Long-running Lestari Cottages offers two slices of island life: a gleaming white sand beach and, at the read, a near luminescent green lagoon.
The white sand beach (with a small pier and hammock station) faces across to a small Bajau village clustered around Papan Island—which is really little more than a large rock. The island is then connected by an almost kilometre-long bridge which runs around the eastern tip of Malenge, connecting the rocky outcrop with another village on the main Malenge Island. Both the village and the long bridge are photogenic and well worth a visit, but especially the bridge, slowly curving as it does above a large coral garden, is stunning in the afternoon and morning light.
As with Fadhilla Cottage a little to the west, the close proximity to a local village makes for easy access to supplies like snacks and cigarettes. The village also has a ferry pier, which the fast boat from Ampana to Dolong stops at, giving travellers very easy access to Lestari Cottages, but there is also plenty of comings and goings throughout the day—this is not one of the quietest locations on the Togeans.
Like Kadidiri Paradise, Lestari Cottages fronts onto the beach (and village) but also at the rear onto the already-mentioned green lagoon. Management have built a deck out and over the lagoon for when the beach scene all gets a bit too much—there are a couple of hammocks strung here, and when we wandered through there were a couple of extremely relaxed French travellers here. Pack books!
The beachside deck sits at the end of a stubby pier and while it had unfortunately lost a good little pirate plank since our last visit, you can still jump off into safely deep waters—ideal for kids. We found the coral to be in quite poor shape, but plenty of large schools of sizeable fish were swimming around when we gave it a test run. Guests suggested around the headland towards the lagoon as being a better spot for snorkelling.
Accommodation comes in a few options. The cheapest rooms we were shown were freestanding duplex bungalows, which have shared facilities, and in the past have been described to us by guests staying there as being “quite rustic”—that is still the case. We’d say if comfort and cleanliness are important to you, then paying a bit more for the newer bungalows will be a good idea. These are more modern, with tiled, quite spacious balconies strung with hammocks and large glass windows to let the light in. Interiors were smart and clean, with Ikea-style furniture, a small desk and mirror, and a good mattress with a decent mosquito net. The bathroom had a Western toilet and proper shower. These newer rooms are the furthest from the restaurant and face across the lawn to the white sand beach, the water, and the village beyond.
The owners have made some effort with regard to the beach. It was very, very clean when we visited, and there are also deckchairs and shade salas scattered around the place to make your relaxing, well, more relaxing. There is also a table tennis table (from which we had to drag our boat pilot away) and a volleyball net.
Meals are communal and the food, like the management, gets mixed reports—as with our visit in the past, we found it almost impossible to get a word out of the elderly owner, but staff were helpful and friendly—the owner seemed chatty enough with the guests though.
Lestari Cottages wouldn’t be our first choice on Malenge—it lacks a sunset view, it is close to the village and the water isn’t all that clear. Sera Beach and Malenge Indah over on the other side of the island are considerably better options at a similar pricepoint, but this is a convenient choice and, as it is very long-running, it does have plenty of diehard fans.
Address: Pulau Malenge
T: (0823) 4995 1833;
Coordinates (for GPS): 122º5'29.34" E, -0º15'19.68" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: 150,000 to 400,000 Rp
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Dbl fan share bathroom|
Per person full board
|200,000 rupiah||200,000 rupiah|
|Dbl fan private bathroom|
Per person full board
|250,000 rupiah||250,000 rupiah|
|Bungalow fan private bathroom|
Per person full board
|350,000 rupiah||350,000 rupiah|
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
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