Leaving the coast of Tapanuli Bay by the city of Sibolga on the west coast of the province of North Sumatra, one will be greeted by a serene island covered with lush green trees and the beauty of nature. The 8,000 hectares island is called Mursala Island, popularly also known as Mansalaar Island, home to a handful of families. The Island became one of the setting for the 1933 classic movie “King Kong”, and was recently portrayed in Indonesia’s movie “Mursala” released in 2013.
Situated between Nias Island and the town of Sibolga, Mursala Island is administratively part of the Barus sub-District in the Central Tapanuli Regency, just Southwest of Sibolga.
What makes the island special is its 35 meters high waterfall that tumbles down over granite cliffs directly into the ocean. Known as Mursala Waterfall, this amazing panorama faces the Indian Ocean.
The source of the waterfall is a river of only 700 meters long - the shortest in Indonesia- that flows down over reddish-grey granite cliffs on the side of the island's outer walls. Accompanied by the rushing sound of the water hitting the sea, the view of Mursala Waterfall from the sea is truly one of a kind.
The name Mursala is said to have been used since the 7th century when merchants from Arabia frequently visited West Sumatra to trade, in search of camphor, which was then abundantly produced here. In Bahasa Indonesia, camphor is known as Kapur Barus, meaning chalk from Barus.
Before docking at Barus Bay on mainland Sumatra, Arab traders would first pray (shallat) on Mursala. The practice eventually led locals to call the island : Mursala, derived from the word “Mur” (a local word for Arabs) and Sala, derived from the word Shallat or prayers.
Mursala Island is surrounded by beautiful, uninhabited islands nearby, among which the Puti Island, Silabu Na Godang, Kalimantung, Silabu Na Menek, and Jambe Islands. The seas around the islands are decorated with stunning coral reefs inhabited by most colorful underwater creatures which makes this a perfect place for snorkeling and diving. There is also a picturesque lagoon between the Silabu Na Godag and Kalimantung islands. While the Silabu Na Menek Island offers its own wonders beautiful flowers that grow over rocks and steep cliffs.
When In Sibolga, you will be spoiled with some of the most delicious seafood dishes. All kinds of fresh fish, crabs, shrimps, squids, and other catch from the sea will surely satiate your appetite. Along Pandan Beach are a number of restaurants where you can try some of these delightful freshly caught seafood.
There are no hotels or inns on Mursala Island, however you can rent rooms and stay with the local population. This way, you can also experience first hand the life of a “Mursalan”.
Considering the island's relative proximity, you can also stay in Sibolga which offers a number of accommodation options.
While The Mursala Waterfall remains the prime attraction of the Island, the seas surrounding Mursala and the smaller islands are blessed with underwater splendor, ideal for snorkeling and diving. Among some of diving and snorkeling spots are found at Labuah Hunik Bay by the main Mursala island, and around Jambe Island.
The waters around Mursala are also a paradise for those who enjoy fishing. Those with adventurous blood in their veins can also try to pitch camp along the coast of the island and experience one of a kind sensation bonding with pristine nature.