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Islands with a Difference - Part 5 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

SAMOSIR, INDONESIA

This interesting island within an island is only 630 sq km but has a population of around 120, 000 people.

Unlike the other islands in this series, Samosir is not at sea. This is the world’s largest island within an island, a colossal volcanic lump the size of Singapore stranded in Sumatra’s Lake Toba. Which is itself the largest volcanic lake in the world. The island was originally a peninsula connected to the surrounding caldera wall by a small isthmus, which was cut through by the Tano Ponggol Canal in 1907.

The highest point of Samosir appears around 800 m above lake level and is a worthwhile hike for the views. Down at the shore, there’s geothermally warmed swimming and boat trips to be had. Most interesting, though, is delving into the local culture. Samosir is the heartland of the laid-back and welcoming Toba Batak people. You should make sure to visit one of the Batak villages, Simarmata is one of the best preserved, and watch a traditional Batak dance. Also pay your respects at the tomb of King Sidabutar, the Batak ruler who adopted Christianity in the 19th century. The best time to go is from May to September, which is the driest period.
Getting here is not simple with the closest airport being at Parapat. Ferries then leave from Parapat for Tuktuk on Samosir which takes about an hour.

FERNANDO DE NORONHA, BRAZIL

This group of islands is only 26 sq km with the main island having a population of about 3, 000

This group of islands are some 350 km offshore from the main Brazilian coast. They are just a tiny bit south of the equator which makes the Fernando de Noronha archipelago a 21 island Eco paradise. The waters are impossibly emerald, the whole ethos here is equally as green. Just over 70% of Noronha is protected in a national park, and visitors must pay a mandatory Environment Protection Tax on arrival.

UNESCO also approves of this setup having praised the archipelago on its list for its rich waters which are ‘extremely important for the breeding and feeding of tuna, shark and turtle’. It also noted that Noronha is home to the largest concentration of tropical seabirds in the Western Atlantic. It’s also just a beautiful place to be.

The beaches, even by high Brazilian standards, are spectacular, with Praia do Sancho generally considered to be the pick of the bunch. The water is full of frolicking spinner dolphins and supposedly friendly lemon and nurse sharks. There are also abundant reef fish; some are nice to swim with, others turn up at delicious beach barbecues. The hiking is good as well, go along the Esmeralda Coast Trail to spot diving pelican or trek to Pedra Alta Little Point, which is the site of Brazil’s first shipwreck.

The best time to go is the dry high season which is September to March. Whenever you go the temperatures average in the high 20°Cs all year round. The turtle nesting and hatching season is December to July. You can get a flight to Noronha from Natal (1hr) and Recife (1hr) on the mainland. Another option is to join an eco-cruise along the coast.

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Page added on: 31 December 2019
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