Motorboat launches may be hired to all the islands from the Jaya Ancol Marina, located within the vast Ancol “Dreamland” amusement park on Jakarta’s north – eastern shore. Pulau Onrust and the other islands closest in to the mainland are only 20 to 30 minutes away, making this an easy relaxing day trip “escape” from the city to the beach. Pulau Rambut is about an hour away from Ancol. The boat out to Pulau Puteri or Pulau Melinjo, takes 3 hours and cost US$50 per person round trip. The developers of this resort, Pulau Seribu Paradise, also provide an air charter service from Kemayoran Airport (first), for US$120 per person round trip.
A regular morning ferry leaves from Sanggar Bahari pier at Tanjung Priok harbour at 8 a.m. for several of the closer islands (Onrust, etc.), returning in the afternoon. For the Farther islands, such as Pulau Puteri, Pulau Genteng and Opak besar, boats leave from the Kartika Bahari pier.
There are three groups of frequently visited islands in this 6—island chain that scatters across the Java Sea to the north of Jakarta. The first is a cluster of tiny islands located just 3 km to 5 km (2 to 3 miles) offshore, directly to the north of the city, including: Pulau Onrust, Pulau Kelor, Pulau Kahyangan, Pulau Bidadari (also known as Pulau Sakit), and Pulau Damar.
Pulau Onrust, for example, was formlerly the Dutch East Indies Trading company’s (VOC) dry docking station for the entire Asian fleet. Captain Cookhad his ship, HMS Endeavour, repaired here in 1770 and praised the island’s caulkers and carpenters as the best in the East. Today, there are several houses dating from a later period and a fort is being slowly reconstructed as a historical monument by the Department of Museum & History.
On neighbouring Pulau Kelor and Pulau Kahyangan,the remains of Dutch forts are also visible. Pulau Bidadari “Heavenly Nymph Island” was once the site of a leper colony, and Pulau Damar “Torch Island” houses a powerful beacon used to guide airplanes into Jakarta at night. On the latter are also the ruins of a Japanese style house constructed in 1685 by Governor General Camphuijs, one of the few VOC leaders known for this intellectual endeavours.
Much farther out to sea, about 100 km (65 miles) from Jakarta, two islands have been developed into a private scuba skin diving resort: Pulau Puteri “Princess Island” and Pulau Melinjo. Pulau Puteri now has 25 deluxe, air conditioned bungalows and cottages which rent for anywhere from US$60 to US$170 a night (plius 21 percent tax and service) during peak seasons. At other times the prices are about 25 percent less. Neighbouring Pulau Melinjo has what is called a “divers camp” simple thatched huts with toilets, fresh water, showers, barbeques, tables and chairs – renting for US$42 per night per hut (capable of sleeping several people, bring your own food, bedding and cooking utensils).
The main attractions on both islands are crystal and the spectacular coral reefs offshore – teeming with a colourful asortment of tropical fish and exotic marine life. Diving equipment, food and evening entertainment are available on Pulau Puteri – on Pulau Melinjo, you’re on your own, though there are resident attendants who maintain radio contact with the main island.
Large, (5 foot) black lizards inhabit these islands, but they’re harmels. Be careful, however, to wear protective footwear and to avoid the razorsharp coral when in the water. There are sea urchins and poisonous stone fish, and cuts fester very quickly in the tropics. Bring plenty to mosquoti repellant.
Lastly there is the Pulau Rambut (Hair Island) bird sanctuary, two tiny islands lying some distance to the west of Jakarta, about 15 km (10 miles) from shore. These islands serve as a nursery for seabirds during the breeding season (March – July), and also have a large permanent population of herons, storks and cormorants. Two chalets on the island may be rented from the resident forestry guards. Many of the thousand Islands are crowded on weekends, though much less so during the rainy season, November to March, when the strong NW monsoon winds bring daily afternoon showers making the return boat journey precarious. The best time to visit is thus during the dry summer months. May to September.
To stay at Pulau Puteri or Pulau Melinjo, make prior bookings through any travel agent, or directly through:
P.T. Pulau Seribu Paradise, Jakarta Theatre, Building, Jl. M.H. Thamrin, Jakarta, Tel: 359333, 359334.
Don’t let them tell you that you must rent one of their deluxe bungalows on Pulau Puteri if you just want to stay at the drivers camp on Pulau Melinjo instead. Actually they have several other “camps” on islands beside Pulau Melinjo which may be rented by the day or by the week. This office will also book round trip transportation to the islands by air and sea.
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