By Muhammad Hasif Mohd Jelani on September 26, 2019
To many, this little piece of heaven might be new to the ear. But to some, like the late Princess Diana and a bunch of famous public figures, as I have been told, Moyo Island is where they get to earn some me-time, far away from the paparazzi’s prying eyes.
Geographically, this small island is part of the Sumbawa Regency, located within the province of West Nusa Tenggara. Two majestic mountains can be seen from Moyo Island: Rinjani in the west and Tambora in the east. It also lies between two seas that are well-known for its otherworldly underwater beauty: the Flores Sea and Teluk Saleh. As such, Moyo Island is certainly ideal for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts.
The island has an area of 349 kilometres squared with a population around three thousand inhabitants. It also home to myriads of flora and fauna such as macaques, deer, monitor lizards, oxen and varieties of birds. Oh, I also came across wild boars twice, the first when I was hiking to the Bat Cave, and the second when riding the motorbike taxi (locally referred to as ojek) to the waterfalls.
Talking about the motorbike, it is ultimate mode of transport on Moyo Island. The road is rough and the ride is generally bumpy – you have to strongly trust your ojek rider because the person really knows better on how to navigate the journey. The experience is exhilarating, nevertheless.
Though Moyo Island might be a familiar name among celebrities, it came quite a surprise to me as it is still affordable, since the island also offers cheaper food and accommodation options that are truly God-sent for budget travellers. In terms of the destination itself, Moyo Island is nothing short of amazing. It is laidback, relaxing and absolutely not crowded, which I can totally relate why most celebrities decide to spend their hard-earned free time here.
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This is arguably Moyo Island’s main attraction, located around four kilometres from Labuhan Aji. It is a multi-terraced, limestone waterfall with a crystal, turquoise water that is genuinely a sight to behold. This is among the places said to have been visited by the late Princess Diana, hence earning it the moniker ‘Queen Waterfall’.
Diwu Mbai means Crocodile River because in the past, it is said to have many crocodiles in it. But after decades, no more crocodile sightings were reported and the waterfall has become a favourite spot for local teenagers to relax and have fun by playing rope jumping, a popular activity here. As eerie as its name may sound, the waterfall is undoubtedly magnificent, exuding the Tarzan-like vibe because of its dense green setting.
This is just one out of a few famous beaches on Moyo Island. I was told that the name is derived from a crocodile-shaped cliff found on its shore. Nevertheless, this beach, facing the Flores Sea, is breathtaking. No tourists were in sight when we arrived so I could say that travellers might be able to have the beach all to themselves when they come over. My guide shared that Crocodile Head Beach is also a famous spot to view sunset on Moyo Island.
Travellers are well-celebrated in Moyo Island simply because the locals are friendly because they rarely see foreigners on the island. It is best to spend some time walking around Labuhan Aji, greeting the locals, sipping a cup of coffee and tasting bakso at small local restaurants.
Sunset in Moyo Island is worth-witnessing because it is glorious, similar to its night sky studded with thousands of glittering stars, making the experience one of the most unforgettable memories for me personally. If you are a photographer who likes taking photos of the milky way, Moyo Island could just be the place where you could do so successfully.
Other beaches travellers might want to visit when they are on Moyo Island:
This resort offers three types of rooms namely basic fan room, deluxe fan bungalow and deluxe air-conditioned bungalow. Only five minutes’ walk to the beach, Maleo Moyo also has its own restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, besides a dive centre for those who wish to explore Moyo Island’s underwater world.
This humble accommodation near Desa Labuhan Aji best suits budget travellers, but the experience staying here is simply memorable nonetheless. It has a restaurant and an alfresco area where travellers can take in the sunset view. The room is basic but nicely decorated with wooden furniture and accessories, in line with its back-to-nature concept.
This is a 5-star, most luxurious resort on Moyo Island with a stupendous list of notable international superstars who have been reportedly staying here to enjoy their private moments. Taking cues from the glamping concept, the resort boasts 20 well-appointed suites that are categorised into two types: ocean tent and jungle tent. Amanwana also has its own dive centre, spa, restaurant and other exceptional services to ensure that its guests get an ultimately relaxing and hassle-free luxurious stay.
Opened since 2011, this resort – located in Tanjung Menangis, Sumbawa Besar – is just 35 minutes away by boat to and from Moyo Island. It has 13 wooden cottages beautifully designed with Sumbawa influence overlooking the ocean. It also has a spa centre, dive centre, infinity pool and transfer boat services.
Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to the Consulate General of Indonesia in Johor Bahru and Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Sumbawa for making the writer’s trip to Moyo Island smooth sailing.