If you haven’t been able to enjoy the natural beauty of Raja Ampat’s marine life in West Papua, then you don’t need to be sad. Tourists can visit the Mandeh bay area which is known as the “Paradise from West Sumatra”. This area is a blend of hills with a group of small islands in the middle of Carocok Tarusan Bay. The beaches in this area have soft white sand and clear waters. From the beach, tourists can see the small islands across the sea. The tourist area of Mandeh is also often referred to as the Raja Ampat of the Minang realm because of its beauty.
The Mandeh Bay area is located in the Pesisir Selatan Regency, Koto XI Tarusan sub-district. It is 56 km from the city of Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra. The area is 18,000 hectares and covers 3 sub-districts and 7 villages. Residents around this area generally make a living as farmers, fishermen, and retail sellers.
Tourists can visit by sea and land. If you choose the sea route, you can take a ship from the port of Bungus, Gaung pier, port of Teluk Bayur, or from the pier of Muara Padang and Tarusan Bay.
Meanwhile, if by land route, there are three alternatives from three different roads. The first alternative is from Tarusan Market via the Carocok intersection. The second alternative from Bungus continues to be Sungai Pinang and Sungai Nyalo. The third alternative, is through the latest road section through the Carocok intersection and then along the beach and gently sloping hills for 12 km.
Tourists can see the panorama of the Mandeh Bay area more freely from Mandeh Peak. This peak is known as Paku Peak or Jokowi Peak. This is because President Jokowi visited there in 2018 and he admired its beauty. This hill has a height of about 70 meters above sea level with an area of 0.3 ha. From here you can see the cluster of Traju islands, Satan island, Sironjong Besar island, Sironjong Kecil island, and Cubadak island. Visitors can observe the calm gradations of the seawater.
In the southern part of the Mandeh area, there is a headland that bends like a river, so that the bay looks like a lake with small ripples. Meanwhile, in the northern area of Mandeh Bay, some islands form a circular formation, namely Bintangor Island, Pagang Island, Snake Island, and Merak Island which are contiguous to Sikuai Island.
For tourism activities in Teluk Mandeh, tourists should book a complete tour package offered by a travel agency. The package offered will be guided by an experienced and responsible island crew during activities in the Teluk Mandeh area.
There is a popular restaurant at Mandeh Bay named Uni Kito Seafood Restaurant. The Uni Kito Seafood Restaurant is situated directly at the Puncak Panorama Mandeh crossroads. the primary course being Padang soup. Seafood is for sale in this establishment. Naturally, there are some additional Padang meals as well, like rendang, curry, veggies, and chili sauce.
At the beginning of the trip, the Island crew usually takes us to the island of Sronjong Kecil, which takes 15 minutes from the pier of the Carocok Tarusan Fish Auction Place. Visitors can feel the sensation of free fall with heights varying from 5 meters to 20 meters.
Then we continue to the waters of Cubadak Island. This privately owned island covers an area of 40 ha. The beach is small and clean. The underwater panorama of the Cubadak island area is very interesting to explore. Coral reefs with marine biota are still in good condition or there are no signs of damage. On this island, there are resorts with 5-star quality facilities. Lodging on Cubadak Island has a traditional theme that is different from other islands in Teluk Mandeh. The inn building on this island is made of bamboo and wood and the roof is made of palm wood. While in the forest area of this island, there are many species of animals ranging from pigs, monkeys, snakes, deer, and various species of birds.
In the waters of the island of Cubadak, we can meet various types of fish such as snapper, butterfly fish, anemone fish, damselfish, file fish, big eye fish, surgeonfish, wrasse, parrotfish, etc. There are also various species of echinoderms such as sea stars, snake stars, sea urchins, sea lilies, and sea cucumbers.
Some other diving spots are Pagang Island, Sironjong Besar Island, and Satan Island. For the last name, this is an island that is specially managed as a water sports center. Water game activities that can be done are banana boat, donut boat, UFO boat and jet ski.
The ship MV Boeloengan Nedherland
The MV Boeloengan shipwreck is one of the underwater archaeological heritages which is a tourist destination in the Mandeh bay area. The length of the wreck is 74 meters, the middle is 11 meters wide, the stern is 13 meters wide, the bottom is 10 meters wide and the height is 8 meters. This ship is at a depth of 20-25 meters. This ship was a passenger ship during Dutch colonial rule. The ship MV Boeloengan sank in the waters of the Gulf of Mandeh Bay after being bombarded by Japanese troops in 1942 during World War II. But now shipwrecks have become an underwater tourist attraction and become one of the best diving spots in the Mandeh Bay area.
To reach it takes about 15-20 minutes from Carocok Tarusan pier by outboard engine boat. The hull of the ship has been overgrown with various types of coral reefs and has become a shelter for various marine biota.
The Mandeh area also has an ecotourism destination on Kapo-kapo Island which is part of 389 hectares of mangrove forest area. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the mangrove trees that grow thickly along the track from the boat. There are several homestays with a back-to-nature concept here. Most of them are managed by residents, so the accommodation rates here are more affordable than the resorts on Cubadak Island. The famous cuisine here is octopus rendang.
After activities in the sea, a must-visit destination for tourists is the Gemuruh river waterfall. We can bathe in cool fresh water. This waterfall is only about 3-4 meters high. Along the road to the waterfall, there is a mangrove forest on the coast overlooking the sea of Carocok Bay.
To reach the location, you can walk along the road or the river mouth with an outboard boat while enjoying the beauty of the mangrove forest.
The mangrove forest in the Mandeh Bay area is still preserved. This can be seen from the density of mangrove trees that thrive along the roaring river. There are no visible signs of significant damage to forest structures. This is because the surrounding community cares about and participates in preserving the mangrove forest. If there is an area around the forest that is still empty, the community participates in planting mangrove seedlings. People who are proven to cut down mangrove trees will be fined.
Mangrove forests have an important role in maintaining the sustainability and balance of nature. Its function is not only for marine life but also very beneficial for the surrounding community.
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