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.
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.
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”.
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!
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)
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…
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.