“Kepulauan Seribu” literally meaning: the Thousand Islands, yes, the same as the popular dressing we put on salads! Here, in fact, this is the name given to the many tropical islands scattered in the Bay of Jakarta.
But only very few people know, that there are exactly 110 islands only, that together form a District, encompassing the Pulau Seribu National Marine Park in the province of Jakarta. This cluster of islands forms a splendid nautical getaway that ranges from a mere half-hour to a three hours’ boat ride from the north coast of the capital city.
Here, around 20,000 people live on 11 islands only, while all others are either uninhabited, are privately owned or are a restricted nature sanctuary. The islands are a snorkeling haven and watersports playground in particular for the inhabitants of the metropolitan city. During holidays, domestic tourists throng to the islands to have fun under the sun on these many recreation islands. Here is a list of islands that are exciting to explore and to have fun with the whole family, starting from the closest to the outermost islands.
Pulau Bidadari is the nearest island to Marina Ancol ferry port and is only 30 minutes away by boat, where you can instantly enjoy the photogenic site of Fort Martello, that was built in the 17th century. The island has a marvelous collection of rare trees growing naturally on its fertile soil. There are the Peace Trees (baringtoniaexelsa), Sentigi Trees (pempisacidula), Black Wood Trees (diospyrosmaritama), fruit trees and mangrove trees that are superb resources to study. Floating cottages are favorite places to spend your holiday on the island. Unwind and sink your feet in the sand. Do not miss to get a taste of the local scrumptious seafood dishes that come fresh from the blue water.
Pulau Ayer resort offers vacationers the choice to stay either on floating cottages or on land in villas designed along with Papua traditional details. The resort was developed in the 1950s and was the retreat for Indonesia’s First President, Soekarno. Complemented will all kinds of vacation facilities such as restaurants, arcade zone, karaoke, playground, sports field, and large swimming pools, these are among fun watersports activities to be tried out on this island. Located only some 25 minutes from Marina Ancol, the island is one of the favorite destinations for families and large group gatherings.
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Pulau Onrust is a small island that hides a historic Dutch fortress and other remains from the Dutch colonial times and now functions as the islands’ museum. The name ‘Onrust’ comes from the Dutch word meaning ‘Unrest’. Nonetheless, other sources mention an alternative possibility, that it may be derived from a Dutch aristocrat named Baas Onrust Cornelis van der Walck. The island’s history dates back to the 1800s. In the time it changed function several times, from being an important shipyard of the Dutch East India Company, VOC, to becoming a weather station, a sanatorium, a Hajj quarantine, and even as a prison for notorious criminals. Therefore the island holds many traces following its long history.
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Spend your weekend on beautiful Pulau Tidung with its famous Love Bridge or Jembatan Cinta, an 800 meters bridge that connects the small Tidung island with the large Tidung. Legend has it that it got its name of Love Bridge as a symbol of the undying hope to find your true love along this path. This bridge is also the perfect spot for taking your epic dive shot into the clear ocean, in case maybe your true love said: “I jump, and you jump.” You can rent bikes to cycle around and interact more closely with the warmhearted locals in their open homes.
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Pulau Pari today has become a new burgeoning destination in the Thousand Islands. Despite its relatively short distance from Marina Ancol, it has a complete island atmosphere. Enjoy hopping into a traditional fishing boat to cruise around the island. Serene tranquil white beach with little waves that will soothe you gently. There is even a spot called the Virgin Sands known for its unspoiled charm. A research facility has also been established here to study seaweeds. Don’t miss the Sun Hill or Bukit Matahari, the hotspot for those awesome skies where the sun rises and sets into the pristine waters, which is simply magical!
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Pulau Pramuka is the administrative center of Kepulauan Seribu, located in the midst of this cluster of islands. and is, therefore, also the most inhabited. Here are schools, mosques, banking and communication facilities that you may not find on the other islands. Additionally, Pramuka is also a nature reserve for greenback turtles named Eretmochelys imbricate, that are conserved and protected in this natural habitat. Baby turtles that have reached the right stage will be sent off to their new natural habitat in the sea. Tourists are invited to help the first steps taken by these lovely little creatures from shore = to sea, in efforts to increase awareness in animal care as well as being a tourist attraction. Colorful fish and coral reefs are also an attraction for those who love underwater adventures.
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A seven hectares-wide island with fascinating shorelines, Pulau Sepa is one and a half hours away from Pier 19 at Marina Ancol. The boat leaves to the islands at 8.0 am and is scheduled to depart back at 2.0 pm in the afternoon. Many activities are available here to enjoy. From simple sunbathing on white sands to more exciting watersports such as snorkeling, banana boating, diving or Jetskiing. You can also meet some turtles here. Stay-in cottages with various capacity are also available to choose.
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Pulau Pelangi or the Rainbow Island is 70 kilometers away from Marina Ancol, it is shady with greeneries and coconut trees: a snorkeling paradise with its transparent crystal clear water. You can also ride Alaska, a semi-submarine boat to experience a new way of peeking into the underwater garden. Exciting banana boat rides will just throw you away with the biggest smiles and exhilaration. Rest and relax in thatched-roof bungalows and panoramic shores. Don’t forget to try the local fresh seafood in its wonderful floating restaurant. Enjoy your barbeque night under the islands twinkling starry skies.
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Pulau Macan or Tiger Island attracts honeymooners as an eco-tourism destination, famous for its romantic huts. Here huts are built in natural style, so that you may truly feel as if you are on a secluded private island away from civilization. Some of the huts are so positioned to allow visitors to catch the best sunset view. You can even plunge into the clear ocean waters just a few steps from your comfy bed. Located 1.5 hours away from Marina Ancol, Pulau Macan offers exciting watersports such as canoeing, windsurfing, snorkeling, and diving.
Pulau Putri belongs among the islands furthest away from the city of Jakarta. With clear waters, Pulau Putri will pamper you with watersports activities, glass-bottom boats, and their many other unique attractions. One of the further islands in this cluster is two to three hours away from Marina Ancol harbor. Pulau Putri welcomes visitors every day with its fine beaches and an array of sea adventures. A glass tunnel is a special feature of the island, where visitors can freely watch the stunning underwater life without even getting wet. A large aquarium display and water slides must be one of the many exciting activities to enjoy here. Cottages with complete facilities including meeting rooms and tennis courts are well maintained to serve guests. The amazing life on the seabed is also waiting to be admired by sea walkers, while others prefer to snorkel and dive around this gem of an island.
Most islands are reached by speed boats that leave from Marina Ancol. Ancol, an integrated amusement area with elaborate facilities such as the Dufan Theme Park, Atlantis Waterboom, exhilarating rides, an eco-park, and much more. Getting To Ancol is best by rental car, taxi or TransJakarta bus. Trains are also available departing from three station lines, among which from the Gambir Station in Central Jakarta.
If you wish to go island hopping. Most resorts have available boats for rent.