The Riau Archipelago
Its waters are the backyard of native seafaring nomads who fish and trade for a living. Their traditional wooden sailing craft, called pinisi still dot the forested channels of these islands, along with other indigenous craft, fishing vessels and cargo ships which call at the archipelago's main town and port of Tanjong Pinang.
Tanjong Pinang lies on the largest island of the archipelago - Bintan. Once known as Riau, it was the heart of an ancient Malay kingdom. Today, Bintan is the latest hot spot of development in Indonesia's surging economy. A master plan is underway to turn it into a major tourist destination. Barely an hour away from Singapore by ferry, tourist accommodation has begun to appear to take advantage of its getaway-from-it-all appeal.
Transport & Accommodation
Flights: Direct from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang to Padang and Banda Aceh. Direct from Tanjung Pinang (Bintan) and Batam to Jakarta, Pekanbaru and Medan.
Sea: Direct ferry links Tanjung Pinang and Teluk Sebung (Bintan) to Singapore.
Land: Mini buses available for hire at Tanjung Pinang, Padang, Banda Aceh. Accommodation * Four-star hotels and resorts to mid priced cottages on Bintan and Batam islands.
Accommodations: Mid-priced hotels at Padang.
Dive Season: From March to November. Best weather said to be from April to October.
Scuba Diving Sumatra - A new frontier for tourism and resort diving
While its waters cannot boast the cracking visibility of Indonesia's other dive sites, its rich trove of marine inhabitants and proximity to Singapore more than makes up for it. Divers are practically assured of enthralling encounters of the close-up kind: fin up to nurse sharks napping under boulders, spy on colorful dancing nudibranchs, spot seahorses with their tails anchored around staghorn coral and drift across groupers lurking in crevices. If these don't make you stop in wonder, then the undersea nightlife will - a nocturnal parade of kaleidoscopic sea urchins, shrimp and crabs, just to mention a few. There are plenty of surprises to keep experienced divers happy. What's more, shallow waters with nary a current make this a terrific destination for new divers.
In Bintan, diving promises to be comfortably civilized, with all underwater needs catered to by the Mana Mana Beach Club - Bintan Resort's professional watersports center. Out of the water, Bintan will be the place with something for everyone. There's the golf course, horses for riding and jungles for trekking - alternatives aplenty to tempt hardened divers to stay topside. All this and more, coming up at the Riau islands - your multi-faceted holiday destination, in and out of the water!
Sumatra offers two other famous diving spots. Pulau Sikuai off the Padang coast in West Sumatra and Pulau Weh off Banda Aceh at the most northern tip of Sumatra. Padang is accessible by direct flights from Singapore, and Banda Aceh from Kuala Lumpur and Medan.
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