Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
A diving certificate is like a gym membership: once you have it, you have to do it (unless wasting money is not a problem to you). It was coming in to the 4th month after my last dive thus it was time to dive again. Last time I didn’t dive for so long ended me crashing into the corals beneath me 🙁 *sound of bowling pins falling. So, a few friends and I decided to refresh our diving skills (yeah I got skills!) in a simple trip to the Jakarta’s favorite escape, 1000 islands. After diving Kepulauan Seribu, we were relaxed. In the end, to my surprise, I enjoyed the trip more than I bargained for.
Activities? Diving, of course!
Sleep and Eat and Everything Else
Organized by Hammerhead Diving Center. 2D/1N diving trip with a price IR 750,000 / pax excluding diving gear
Summary: easy! Relaxing and diving! Although I’m very much for the do-it-all trip, a relaxed trip once in a while never hurts. On the contrary, it could be refreshing. In between dives, we just lazed around. At meal times we took our time to just talk and have a laugh. It was that simple and delightful.
I will not deny the fact that the murky visibility is its biggest challenge when diving in the 1000 island. It’s usually murky all year round, but according to the local dive guide, there are a few days where the waters are crystal. However, beneath the murkiness, there were corals that weren’t all that bad. Ah… that sounds like a philosophy.
First of all, one of the translations of ‘kotok’ is chicken poop. Naturally I thought the island was filled with poop from roaming chickens . Add to that, ‘Ci’ which means water… so… those chickens probably ate a lot of natural laxative. Bleh! But the island wasn’t anything like that. In fact, Cikotok has a posh resort, one that we haven’t thought of affording.
This time Nando and Dhika, our diving babysitters, decided that it was OK for us to head out a bit. Super YAY! I was curious because usually this is the island where rich people dive in. Underwater Cikotok is not bad, not bad at all! To get to it, one needs to venture a bit further from the usual Pramuka Island.
I felt nervous considering Cikotok had good corals. As I mentioned before, I didn’t wanna be human cannon ball. So it was then I had to quickly regain my buoyancy.
The slopes of this island can’t be said extraordinary. However, you will find a few sea fans with multiple colors and a pretty sea floor. It was purrrty! Fish are also abundant and can entertain any diving routine that you need to do.
This spot was uber special for me since I finally got to dive with a sea turtle at the sea bottom *shed a tear. Although the Dive Master urged me to come closer to the gentle creature, I’m quite happy to see it from 2 m. Turtles don’t look that defenseless underwater. On the contrary, they look more confident and a bit posh, probably since they can swim away faster in water than on land.
We can’t really say it was a decent night dive. It was like a night dip. The murky water was still a problem, causing the flashlights to look like hazy glows in mystery diving movies. Not a good sign. Plus there was a sudden underwater current. More bad signs. Oh wait, I had the longest dive since I was with the guide. I saw a Moray Eel swim pass us in the night, which was pretty frightening compared to seeing in the daylight. We didn’t see it approach us, let alone be aware of its actions.
The tugboat is located almost as far as Cikotok is from Pramuka Island. Descending in to the waters we could feel a small current tugging us to one direction. We forced ourselves to swim against it, reaching to the anchoring rope that leads us to the boat.
After tugging ourselves for about 2 minutes, the huge wreck shadow slowly appeared itself. It was hard to see anything amongst the particle storm but for me it was like a mystery movie but in 4D. The story about the tugboat was that it sank one day, trapping in 2 crews inside. Of course, any story of tragic death is always spooky and diving to see it under such circumstances really help build the creepy ambiance. The tugboat is not the only creepy place around these waters. There are many sacred spots that even the most experienced dive guides won’t go to, even if you offered them a stack of cash.
The tugboat was more than 30 m deep, we couldn’t stay down for long. Only a blink of 15 minutes and we were already looking for a save depth, which eventually lead to a safety stop. But it was all good since the stop was over a huge bed of breathing corals, blooming in and out looking for food.
After the tugboat, we chose to head back home although we had one more dive to do. The ferry back to Jakarta was leaving soon, and even though Dhika and Nando knew the captain well, they felt bad if the whole boat had to wait just for us. So we headed back, took turns for showers and eventually still managed to be the last one on the boat :p
Who’s crazy to do this?
This trip was organized by Nando and Dhika’s dive center called the Hammerhead diving club. Their services cost IDR 750,000 / pax for 2D1N trip, which includes transport from Muara Angke port on the public ferry, accommodation with AC when there’s electricity, primary meals but abundant, tanks, and (prepare for it) 5 DIVES! Yes! 5! Only for IDR 750,000 / pax! You’re not hallucinating.
You need to add an extra IDR 100,000 / day if you need to rent a BCD and regulator. Such a super bargain!
We stayed at the accommodation chosen by Hammerhead Diving. The Bayu homestay is the usual homestay they use. It has 3 spacious rooms with mattresses on the floor, including in the living room. It also has AC in 2 of the rooms and 2 small bathrooms.
Although it’s not the best house ever, but it’s a nice small local house, great for a good night sleep. It’s located right in the middle of the island, so you’ll feel like part of the neighborhood. Not to mention it has a terrace where you can hang out and usually where your delicious meals are served. The homeowners, who are living near the homestay, prepared all of the meals. And the food? If there was a ‘like’ button, I’d press it!
Just a reminder also, there is no electricity during the day, so better charge up those batteries during the night.
This isn’t our first time to the 1000 islands. Both Vira and I have been there on separate occasions. We can tell you that it takes little effort to reach this mini archipelago from Jakarta.
Get to the Muara Angke port, which is located behind the fish market, not a beautiful scene nor smells. From there you can hop on the daily morning wooden ferry that sails to the many main islands of the archipelago at 7 am. The main island is the Pramuka Island. There are other boats stopping or heading to other islands as well.
After 2 hours, you’ll be at the Cyber Island: Pramuka, which will be the base of your activities.