Jellies Galore!

Our final challenge in Misool is to find the famous but elusive jellyfish lake. It’s mentioned in some of the cruising and tourist guides but without exact directions it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. All we know is that the lake is full of harmless, sting-less jellyfish and that it’s possible to snorkel with them. To be honest, I’m not too excited about this – my initial reaction is more “ewww” than “aww”, but Carol’s keen and we’re always up for a new adventure, so let’s go!

We’re also running low on fresh veggies and petrol for the dinghies, so first we head to Yellu village, anchoring off nearby Yapale Island.

Yapale island
Toucan and Jams at anchor off Yapale. That’s a lot of jetties!
Sadly the local restaurant was closed

Within minutes we have a visit from a local who can organise to fill our jerry cans with ‘benzene’, and directs us to Yellu village for food supplies.  Yellu is fascinating – a densely populated muslim village built out over the water, with a labyrinth of concrete paths connecting the houses. We’re led through the maze of walkways by a young man and eventually find the lady who sells vegetables. Every second house seems to have a shopfront selling basic supplies – we manage to buy eggs, flour and some veggies and everyone is very welcoming and friendly.

Approaching Yellu village, dominated by the Telkomsel tower
Looks like they don’t mind visitors
Our welcoming committee
working our way through the maze of concrete footpaths on the quest for veggies
A local elder hamming it up for the camera
High street shopping, Yellu style

Back at Yapale we find Fontanon homestay is open, and have dinner there with their three guests from Germany and Jakarta. They also know where the jellyfish lake is, and can organise to take us there in their longboat. Success!

Despite our initial misgivings, the jellyfish lake turns out to be a highlight of our Misool trip.   There’s a small fee to pay, and then it’s a short but steep climb up and then down the other side to the brackish lake where there are THOUSANDS of golden jellyfish glinting in the sunlight. In Indonesian, the word for jellyfish is “umur-umur” and for those marine biologists out there (Sally!) these ones apparently are the genus “Mastigias Papua”.

Off to find the jellies!
Arriving at the site
Finding the entrance is a good start…
It’s a short but challenging climb..
and there they are….you can just see the orange dots in the water if you look closely. Thousands of ’em…

Snorkelling with them is a surreal experience – when you look down there are layers upon layers of jellies stretching out below you. Small ones, big ones, fast ones, slow ones, all going about their business and trying hard to avoid us. I imagine this is what it must feel like to float in space with thousands of asteroids. Very cool indeed!

like something from NASA
they stretch on forever…
and they’re actually pretty cute
and here’s the proof that we did swim with them!

Afterwards, our guides from the homestay provide us with a delicious fish and rice lunch on a nearby beach, and show us another cave with offerings to the gods. (Cigarettes, seriously?  I had no idea God was a chain-smoker) 

enjoying our fish and rice lunch on the beach
the cave entrance

 They take us on a short tiki tour around the nearby islands and show us some rock art – I have to admit we’re a bit sceptical about the authenticity of these paintings and our Bahasa Indonesia isn’t good enough to find out how old they’re supposed to be, but hey, what the hell, who are we to spoil a good story…

more beautiful scenery
we come across some kayakers at ‘the Christmas tree’
A new homestay being built in front of an impressive backdrop
local rock paintings – who knows how old they are…

Sadly our time in Misool is coming to an end – we’ve been here 5 fabulous weeks and have loved every minute of it. Nothing this good comes without a price, but the challenges of anchoring and tie-ups have been well worth the spectacular diving and jaw-dropping scenery. We’re so grateful that we’ve been able to experience this remote and pristine piece of paradise and wonder how long it’ll be before the inevitable increase in tourism changes it for the worse….let’s hope it’s a long time coming.

One Reply to “Jellies Galore!”

  1. As spectacular as ever – you are just SO lucky to be seeing and experiencing all this! Have a good trip home, even if it is brief. Enjoy the family catch-up!! xx

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