The Island of Morotai lies to the north of Halmahera and is separated from it by a narrow strait. From Ternate, the distance is 121 miles. One can go by sea from Tobelo Galela to Morotai island. Also by air from Galela. During holidays, boats are loaded with school children going back home to Morotai.
Hidden Paradise of East Indonesia
Many people say, Morotai is Paradise in Eastern Indonesia or hidden Paradise of east Indonesia. This refers to its underwater wealth, with over 25 dive spots presenting unrivaled beauty. There are Tanjung Wayabula, Dodola Point, Batu Layar Point, Tanjung Sabatai Point, until Saminyamau. Everything is amazingly beautiful, with crystal clear blue waters. Its marine biota is infinite, living amongst the manicured coral reefs and the ruins of the ship.
Morotai’s coral reef offers a sight that is not easily forgotten. Wayabula, Berebera, Busu-busu, Sangowo and Daruba are a village on the beach.
The greatest attraction of Morotai, however, are the remainders from World War II. The wrecks of ship and aircraft, guns and bunkers are still present. In 1945, General Mc Arthur, the chief commander of the Allied forces, spent some time on this island.
World War II relics of Morotai
At the outbreak of World War II, Morotai became an Allied military headquarters. Hundreds of bombers and fighter aircraft were stationed on the island. After the war, the bunker and buildings were demolished, including many kinds of war equipment owned by both sides. Today, Morotai is a graveyard of old guns, aircraft, and other equipment.
Left are only the rusting frames. The skeletons of tanks are still lying on Lemonade Field, near Darame village, one kilometer north of Daruba, the capital of South Morotai.
There are some rusting propellers at Batukarag Totoduku, 10 kilometers from Daruba. In the valley and down the river are the skeletons of dozens of trucks and tanks, used during the war.
In the hills of Totoduu, where the Australian once had their headquarters, old war equipment lies scattered about. There are old aircraft fuel tanks, cables, even some rusting mini-submarines lying about in a barren field. The scrap is collected by the local people, apparently for their own use, rather than for sale.
In Daruba, which is inhabited by 6.000 people, pieces of old equipment left by the Allies and still useful to the people, are found everywhere. Iron plates are used for fencing. There trucks even still function, and are being used to transport goods. Tailfins of bombs are being used as vases in many houses.
How to get to Morotai
This island can be reached by boat. Once a week, an airplane lands at Pitu, a runway built by the Allies during the war. Only two functioning runaways are left. The others have been covered by bushes. Some have become coconut gardens.
In Morotai, the story is still told of Nakamura, the Japanese soldier who did for almost 30 years in the forests of Morotai after the end of World War II. Unaware that the war was over, Nakamura had lived all those years, on his own in a primitive jungle hide-out, to surrender only in the early 1970s. He was spotted by some local people while looking for food in the forest near a village.
After contact was made, Nakamura was saved and sent back to his native Taiwan.