Located South of Batam Island, the Barelang Islands is composed of six islands namely the Tonton Island, Nipah Island, Setoko Island, Rempang Island, Galang Island and the Galang Baru Island. The Barelang is an acronym for the three bigger islands Batam, Rempang and Galang.
The Barelang Islands is most famous for the Barelang Bridges, an icon of Batam Island and a famous landmark in the city. The Barelang Bridges connect all six islands and make possible land transportation to and from these islands. Locally, the Barelang Bridges are also known as Jembatan Barelang and Jembatan Habibie, from Jusuf Habibie who was the one who headed the entire Balerang project.
Additionally, even though the bridges are collectively known as Barelang, each has an individual name for which they are better known locally. There’s the Tengku Fisabilillah Bridge that connects Batam to Tonton, the Nara Singa Bridge for the Tonton Island, the Raja Ali Haji Bridge for the Nipah Island, the Sultan Zainal Abidin Bridge for the Setoko Island, the Tuanku Tambusai Bridge for the Rempang Island and the Raja Kecik Bridge for the Galang Island.
The Barelang Bridges not only serve as the connections between the six islands of the Riau Archipelago, they are actually among the top attractions in Bantam drawing many tourists to it and to the islands connected with it. The islands are worth seeing if you want to soak in the culture of the country and the diverse people living in it.
The Tonton Island is the first island you’ll see when you cross the bridge. It is just a small island with very few buildings and offices but lots of tucked away beaches where you can go for swimming.
The Nipa Island is famous for the Lucky Seafood Restaurant found in the island. It serves freshly caught delicious seafood!
The Setoko Island is where the Kampung Setoko, a traditional tribe in Indonesia, lives.
The Rempang Island is the largest island of all the Barelang Islands. It has numerous small beaches in its West Coast. Some of the beaches that you might want to visit include the Melayu Beach, the Pasir Putih Beach and the Memory Hill Beach. The beaches have restaurants available and some even have accommodations for those wanting to stay for longer than a day.
The Galang Island is where you’ll find the Vietnam Village. The Vietnam Village is a famous attraction in the island because of its history. In 1976, “boat people” from Vietnam escaped the war in their country and arrived in the island and made it their home. Until 1995 when some Vietnamese were sent into asylums in Canada and Australia while the rest were sent back to their country, the village was known as the “Vietnamese Refugee Camp”.
For 19 years, Vietnamese lived in the island. They built buildings and temples that are now famous attractions of the area. The structures were preserved along with some boats that presumably were used by the “boat people” when they fled their country.
Galang Baru Island
The Galang Baru Island also has lots of beaches you can go to for swimming. There are currently many constructions going through the island to develop it into a modern tourist destination. There are also existing accommodations should you decide to stay longer.
Visiting the Barelang Islands could easily make your Batam Island vacation truly memorable and relaxing. So, if you’re tired of shopping in Batam, get some sun instead and lots of culture and visit one of the islands.