If you’re stuck in Jakarta and Jakarta nightlife is getting too much for you then Pulau Seribu is the place to go to. Although there are only about 150 of them, the thousand Islands as they are known offer some much needed sunshine and relaxation away from the city smog. These chain of islands are just one of the many trips you can take out of the city. Let me tell you more about them.
Where to Go
You can visit just 45 of the 150 islands that make up Pulau Seribu. Of the 45 islands that have been classified as tourism destinations, only six have accommodation available for rent (this ranges from private villas through to simple home stays). Below is a brief description of each of the six islands that you can visit.
15 minutes from Ancol Bidadari is one of the closest of the Pulau Seribu chain of islands to Jakarta. There are 49 cottages on the island. Bidadari also has two conference centres, which are used by companies/ groups to hold events. Alongside the conference centres there are also discotheques, restaurants and bars. The range of facilities on offer, combined with just how close the island is to Jakarta, makes Bidadari one of the busiest of the tourism islands.
25 minutes from Ancol Ayer Island is a small place with nice sheltered beaches and plenty of accommodation. The biggest resort on the island comes complete with wooden cabins that hang over the waters edge, while smaller cabins can be found on land. There is a swimming pool and visitors can rent a bike, jet ski, canoe or take a ride on the back of a banana boat.
90 minutes from Ancol Kotok Island has a laid back vibe and offers visitors the best diving anywhere in the Thousand Islands. This far away from Jakarta the waters are clear and the coral relatively undamaged. You can choose to spend your days simply lying on the sandy beaches or exploring an underwater wonderland. The island has a restaurant, bar and – as you would expect – plenty of dive shops.
90 minutes from Ancol Putri Island is slightly more developed than Kotok Island. You can find a swimming pool and tennis courts on Putri Island. There are also water sports on offer, like canoeing and jet skiing.There is also an aquarium as well as underwater tunnels with glass walls, which gives you the option of exploring the deep blue without getting wet.
90 minutes from Ancol Sepa Island has beautiful golden sandy beaches and is surrounded by clear waters teeming with fish, which makes it one of the best diving available in Pulau Seribu. There is a range of accommodation on offer to visitors, but facilities on the island are limited to a restaurant and dive centre.
Two hours from Ancol Pantara Island is actually split in two: there is West Pantara and East Pantara. The other thing about Pantara Island is that it is the furthest away from Jakarta and the most expensive. East Pantara has tennis courts, restaurants a disco and a dive centre, while West Pantara has a meeting hall and a swimming pool. Both islands have private bungalows.
Alongside the six tourism islands, many tourists also stay overnight on islands with settlements, such as Pramuka Island and Tidung Island. These are a popular choice with local tourists, because the small settlements on the island makes both food and accommodation cheap, which is perfect for budget travellers. There are also a small selection of islands that you can stay on that have exclusive and expensive resorts.
90 minutes from Ancol Pramuka Island is the administrative capital of the regency of Pulau Seribu. The island has the kind of facilities that you would expect to find in a small town – school, medical centre, etc. – as well as cheap local home stays. Though the island is small enough to walk around, you can rent a bicycle if you choose.
Two hours from Ancol Tidung Island is most famous for the Love Bridge that links the two parts of Tidung island. If you come here in the evening you are almost guaranteed to see people jumping from the top of the bridge into the deep channel below. Once you’ve finished walking around the island you can also ride a banana boat or do some snorkelling.
Macan/ Tiger Island
Two hours from Ancol?The luxurious Tiger resort is based on two private islands in the Pulau Seribu chain. The island has an eco theme and all of the private cabins are beautifully designed and decorated, with many rooms looking straight out over the ocean. The resort has a small club house and has equipment available should you be interested in diving or snorkelling. You can find out more about the Pulau Macan resort here.
Whether you are a foreigner or an Indonesian, getting to Pulau Seribu means waking up early. Boats leave at six in the morning from the main fish market (Muare Angke Port) as well as the more upmarket Ancol Marina. From Ancol it will take anything from 25 minutes to three hours to reach your destination depending on what island you choose to visit.
It is possible to do some island hopping once you have arrived in Pulau Seribu. There is a small ferry that operates between some of the main islands. Alternatively, you can rent a small private boat for Rp100,000 per hour.
Things to Do
You will find plenty to do once you have arrived on Pulau Seribu. Diving and snorkelling are the two most popular past times for tourists. Though a lot of the coral has been damaged, there are still some interesting things to see, both are easy to do if you rent a boat for the day.
If diving and snorkelling aren’t your cup of tea, you can always walk around the beach. A little warning, it can be so hot, don’t forget your water bottle and stay hydrated.
Like the accommodation, most of the food you will find is quite simple, but also very tasty. Expect to eat a lot of fish (grilled, BBQ, fried or oven cooked) during your stay on the island. On a lot of the islands hotels will actually do meals and accommodation as a package, because there are not many restaurants to choose from.