By Max Dean
(From the PT Mutiara Permata blog)
We took this past weekend to check out all the excitement about Pulau Benan, located south of Galang Island. We were a group of 18 from Max’s Dive Centre and several members of the Batam Police. The departure from Punggur Ferry Terminal was supposed to be at 10 a.m. Saturday morning but there was a problem with the ferry and we had to wait for 2 1/2 hours for the next available ferry.
After the two-hour ferry ride to the island, we were greeted by a traditional Malay dance on the jetty as part of the welcoming ceremony. We then proceeded to the beach for another ceremony held by Bupati Lingga.
After a late lunch of fish and traditional Malay food, we proceeded to the beach for a late afternoon dive. There were several issues with this scenario. The tanks were not full. The boats were very small and could barely accommodate us to the dive site. It was very awkward to gear up and even standing up in the boat caused it to rock profusely.
We proceeded to the dive point a few hundred meters from the shore. The entry point was three meters deep, with sea grass covering most of the area and a gradual drop to 20 meters, with large coral heads and a white sand landing. The corals are in beautiful shape and in brilliant colors. We saw the ever-present sea urchins with an abundant variety of fish, most of which seemed not to be worried about our presence. There was also a medium-sized blue spotted ray resting in the sand. After the dive we were picked up by another larger boat but still not large enough for a proper dive boat.
After a good shower, we proceeded to dinner on the beach – again fish and local Malay foods, with a live band and sing-alongs. After dinner, it was off to the home-stay rooms. These are rooms in the houses of the local village people. They are very basic, with one small bed and a small fan only. Most people sleep on the floor. If you do this, be prepared and take your mosquito repellent.
At 6 a.m., it was off to the beach to enjoy the sunrise. I have to say that was the best part of the entire trip. Breakfast at the home-stay was fried rice or nasi lemak (your choice), tea, coffee, milk etc. – a typical Malay breakfast. After breakfast, we went off to explore the rock formations a few kilometers from the home stay. There are two formations to see.
One is of elephants (very interesting) and one is the word “Alah” in the sandstone. For visiting these rock formations, make sure you have proper walking or hiking shoes to traverse the sand and rocks.
After the rock formations, we spent the rest of the morning relaxing, while some of the kids and other group members all played on the beach and went kayaking. The kayaking is free but you may have to wait for a while to get one. There is excellent snorkeling for the kids and adults alike.
If you want to go to Pulau Benan just to enjoy a little escape time from Batam, we strongly recommend this weekend getaway. If you want to go there for diving, we recommend that you contact us to organize your trip. There are rooms (basic accommodation and only have electricity at night and no air conditioning) for rent away from the home-stay area. We can help you to arrange for all of the proper requirements for diving (gear, full tanks, large dive boat, meals, insurance).