Pulau Hari: The Jungle island

Only an hour drive and a short boat ride away from Kendari are a small group of islands off the coast of South East Sulawesi.

Yet one of the islands stands out in contrast to its neighbours.

Taking the path less travelled.

Taking the path less travelled.

Pulau Hari, pulau is the Indonesian word for island, is a mass of charcoal grey rocks faces rising up into the sky from the sand and turquoise water with bright green jungle clinging on.

This island makes you feel as though buried treasure must abound everywhere, with the jungle and rocks spilling onto the shore, natural secret, hidden inlets are around the entire island that can only be accessed by swimming to them.

The drive from Kendari, the capital city of South East Sulawesi, took around an hour on winding roads that showcased the jungle and sprawling sea side villages still with traditional woven houses sitting on stilts out to sea.

Arriving at our destination we were again greeted with the same jetty that we had to precariously walk across when travelling to Palau Lara.

This time it seemed that some repair work had been done so I did not feel like I was going to fall in to the murky water below, but there were still times when I felt as though I was being tested as a tightrope walker for a circus.

Making our way to Palau Hari.

Making our way to Palau Hari.

Climbing into a small fishing boat with blue tarpaulin for a roof to protect from the sun and potentially the rain we were off for an hours boat ride to the island.

The boat hummed loudly from the motor as we cut across the mirror reflective water and looming cloud obscured mountains appeared to our right as we moved further towards the island.

The first thing that stood out about Palau Hari as we approached it was how wild it looked, and also the massive sign just in case we had forgotten the name of the island.

Jumping ashore the island was a mass of forrest with blue water peeking through the foliage on the other side of the island.

We immediately set out to explore taking the old path that cut through the swampy interior and after finding one beach on our left, soon found ourselves on the other side of the island.

Selamat Datang/Welcome to Palau Hari!

Selamat Datang/Welcome to Palau Hari!

Here large trees created shade from the sun on the beach but what really caught our attention was the big island rock overflowing with jungle vines a short swim away.

Equipped with only swimming goggles I struggled to keep up with my friend who had a full snorkelling kit including flippers, but it was worth it to see the stunning coral and marine life that lay below the waters surface.

Brilliantly blue starfish bigger than my hand were perched along the coral, and as we swam around the big rock island the coral suddenly fell away to the deep blue depths.

The coral reef. Image: Leandro Lopez

The coral reef. Image: Leandro Lopez

Schools of tropical fish cut their way together through the clear blue water, paying very little interest to our presence.

The one thing they don’t warn you about tropical islands is the bugs!

Little mosquitos swarmed around us and we ended up taking shelter on the other side of the island to try and gain respite.

Due to the dark grey rocks spilling down into the water, small inlets have been created all around the island.

We waded our way through the water to one of them and sat there, on our own little private beach with jungle sheltering us from the rocks above and the bright blue sea to gaze at.


I saw around the rocks to another bigger beach further around the island and sat on the shore marvelling at the peace and tranquility and how great nature is.

The only palm trees on the island looking out at our boat.

The only palm trees on the island looking out at our boat.

All too soon it was time to leave, but as the tide had retreated our boat was a little bit stuck in the sand.

Instead of pushing the boat out to sea our captain made us board and then tried to push the boat out with three people inside it.

Cue an old wooden fishing boat at an almost 90 degree angle being pushed through the sand.

Sailing away from the island once back afloat, the reef was visible through the water as our island hideout for the day slowly disappeared away.

The two small palm trees, the only ones on the island, waved slowly in the breeze in a farewell salute from the beach.

South East Sulawesi holds many hidden island gems that so few people ever travel to, so if you are planning at trip to Indonesia soon consider coming here taking the path that really is less travelled.


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