11-25: Misool

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I woke up to photograph the sunrise. I love how quiet and peaceful the world is at 5:45 in the morning. Everything is asleep – except the ocean. In the thirty minutes I sat perched on the porch I witnessed all sorts of fish jumping out of the water, chased by bigger hungry fish looking for their breakfast. A huge barracuda chased another fish all around the shallows under the dock.

 Sunrise over Misool

Dive gear racks

Dive #1: Kalig Wall
Site of the “20 pygmys (pygmies?) on one sea fan” from the night dive the evening before – the photographers dove straight to 50-60 feet to find the mythical sea fan. I usually hover at about 40’ feet, poking around the shallower ferns and saving my air (which, for those not scuba-certified, depletes faster at greater depth) until someone waves the “I found a pygmy” flag. Okay not a flag. Really it’s Sangut banging on his tank and waving to get my attention.

Sangut and our dive briefing


Anemome fish

Pygmy sea horse

This is a lovely flatworm – probably 2” long – that looked like it was paisley. I positioned my camera and strobe and began to take pictures, but it swam into a crevasse before I could really work my lighting magic.

This was at the end of the dive, and it’s a mommy and baby filefish hiding in the coral

Dive #2: Boo West
Gorgeous, GORGEOUS sea fans and coral. Layers upon layers of them. I tried to get a pictures but it just didn’t do it justice. Not much else to report – just nudis and pygmys. I don’t even attempt to take pictures of the latter anymore since my little camera doesn’t do them justice. I am, however, getting quite good at spotting nudibranchs and putting my macro setting to use.

Dive briefing

Fans everywhere

Brown banded pipe fish


Dive #3: Yiliet
AMAZING! We dove the deep wall. Saw some feeder shrimp (which were, as Evvy later joked, “off duty”). Pygmy sea horses. And a wonderful electric clam that lit up when Sangut pointed his torch at it. Who knew about these things?

Dive briefing

Anemone fish

Evvy and her cleaner fish

Cleaner shrimp

Anemone Fish



Afternoon Lie-in
We spent the afternoon lying about our bungalow and reading. I downloaded some pictures and made notes in my journal while Evvy played “surfed a log” outside our bungalow and cracked me up with her jokes.

Evvy in the water

Evvy, log-surfing

“Guess what I am?” Evvy dunked her head in the water and put it against the top of the log. “A unicorn fish!”

Evvy feeding Riri, the resort bird

Evvy and Riri at snacktime (“Fourth Breakfast”). Riri loves bananas, and if you don’t get pieces to her quickly enough she’ll squawk and nip at your hand. “Faster, darn you! Faster!”

Riri and Heidi (photo by Julian Cohen)

Thanksgiving Dinner
Thanksgiving showed no signs of Thanksgiving-ness, which is fine except that I really love roasted turkey dinners. We had fish, some sort of pasta with a “pesto” sauce, really excellent fried onions, a bruschetta, and of course a salad. The food here is impressive for being the sole inhabitants of a little Indonesian island.

Why I like eco-resorts:
Misool Eco-Resort is – as the name implies – a certified “eco resort”. I like staying in places like this that work to reduce our carbon footprint. I appreciate that my money is supporting an industry that’s still up-and-coming and yet fully supported with global certifications and awards. And I really admire the people who are driven to build and run these resorts; the amount of thought, foresight, and consideration that goes into these establishments is astonishing and impressive. Misool is powered entirely by wind and solar power. The wood used to build the bungalows was harvested from beaches and older buildings. Everything is re-used and recycled – the science and engineering is a feat in and of itself this far from civilization. And they manage to do all of this but still provide an up-scale, pampered feel. You can read about their eco-friendly efforts here.

The downside is that, with anything eco-friendly, sometimes things don’t work. And when things don’t work you – as the eco-friendly patron – must to be open and willing to forgo an element of comfort in favor of the environment. Like the water filtration system that turns salt water into fresh water: something was broken in the system and the replacement part wouldn’t arrive until long after we left. The result is that our showers were salt-water showers instead of fresh-water. Our scuba gear wouldn’t be fresh-water rinsed until we each get home. And Evvy tried to wash some of her clothes, but instead of being clean they just smelled musty. None of this would be an issue, except when diving 3-4 times a day and then showering in salt water, your body has some strange reactions. Like my hair being completely incapable of untangling. And my hands peeling off an entire layer of skin. Totally worth it, though.

Lack of fresh water, apparently, causes you to lose a full layer of skin.

Sunset photo, inspired by Evvy’s picture with a flash