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3 Days in the Remote Island Paradise of the Natuna Islands

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Getaway Category: Island LifeGetaway Tags: Asia, indonesia, Natuna, Natuna Islans, and Riau Islands

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  • Natuna is an archipelago of 272 islands seated at the northernmost point of Indonesia. Lying right in the middle of the South China Sea, Natuna’s isolated location makes it a pristine island paradise left untouched by mass tourism. But most of all, you’ll be surprised to learn that such a remote tropical heaven is just a short 2-hour flight away from our neighbouring Batam!

    Its main island, Natuna Besar is about 2.5 times the size of Singapore and it offers a large cluster of granite rocks that is reminiscent of the Seychelles and Belitung. These granite rocks are believed to have originated from Lake Toba‘s super-volcanic eruption.

    Approximately 83,000 people call this place home, about 85% of which are Malays. There are also sizable populations of Javanese and Chinese residing here.

    Day 0 in Batam, Indonesia

    Unless you intend to take another leave day, you will likely have to arrive in Batam quite late at night, so take a good rest to prepare yourself for your early morning flight to Natuna tomorrow.

    Day 1 in the Natuna Islands, Indonesia

    10.30am: Arrival in Natuna’s Ranai Airport

    Aquamarine ocean gives way to a large forested island with the proud Mount Ranai standing at its centre—there’s no questioning the panoramic beauty of Natuna as you descend from the sea of clouds into the palm-fringed shores.

    It will take you just around 10-15 minutes to transfer to the city centre, where you can check-in to your accommodation and get prepared for the day’s exploration.

    11.30am: Masjid Agung Natuna (Grand Mosque)

    Right in the city centre is the Grand Mosque of Natuna, which is the largest in the Riau Islands province of Indonesia—so huge it can hosts 180 pilgrims at one time. You will notice that the interesting architecture crosses influences from the dome of the Taj Mahal with decorative elements borrowed from the mosques of the Middle East and the holy Al’Quran.

    12nn: Lunch at RM Natuna Food

    Natuna’s culinary stronghold is its fresh seafood, often grilled from the morning catch. One of the most popular stalls is RM Natuna Food, which serves a range of dishes from fish and cockles to prawns.

    1.30pm: Batu Sindu at Tanjung Senubing

    Just slightly North of the town is Tanjung Senubing, a hilly bay surrounded by hundreds of massive granite rocks. The largest of these rocks is Batu Sindu, which is as high as a five-storey building! From here, you can also admire the beauty of neighbouring Senoa Island.

    While these granites resemble those found in the Seychelles or Belitung, it’s also different in that they are overgrown with large trees and fertile vines, giving it a lush tropical appearance. You might also encounter wild monkeys especially around the lower area of the rocks.

    The cliff of Tanjung Senubing faces right to the South China Sea with strong and deep currents, so exercise some caution when exploring the rocks and do not swim in the bay!

    2.30pm: Alif Stone Park

    Like its name suggests, Alif Stone Park at Sepempang Village offers a beautiful white sandy beach with clear waters surrounded by beautiful, sturdy rocks. This haphazard bay of scattered boulders is among the most beautiful in the entire island.

    The water here is also perfect for swimming and kayaking, so if you fancy an activities-based itinerary, you can spend the rest of the afternoon here until sunset. If you prefer to do more sightseeing, you can head to Tanjung Datuk next.

    4.30pm: Tanjung Datuk

    The road towards Tanjung Datuk ascends quite significantly and is not as easy to access, so if you are planning to DIY your trip to Natuna, make sure you use off-road 4WD or a motorcycle.

    Continue descending down to a white sandy beach and you will be rewarded with a front-seat view of the swift waves crashing against the cliffs and splashing into the air. Such dramatic collision and erosion ended up forming many small pools, where you can sometimes observe small fishes getting trapped inside it.

    There is also a huge boulder which resembles a human face wearing a Malay hat, which gives the cape its name (Datuk is a traditional Malay honorific title).

    Tanjung Datuk is the only cape area to receive sunlight all day long, so it’s excellent for both sunrise and sunset. However, keeping in mind that there is no restaurant adjacent to the area, you may want to pre-arrange bringing a packed dinner beforehand. Depending on the times of the year, sunset is typically expected around 6-6.30pm.

    Return to your accommodation after sunset to rest.

    Day 2 in the Natuna Islands, Indonesia

    Senoa Island

    Today, embark on a full-day exploration of the nearby Senoa Island. The word Senoa means “a woman with two bodies”, as Senoa Island is known for its unique shapes which resemble a pregnant woman.

    Board a pompong (Natuna’s traditional boat) from the harbour at Pelantar in Sepempang Village. The boat can be rented usually at around IDR 300,000-500,000 per day. It will take you around 20-30 minutes to reach Senoa Island from Sepempang Village.

    Senoa Island provides a backdrop of panoramic natural landscapes with exotic beaches and magical underwater life! The water is very clear and once you swim a bit further, you will start to notice the colourful corals carpeting the ocean floor.

    Senoa is an inhabited island, so make sure you have your lunch prepared beforehand and make sure you bring your trash back!

    Day 3 in the Natuna Islands, Indonesia

    Home sweet home

    Your return flight to Singapore will be in the morning at 10.30am, so make sure you wake up early and head to the airport after your breakfast.

    Upon arrival in Batam, make your way to Batam Centre for your afternoon ferry to Singapore. Try to space out your time in Batam in case there’s a flight delay (nothing too uncommon when it comes to low-cost carriers in Indonesia).

    "southern ridges, Singapore, nature, walk"




  • Places to stay in Natuna, Indonesia

    Central Hotel (Jl. Soekarno Hatta No. 109) tops our recommendation due to its strategic location right by the shores, yet just about 10-15 minutes from the airport and within reasonable distance from other main attractions in Natuna. Most importantly, they have staff members who can speak fluent English (a real rarity here!) and they also run a travel agency, so getting your transportation and tours arranged will be much easier.

    Their rooms are still basic, but it's arguably the "best" compared to other options that you have in the island (not that you have many options to begin with, though). WiFi is also available in common areas so you can always post your #BeachLife shots to Instagram, albeit a little slower since you're in the middle of the South China Sea after all... just set your expectations right!

    You can book Central Hotel through Whatsapp to Ms Yuli at +62 823 90819088. Or you can also call their main line at +62 0773 31248, although keep in mind that the receptionist who answers your call might not necessarily speak English. Prices range from around IDR 220,000-480,000.

    Getting to Natuna, Indonesia

    The easiest way to get to Natuna from Singapore is via Batam. Getting between Singapore and Batam is easy, with ferries running almost hourly by Sindo Ferry or Batam Fast between 6am-9pm.

    Wings Abadi Airlines run four weekly flights between Batam and Natuna every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The Batam-Natuna flight operates between 8.45-10.10am, returning Natuna-Batam at 10.30am-12pm.

    For this itinerary to work, we recommend you to take a ferry to Batam on Friday night, followed by an early morning Saturday flight to Natuna. You will then take the morning flight to Batam, followed by a late afternoon or evening ferry to Singapore.

    Getting around Natuna, Indonesia

    As a truly off-the-beaten path destination, public transport infrastructure in Natuna exists only in its infancy and remains very limited. Taxis are often in the form of rented private vehicles, usually of the Avanza, Xenia and Mitsubishi L300 varieties.

    If you're the adventurous kind, you can get your accommodation to arrange a scooter for a rate of approximately IDR 15,000 per hour. Motorcycles can be rented for around IDR 80,000 daily. A car with driver can also be arranged at approximately IDR 600,000 per day. Call Ms Yuli at +62 823 90819088 to arrange your transport.

    Between islands, you have to make use of ferries.

    • Sedanau: Ferry from Binjai Seaport or a mutur ("small boat") from Selat Lampa, Binjai or Batubi Seaport
    • Three Islands: Mutur from Selat Lampa Seaport
    • West Bunguran and North Bunguran: Mutur from Kelarik Seaport
    • Sea Island: Pioneer boat from Selat Lampa or Penagi Seaport, or you can also take a mutur from Kelarik Seaport
    • Midai: Pioneer boat from Selat Lampa or Penagi Seaport (4-7 hours), or Bukit Raya motorboat (4 hours via Midai-Serasan-Pontianak-Tanjung Perak route)
    • Serasan and East Serasan: Bukit Raya motorboat (12-14 hours via Midai-Serasan-Pontianak-Tanjung Perak route), or Pioneer boat from Penagi Seaport or Lampa Strait
    • Subi: Pioneer boat or mutur from Penagi Seaport or Lampa Strait

    Other important notes

    Time difference

    Natuna is GMT+7, which is 1 hour behind Singapore.

    Best months to visit

    Like elsewhere in Indonesia, the dry season is around June-September. This is also the time when the sea is at its calmest, which is important considering that Natuna is right smack in the middle of the South China Sea, so any ocean disturbance feels more pronounced here.

    Health and safety

    • Sand flies can be a problem here, so make sure you spray insect repellent and you may want to consider covering your legs if you are not planning to swim
    • Currents can get very strong in some areas, so make sure you ask your guide or a local before jumping into the sea
    • Like elsewhere in Indonesia, tap water is not drinkable
    • It's also a good idea to bring a torch as power failure can sometimes happen on the island and you will not want to live in the darkness!

    Helplines

    • Police: 110
    • Fire department: 113
    • Ambulance: 118
    • Search and rescue team: 115
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