West Papua is one of the best tourist destination in Indonesia. It has not only the famous Raja Ampat which is located in the northwest of the giant island but also many other tourist destinations across the province. One of them is Kaimana, a small port town—administratively registered as a regency—in the south coastline of West Papua.
Kaimana is less popular than Raja Ampat, but when it comes to marine tourism, Kaimana has hidden breath-taking scenery. It has a white sand beach with shallow water, while the sea in front of it has colorful coral reefs with a rich ecosystem. The town also has old fortresses, which marks the trail of World War II in West Papua.
If you want to see something special, more than enjoying the scenery of Kaimana, you can come to this town once each year, during the Senja Kaimana Festival. The exact date of this festival differs from year to year, but in the last three years, this festival was held in October or November.
Knowing West Papuan Culture
Why should you consider spending your holiday in Kaimana around the festival being held?
The apparent reason why you should see the festival which was held for the first time in 2012 is to see the local culture. As an annual festival held by the local government, Senja Kaimana Festival is a way to promote the uniqueness of Kaimana culture. There are eight ethnics of Kalimana whose cultural products are performed or exhibited during the festival.
Visiting Kaimana Festival which typically held for few days, tourists can see the locals’ handcraft products, souvenirs, cultural exhibition stands, and on-stage performance. The dances performed vary, ranging from traditional dance to creative modern one, showing that people in Kaimana appreciate their own culture but also embrace the modernization and diversity.
During the festivals, there are many competitions in which locals participate in them. There are a traditional spear and traditional archery competition—both are the skills used by Kaimana ancestors and are now their cultural heritage. Another competition you can see during the festival is photography and cooking. You can also join Kaimana Fun Bike to enjoy the scenery of the town by bicycle.
Why Is It Called “Senja Kaimana”?
There is a reason the annual festival is called “Senja”, which is Indonesian word for evening twilight or dusk. Kaimana is best-known for its magnificent sunset view and it has attracted people to come to this town. It does not come as surprising because during the sunset in sunny days, you can see a perfect full moon set on the horizon and the sky turns red. You can witness this amazing natural phenomenon from Kaimana Beach of West Papua.
The beauty of this phenomenon has inspired people for decades or even longer. For instance, there is an Indonesian song entitled “Senja di Kaimana” (Dusk at Kaimana) sung by Indonesia’s 1960s singer, Alfian. Besides getting inspiration, people also see the sunset only for the sake of experience, relaxation, or creating beautiful memories. The couple can go to the Kaimana Beach to see the sunset because it has a very romantic atmosphere.
The Festival and Kaimana Tourism
Besides to promote local culture, Senja Kaimana Festival is also a strategy to attract more tourists to visit Kaimana. Blessed with magnificent natural views, Kaimana is expected to become a more-known tourist destination in Indonesia. There are several tourist spots which become the pride of locals.
Among others, there are Triton Bay in which you can get a glimpse at the whale sharks, Mai-Mai Site, and Little Comodo. The last one is a diving spot where through a one-dive, you can see the colorful reefs, exposed rocks and seamounts, coral black and white garden, white gorgonian, a variety of sea creatures, and many more. This is why Little Comodo is often addressed as a “miniature of the best diving spots in Indonesia”—all you can see with a single dive in Little Comodo in Kaimana.
Because its nature is amazing, what Kaimana tourism needs is only a better management and more effective promotion, including through the festival. Interestingly, the promotion and management of Kaimana tourism prioritize the locals’ participation. The reason is that any activity regarding tourism must benefit locals the most. It has been the commitment of local government not to let tourism in the area is capitalized mostly by private companies from other regions in Indonesia or overseas.
If you want to visit the festival and support Kaimana local tourism, plan your visit to Kaimana early on. However, due to the festival is normally held in the last quarter of the year, there is no available information about when Senja Kaimana Festival 2018 will be yet. Check out the news occasionally to see if the date has been out and you can start planning your holiday in Kaimana.
If you think you can’t go on the festival date, don’t worry. You can come at any time since Kaimana’s tourist destinations are open all year round.