Sunny tropical weather, soft sandy beaches, swaying tall palm trees…. these were the scenes I had envisioned Bintan to be, one of the islands of Indonesia’s Riau archipelago, to enjoy prior to my maiden visit.
Bintan, or pronounced by the locals as Ben-tan, in fact, offers much more than that, as discovered during my one day tour of the island, being part of the Batam/Bintan familiarisation trip that I was invited to participate in early April.
Bintan Island is 10 kilometres east of Batam Island, and there are various means of accessibility. We opted for a ride on the RORO ferry from Pelabuhan Telaga Punggur in Batam. The journey took approximately one hour. Fare is IDR19,7000 one way. Just FYI, my exchange rate at the time was IDR100,000 = MYR29.30.
Another option is to take the speedboat, with a duration of 15 minutes only. It’s pricier, and boarding is from another terminal.
The beauty of Bintan surprised me as it offered more than just beaches and water activities. After all, one beach can’t look that much different from another. In Perak, my home state, we have Lumut and Pangkor.
Upon reaching Bintan, our first stop was Gurun Pasir Busung. Imagine an Arabian desert, with its undulating sand dunes. A visitor could easily spend hours taking photos here because there are just too many angles to capture! This former bauxite mine site is free to visit, in fact, it is a MUST VISIT, for tourists. However, selected photography spots within the area are chargeable, such as with the camel or by the pond, at IDR5000 for two pax.
As in a barren landscape, it is exceptionally hot out there. PRO TIP: Bring along sunglasses, water, a hat, and lather a generous amount of sunscreen on yourself, if you don’t want to be roasted.
Just a short walk from Gurun Pasir Busung is Tasik Telaga Biru, another super picturesque spot that will make you click on your camera shutter button non-stop! This deep blue abandoned mining pond, like an oasis in the desert, is a sight to behold. Pose for your cover model photo shoots with the disused pond as backdrop. Upload these shots to your social media accounts to the envy of your followers!
Time required: at least one hour for shutterbugs. Make sure to head out on weekdays or low peak time to reduce the chances of being photobombed by strangers.
Poyotomo Fishing Park is an angling park that offers joy not only to anglers, but also other visitors who may take delight in its beautiful scenery, backed by Mount Bintan far in the horizon. Entrance fee is a nominal IDR10,000, to experience the facilities. However, do take note that while one is free to jalan-jalan and take photos, some of the amenities require a small fee, such as cabana rental and fishing.
If you plan to spend long hours at the site, food and drinks stalls are available. Remember to stay hydrated as the heat could be unbearable out there.
Another destination in Bintan that’s worth your time visiting for photography is Madu Tiga Beach & Resort Bintan. It doesn’t matter if you do not intend to stay overnight. The beach is for public and you can hang around for some awesome photos. Of course, do respect the privacy of guests in the property.
Perhaps, it is a good idea to order a drink or two, as you laze on the beach chair, watching the day go by.
Last but not least is Desa Wisata Ekang in Bintan’s Lagoi Bay. This resort with a unique countryside concept known as D’Bamboo Kamp makes a scenic photography backdrop. This vast resort is best explored by walking, riding an electric bike, or even on a horse carriage.
Similar to Madu Tiga Beach & Resort, you can also hang out here without staying the night. However, pandai-pandai lah, order a drink or patronise the cafe somehow, so that you won’t be shoo-ed away. LOL
From my one day visit to Bintan, I noticed that there was hardly any public transport. Therefore, a trip to explore Bintan is usually via a tour agent with chartered transport. Some retreats such as Madu Tiga Beach & Resort do rent out motorcycles. While it is viable to book your Bintan accommodation, my trip has proven that a day tour is doable, depending on your budget and time.
Last ferry out from the island is 5pm local time (WIB). Passengers are to arrive at the Bintan ferry terminal in Tanjung Uban at least an hour early before departure time.
If you have additional Bintan places of interest to recommend, do let me know. This is one enchanting island that I will make a return trip in the near future!
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