Nias Regency – Central Nias
Nias is the name of a Regency in east-central Nias. Originally Nias Island was one Regency (Kabupaten Nias) but during a strive for greater regional autonomy in Indonesia Nias was split in two, then five regencies. Nias people also call this district Nias Induk. Today most visitors bypass this region as they head south for the more famous surfing areas and traditional villages. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to do and see in Nias Induk, it’s just a bit harder to get to. There are three regions of Nias Regency; in the east there is the coastline lined with beaches and coconut trees, in the middle is the flat agricultural area along the main south-north road and in the west the forest covered hills of the interior.
The 60 kilometer long coastline is completely undeveloped, and there are only a few small fishing villages here, the largest one called Bözihöna. Some of the beaches along this coastline would probably be very nice to visit. Others that are close to mangrove swamps and river mouths more resemble mudflats than beaches. These areas are hard to access, as there are few roads here. During low tide it’s possible to travel along beach and mudflats on a motorbike, otherwise a boat is the way to go. The most interesting thing about this coastline are four small paradise islands near the eastern tip of Nias Island.
This is the part of Nias Regency that travellers pass on their way south. It starts south of Binaka airport and ends just before the road reaches the coast in South Nias. Along the way travellers will pass the gentle hills and farming areas of Gidö, Indanö Gawö and Bawölato sub-districts. This is one of the flattest parts of Nias and as a result much of the rice grown on the island comes from here. The main north-south road is in very good condition and during the trip travellers can observe the simple country life of Nias as you are passing many small villages and settlements along the way.
The area called the interior of Nias Regency is located west of Gunungsitoli and west of the main north-south road. This region consists of steep hills and mountains covered in forest. Rivers cut through the hills and nestled in the river valleys are many small settlements living a simple life of subsistence farming. No doubt this beautiful region hides many interesting things to see and do, but because the lack of access tourists rarely come here. A handful of adventurous travellers sometimes join local guides to do the Gido to Gomo trek.
Highlights of Nias Regency
Without a doubt the highlight of Nias Regency are the eastern Islands. People who manage to arrange boats here can enjoy the beach, the tropical island vibe and some very good snorkelling.
Onolimbu N 1.075696°, E 97.904253°
This is the largest island in this area. There is a nice beach on the west side of the Island. This is the only eastern island where people live. There are a few houses hidden away under the coconut trees on the east side of the island. Near the beach the local tourism department has built a few day shelters. The best snorkelling can be found by walking northward along the beach until it ends. Enter the water here and keep swimming north to the best section of the reef.
Pulau Musi N 1.080773°, E 97.929154°
A small uninhabited island 2.5 kilometers east of Onolimbu. This is possible the most beautiful of the four island another great spot for snorkelling. Being even further of the mainland the water is often clearer here. Just like Onolimbu, the best snorkelling can be found in the northern corner of the island. On the north-east side of the island there is a wreck from a ship that sunk in 2004. To find the wreck just follow the reef and look for debris on the bottom. The top of the boat is only a few meters deep and during low-tide its possible to freedive into the wheel-house. Pulau Musi is so small that it is possible to snorkel around the whole island in an hour or two. During low tide there is beach all along the island and it can easily be circumnavigated on foot in 15 minutes.
Pulau Soma N 1.026593°, E 97.953493°
Pulau Soma is eight kilometers southeast of Onolimbu and has very similar features. The beach is located on the west side of the island. Snorkelling is beast on the northern side.
Pulau Somambawa N 1.024079°, E 97.965169°
A tiny island one kilometers east of Pulau Soma. Small enough to swim around the whole island.1.5 kilometers north-east of this island there is an interesting Goso (underwater reef) that can be visited if it’s not too choppy.
To get to the islands you need to arrange a boat from Gunungsitoli or nearby Bözihona village. From it town takes almost three hours and you need a large boat. In Bozihona there are many small boats and the trip to the island is not that long. But getting to Bözihona involved a 45 kilometer drive from town on some very rough roads. Inquire with local tour operators about exploring these Islands.
Some beautiful places to see here, but they are often hidden away in the interior. We don’t recommend going without a local guide to these places:
- Baho Waterfall, Ladea village, Gidö.
- Mo’ambolo Waterfall, Hiliwarokha village, Bawölato.
- Bo Zukhu Waterfall, Hiliwa’ele village, Botomuzoi.
- Zangao Cave, Idanogawo.
- Hotsprings, local people often bring visitors to the hot springs near Tetehösi village. Since the 2005 earthquake the water is no longer flowing and it is a rather underwhelming experience.
It is known that there are many interesting cultural attractions in the interior such as megaliths and traditional houses. Unfortunately they are scattered in remote areas and since the access is so bad it is hard to justify the trouble going there unless you have a special interest in cultural heritage. Contact the Museum Pusaka Nias if you want information about cultural sites in Nias Regency. These are some of the more interesting ones:
- Traditional houses (cluster of four), Lolowua Village, Hiliserangkai.
- Traditional houses (cluster of two), Dahadano – Botombawo village, Hiliserangkai.
- Megalith stone, Tuhemberua village, Ma’u.
- Megalith stone, Hilotalua village, Gidö.
There is no accommodation in Nias Regency. Visitors to Nias Regency usually base themselves in Gunungsitoli and drive to Nias Regency (1-2 hours, depending on where you go.)
There are a few simple eateries along the main north-south road. Fuel can be bought from hand pumps or in bottles along the way. Small boats to the islands can be hired in Bözihöna and Sohoya villages.
Please note that our survey of Nias Island is ongoing and we will update this page as more information about tourism and cultural attractions in Nias Regency becomes available.