Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by indohoyindohoy on 2 August 2008 • Itinerary
Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is known as a metropolitan city with skyscrapers, highways, shopping malls, traffic jam and chaotic ambiance. No wonder this mini archipelago, with beautiful underwater views located just one to three hours boat ride from north Jakarta, is often forgotten by its people and visitors. Even after living in this city of hustle and bustle for almost 6 years, August 2008 was my first visit to Pulau Seribu (literally means A Thousand Islands).
Our main itinerary was to hop from island to island, enjoy the underwater sceneries and the beaches. As soon as we got to Pramuka island and checked in at Wisma Dermaga, we went and hopped on a boat with so much enthusiasm.
Semak Daun, Gosong Balik Layar, Aer, Gosong Karang Sempit, and Baliho islands were our destinations that first day. We rented the boat for Rp 500,000 for the whole day (until sunset), including a guide who showed us the best spots for snorkeling, helping me taking pictures of the underwater creatures deeper in the water, and telling us which directions we better go as to avoid bumping into (sharp) corals. He even helped two of us who got nudged by sea urchins in their legs.
Gosong Balik Layar Island + Gosong Karang Sempit
For me, the best underwater sceneries in this island hopping trip was near Gosong Balik Layar and Gosong Karang Sempit islands. Well, that is if you can call Gosong Balik Layar an island. It’s a mound of sand in the middle of the sea, which you can barely see especially when it’s high tide.
I loved these specific sites for the color and shape diversity of the underwater creatures. At least it’s one of the best I’ve seen so far, and it was also the first time I saw and touched a crinoid a.k.a sea lily..! It is actually an animal although it looks so much like a plant.
Semak Daun Island
On Semak Daun island, we had our lunch in boxes, and we did not forget to clean up after ourselves. Nobody really lives on this island except one or two island sitters, for whom a small house was built.
A hammock was set up, where Diandra and Aldy took a nap while the others were having fun in the water and busy taking pictures. This is a vacation..!
Aer island is very serene with neat rows of trees on the sides of the main port. It even has sidewalks and some sort of park. (I heard that the island is owned by one of the country’s famous businessmen.) We were just relaxing there, on one of the beach sides, not really much to see if you wanted to snorkel here.
Getting closer to sunset, we hopped to Baliho island, where there was a swimming pool in the middle of the sea, complete with the jumping board.
Norman, Nicolo, and Bopa tried out their mental (and physical) strength by jumping off the board so high, down to the pool, with minimum skill, resulting in painful splash with the pool surface..! Ouch!! We laughed at their entertaining stupidity, though.. heehee..
After enjoying the setting sun from Baliho’s pool side, we went back to our lodge at Pramuka island. Washing up, I was damn starving and couldn’t wait for dinner. Swimming always makes you hungry, doesn’t it?
Pramuka Island at Night
The island is quite dull at night. Even the street fried snack sellers have headed home. Some of us decided to just walk about the island, sat at the port area and had chit chats until we couldn’t stand the mosquito bites and went back to Wisma Dermaga. We also checked out the tourism information center which is only a short walk away from the port, where you could ask for brochures, maps, or just oral information, and check out pictures of fish variety on their walls.
I’m adding to what Vira has written about these bunch of islands (Mumun popping in green). I happen to visit Kepulauan Seribu this June 2009, the summer and was a great season to go! Pramuka is small island and worth the morning walk, just to wait for the afternoon ride back to Jakarta. There are shallow beaches, reaching about have a meter in depth and streaching out for about 100 m out on some parts of the island. We had a blast having photo sessions on this bright morning. You can see the so so dense neighbourhood when walking around within the isles. It could be nice to life on an island but still have some perks from the city.
On Pramuka there is also a hatchery for the Hawksbill turtle. You can see turtles in many stages from eggs, babies, and juvenile ones. When we got there, there was no one mending so we didn’t get information about these cute species. Amazingly, the morning past quicly eventhough we didn’t do much. But I guess that is the vibe of vacations.
Oh… we also visited an area called soft coral, or as the locals would pronouce it sopkoral. This area has an extended spread of hard corals and various fishes. It’s impressive how much you could see. Just ask the boatsman to take you there, the locals usually know where it is.
Sea urchin attack!
We heard that if a ‘spike’ of sea urchins got you, the only way to cure the wound is by urinating on it (there’s some substance in urine which can heal the wound). If you didn’t do anything to the wound, you’d have fever and I dunno what other bad effects.
It turned out that there’s a much much easier and convenient way to heal the wound. That guide of ours (I don’t know his name until today, is it so ungrateful of me?) poked the victim’s leg right at the wound spot with a rubber sandal long enough to crush the spike in the flesh. It took maybe half an hour. That way, the crushed spike soon dissolves with her flesh, and is harmless. No fever afterwards. But why rubber sandal? Well, just anything that’s not too hard to poke with, but hard enough to crush the spike.
At the port of Pramuka island, we saw some people canoeing around, right when we were getting off our boat from island-hopping. Novi and I drooled and rushed to find out how we can canoe ourselves.
The next morning, we went to the other side of the island, which is near the turtle preservation, to rent the canoes. It cost about Rp 150,000 for 2 hours if I’m not mistaken. We rented two canoes for a bunch of us, paddling them in turns around the port. The canoes were carried to the port by their staff.
Paddling a canoe looks so easy. Well, it’s not really difficult, especially when you paddle around in a calm water, but make sure you do a bit of stretching in the biceps area.. Yup, it could probably replace your weight-lifting routine to get the similar result 😉
We would’ve paddled for more if we didn’t have to move on with our trip to Karya island. It was pictures of Ipink’s friends vacationing on this island that got us all interested in going to One Thousands Islands in the first place.
We reached the island by an ojek boat. It’s simply a public boat. Only Rp 5,000 / person and voila.. Karya island!
It was great for swimming, relaxing, maybe tanning, but not for snorkeling because the shore was sloped slightly. Cute little fishes were swimming around us as if wanting to play and take pictures with us.
Remembering everything about such a satisfying trip, I’m as excited as these little village boys just to get their pictures taken (with Nicolo there as the guest star).
Rp 300,000 and a whole bunch of fun friends is all it took for such a great weekend.. ?
Because not many of the islands are inhabited, it would be difficult to find something to eat in just any island. So I suggest you to prepare your own lunch, dinner, or snack before island hopping.
Eating… is the best part. We ate at two places actually. First place was the Padang restaurant. You can really find these places everywhere! I salute to all Minang people! This padang restaurant has a wooden vibe to it. It’s located in one of the main arteries and I don’t think you’ll find a competitor. A simple dish would cost you no more than Rp 15,000
Another place where you can eat is the Keramba restaurant. This restaurant is built on a pile of sand in the middle of the sea. It’s very close to Pramuka island and people can rent a boat to eat there. There is also a pool with sharks, stingrays and huge colorful fish to entertain those visiting. The setting was awsome because it was a wooden house and platform. The food is YUM and it consist of fresh seafood. There was also some coconuts to drink from. Not a lot of choices, but when it’s fresh what else can you ask for? A dish can cost up to Rp 30,000.
And of course there was the ‘delicious oh so tempting and rarely dissapointing’ instant noodle stalls which would cost about Rp 7,000/portion.
This lodge, Wisma Dermaga, is located in the middle of Pramuka island, and this is where my group stayed. It’s a small island, not so many lodges provided. Other than Wisma Dermaga, I only saw Villa Delima which is so close to the port, facing the port to be exact. From the port, the walk to the lodge only took about 10 minutes, walking past some people sitting around, a few fried snack sellers, and some houses.
The room rate in Wisma Dermaga, in 2008, was Rp 300,000 for twin/double bed, add Rp 25,000 /extra bed (well, mattress, actually), you can squeeze 5 people in a small room, 10 people in a big room. Some rooms come with a bathroom, but there are also shared bathrooms, all are kept clean. The rate also included delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Salute to Pak Herman, the owner of Wisma Dermaga.
As another option, you can sleep at Mega homestay.
The provide a a small house, with 3 bedrooms with AC, 2 bath rooms, and TV for Rp 400,000/ night.
You can check out their website which I’m proudly a part of -although there is nothing to be proud of except that we help out tourism- www.megahomestay.blogspot.com or call at ( +62-21) 23725638 or to Mulyani at 081514480390 from a local line. They even rent out snorkling gears with limited amount of fins with various size, and they can also assist you in contacting boat owners for your day trip. What a package!
To cross to the archipelago, there are two ports that you can depart from, that I know of. One is the higher end one, at Ancol’s Marina bay, and another one is the low end one at Muara Angke port, which has to be reached by going through a fish market – yup, just imagine the odor.
The most common islands to visit are Pramuka island, Bidadari island, and Sepa island, among others. On these islands there are resorts and supporting infrastructures for people to spend the nights and do all sorts of activities.
What I know is, to get to Pramuka island from Marina bay only takes about an hour of boat ride. What my group did was take the more traditional boat from Muara Angke to Pramuka island, and that took about 2,5 hours. The boat can take about 40 people, who can be seated on the floor of the “cabin”, or on top of the cabin roof and feel the wind blowing (not recommended when it’s too windy and the boat rocks to much). Only Rp 30,000 / pax.
The boat leaves at 7 am. Surprisingly, it was on time. On very high seasons, they can have an extra boat heading to the islands, but ona normat weekend, there will be only one boat. So don’t miss it! Hop on and pay on board, don’t worry about any ticket. Heading back, you can take the same transportation that leaves at 1 pm boat from Pramuka port daily. Again, it’s surprisingly on time!
Living on island there is only one way to get around… BY BOAT OF COURSE! Hehehe… So you can rent a boat for the day, until dark, for Rp 300,000. If you happen to meet someone as good as Pak Makmum, which I’m sure you will since they have been doing this for sometime, you will also get a snorkeling guide too.