Saturday, April 21, 2012

Biak, Papua, Indonesia

Population 60,000

Biak is a laid-back town on the south side of Biak island.  During the 90’s and early 2000’s Biak saw several violent confrontations between separatist protestors and police/army.  Today the separatist movement is still very much on everyone‘s mind, but the atmosphere is peaceful.  Fuel, very basic hardware and repairs, and supermarkets are available.  A basic bus network makes land exploration of parts of Biak and Supiori possible.  We enjoyed the mossy landscaped paths and local bird collection of the Taman Burung & Anggrek (Orchid and Bird Garden), a 45 min bus ride NE of town, past Mokmer.  Biak Diving  (ph# 26017 Jl Ahmad Yani 39) is the only dive agency in the Biak/Papaido area.  Local surfing/bird watching guide Matheus Rumbarar (ph# 082199064326) lives next to the small boat harbor and was a great help to us.

Biak harbor is an elongated, deep stretch of water inside a set of deep barrier reefs.  It is fairly open to swell and wind from the south.  We anchored in 60’ of mud, in front of the small boat harbor and blue awnings of the waterfront tables at the Intsia Beach Hotel Café.  Beware of debris on the bottom, poor holding, and sudden sharp squalls here.  We watched several small fishing boats on rope-and-rebar anchor systems drag in squalls here, and we almost drug onto the reef ourselves in a night squall. 
We were able to leave our dingy in the small boat harbor just east of Hotel Intsia Beach.

Customs was friendly but wanted a Rp 500,000 bribe before inspecting the boat.  We told him we had no money and the matter was forgotten.

We were not able to fill jerry cans or arrange to buy commercial-price fuel here from any fuel vender.
Venders at the small boat harbor sold fuel for about Rp 6500/L out of small jugs; we ended up paying Rp 6500/L for fuel siphoned from a minivan’s fuel tank. We also unfortunately got some bad fuel from a local fuel yard, which looked OK but gave us engine trouble.

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