Raijua is a little island to the south-west of Savu. It is also known as “Savu Kecil” (or “Little Savu”). We didn’t have much time, as we needed to get to Labuan Bajo to extend our visas, but were keen to check out the island for a couple of days, so off we went with a fresh south-easter behind us. There was a strange hollow knocking near the boom of the main sail, and we noticed that the vang block had snapped. The vang is the rope that pulls the back end of the boom down (as the hoisted sail tries to pull it up), and is under immense pressure. Luckily Marco ensured that we have many spares on board and was able to connect two blocks together to perform the same function as the original block.
The sail was gentle and mellow, and only took a couple of hours given the short distance (around 15 nautical miles). We anchored near the main town (Lede Unu), in turquoise water and in front of a stunning white beach, which seemed to be under excavation in places. We were curious to know why they were moving the sand around – it turns out that they extract salt from the sea water, and move the sand to create salt pans that sea water is pumped into.
We went for a walk on the beach just before sunset and chatted to some friendly local guys. They gave Marco some good advice about where to find surf and anchorages on Raijua, and also mentioned a warung where we could get supper that night. It turned out to be a table against the wall in one of the local shops, but served tasty chicken, rice, vegetables and boiled eggs, with a fiery chilli sauce on the side. The owner was very friendly and knowledgeable on the island, and thought we’d be interested in a “very cheap” t-shirt saying “I love Raijua” for Rp 200,000 ($20). We thought we’d rather have 8 meals for that price.
The next day we motored to the south-western tip of the island, which is most exposed to the swell. The reef is huge, and runs for many kilometres down the point, creating these huge thundering waves that peel for hundreds of metres. Marco couldn’t stop whooping and marvelling at the set-up. The only problem was that there was no obvious sand anchorage nearby, so we backtracked a little to a village called Kolo Rae, where there was a little break in the reef and a keyhole in which we could anchor.
Marco immediately jumped in the dinghy and headed off to surf. The boys and I did some schoolwork, and then grabbed the SUPs and headed for the shore to explore a bit. It wasn’t that easy to land as there is only a tiny break in the rocks by the beach, and quite a strong surge. We left the SUPs with some friendly fishermen and went for a walk up the hill that overlooks the anchorage.
What a beautiful view all around us. To the front was the ocean, perfectly calm and flat, except where the waves peeled down the extensive reef. Behind us were undulating hills with little village huts dotted around between trees. And on the hill beside us were lots of smiling kids, who thought it was very exciting to have these strangers setting foot in their village.
I also met a young teenage girl who was using the elevation to get good internet reception on her phone. It’s been really interesting to see how everyone is so connected and in touch with the “world” electronically, even on the most remote islands and where people live in grass huts. The internet is really bridging divides and enabling ideas and beliefs to be shared worldwide. Obviously this brings positives and negatives. I think our family features a lot on Indonesian Facebook, as we’ve been asked to be in photos countless times, and have been immediately uploaded to social media!
Marco and the boys had a couple of surfs, and he said the reef under the water was totally pristine. We unfortunately had to leave before feeling saturated, but will definitely remember Raijua as one of the raw gems of our trip so far.
This what Marco had to say about Raijua:
Finding Raijua is like going back in time where the reefs are still pristine, the beaches perfect and the island undeveloped. The people live simply and sustainably using the reefs to gather shellfish and crabs. There is a pristine perfect reef that extends on the south west corner of the island that runs for about 3km. The water is crystal clear, fish life abundant and isolated enough from the rest of Indonesia that there is no population pressure.
Right in the corner of the island there is a cliff. Waves wrap around the point, rebound off the cliff and form the first wave, which is a wedge peak. Further along there are a series of points that link up when it gets big. Who knows how long this wave can be?
It is not easy finding an anchorage near the waves, as the coral reef extends deep into the sea, even at a depth of 30m. I free dived in about 3 or 4 spots where I could see down to 20-25m, and there was still coral. We didn’t want to anchor in coral – 1, because you can damage it, and 2 because the anchor could get stuck in it, making retrieval difficult. This is where we can thank Google Earth for the satellite imagery which exposed a very small patch of sand right at the end of the continuous reef, near a village called Kolo Rae. Although it’s far from the wave, it was only a 5-10 minute dinghy ride. Noah, Josh and I surfed perfect peeling barrelling waves in an idyllic setting with no-one around. Josh even managed to get barrelled.
What makes the island particularly interesting is the topography, which includes rolling hills, cliff faces and easily climbable vantage points from which you can survey the island from a bird’s perspective. The locals are really friendly (again) and meeting them is like going back to a time when people possessed a natural innocence so lacking today in the modern world. To my mind this has been our best anchorage in Indonesia so far, due to the combination of raw nature, great locals and epic waves.