Hidden Paradise of Indonesia: Trip to Tello Island

One morning, when I lived an worked in Nias, couple of years ago, my French boss, Guillaume, called me with brightest smile ever. No, he didn’t come to tell that he would raise my salary. Not at all. He came to give me the tasks to do the assignment to Batu Islands, the other sub district of South Nias District, that could only be reached by boats, which were operated two times a week or a plane, which was stop operated until uncertain time.

“You know what,” My boss said. He even didn’t give me chances to ask. “The UN – WFP Boat will sail the day after tomorrow to Tello Island. I spoke to their chief just now, and they will give you a lift to do the assignment in the island,” Tello Island is one of island in the region and also the capital of Batu Islands Sub District.

“Oh,” I was so surprised with this sudden news. I mean, I planned this trip since couple of weeks ago, but all of us agreed that that time was not a right time to go due to bad weather and storm could come anytime.

“I will tell Piyan now, so he can prepare himself to go with you,” Piyan was my partner in doing most of assignment in Nias.

“But, Guillaume,” I tried to interrupt. “I don’t mind to go, but you know that the weather is not so good recently. And we agreed to postpone this trip until next month,”

Oui, Bien sur,” he answered in French. “But this is a big ship. You don’t have to worry. And I just checked with local authority that XXXXX Airlines will be operated again next week. So, you can return by plane afterwards,”

Realizing that there’s no way to object, I started my preparation to go to the islands. On departure day, Guillaume let all my friends to drop me and Phiyan to the harbor.

“Have fun, there,” Guillaume exclaimed from his desk.

We went to Angin Harbour one hour before departing. After saying ‘good bye and see you later’, my friends left Phiyan and me on the boat. The captain was surprised when knowing it was only me and Phiyan going with them, after seeing so many people drop us to the boat.

We left Gunung Sitoli on 5 o’clock in the afternoon. It would be a long sail where we would reach Tello Island in the next 22 hours. The captain and his crews were so friendly. They honored me by giving one of the best chambers on the ship.


I was on the boat in Gunungsitoli. We’re heading to Tello Island

I couldn’t see much on that evening. Rain came with some thunder lights. Most of the times, I just stayed in my bedroom, tried to figure out something else, imagining that I was in my bedroom in Gunungsitoli, instead of in the middle of storm of Indian Ocean.

Nevertheless, the next morning, I wake up by the bright sun shine, seemed that the last storm was never happened. Our boat was the only boat sailing in the sea. As far as I could see, It was only sea, sea and sea again.

When we sailed closed to the island, we were welcomed by many small islands, perhaps more than one hundred. If It’s seen from above, it look like some stones coming out from the water. That’s why this islands called as Batu Islands. Batu means Stone in Indonesian. It was beautiful and I must thank Guillaume to give this wonderful trip to me.

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One of the islands at Batu Islands District


One of the islands at Batu Islands District


One of the islands at Batu Islands District

We arrived at 3 pm in the afternoon. First thing that we did was finding hotels to both of us. Captain and his crew offered us to stay on the boat. However, due to many things that we needed to do in the city, we thanked them and choose to stay in hotel.

Tello island was a small island, with eight thousand population and 18 km square. On that time, there were two Datsun pick-up car operated in the island. For daily transportation, people used the motorbikes and becak, three wheels bicycle. Others preferred to walk because all places could be reached within walking distance.


The Harbor of Tello Island

We found a hotel located by the beach which had only occupied by two Brazilian surfers. It was nice hotel, actually, but water was not there all the time. It made me changing my mind to stay there. One of resident, named ibu Marina offered us to stay at her place. She has big house with many rooms inside for her family members, but could be rented to guests when it’s emptied. It was not a fancy house, but clean and it’s located next to the sea where I could sit and relax after doing my assignment.


I am in Tello Island. Photo above taken before oing the assignment at the back yard of Ibu Marina’s House