The wide, calm Bungus Bay is located 20km south of Padang. It’s only a 45min away by public minibus but a world away from the hustle and bustle of Padang. The quiet fishing village is just a one street town with friendly locals and a narrow rocky beach that’s not much good for swimming but it is the jumping off point for several gorgeous offshore islands and an alternate access point for the better known Mentawi Islands.
The cluster of islands that we’re referring to lie off the southern cape that shelters Bungus and the neighbouring Kabang Bayand sits at the bottom of a long chain of islands running parallel to Sumatra’s west coast. The tropical jungle clad islands are fringed with swaying palms and pure white sandy beaches sloping gently into warm, sheltered waters harbouring a diversity of marine life including coral reefs, fish and marine mammals such as turtles and rays.
Although the islands are a popular weekend getaway with Pandang locals, foreign travellers tend to head to the better known islands further north. During the week and outside local holidays, the islands are very quiet and you could well be swimming, snorkelling and lazing on a beach in tropical seclusion
Facilities on of the islands are limited to non-existent as most are uninhabited with the possible exception of temporary fishermen’s camps. Among the exceptions are Pagang Island and Pasumpahan Island which offer cheap, cottage style accommodation including meals. Both have lovely beaches and snorkelling and can provide boats for excursions to and around the other islands. For something a little more upmarket head to Sikuali Island or Cubadak Island, the largest of the group, which both offer resort style accommodation complete with swimming pool, restaurant, bar and water sports activities. Camping is permitted on the uninhabited islands but of course, you’ll need to be totally self-sufficient with camping gear, food and water.
In Bungus Bay, there are a few small guesthouses offering basic, Indonesian standard beachside bungalow style accommodation and a couple of restaurants. Ask at any of these for help arranging boat transfers and island accommodation.
The islands can be accessed by chartering a local fisherman’s boat(75.000-100.000Rp) or speedboat from the beach at Bungus Bay Beach (35.000-50.000Rp per person) or speedboat from Batang Arau Harbour near Chinatown in Padang.
Alternatively, there are several tour companies offering 1-2 day organised tours from Padang. Tours can be easily booked a day or two in advance at any tour desk in Padang. You’ll find information and reviews about specific accommodation and tours online if you want to do some research ahead of time.