Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
Bringing Green to the Wild Blue Yonder,
Part I- Realizing the Dream
On the fringes of the world, out beyond the beyond, Misool Eco Resort, proves that humanity can live in harmony with nature. Andrew and Marit Miner’s dream of creating a dive resort with a miniscule footprint on the land has led us here, to an outpost in eastern Indonesia, to see for ourselves.
In 2005, Andrew and Marit began with a dream and very little else. They spent four months simply negotiating to lease the small rock of an island that now houses the resort. According to Marit, the meetings begin with way too much coffee and cigarettes and little discussion about what they would like to accomplish. Then, weeks would go by before the next meeting, after the tribal leaders have had a chance to let the idea soak in and discuss it with villagers and amongst themselves. This is how business is done in the islands of Raja Ampat, decades away from the 21st century. After four months of discussion, they are finally able to lease the land. Now, with an island in hand, they set out to find the money to build their dream.
For eight months they talk to investors to convince them that they can make a go of it out here, 5 hours by boat from the outpost town of Sorong, West Papua. And in June of 2006, they break ground with a team of eight. The first “architect” lasts only three weeks but they are not set back by this. They are young and determined and enthusiastic and that will carry them far.
For two and a half years they build. They live under mosquito netting tents and eat nothing but rice and noodles for the first 6 months. They begin to notice boils on their skin from lack of nutrition and joke that they will come down with scurvy any day. With only a small boat at their disposal, they don’t have the luxury to take off and “go to town” five hours away. They must wait for a “ride” to get supplies.
As there is no fresh water on the island, they must take their small boat to a neighboring island where they get fresh water bucket by bucket in order to simply mix the cement needed to build the over water bungalows. Showers will have to wait….
The bungalows are built from wood found on neighboring islands and milled themselves. Drift wood, in the hands of master carpenter, Torbin, turn into masterpieces of simplistic luxury set out over the shallow lagoon where juvenile black tip reef sharks swim in the protected shallows. There are eight bungalows built for guests and more built for the investors who’s ROI consists of the freedom to come and stay at this paradise at their leisure.
Everything here is green amidst the blue. The idea of an “eco” resort is taken literally here. Built among the richest reefs on earth, extreme care is taken to shape a resort that is eco friendly. Misool provides shampoo and conditioner that is biodegradable and waste water flows through your own private “rock garden” to filter it. While air conditioning is provided if needed, simple fans over the beds suffice to keep the open air rooms cool. Large overhangs provide needed shade and a “built in” hammock, a place to relax between dives.
Food is simple and healthy and mostly Asian in keeping with the area. It is light and plentiful with plenty of vegetarian options, exposing Marit’s obvious hand in the kitchen.
There is no excess at this dive resort and its simplicity makes for a relaxing and unforgettable experience.
As if the building of a resort in the middle of nowhere is not enough, Andrew and Marit have taken conservation a step further. They have become a welcome hand to the local people giving more than taking and providing with what little they have. Through their concerted and tireless efforts, they have created partnerships with local villages and created a 425 square kilometer “no take” zone for protection of the marine resource. THAT is a story in itself and one we enjoy over dinner and local beer under the stars at Misool Eco Resort. Stay tuned!
To Your Adventures!