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Cubadak Island: West Sumatra

I have been here many times, but frankly I’m never too bored to stay here for a couple of days. It’s really a nice quiet island. If you need to escape the hectic schedule of your daily activities come here feel the difference.

This is not a luxurious resorts or sophisticated tourist island. But that is the difference: It’s a quiet island with beautiful, wooden bungalows and cottages.

Cubadak island is completely surrounded by a coral reef; in the sea live innumerable varieties of colored reef fish.

The island has an area of 40 square kilometers, the beach extends over 1.5 kilometers and the territory occupied by the island extends to around seven hectares.

As the distance between the island and Sumatra is only a few miles, the sea around the island is sheltered and absolutely free from waves, so water sports have become established here.

Every time I reach the tiny, isolated island, located in Pesisir Selatan regency, West Sumatra, I always seem to have the same impression: Most of the tourists are Italian!

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Italy? Yes, that’s right. Cubadak island has become spaghetti country, because the island has been managed by Nanni Casalegno, an Italian, for more than 16 years.

Before he started to run it, the island was just a transit drop-off for fishermen.

Casalegno obtained a license to manage the island from the local government for 30 years. The former insurance company employee in Italy succeeded in transforming Cubadak (“jackfruit” in local language) into a resort without interfering with the existing ecosystem or habitat.

Italian tourists, he says, as well as other European visitors, love this island and have named it “Paradiso Village“.

The management is fully Italian. In addition to English, Italian and Indonesian, the languages currently spoken here are French, Portuguese and Spanish.

The view from Cubadak reveals its volcanic origin; it is uninhabited except for a few isolated fishermen’s dwellings, and is entirely covered by rainforest.

Many types of bird and monkey, monitor lizards, deer, wild pigs and others live in the forest.

The island is located within an equatorial zone so climate variability is a constant; however, West Sumatra has favorable atmospheric conditions as the dry and wet monsoons run by at a distance of around 3,000 km so their influence upon the climate is marginal.

There are two seasons, but the periods cannot be clearly distinguished: The “dry” season runs from January to October with showers twice a week; the “wet” in November and early December with rain nearly every day.

Dive the coral or sunbathe on the beach

Paradiso Village offers 13 bungalows and 10 guest cottages; one suite; one restaurant with annexed kitchen, boutique and reading area; plus a pier with a terrace and bar.

All the furnishings are made from rattan. The carpets, tablecloths and blankets, are handmade and the walls are decorated with antique Minangkabau wood carvings and clothes.

All the buildings, except the kitchen and staff lodgings are made of wood and covered with a roof made from palm leaves.

Each cottage has a veranda, upper bedroom with mosquito net, a living room that can be transformed into an extra bedroom with two beds and a large bathroom with hot and cold running water.

Electricity is supplied by solar panels that provide 24 volts DC but each cottage is also provided with 220 volts AC to run conventional appliances.

Maximum capacity of the village is 27 guests, says Casalegno.

As in all Italian establishments, the cuisine is considered of utmost importance. Cubadak offers a mix of Indonesian, Padang, Chinese-Mandarin and Italian cuisine.

Of course the main dishes comes from the sea, as the local fishermen catch crab, fish, squid, octopus, lobster and prawns daily.

You will not only enjoy the cuisine, but also the daily activities in the island. There is a range of water sports and most are free of charge. These include: snorkeling (equipment FOC), sailing, windsurfing, boat excursions and trekking in the forest (with or without a climb), every day.

Activities not included into the package are water skiing and scuba diving: The village operates an SSI diving school (Scuba Schools International) that can grant certificates up to the level of instructor’s assistant.

All the scuba diving spots can be reached within a one-hour boat trip.

A great variety of crinoids, gorgonian fences and anemones stand out so starkly against the black volcanic rock in hues of yellow, purple, green and pink that they appear to light up the underwater scene into a rainbow of colors.

If you are a real diver, this island is truly for you; you can view dog-tooth tuna, yellow fin tuna, blue trigger fish, sweet lips and hump head parrot fish.

Large numbers of turtles, eagle rays, snappers, moray eels and barracuda as well as a wide variety of coral fish are other fascinating experiences you can enjoy under the sea.

For those who prefer shore activities, excursions, walks and hill-climbing through the forest are fascinating experiences.
Beach volleyball is also an interesting sport you can do on the shore.

You may just prefer to relax on the beach and sunbathe while reading your favorite book or novel near the island’s quay.

Don’t forget to take the pictures or record video of the paradise island so that you can share them through multimedia sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Ah, yes, there is also Internet connection here.

Cubadak island tries to offer you another version of paradise. Try it someday and I promise you will return — trust me.

Budi Putra