Mangga is not for everyone, and its charms take a while to reveal themselves. But first- stay at Bara, not Bira, if you want a real beach, and not the Jersey Shore. Bira is teeming with people and drinkstands and rubbish. Bara, much like many Indonesian beaches, does have some rubbish, but is far less crowded. At Bara you can stay at Mangga, Bara Beach Cottages, or the more rustic dive center.
Mangga does not front on the ocean, and it doesn't have puffy towels or a huge breakfast buffet. It's not a generic fancy hotel.But it does have a very serious and experienced dive center with both a dive instructor (Elvis, the owner) and a divemaster. My husband and our 10 year old did a first, easy dive that hooked them completely on diving. But the waves were too big to do much on other days for inexperienced divers. We will come back once we learn to dive. Everyone else there had come to dive, and they raved about the sharks and fish they saw.
Mangga also has a lovely third-floor tower with climbing yellow flowers, a view of the ocean, monkeys that come and sit in the tamarind tree in the morning, bright green birds flying through the trees, open sitting areas outside the (more expensive) rooms, a dog named Betty, and birds that Elvis is rehabilitating. Heaven for kids to wander around and feed the fish and eavesdrop on the kittens hidden on the top floor. We found it a wonderful, relaxing place to stay-- we extended our time there by three days.
Note: the food is better at Bara Beach Cottages, so ask if you can eat lunch or dinner there. At least have a beer there and enjoy the ocean. And there is no Wifi at Mangga, but you can ask Stefan at BBC about using his wifi hot spot. One reason the prices are more expensive at Bara is that everything needs to be brought in-- e.g., all the water--and half the time things are running on the generator because the electricity goes out. It feels like you are at the end of the world. And you are.
Just to respond to the last reviewer: the ferry doesn't run if the waves are too high. And- having met someone who survived the sinking of an Indonesian ferry by swimming for 24 hours- that is a good thing in the long run.
Final note: better to book by emailing Elvis directly via Mangga's website, rather than book through Agoda or Booking.com. If you feel you must reserve via the latter (which is not necessary), do it through Booking.com. Agoda messed up our reservation and it was initially a problem, but Mangga fixed it.
In short: our girls still say wistfully, "We wish we were back at Mangga."
- Also Known As:
- Mangga Lodge Bira, Indonesia - Sulawesi