Thousand Islands or as locals say Kepulauan Seribu is a part of capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta. Yes, even in the capital city you can get a taste of the beauty of Indonesian tropical island. So if you don’t have the time or the budget to go to Bali or Riau Islands while you’re in Jakarta, you can go to Thousand Islands.
I am not telling you that we can compare the beauty of these islands. Well, probably everyone that already visited Thousand Islands and Bali still choose Bali for the more beautiful beaches. Since Thousand Islands located near the biggest city of Indonesia, pollution start to affect these pretty islands. But hey, these island still a beaut.. It’s my favorite destination for snorkeling since it’s close from home. Even though the name is Thousand Islands, there are 110 Islands of Thousand Islands. You can reach Thousand Islands by boat from North Jakarta. There are two ways to get there, by speedboat from Marina Ancol or by slow wooden ship from Muara Angke. If you choose to go there by speedboat it will cost you more (Rp. 80.000- 300.000). If you like backpacker, cheaper style you can go by Muara Angke harbor. It’ll cost you Rp. 30.000- 50.000 depends in which island you get off. The ship from Muara Angke harbor are usually full of local tourist at weekend. For more relaxing vacation, weekday trip is more advisable. But if you have to go on weekend, make sure you arrive earlier so you can get place on the ship.
Some islands that famous as tourism destinations are Bidadari, Pari, Pramuka, and Tidung Island.
1. Bidadari Island
Bidadari (Angel) Islands is the first island in Thousand Islands to become Resort Island. Only thirty minutes from Marina Ancol port 17 you can already enjoy the beauty of this island. The facility on this island is rather complete compared to another islands, there are lots of cottage facing the ocean, a undersea aquarium, glass bottom boat to rent, swimming pool, dolphin attraction, outbound and water sports to enjoy.
On this island there are Martello fortress ruin from 17th century when Indonesia is still under Dutch colonization. You can also visit other islands near Bidadari Island which are Onrust, Kelor, and Kahyangan Island.
Because of Bidadari Island located close from Jakarta, diving and snorkel is not a good option here. And since this island is a resort island, you have to reach down your pocket deeper.
Little fact about this island: Bidadari Island used to be Sick Island (pulau sakit) since it was an exile for leprosy patients long time ago.
2. Pari Island
Pari Island get the name because its shape represent a ray fish from above. It literally mean Ray Island. There are beach called Pasir Perawan Beach (Virgin Sand Beach) because the sand is white and clean like a virgin. The beach are really pretty with mangrove surrounding it. For me, it is the best beach in Thousand Islands.
There are no hotel in this islands but there are lots of homestays. The cost for staying a night is fairly cheap, around Rp. 100.000-150.000 per room. Homestays there usually also offers boat and snorkel to rent for your snorkeling needs. If you like outdoor activity and refuse to stay inside while you’re at this pretty island, you can camp at Pasir Perawan beach. You have to bring your tent beforehand and just pay Rp. 10.000 for retribution. There are public bathrooms for campers. You can rent a bicycle to go around the island. There are other activity you can do like banana boat, jet ski, or go through the mangroves by wooden boat. Playing beach volley ball also an option. At night, you can eat barbeque fresh fish as dinner.
A little fact about Pari Islands: It used to be producer of seaweeds. But pollution form Jakarta starts to affect the population of seaweeds and the production decline significantly. Nowadays, Pari Island residents works in tourism sector instead of fishermen.
3. Pramuka Island
Pramuka Island surrounded by clear blue water and nice corals. There are also a conservation site for hawksbill sea turtle. These turtles are hatched here and then released to the ocean when they are big enough. You can see and touch this turtle yourself, and if you lucky, maybe you can release it to the ocean.
Pramuka islands is a better place for snorkeling and diving. Like in Pari Island, you can rent snorkel gear and boat from homestays. The snorkling trip here is more complete that on the other island. They will take you to shark conservation site so you can see baby shark swimming around. And then you can ask them to stop by at Air island, a tiny empty island where you can have fun and act like you are a cast away.
If you want something more quiet, you can go camping at Semak Daun Island. Ask around and get a boat to sail you off to Semak Daun Island. It is uninhabited island near Pramuka Island. You have to bring water and tent because there are no accommodation there, only sand and trees and blue blue sea around.
4. Tidung Island
Tidung island is the most favorite island of local traveler. This island is the icon of Kepulauan Seribu. You can reach Tidung Island in one hour with speed boat or three hours from Muara Angke.
The famous attraction is Love Bridge with 880 m length, connecting Big Tidung island with Small Tidung Island. Big Tidung Island is where you can stay while Small Tidung Island is a place for mangrove. The myths is if you jump from Love Bridge you’ll soon meet your soulmate and find love. Like in other island you can also snorkeling, diving, bicycling around, or doing water sports. The snorkeling trip will get you to another islands like Payung and Karang Beras Island.