Samarinda (ANTARA) - Miang Island, a small landmass off the East Kalimantan coast, is surrounded by Sulawesi Sea and though not as well-known as Derawan or Kakaban, exudes a maritime charm and resembles a hidden jewel, yet undiscovered.

Miang Island is the land of dreams for divers and snorkelers. Colorful coral reefs sprawl, home to hundreds of species of marine life. Exotic fish sway cheerfully, ranging from agile clownfish to graceful manta rays.

The sensation of swimming with a herd of barracudas is worth experiencing in addition to enjoying the sights of a perfectly camouflaged spotted octopus. At certain depths, divers can also witness coral reef formations that resemble underwater sculptures, adding to the wonders of the underwater world around Miang Island.

Miang Island is one of the popular diving and snorkeling sites in East Kalimantan. The island's coral reefs are diverse, ranging from hard to soft corals. Colorful fish, such as clownfish, butterflyfish, and lionfish, roam among the reefs, creating stunning scenery.

In addition to the natural beauty, Miang Island has a rich history and culture. This island's century-old Dutch colonial oil well is a silent reminder of the local petroleum business. A traditional fishing village, with a stilt house on the bay, adds to the authentic charm of the island.

Miang Island is beautiful above and below water. The high waters are stunning from Gusung Sappalege, a little island in the sea. No less fun is relaxing on the beach with soft white sand, as the sea breeze and quiet waves add to the charm.

On Miang Island, do not miss out on the opportunity to take pictures with the underwater reading sculptures, the unique icon of Miang Island that adds to the allure of this island.

The people of Miang Island, most of whom work as fishermen, welcome tourists with the Indonesian hospitality.

Tourists can also stay in traditional stilt houses owned by local residents and experience coexisting with nature and the rich local culture.

Fresh sea culinary offerings, which have just been fished off the waters, are a pity to miss. When the day dawns, travelers are invited to enjoy the night by telling stories under the starry skies. The hospitality of the people of Miang Island will make tourists feel like part of their extended family.

Exploring hidden paradise
To reach Miang Island, tourists do not have to undertake a long, arduous trip, as it only takes 45 minutes by sea from Sangkulirang District.

With a relatively affordable cost, tourists can realize a dream vacation on this exotic island.

Miang Island is a tourist destination suitable for people of all ages and interests. Adventurers can explore its underwater beauty, while nature lovers can unwind on the beach and interact with the local community. The sense of familiarity exhibited by the locals can create unforgettable memories together.

The Miang Island fishermen rely heavily on the island's maritime products. They have constructed a stilted house on the island bay. The island's population is only around 500 people, divided among 200 households.

Solar power plants (PLTS) generate electricity for the Miang Village residents by converting energy from the sun into power. Although there is an energy source, electricity does not always last for 24 hours. It is dependent on the extent of sunlight being received, which is especially a challenge during the wet season.

Miang Village also presents a cluster of coral reefs, not including several small islands nearby.

Miang Island Village Head Alimuddin Daud realizes the potential of maritime tourism on Miang Island, which has yet to be fully tapped and developed to draw more guests.

Several private parties have built villas here. There are six villas for visitors to enjoy on Miang Island.

High tide is a good time to vacation on Miang Island. However, most visitors are unconcerned about it.

An increase in the number of travelers to the Miang Island Village is seen during the long school breaks or holidays. During certain times, the villas or homestays provided will be completely booked.

Most visitors still come from East Kutai Regency, specifically Sangatta, Sangkulirang, Kaliorang, and Bengalon. There are also tourists from beyond the region, such as researchers from Samarinda, Java, and also outside. They visit multiple times to undertake undersea research on Miang Island.
A tourist poses next to the underwater reading statue of Miang Island in East Kutai, East Kalimantan. (ANTARA/HO-Doc. Pro Kutim)
Tourists can visit Miang Island's underwater paradise and other facilities for Rp700 thousand (around US$44.4) to Rp1.5 million (around US$95.3) from Sangatta, East Kutai's capital. Due to its tourism potential, the East Kutai district government builds bridges and pavilions to make tourists' trips more comfortable.

There are other intriguing aspects. A unique destination of this village is a well whose water never runs dry. Since the 1980s, two wells dug side by side, at a depth of around seven meters, have provided pure water to the locals.

According to Kamaruddin, one of the elders of Miang Island, the water of this well comes from springs located under the sea. The water is fresh and clear, even during the dry season.

“The volume of water is just that. There are pumps in both wells. Just choose which one to use," Usman, a resident of Miang Island, remarked.

Despite being confined to the ocean, the fishing village people of Miang Island live a calm and peaceful existence. They survive on marine products, such as fish, shrimp, and crabs.

“Living here feels comfortable and safe, free from the hustle and bustle of the world, " he stated.

Empowering youth
The awareness of Miang Village's residents to increase and cultivate tourism potential is carried out by empowering youth through tourism conscious groups (pokdarwis), in the form of coral reef conservation activities.

“We have conducted a number of trainings and activities. In addition to coral reef cultivation, we also hold training for tourists," Chairman of the Pokdarwis Nusa Bale Miang Island Ahmad Hikami stated.

Pokdarwis Nusa Bale Miang Island also cultivates "clams," one of the rare and protected species that are large in size.

The government of Miang Island Village along with the local pokdarwis last year held the Nusantara Bahari Village Festival as well as the 18th Anniversary of Miang Island Village.

The festival was also enlivened by fishing competitions, motorized canoe "ketinting" races, and coastal dance competitions.

The celebration was supported by Regent of East Kutai Ardiansyah Sulaiman. In May 2023, Pulau Miang Village was ratified as Kampung Bahari Nusantara (KBN).

The Miang Island village government and the East Kutai regency government will conduct such festivals on a routine basis in a bid to attract tourists.

Viqri Haikal, a Miang Island Village student currently studying at the Department of Fisheries, Mulawarman University, Samarinda, sees that his village has developed.

The development of Miang Village as a marine tourism village has had a positive impact on the economy of the community.

Tourists on Miang Island can experience life above and below the sea at a lower cost and with more scenic underwater beauty.

Make the most of the opportunity to explore and revel in the charm of this hidden paradise in East Kalimantan.

Miang Island is not just a tourist destination but an invitation to connect with nature, culture, and the hospitality of the locals.

Editor: Aditya Eko Sigit Wicaksono
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