Hoga is a beautiful, tiny island in Indonesia. There are about 30 local families living in a small fishing village and a community of Operation Wallacea students doing marine research. I was lucky enough to spend a week diving and snorkeling there in the summer of 2009.
If you have a chance, you MUST visit Hoga. For those who plan on occupying some of the bungalows for visiting divers, here are some of the highlights from my trip:
1) The Slave Ship
Because Hoga is so small and remote you have to take about three different boat journeys to reach it. One of these is an overnight adventure on a vessel we later named ‘The Slave Ship’. The boat is crowded with people sleeping either on the floor or on a ledge above. Imagine a giant communal bunk bed. I would definitely recommend sleeping on the upper level as you can watch the sea drift by as you attempt to get some sleep. The best thing about The Slave Ship is the donuts in the morning, I can sincerely tell you that they are the best donuts ever.
2) Pisang Goreng
After spending a week eating nothing but rice, the food possibilities on Hoga seemed extravagant. On the beach, a local woman did an amazing trade selling mouth-watering chips, and (more importantly) pisang goreng which means fried bananas. These bananas are fried in batter in the woman’s hut and are handed to you piping hot and delicious. They make the best energy boosting snack after a hard afternoon of diving. But apart from these there are small shops on the island selling Pringles, Oreos and a range of brilliant Indonesian chocolates. Yummy!
3) Living Arrangements
I was living in a large bamboo house with 11 other girls, but most of the bungalows are only for 2-4 people. The facilities are very limited (no electricity, no running water) but you really get used to living without them and we had a lot of fun telling stories and playing cards by torchlight. One of the best things is having a mandi… this is the only way to wash and it is just splashing yourself with fresh water using a tiny plastic bucket. Oh, and of course there is actually no fresh water on the island so there is one local man responsible for bringing over water for everyone. This means that you only get 2 little scoops of fresh water a day – it’s definitely worth saving them up to wash your hair.
4) Marine Life
I can hardly describe how beautiful it was. None of my pictures do it justice at all. It really is just something that you have to see. Sorry!
5) Beautiful People
I know that this will seem a strange comment to make, but for some reason all of the best looking people in the world seem to have congregated on this small island. Absolutely all of the dive instructors and dive masters are laid back, gorgeous people from all over the world living in paradise and doing a job that is exciting and amazing.
It is important to be culturally sensitive when in Indonesia as most of the population is Muslim. This means that you should cover your knees, shoulders and chest. I found that board shorts, zip off trousers, leggings, sarongs, vests worn with collared shirts, and t shirts were a good basis for what to wear.
Overall, Hoga was one of the most amazing places I have ever been and it is most definitely worth visiting!