Exploring Natuna, The Beauty Of The North

Natuna Islands are located at the northern end of Karimata Strait. They are an exceptional marine potential with a charming landscape.

Life in Natuna Islands carries on as usual. Fishermen go to the sea at night and bring back their catch of fish in wave after wave when the sun rises. They know about the issue of border lines with the Chinese government, but it does not affect their lives. After all, life must carry on.

Natuna is not only about the potential of the sea, natural gas, and the rows of coconut tree, but also about the fascinating landscape. Its beauty begins at dawn until dusk, when the gloomy light of the sun lazily illuminates the waves.

Tanjung Datuk, Natuna Archipelago
Tanjung Datuk, Natuna Archipelago (Source : natunakab.go.id)

Natuna is a peaceful archipelago with millions of marine tourism potentials, starting from white sand beaches, an uninhabited small island, ancient mountains, granite boulders, delicious local cuisine to the uniqueness of the Malay culture of the inhabitants. Trips to Natuna faster a sense of love towards Indonesia’s outer areas.

As one of the administratives areas of Riau Islands, Natuna stretches out in the middle of North Natuna Sea, formerly known as the South China Sea. Due to the reasons of nationalism and national security, the name is changed into Indonesian. As an archipelago scattered in a vast ocean, it is no wonder that Natuna has the potential of marine tourism that is not less beautiful compared to the eastern Indonesia.

Ranai is the capital city of Natuna district, a small town located on Bunguran island. In Ranai, there are many Malays living since a long time ago in Natuna. Now, the surrounding areas of Ranai are not only inhabited by Malays, but also by immigrants from Java, Kalimantan, and Minang. They compete to find a decent living in Natuna, starting from being a trader, fishermen, military apparatus to office employees.

Admiring Giant Granite Boulders

Not far from Ranai, there is Alif Stone Park, the main tourism magnet in Natuna. Alif Stone Park is a collection of hundreds of granite boulders scattered on the edge of the sea.

You can see the formation of large granite boulder with stunning black color there. By paying only IDR 5,000, you can explore every corner as well. The management also provides six bedrooms for tourists who want to stay.

Uniquely, the rooms are placed in the cavities of granite. The dining room is directly facing the rows of ancient boulder. Alif Stone Park is the right place for watching sunrise and sunset. By sitting on one of the granite boulders, both moments will be presented in front of your eyes for free. Tourists staying up late can come at 12 pm to 2 am to watch the stars in the sky of Natuna from Alif Stone Park. It is an unforgettable experience.

Alif Stone Park
Alif Stone Park (Source : tripadvisor.com)

A little to the west, there is an original Malay village in Natuna in the village of Sepempang. You can interact directly with the residents here, learning the local culture and tasting the original snacks made from sago and sea fish, like kernas, a kind of fried snacks made from sago and mackerel tuna. At first glance, it looks similar to bakwan, but the taste is really different. Kernas is tastier because of the mackerel tuna. A dark red chili sauce mixed with chili pieces is the complementary sauce.

The residents od Sepempang are also good at making another local snack called tabel mando, a kind of “pizza” of the Malays in Natuna. This culinary is also made from sago and mackerel tuna, but cooked differently. It is roasted dry on a hot frying pan. Local residents are also good at cooking fish meatballs whose ingredients are also from sea fish. There are several fish meatball seller around Ranai and Sepempang famous for its taste.

Island Hopping to Senoa Island

For those fond of blue oceans and adventures on an uninhabited small island, Senoa Island is the answer. The small island is located about 45 minutes from the village of Sepempang is waiting for your visit anytime. White sand, crystal clear sea with gradations of blue and turquoise, to rows of unspoiled coral reefs are a compete package of Senoa Island that you will encounter.

Senoa Island, Natuna, Riau
Senoa Island, Natuna, Riau (Source : triptrus.com)

There are no hotels in the island. Tourists generally stay in Ranai and then rent pompong (a traditional boat) to Senoa Island. You need to bring food and drink because there are no stalls around the island. Tourist who want to go snorkelling can rent the equipment in Alif Stone Park because it is provided for general tourists. It will be unfortunate to miss the crystal clear seawater around Senoa Island.

Admiring the Greatness of the Great Mosque of Natuna

There is a magnificent and iconic building in Ranai named Great Mosque of Natuna, a primary mosque built by the local government. In front of the mosque, a long pond streches for 200 meters. At the end of the pond, a mosque with a stunning design stands sturdily.

The tiered green dome is full of sturdy towers. The mosque was built since 2007 years ago, back to back with Mount Ranai, the highest peak in Natuna Islands. Inside the mosque, tourists will be treated to an admirable display of architectural works. The domes are similar to Hagia Sophia in Turkey. The Great Mosque of Natuna seems to be the main monument of the glory of Malay Islam in the northern seas of Indonesia.

Phenomenon of the great Mosque Natuna
Phenomenon of the great Mosque Natuna (Source : wikitravel.org)

At a distance of Ranai, there is a quiet coastal area free from noisy vehicles and settlements. There is a beach with the rock cliffs called Tanjung Datuk – a territory of Buton Bay Subdistrict. In that bay, tourists are treated to spectacular views of blue ocean, white sandy beaches and a tranquil coastal atmosphere. Tourists can rent a local pompong to cross to Pendek island, a nearby populated island from Tanjung Datuk.

How to Reach Natuna

From Jakarta, you have to fly to Batam and then fly to Ranai, Natuna. One-way ticket from Batam to Natuna costs up to IDR 1,5 million. You can also board KM Bukit Raya Pelni Ship from Tanjung Priok, Jakarta. The travel takes time about 3 days and 3 nights and one-way ticket costs up to IDR 450,000.

Natuna is outermost and remote. However, if considered seriously, these islands can lure investors with market segment of foreign tourists. Well, just wait for the government policy in favor of tourism.

Transportation

There are not many choices of public transportation in Ranai, Natuna. It is better for you to rent a car with the driver. For a more inexpensive alternative, you can also rent local motorcycle-taxi service. They can take you to some tourism attractions around Natuna. To get to the small islands nearby, you can rent a pompong, starting from IDR 200,000 for a round trip.

Hotels

There are many jasmine-class hotels in Ranai, starting from IDR 250,000 per night with air conditioning. However, if you have more budget, you could stay at Alif Stone Park, Sepempang Village. It is only about 20 minutes from Ranai Natuna Airport. The price for the rooms starts from IDR 600,000 per night for two persons. The facilities of the room are equivalent to star-hotels in big cities, with unique views of granite boulders. (Credit : Nasrudin Ansori, Venue Magz)

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