Since its popularity for Sail Morotai 2012, many and more people heard of this northernmost island in Maluku. But what about those who have no idea of Sail Morotai and Morotai itself? To be honest, Sail Morotai was Indonesian governement project to promote maritime tourism, because Indonesia is basically a maritime country.
Surrounded with about 27 more islets, Morotai is just like a diamond in the rough, or a raw diamond itself. The island is located on the top of Halmahera, a larger island in Maluku or Molluca. On the map, Halmahera looks like the smaller version of Sulawesi island. Morotai as one of the northernmost island and bordered with Celebes sea and East China sea is relatively adjacent to the neighbour country like Philipines and Papua New Guinea. That is why, Morotai was considered a strategic place for WWII troopers to establish their base camp.
US Forces found out that Japanese invaded Morotai and then they launched the so-called “Battle of Morotai” in 1944. No wonder that you will find some of WWII relics here and there. They are scattered and left rusted. However, that is the uniqueness. Along the way, the combination of war equipments like tanks, bombshells, guns, and machinery in the rugged island, surrounded with trees and bushes makes you feel like in a memoriam video clip. Or not. Or whatever you may have in mind, like in a scene of action or maybe thriller movie. As a landmark there is a recycled bombshell in an intersection of Daruba. Some houses even use steel planking as fences. Some of the war relics are kept in a small museum or “Museum Mini” in Daruba, the largest town in Morotai.
As a coastal island, of course Morotai has beach. The golden sand is beautifully mixed with corals and tourmaline water on the shore. Fortunately, the forest here is well-protected. It is so natural that people rarely settle around there. Morotainese prefer to live in the coastal area because it is more accessible than in the hilly forest regency. Most of the inhabitants are Sangirese and Butonese. So, it is not only Morotai has eclectic landscape, but culture as well.
Explore the Morotai and you may be surprised by how many hidden paradise there. One of them is in North Morotai. Climb up the hill, conquer the rough rocky path, and in the end of the journey you will see breathtaking scenery where you can see Morotai from top. You will also meet Galelarese who settle there but it is their nature that they rarely share stories with the tourists.
There is an islet named Pulau Sumsum. People said it was General Mac Arthur headquarter when he led Philipines to revolt against Japanese colonialism. You can see the island from Daruba and if you are curious, simply take a walk there and you will feel the soft and full golden sand. There is almost nothing here but some minor metal scraps and bushes.
Between Daruba and Halmahera, resides an atoll called Dodola. Actually, there are two atolls connected by sand bar and reefs. People use the lagoon near the atoll for seaweed farming. It is rather busy here especially when it come to harvest. You can also volunteer to take part in the harvest or take photographs of the seaweed farmers.
Morotai marine is a pivotal place for reef fish. Spread from Morotai to Raja Ampat, there are nearly 540 species found there. That is why, NGO and conservation organizations often conduct research there. Do not miss the opportunity to see the vast marine diversity by diving and snorkeling. It is highly recommended that you do it with guidance so you will find the safest and beautiful spot to see deepwater life. You can also surf and December is the best month for surfing.
Morotai is a kind of a little Middle Earth – a fictional area created by JRR Tolkien where the hobbits, elves, dwarfs, and men live. A week or two is okay to find adventurous attraction in Morotai. You can stride along underground rivers, mines and caves while feeling the mystical aura around the place. As traditional society, the Mollucas believe in the existence of holy spirit of their ancestors and you will also hear the legend of dugong which they believe as mermaid.
Since Morotai is way too far from Indonesian capital Jakarta, it is such an effort to get there. After a couple of hours flight, you have to charter boats to reach Morotai. Some motels or small homestays are available, ranging from Rp 100,000 to Rp 300,000 of cost per night. You can also stay with villagers and learn about their culture. It is not hard to find seafood here. The most favorited one is the crab. It has delicious and sweet taste.
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