For the people who always crave for the sea (like me), working in Jakarta can be hard to get a couple of days off runaway to beautiful beaches. Nonetheless, after I had a year of living here, I took my chances to explore the so-called-thousands-islands on the north of Jakarta. And gladly I found that Kepulauan Seribu is not as bad as I thought it would be. I even came back to the islands couple of time with friends and family. Some days were good and some days were difficult, but hey when you see a turquoise crystal water, you wouldn’t think much of the troubles you get here. So I have to gather Pulau Seribu travel guide and tips for you to come visit!
I know that many people underestimate these islands due to many uncomfortable issues. Nonetheless, it was not as bad as people said. If you compare it to many islands on the east of Indonesia, of course, it was way low level than them. But hey, I gotta admit, it was somehow lots of beautiful islands that we found.
I’ll try to give some tips and explanation about how to travel there. I may not be the expert as I have not been to all of the islands, but I can give you some highlights.
Thousand Islands Travel Guide and Tips:
There are two ways to get to the islands, the most popular one is from the Muara Angke port which the locals are mostly using. Muara Angke is a big fish market (which lots of people said it has some delicious meal) and the port centre to get to the Thousand Islands. Whereas the other one is from the Marina port in Ancol which are the luxurious and fast boat; and of course, will cost much more than the one from Muara Angke. The easiest way that I usually do is book a whole package tour to get to the island that already includes the boat ticket. It was a great deal to get to the island by solo or with a group, but this local tour sometimes needed 15-20 people to get there, otherwise, they will cancel it.
The most important part of this post is “Is which island should I go?”
As you know they have plenty of islands that tourists can visit as some of them already a private island that is restricted to some people. The tours usually go to the big island where the locals house turned into a guesthouse for the visitors. They usually prepare snorkelling boat to do some islands hopping around and you can even request which island you wanna go. Several popular destinations as the base camps are Harapan Island, Pari Island, Tidung Island and Semak Daun Island (popular camping base if you wanna bring your own tent).
I have not been to Tidung Island for such a long time, but I knew that many people said that the island has become crowded and somewhat dirty because of the tourism. Anyone have any updates about this please comment on below?
What to do?
Aside from relaxing on the beach, there were plenty of things that you can do that can gain your knowledge. I have not been in so many islands here but from each visit there I often learn new things. Some of them are on my list to go this year too!
Visit The Nature Conservation
You would be surprised how many conservation and events that people invest in here. This proved that even Jakarta people concern about the trash issues that has been evolving for many years here. When I got to Harapan Island, we checked out the Sea Marines National Garden where they protect sea turtles and sharks conservation like the one in Bali. I noticed that there were so many sea creatures conservation on every island. Some of them were built merely just for tourism but some are genuinely for the sake of the tourism.
Watch the Sunrise and Sunset
When I got into Pari Island, we spent our afternoon watching the sunset at the Research Centre for Oceanography by LIPI (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia) where they opened up the beached where they conserved the seaweed and starfishes. It was a great place to learn about the sea creatures as well! The places were very wide open and the sea breezes during sunset were awesome!
There were many islands that you can spend for sunset and sunrise, your tour guide must have known which island to go. Some of them were crowded but some of them can be quite empty. Some of my friends prefer the crowded one just to find new friends. But some of us wanted to find a quiet place to enjoy the moment. Nonetheless, I always find sunset on the boat is the best way to spent the end of the day.
Watching the sunrise also might be a good idea. As many people do not really like to wake up that early, you can be the first person to enjoy the beautiful sky ahead. It was one of my favourite thing to do whenever I go to an island. A perfect jump start to begin the day! 🙂
Jump from the bridge and port
The first time I came across Tidung Island is because of this famous Love Bridge (Indonesian translation: ‘Jembatan Cinta’) where people jump almost 10 meters from the edge of the bridge. Of course, in 2009, not many places in Indonesia had something like that, so I went there! The bridges have a long way down and it was a nice place to spent sunset as well.
Jumping into the sea has been my favourite things to do, and the Thousand Islands have so many ports where I can jump easily. Just make sure you ask the guide if it’s the sea urchins season as you may damage yourself. But truthfully, it was a freedom feeling! 😀
Island Hopping, Snorkelling and Diving
The main attraction here is of course the snorkelling time. I am not going to lie, as I think the underwater life is almost gone here. If you compare to the underwater snorkelling spots in Bali, Thousand Island s far way down below. Most of the corals are dead and only several fishes were there. I can’t press more and more that being a responsible snorkeler and diver can make a big difference for the sea marine life. As snorkelling being the important activity here at the Thousand Islands, you will understand when your snorkelling spots filled with many boats and people.
A good tip is that you can always ask the boat guide to take you to deserted island and fewer people snorkelling spots (but only if you got approval from all of the boat members). I remember one time, one of our guide took us to the Gosong Island, which is only amount of sands in the middle of nowhere that can rise up and down due to the time. But the water was crystal clear and it was just only our boat! Yay!
Cycling Through the Island & See the Island Life
When I got there in 2009, there was only bicycle to use to go around the island. But after quite some time, motorbikes were developing in many areas. I came back again in 2015 and it was full of motorbikes all around the island, maybe because it was much more convenience and fast. But if you are on the budget and want to enjoy the island life, rent a bicycle and just get lost.
My recommendation is just to look around the village. See how they live their life on an island. You’ll be surprised that in the end of the day, you would think that you are lucky enough to have a good life in the city. Well.. sometimes, I feel that island life is as simple as I have experienced it in Inle Lake, Myanmar. Unattached with technologies, less modern buildings and feel the basic of nature- feel ‘human’ again.
Explore the island centre at night and you will find many street foods and seafood grills all over. Yum!
Do I need to explain more?
There were so many places with historical places here, one of them was the Onrust Island where it has a castle that was used as the Dutch defence and hospital at that time. Nonetheless, there were some spooky and mysterious stories about this island. But still, the Castle ruins hold on strong there. The other islands that have the castle ruins are in Kelor Island and Bidadari Island. Whoooo! So many things to see eh?
I always wanted to go and visit but not yet had the time. I know that there are so many one day tours that go there almost every weekend!
When I went to the Pari Island, I was a bit surprised that they have provided water sports on the shore. I got tempted to try and I had to admit it was fun! Although one of my friends got seasick 😀
And again, don’t expect too much if you have been to Bali water sports, these merely family watersports.
Some Useful Tips to Plan a Visit:
- Pick the best season and moment to come here. Summer is the best months to come between April until September in Indonesia. The other tip is to find a good moment to come, I totally recommend come on the normal weekend. Long holiday and big events totally a no no. I came here during the New Year’s Eve, and it was full packed and although we had some fun of our own, we couldn’t enjoy the island. Unless if you want to be somewhat in the crowded, I can’t stop you 😀
- Choose the main island that you want to stay which can bring you closer to the islands that you want to go. Read through the itinerary tour that you picked and make sure that the company has good testimonials and reviews.
- All in all, if you plan to go together with many of your friends and family, using the tour might be better. Because sometimes they need a guarantee to fit in 15-20 people for this tour to go. But if you wanna try solo, then do it by yourself is a good option.
- Don’t miss the boat to start. Not many boats go there multiple time, so make sure come earlier.
- If you can come early to Muara Angke port, you might have a good spot to relax. Prepare some Sarung to lay down comfortably on the boat.
- Get your own snorkelling gear. Even though they set it up for you, but imagine how many people has been using that snorkelling gear and put it in their mouth? Geez… Having your own is a better idea.
- Prepare some food stocks for the trip. Snacks might have been overprice than in the city.
- Be mindful of the guesthouse you were going to stay. It’s the villager’s house originally and it’s not a 5 star hotel as you can imagine. Of course, luxurious villa is also available 🙂
© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.