We’re always happy to be able to share a first hand experience from a guest at our resort. This week we are sharing a blog by Hannah Wijana, a writer and blogger, who came to stay at Gangga Island for the first time in January. We hope you enjoy reading about her first experience of the resort.
Traveling to new places is both exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking. You never know exactly what you’re going to find despite the websites, reviews, and photos you can see on the internet. So booking a trip to Gangga Island in North Sulawesi was probably a bold move seeing as I’ve never even been to mainland Sulawesi and I’m not a diver. However, Gangga Island Resort & Spa seemed like just the kind of place I could relax, enjoy the quiet, and learn a little about the marine life and culture.
I’m very used to Indonesian culture having lived in Bali since 2005, but Sulawesi seems a world away from tourist-packed Bali. In fact, running my own website and travel guide for families visiting Bali, I have a lot of experience with travel with my kids. This time though I was going kidless and instead traveled with my father from the UK and cousin from the US. It was going to be a big adventure for us all!
Getting to Gangga Island
Gangga Island is a little over 1 hour by car from the city of Manado and 10 minutes from the very northernmost tip of Sulawesi by boat. The drive from the airport is a little windy but interesting and being in an air-conditioned car with a friendly driver made it very pleasant.
As we got closer to the coast, Gangga came into sight and the excitement to get there started building. The white sand and blue water was calling by the time we got on the boat and started the short hop across to the island. I couldn’t wait to dive in!
Gangga Island Resort has a private jetty, where we were met by the General Managers Artin and Linda. Walking down the jetty the sound of the waves and fresh beachy smell was like arriving in paradise. To the left of the jetty is the giant swimming pool and behind that, the main building with the reception, lounge, and restaurant.
My first impression was everything fit in nicely, the dark wood, stone, and landscaped gardens felt natural. Nothing stuck out or was intrusive in the environment. The staff all smiled and welcomed us and a huge ginger cat strolled out to say hello. We got checked in and headed to our rooms.
Much more than rooms, these heavenly bungalows lined up along the beach are havens for rest. Literally steps from the powder white sand, they are picturesque and also very comfortable. Dark wood floors, a big 4 poster bed, spaces to sit inside and out on the terrace, and a big bathroom with views to the beach feel very luxurious.
What to Do
First things first, we had a dip in the sea. The warm, gentle, and beautifully clear water was so refreshing after the trip. Immediately my body relaxed and I was able to just take in the surrounding landscape. Afterwards a little explore of the grounds, some lunch, and then planning for the following days.
There was plenty of relaxing to be had but we also went snorkeling, had spa treatments, visited the local village, and met lots of interesting people. Behind the calm on the island, there is actually a lot going on. From the solar field, island clean ups, and school programs, this resort is more socially and environmentally forward than any other I’ve ever been to. This however, is definitely worth going into in far more detail in another article.
Basically we spent the days in a state of awe. A juvenile blue spotted ray glided past my feet as I wallowed in the water in front of my bungalow, tropical birdsong was everywhere, and the schools of fish while snorkeling were breathtaking. Being surrounded by non-stop nature is healing in so many ways.
The days went by both languidly and way too fast. Suddenly it was time to be up and on the boat at 6am for the trip back to Manado. Tears in my eyes I hugged some of the wonderful staff members and said “see you next time” because this definitely wasn’t goodbye forever.