Indonesia: Weda [Halmahera] + Bangka [Sulawesi] - March 2013

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 


March 2013. Bangka Island, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. My new home, for a few days, is called Coral Eye. "The eye of the coral", what a beautiful name!

Marine biologists

In March 2013, I returned to the island of Bangka, which I had loved so much, during my previous stay in North Sulawesi, three years ago. (Not to be confused with the other island named Bangka, near Sumatra).

At the time, in 2010, I had tested two resorts for divers: the excellent Murex Bangka and the very nice Mimpi Indah. This time, I wanted to discover Coral Eye.

I had seen the project going up, in 2010 (I talk about it here, in the article Back to Indonesia). And then, their website, which I stumbled upon by chance, in early 2013, while researching Bangka, piqued my curiosity... So I contacted them and went to spend a few days at the Coral Eye. Very good choice!

→ Read also here : Bangka Island 

The boat of Coral Eye. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.
The boat of Coral Eye. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

Created by young Italian marine biologists, Coral Eye welcomes students, researchers and scientists throughout the year. Recently, the place has also been opened to tourists.

But it does not look like any of the other resorts or dive centers in the area ...

Zen atmosphere

Here, there is a large building in hard, harmoniously designed for life and work in community. A little behind the beach, it is hidden behind the coconut trees.

Coral Eye. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

Downstairs, a large living room, open to the outside on all four sides, around which are distributed other smaller rooms: a library, an office, sanitary facilities, the kitchen...

The rooms - immaculate - are upstairs, away from anything that crawls, trots or pokes. Two staircases without handrails lead to a wooden mezzanine, which goes around. Facing the sea, a large terrace with resting beds to read quietly or admire the sunsets.

Coral Eye. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

Coral Eye. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

We meet downstairs at mealtime, to eat all at the same table, a large square wooden surface, with benches and seats, which can accommodate a dozen guests.

Coral Eye. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

Above, the huge roof. It is traditionally built in dried palm leaves, supported by a spectacular frame, which rises very high.

White walls, minimalist decor. It's beautiful, sober and elegant, very zen. I like it.

Coral Eye. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

Coral Eye. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

Marco and Clara, two of the young Italian marine biologists at the origin of the project, make the place live and take care of everything with good humor, from cooking to diving, with a small Indonesian team, very nice.

Coral farm

Next to them are the cottages where they live, and another, smaller building, which houses the diving center and work rooms with aquariums.

At high tide, you can swim (and really swim) in front of the white sand beach. At very low tide, the top of the coral potatoes outcrops.

Coral Eye Beach. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

Coral Eye Beach. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

The house-reef (the part of the reef just in front of the beach) has become a real coral farm, with "nursery" and "crops" carefully maintained near the pontoon.

Clara takes new "cuttings" of coral. Coral Eye, Bangka Island. Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

I accompanied Clara on a dive one afternoon, in 3 meters of water, to see her accomplish this patient work which consists in fixing pieces of broken coral on stable supports, to encourage their "regrowth". Coral is not a plant, so we can't really talk about "cuttings", but that's the idea.

(Click on the pictures to see them big.)

It reminded me of the Biorock from PemuteranIn Bali, where, on the same principle, the "Reef Gardeners" are working to recover and fix pieces of coral on artificial structures - metallic, in the case of Biorock, to stimulate the fixation and growth of coral by electric current.

Let go

I loved the atmosphere at Coral Eye. We are far from everything, quiet, in a beautiful environment.

Coral Eye Beach. Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

Marco and Clara live and work there most of the year. Clara and her Indonesian husband Danny have a little girl who is about the same age as Coral Eye.

The closest neighbors are Indonesian families, who also live on the beach, in rustic huts made of wood and palm leaves. We meet some fishermen in traditional boats. Sometimes visitors from Sulawesi or other divers come to take a break.

Danny and Clara. Coral Eye, Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.
Danny and Clara. Coral Eye, Bangka Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia. March 2013.

It's quiet here. There is nothing... The other resorts of the island are not very close. And you have to walk a long time in the jungle to reach the village. All trips are made by the sea.

I knew it: Bangka is really the perfect place to let go!

😎

  Indonesia: Weda [Halmahera] + Bangka [Sulawesi] - March 2013

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  1. This place seems idyllic to me and the architecture of the place, harmoniously arranged, really elegant; ah! do you hear the little sigh of envy? 😉

    1. @Ysbilia: yes, I had a big crush on the place... I would have stayed longer, I must say. No need to say, they know how to do things with style, the Italians... 😉

      And the food is just as good: what a joy to have homemade bread, fresh salads, pizzas, pasta, etc. well prepared, which allows to vary from the traditional and monotonous rice-chicken or rice-fish...

  2. If you hadn't mentioned that the two owners were biologists, I would have guessed! The concern of melting into the landscape and having less impact... It's superb!

  3. so cool !!
    and you're right, we're talking about coral cuttings, it's true that it's a bit strange to "cultivate" an animal but it's the right term! 🙂

  4. Hello,

    To say that I am jealous would be an understatement! I have to move to places like this ...
    I hope with all my heart that this place stays like this for a long time.
    One day maybe you won't be able to go back? In any case enjoy and make us enjoy it is perfect, we all need to dream 😉 !

    1. @Eric: For now, I have this chance to go, and I'm enjoying it, yes!!!
      I share these happinesses not to make you jealous, but on the contrary, to give envy to others than me to leave... 😉

      As for Bangka Island, in North Sulawesi (like the other Bangka Island near Sumatra, already ravaged by mines), it is unfortunately threatened by a mining project that could well be realized in the next few years...

    2. Long life and continue to make us dream. As for making me want to... it's only a problem of finance, time etc... nothing in fact! no? for the desire believe me there is no problem

      eric 😉

  5. Hello Corinne,
    First of all, congratulations for your site which is a real treat for the eyes! We are (my husband and I) big fans of your work. We are also passionate about travel and diving (still amateurs compared to you).
    I want to tell you that I particularly liked your report on Weda Bay because I work for this project in Kuala Lumpur. Being a friend of underwater life and working for a mining project is therefore compatible. Indeed, a lot of work is developed within our company to carry out this project with respect for nature and people, I am glad to see that you felt it on the spot 🙂
    I'm going to Weda at the end of August for work (for the first time), and I hope to have the opportunity to put my head under water to see the wonders you photographed.
    For the little story, we discovered a few days ago while chatting during a party that we had acquaintances in common: Greg and Amélie. We would have loved to meet you to discuss about our common passion, unfortunately we will not be there this weekend.

    Keep making us dream like you do.
    Alexandra.

    1. @Alexandra: thank you!!! It was nice of you to take the time to leave a little note!!! 🙂
      Too bad we miss each other, yes... Who knows, maybe we'll have the opportunity to cross paths again somewhere in Asia 😉

  6. Hi Corinne,

    Always 1000 bravo for your site is becoming more beautiful, a real treat for the eyes as Alexandra says ...

    A new address in my list to do, thanks again to you ❗

    Thanks again…

    1. @Martinoo: Thank you for your little note, it makes me happy 🙂
      Yes, I highly recommend Coral Eye. A really nice place and very nice people. I would have stayed there a little longer...

  7. Good evening little bubble,

    We were at Coral Eye in October 2012.
    We knew this place by chance thanks to the Italians with whom we had plunged at Bastianos in Lembeh.
    We loved and highly recommend this destination.
    See comment on Tripadvisor
    http://www.tripadvisor.fr/ShowUserReviews-g3203856-d3170913-r147501647-Coral_Eye-Bangka_Island_North_Sulawesi_Sulawesi.html#UR147501647
    Marco, Carla, Yuri and Ricardo (a student preparing his thesis in such a place, poor guy!...) made us spend beautiful moments, underwater and around this table or tasting the grilled fish of the Indonesian chef we rediscovered the diving ... and the world.
    For several years we have been coming back to your blog while searching for our next destination, we seem to have the same affinity for Southeast Asia and it's funny because one time you precede us, another time we went there before... maybe one day we'll meet in real life! (the world is actually quite small)
    Our next trip will be in October-November, maybe to Raja Ampat, following your advice, if the "piggy bank crash" doesn't put us completely out of pocket!
    Reading you is always a pleasure, this is the beginning of the journey, keep it up.
    Good bubbles.
    Bruno and Nelly

    1. @Bruno and Nelly: Fun, yes... We're going to meet eventually!!! 😉
      I would have to take the time to put a word on Tripadvisor, me too, Coral Eye is really top.
      Good piggy bank breaking for Raja Ampat, you'll see, it's really worth it ...
      : Mrgreen:

  8. Hello Corinne,

    I am Didier, 58, living near Carpentras.

    With my wife, I plan to go to Coral eye in November. My main objective is snorkeling. Is this place suitable?
    Thank you for yes info and see you soon.

    1. @Didier: Hello! Yes, the Coral Eye beach is perfectly suited for snorkeling, with its pontoon over the corals. I guess they can also take you to other spots by boat. Good preparations! 😎

      Below is a photo I posted on Instagram when I last visited in July 2015:

  9. Thank you Corinne for this beautiful testimony!
    I follow your advice and I consult your blog every time I look for a beautiful place (Raja ampat, Komodo, Alor, philippines...) and so far zero deception 🙂
    I'm going to Coral Eye next September and I hope this little paradise has kept its beauty.

    1. @Yasmine: thank you for your trust and thank you for taking the time to leave this little message, it's very nice 🙂 I went back to the Coral Eye in 2015, after that first stay in 2013, and it was still great... I don't think it's changed much since then. I went back to Sulawesi this July 2017, and if I had another week, I do believe I would have gone back to land a few days in Bangka at the Coral Eye, again. I really loved this place!!!

  10. Thank you Corinne for your answer, I can't wait to be there.
    I'll give you a return if you're interested, of course.
    I am looking for a destination for my next trip that might be Kimbe Bay.
    I saw that you've already been there as usual you're everywhere 😉
    Did you like ?
    Thank you
    Yasmine

    1. @Yasmine: yes, don't hesitate to tell your own impressions when you come back... 🙂
      As for Kimbe Bay, it is in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and I have never been there, no... I went to Raja Ampat, in the province of West Papua, which is part of the territory of Indonesia. Sorry, then, not to be able to meet you on Kimbe Bay... One day, maybe 😉

  11. Hello,
    I would like to spend a few days at the Coral Eye but I can't seem to contact them. Do you have an email address?
    Thanks in advance for the answer

    1. @Alessandra Moretti: the info is on the "contact" page of their site:
      https://www.coral-eye.com/contact/
      Clicking on the envelope at the bottom of the page (between the Facebook and Instagram logos) will launch your email program and send it to the following email address (I don't put it with the @ to avoid spamming robots):
      info [AT] coral-eye.com

  12. Hello Corinne

    We just returned from 6 nights at the Coral Eye. My impression is really mixed. The place is not really as you described it in 2013. The business has taken over. The atmosphere is relatively cold. The locals are not very smiling except for some exceptions. I feel them "exploited" by Marco and Ilaria...

    The meals were not up to the mark either in quantity or sometimes in quality...

    In short, we will not return.
    For those who want more information you can contact me or look on a well known diving forum where I made a complete report of my stay.

    cordially
    Hugues

    1. @Hughes: Thanks for your report, it's always interesting to have feedback and fresh news from other travelers. It's a pity that you didn't find the same atmosphere as I did... My stays at the Coral Eye remain excellent memories, anyway...

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