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Samosir Island, Medan Overview

The world’s largest island within an island, Samosir is a vast volcanic island, situated north of the Sumatra Island in Indonesia. Samosir lies in the very heart of Lake Toba, which occupies the volcanic crater of world’s largest super volcano. A perfect family vacation spot for a relaxed holiday, Samosir Island preserves its natural scenic highlands as well as the traditional rituals of the culturally rich Indonesia.

Samosir Island beckons tourists with its spectacular, un-tethered countryside and pure pointed slopes that slant into the deep blue water surrounding it. Formed by the cooling of the crater created by a super volcano, Samosir Island rose up from the Lake Toba floor and nurtured into a beautiful elixir of lush green scenery, freshwater lake and friendly tribe of people, the Bataks. For the culture-vultures, the dotting clusters of Batak heritage houses with roofs that curve upwards like pine trees, the fascinating soft pedaled white churches that carve the stature of the prehistoric stone tombs and monuments are worth the sights to behold.

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Best Things to Do on Samosir Island

  • Hike up the Pusuk Buhit volcanic mountain (cooled off) which is 6470 feet tall and witness the glory of nature amidst the lush green floral hills. 
  • Wear the traditional cloth Ulos and dance with the locals in Tor-Tor dance form. It is an ancient Batak dance form which represents their respect to the Gods and the holy spirits.
  • Spend the mornings on the white sand beach of Samosir Island - Pasir Putih Parbaba Beach. Take a dip, swim, play volleyball, build sand castles with kids or just take a good sunbathe while surrendering to the musical shores of the Island.
  • Take on an adventurous tour around Tuk-Tuk village, on a motorbike or bicycle and explore the niche of nature with some breathtaking views.
  • Take up on the challenge to go paragliding and capture the serenity of the Samosir Island and Lake Toba from above the sky. The activity takes place in the Martahan Janji village with surrounding hills that shelter the perfect wind to paraglide.
  • Visit the magnificent waterfalls like Hadabuan, Binangalom, and Efrata and bask in the picturesque view, take photographs and bathe in the cool water for a perfect relaxing time.
  • Delight in some water sports activities like Kayaking and Jet skiing, or go for a banana boat ride on the clear water of Lake Toba.

Places to Visit

There are a few top notch culturally rich spots to visit, encircling the beautiful vistas of the Samosir island. One gets to be overwhelmed by the amusing culture of the traditional side of Indonesia in this untouched far off island. Few worth-visiting spots include

Tomok and Tuk-Tuk Village
Tomok Village is better known as the hub of the traditional Batak Culture, while Tuk-Tuk village (located 4 kilometers from Tomok) is an exotic landscape location known for its vivid contrasting summit of highlands. Enjoying amidst the friendly Batak people is one culturally rich experience. The villages also draws immense attention of visitors for its ethically crafted traditional houses with roofs shaped like a boat’s hull and pine trees. Rent a motorbike and explore the ancient ruins of Samosir culture dotted around the island in form of houses and prehistoric tombs. 

Tombs of King Sidabutar
According to the local legends, King Sidabutar was the first one to arrive on the island. The mystical history suggests he had powerful qualities that made him the ruler of these lands. Post his demise, his body was embalmed in form of a tombs in a unique complex compound with the rest of his family above the grounds in form of solid rock carvings. Located in the vicinity of Tomok village, the ancient tombs of King Sidabutar and his family are amongst the must visit places in Samosir Island.

Food & Restaurants

Tomok, Tuk-Tuk and Parapat village are well furbished with various restaurants and eateries. From the local Batak cuisines to western gastronomies like burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and noodles, Tuk-Tuk village restaurants displays a pyramid of food options in their menus. Since the locals here at Samosir Island are mostly Christians, one will never run out of options of meat-stacked dishes in surrounding restaurants. 

Do not forget to satiate the taste buds with popular traditional Batak and Indonesian dishes like Batak sushi made from freshwater fish prepared with an exceptional blend of spices and herbs and Mie Gomak which is a traditional curry noodle dish of the Batak regency. 

Accommodation

Ranging from good rated star properties of villas, resorts, cottages to homestays- Samosir Island displays a plethora of accommodation options near Tuk-Tuk, Tomok and Parapat village. The stays are quiet affordable that offer free parking, meals, internet facilities, recreational centers and a beautiful stay amidst the magical vistas of Lake Toba and the flora surrounding it. Most tourists prefer to stay near the Tuk-Tuk area where they can relish the rich Batak culture and have access to many popular restaurants, bars, and guesthouses bringing an upbeat side to nightlife in Samosir Island. 

Other than that, one can choose from a wide range of accommodation options available to suit their respective preferences. Lake side Resorts, Waterfront Villas, Family Homestays, and hotels with big clean rooms and modern facilities for maximum comfort are widely available from prices IDR  40,000 – IDR 150,000 befitting your expenditure needs.

Best Time to Visit

Positioned in the north of mainland of Sumatra and in the middle of Lake Toba, Samosir Island faces a tropical climatic shift all year round. Hence, it is best advisable to visit the quaint island from May to November, when it's dry and cool winds are blowing around. The winters are muddled with heavy rains, and hence, planning a vacation from December to February is highly unwise.

Getting Around Samosir Island

Samosir Island is surrounded by the water of Lake Toba. Hence, the best and most affordable mode of transport to relish the vistas of the island is via boat and ferry rides. Renting a boat for a single trip measures o as cheap as IDR 14,000 per trip. 

To have one of the most efficient time visiting the corners of the island, one can rent a motorbike or a bicycle and traverse on those bumpy road- turning every stone of experience turned. Renting a motorbike with a full tank of petrol can cost around IDR 100,000 per day. 

Few tours and travel agencies and some hotels do provide car rentals and guided tours around the Island, but it’s best advisable to travel around via feet (to relish the beautiful scenery and culture) since the roads aren’t in the best of their shape and there is very low sense of traffic rules around the place.

Tips

  • The island monetarily functions on cash, and not on card payments. Although, an ATM can be found in Tomok village and Ambarita village (4 kilometers from Tomok), they are mostly running low on cash for weeks. So, be sure to carry enough currency for stay, travel, food and other activities. On requests, a few hotels might provide some currency exchange, if the facility is available in the lodging premises.
  • The last ferry from Parapat to Samosir Island leaves at 7:00 PM, so make sure to be on time and before its departure
  • Be prepared to be cut out from the world of internet since the local villages on the island have very low network. A few cafés, cottages, villas or hotels might provide internet access within their premises. 
  • Being an old-fashioned island, the villages sometimes face abrupt power failures at night. So, charge the electronic gadgets before 9:00 PM for a well sprung carefree time ahead.
  • To taste the native flavor of the island, visit a toddy shop and try a glass of locally manufactured palm wine (Tuak) and enjoy among the company of locals who embrace their muse for singing, dancing and playing guitars.

How To Reach Samosir Island

Samosir Island is situated about 200 kilometers from Medan city. Since there is no direct flight to the Samosir Regency, one has to take a flight to Medan, travel to its nearby town Parapat, and then hop on a ferry to reach the picturesque beauty of Samosir Island. Boarding a bus from Medan to Parapat will cost around IDR 40,000 per person, followed by a ferry ride to Tuk-Tuk village for about IDR 7,000 per person. 

One can even rent a car which can cost around IDR 400,000 to reach Parapat in approximately 4 hours from Medan. From Parapat, board a ferry and reach the destination.

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