Mansinam Island, Historical Religious Tourism Spot in West Papua

Divers from the Ketapang Dive Kwawi Community, want to plant coral reefs in Doreri Bay, Manokwari, West Papua (TribunPapuaBarat.com/Safwan Ashari Raharusun)

As one of Indonesia’s easternmost provinces, West Papua is known for its beautiful vistas. The points of interest found here are varied, having natural beauty and often also historical significance. One such destination is Mansinam Island, known as the place where Christianity first came to Papua. 

Much like many places in Papua, this island located a short distance from the city of Manokwari has scenic panoramas. It is roughly 410,97 hectares in size and is located 6 kolometres away from Manokwari, South of the Doreri Bay. To reach this island, one can take a motorboat from the city, a journey which takes 10 to 15 minutes.

The island is also well-known for its history, specifically related to the spread of Christianity. On 5 February 1855, two German missionaries, Carl Wiliam Ottow dan Johann Gottlob Geissler first taught the Bible to the Numfor tribe who dwelt on the island. They arrived on the island after having undertaken a long journey which took them all over Indonesia.  

Mansinam Island, a religious tourism asset in West Papua Province (Berita Satu)

Visitors can see religious monuments that tell the history of the island, including a cross monument located at the coast marking the arrival of Ottow dan Geissler on the island in 1885. The monument is inscribed with German words describing how the two were the first missionaries to arrive in Mansinam.

On the island is an old church called Lahai Roi as a place of worship. Next to it is an old well that the locals still draw water from. The well was also dug by Ottow dan Geissler. The locals believe that water from the well is holy, and has the power to heal many diseases. Visitors to the island often take the opportunity to use the well’s water to wash their faces and drink the water as it is considered clean and natural.

Not far from the area is the island’s most well-known landmark, which is the large statue of Jesus Christ. An imposing monument to the spread of Christianity in the region, the statue is 35 metres tall. The statue was built by the Government in honour of the history of the island. The statue’s form is very similar to the Christ the Redeemer statue found in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The statue is located on top of a hill, a walk which can take around 20 minutes. Every year on February 5, thousands of people gather from all over Papua to Mansinam Island to hold a celebration to commemorate the historic day the two missionaries arrived at the island. As a destination for religious tourism, the island has a lot of potential. In developing the island, the Government can ensure that the local community will benefit, increasing their welfare from tourism.

Adapted from Berita Satu and Tribun Papua Barat.

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