Balabalagan – Hidden Paradise at Makassar Strait (Indonesia)
Balabalagan or sometimes called balabalakang is a group of islands located at the Makassar Strait (between island of Kalimantan and Sulawesi). Balabalagan area is not too publicly highlighted, in fact this place not yet inaugurated as a tourist destination by the government. Even so, recently balabalagan became famous because many adventurers and backpackers who went to visit and show pictures beauty of the beach, the sea and the islands there.
My visit to balabalagan
A few weeks ago I was told by a friend that they will having tour to balabalagan, without much thinking a long I immediately accept the invitation to join them. we hire a tour & travel service package, Date 12 to 14 March 2015 is the date that has been set between us and the tour organizer to balabalagan.
After preparing all the equipments needed in balabalagan, On 12 April, at 9 A.M We gathered at the Port of “Kampung Baru” of Balikpapan. To go to Balabalagan Islands we just need go on board and the trip takes about 8-10 hours (depends on sea condition).
I really enjoy the warm of sun in the morning while sitting on the end of the boat, enjoying the swing waves that drove our ship sailing towards balabalagan, heavy sea breezes put my adrenalin on. Waiting on board for 8 hours is something that is quite tiring, making us all asleep in the boat.
About 4 pm I woke up because my friends started to sound pretty rowdy, they all woke up because they are amazed to see an island that sand is so white and clean with a range of fisherman boats and coconut trees. The place is very attractive, very beautiful, so natural and very beautiful, it have very clean sea and the beach sands is so white. The island named sabakatang, We docked at the island because it is time to shalat for our moeslim friends. after stay a while at sabakatang island, about 45 minutes later we were back up to the ship to proceed to our destination island that will become our place to stay.
about two hours from island sabakatang, When it was getting we arrived to an island (sorry, i not remember the name of that island) . This island is uninhabited island for about 30-40 households. We stay at one of the houses. After arriving we were all acquainted with the owner of the house where we were staying, they are very friendly dwellers and happily allow us to stay in their home during our vacation in the islands. after shower and dinner we are all gathered in the living room to get our snorkeling tools from tour organizer.
Although it was late, we were still very curious about the beauty of this island, so we then out to the dock about 100 meters away from the house where we were staying. when we arrived at the dock we were amazed to see how wide the variety of fishes and amazed by huge number of them at each side of the dock. Because the sea is so crystal clear, although at night we can simply see the bottom of the white sand of that beach. it so beautiful for us who rarely seen anything like this in the city. That night we spent enjoying the sights of marine fish on the dock while taking some photos.
The next morning we got up early to see the sunrise, but the sun does not risen as we expected because it was covered by the dark cloud.
although not get sunrise we remain excited and immediately swim to enjoy clean beach on this island, a moment later we had dressed ready for swimming and jumping one by one from the pier to enjoy the fresh sea water on the island along with the fishes. The morning was apparent clarity of the blue ocean, the beautiful warm morning sun illuminate us and it so refreshing. because it is so natural, in this place we can still find a medium-sized turtle with swimming near us. We were still swimming at the beach for a few hours later.
after swim at the beach we immediately returned to the house where we were staying and getting ready to leave for a snorkel. However, something unexpected happens, heavy rain came and we had to wait until it stopped.
After waiting several hours, finally the rain stopped and the sun began to showing her smile again. we also immediately bring the snorkeling tools and sail to other beautiful spots in Balabalagan Islands.
The Place we visited later is another island that is so clean and beautiful and I think thi place is very suitable for people who love photography, I even had a though someday i will come here to take wedding photographs with my life-partner.
although it is very beautiful island, but this place is not a spot for snorkeling. after take a few photos we set sail again to another island.
After a few minutes of sailing we came to another island (I forgot name of the island). It underwater scenery is so fantastic, even on top of the boat we could see the beautiful scenery at the deep bottom ocean of this island. after our boat docked we are all prepare our snorkel gear and immediately plunge into the sea. Wow, what an incredible underwater scenery in this place, I was so amazed for its beauty. in this place there is a wide range of ornamental fish of various sizes and also many natural corals across the seabed. This is my first snorkeling experience and I really enjoyed it. luckily our tour packages also include an underwater camera so we are free to ask to take pictures while dive here.
On that day we visited some snorkeling spot that is extraordinary, there are many corals in giant sizes. because this place is still newly well-known for tourist, the underwater ecosystem is still very beautiful and the coral was not much damaged. as an Indonesian citizen I am proud to have this place.
Once satisfied to have snorkel all day, towards evening we returned to where we staying, because fatigue after swimming all day we then just spent the night at the house where we stay and look at all the photos taken from camera.
The next day, 14th April was our last day in Balabalagan Islands. before returning to the city, we visited another snorkeling spot. The snorkeling spot is located not so far from the island where we were staying (about a half-hour on boat). based on the testimony of our tour guide, here is the best snorkeling spot with the most amazing views between Balabalagan Islands. That morning we went to the island and immediately wear the snorkeling gear. When began to dive into the sea, The only think i saw is an amazing snorkeling spot that different from others. This place is very rich in coral reefs and a lot of colorful ornamental fish swim near us while snorkeling, this place is deeper compared with other snorkeling sport and I am personally most satisfied swim here in the appeal in another snorkel spot in balabalagan.
After enjoying all best places in Balabalagan Islands, around noon we went back to the island where we live, take shower and have lunch. after have lunch we were leaving and tidying all our belongings.
Around 12 noon with a slight drizzly weather we sail home and left Balabalagan Islands to get to the city of Balikpapan. return journey is quite exciting because we were accompanied by huge waves and the sea water fill the ship, in the ship we are all exhausted and fall asleep after spending the amazing holiday. Our return trip took exactly 10 hours, once on the dock of Kampung Baru we said goodbye each other with joy and go back to our houses either by taxi, public transportation as well as motorcycles, and there is also friends picked up by their family. for public transport from the port is not so difficult, even at night there still lot of public transportation available.
That’s all my review about Balabalagan Islands which is a very beautiful tourist spot in the Makassar Strait. if you’re in Balikpapan spare your time to visit this place. words alone may not be enough to tell how wonderful balabalagan is, below I show the pictures and also video during our visit to Balabalagan Islands, hope you enjoy it !.
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