Thursday, February 26, 2009

Madura Island

Madura, from an administrative viewpoint, is a part of the Indonesian Province of East Java. Located of the eastern end of Java's north coast, this long, narrow island measures 160 km from east to west and 35 km north south, amounting to a total area of roughly 4,250 square kilometres. Madura is divided into four Regencies, or Kabupaten, which run consecutively from west to east, respectively Bangkalan, Sampang, Pamekasan and Sumenep. Beside the main land mass, however, there are 67 more small islands and islets, 66 of which lie to the east of Sumenep and are a part of that district, while one island belongs to Sampang.

Karamian Island, the most northerly, and Sekala Island, the furthest east of the Madura group, both lie more than 240 km from the main island. Ocean conditions among the islands are for the most part clear, clean and not so deep, displaying an abundance of sea-life, for example in the area around Mamburit Island near the Kangean Group. Beaches are almost all white, such as at Siring Kemuning, Camplong, Slopeng, Lombang, as well as throughout the Kangean Islands, at Saebus, Mamburit, Saur, Pagerungan, Kangean etc. In some cases, though, there are islands which are totally covered in thick vegetation right to the water's edge. Compared with other areas of East Java, Madura's soil is relatively poor. The land is stony and dry. Yet these conditions have taught the Madurese people to be ingenious and adaptable, two characteristics for which Madura's inhabitants are well known. Lying only a 30 minute ferry ride from Surabaya's harbour of Tanjung Perak, the port of Kamal on Madura's south west coast is easily accessible. Ferries transporting vehicles of all sizes, passengers and goods, arrive and depart at 15 minute intervals around the clock, thus forming a permanent moving bridge connecting Madura with the mainland.

During this period of development, Madura's contribution towards the national economy is growing and diversifying. Besides the traditional farming sector, natural resources such as oil and natural gas are beginning to be exploited. No less tourism. With an infrastructure now deemed capable of handling numbers of visitors, it can be expected that the flow of tourists into Madura should increase rapidly in the near futureIf, in the past, people tended to avoid Madura as a place to visit, then it was because of a lack of facilities. But now conditions are different and good roads run the whole away along the length of the island. Reasonable accommodation, too, can be found in all the major towns. In short, Madura is prepared for tourism and is now looking towards improving super structural aspects, in the form of hotels, restaurants, terminals, shopping centres etc.

Furthermore, East Java's Regional Government is currently planning the construction of a bridge which will connect Tanjung Perak with Kamal. Barring obstacles the SURAMADU bridge project should be underway in the near future. This ambitious task stirs the imagination when one considers standing at the half way point and enjoying the panorama, as well as watching the numerous sea-going vessels which regularly make their way across the straits. The bridge will, without a doubt, prove to be a major tourist attraction and a photographer's dream.Though still receiving comparatively few foreign visitors, the island of Madura is already well known for its bull races, the bold designs and colours of its batik textiles, its sate (cooked meat on skewers) and veto (soup), as well as an enviable number of unspoiled beaches. For plant enthusiasts, the Bonsai Casuarina ( cemara udang ) is unique to Madura. Until now we have only mentioned Madura's main island. In addition, there is a string of around 66 more small islands running off to the east of Sumenep and comprising a part of that administrative district.These islands include the Kangean Group, which lie due north of the island of Bali. Planning and development could turn this beautiful mini-archipelago into an incomparable marine resort, equipped with all facilities, including opportunities for all kinds of water sports and marine activities.