailing event was joined by more than 100 participants from various countries. So now if you have your own yacht, all you need to do is just sail away to Daruba Port on Morotai Island.
If you have no yacht or liveaboard, you can get there by taking a flight to Ternate, the nearest airport from Morotai. From Ternate, you can take a bus or car to Tobelo on North Halmahera. After that, you can take a ship to Morotai.
Battle of Morotai
During the World War II, Morotai became a silent witness of a battle between the Allied Forces (USA and America) with Japan. Japan army was there first to build a landing strip and bunkers. But due to a chaos in Halmahera, most of the army went there to help with the defense. There were just 500 Japanese army remained on Morotai. Taking advantages over this situation, the Allied Forces came along and brought way more men to defeat the Japanese.
After defeating Japan, the General MacArthur realized how strategic this island is. So he then decided to take Morotai as their basecamp. His army then built several landing strips and a huge hospital. The Allied Forces army stayed there since then until the war is over in 1945.
Battle of Morotai happened long time ago. But the remains are still there. These remnants then became the unique aspect of Morotai tourism. For example if you go to Teluk Pitu, you can see two remaining landing strips out of seven strips the Allied Forces made. The name Teluk Pitu itself came from that as “teluk” means bay and “pitu” means seven. There are also remnants from buildings and bunkers around the island.
The remnants of World War II are available not only on the land, but also underwater. During the war, several ships had sunk and abandoned there, leaving the wrecks stays under the sea. Now, the locations of shipwrecks became the most favored diving spots among tourists. There are about 25 diving spots around Morotai. Some of those spots are Saminyamau, Tanjung Sabatai Point, Dodola Point, Tanjung Wayabula, and Batu Layar Point.
You do not even need to dive really deep to find those shipwrecks. In the 20 meters depth, you can see the remnants of a sunken truck. If you go deeper to 40 to 50 meters depth, you will find the wrecks of an airplane which fell due to enemy’s attack.
Before you start diving, please discuss your diving plan with your diving guides so he can calculate how much oxygen he needs to prepare. Inside the water, do not forget to check the time regularly. Some divers might get carried away by the view. Time management is important so you can enjoy your adventure to the fullest without forgetting to take incredible pictures about it.
Beside the wrecks, you can also see various living creatures underwater. Corals and algaes are everywhere, covering all the wrecks. Various species of small fishes are swimming around between the remnants. Sea snail, starfishes, and even stingrays are also easy to find around these spots.
If you go deeper and further to the ocean deep, you can even meet some sharks. Due to the statistic, there are more than five species of sharks around Morotai. Shark diving is different than shipwreck diving. So if you want to see those beautiful sharks, you better discuss it first with your diving instructor because the spots and the depth are different.
Besides the Morotai Island itself, this stunning combination of natural panorama and historical relic can also be enjoyed on other small islands nearby Morotai. Let’s say Zum-Zum Island where there is a statue of General MacArthur because this is where he lived during the war.
At this same island, you can also find several caves where the General MacArthur and his army used to hide from enemy’s attack. If you go to the beach, you will see the bright-colored sands and clear blue ocean water. The sun shines so bright and the wind is strong.
Another oceanic adventure you can do in Morotai is surfing. But not many people know about it just yet. If you go to Berebere, there is a spot where some surfers are having fun. Some cottages are available around here. But most surfers like to stay in the local people’s house better. To enjoy surfing here at Berebere, it is recommended to come along around December. That is when the wave is the most challenging.
Airlines available to Ternate are Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, and Merpati Airlines. The schedules and prices are changing from time to time. But we recommend you take a morning flight from Jakarta by Garuda Indonesia. The plane usually departs at 01.30 AM and will arrive at Ternate at 06.30 AM. Thus, you can catch the ship to Morotai at the same day. If you take an afternoon flight, chances you may need to stay the night at Ternate and take the ship on the next day.
Express ship from Ternate to Morotai departs around 09.00 AM to 11.00. The ticket is $17.25 and it will take about four and a half hours to reach Morotai. The ships from Ternate to Morotai are only available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The ships back from Morotai to Ternate are only available on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.
Besides the express ship, there is also a ferry from Ternate to Morotai. But the trip takes longer time, about 9-10 hours. The ferry departs at 08.00 PM and will arrive to Morotai the next morning. You will sleep on a shed together with other passengers. If you want a room with a bed, you need to pay again for about $15 to $26.25 depends on how good you are at bargaining.
For a place to stay, you have several choices:
- A non-AC inn for $7.5 per night
- A one-star hotel with AC and private bathrooms inside the room for $21 per night. Twin bed or sharing room are available
- A cottage with beach view. A single bed room costs about $30 and a double bed room costs about $60.
Beside those choices, you can also stay in local people’s house. They are friendly. You can also taste the traditional dishes of Morotai. Mostly, they cook fresh seafoods they caught themselves using traditional fishing equipment.
Diving in Morotai surely will have a different feeling than diving at any other places. The combination between historical shipwreck and colorful underwater nature will make one real unforgettable memory for the divers. So what else are you waiting for? The exoticism of Morotai is waiting for you!