If you are vacationing in Jakarta, one of the things you should not miss is a trip to Bird Island, which is locally known as Pulau Burung. This is part of the group of islands scattered along Jakarta Bay collectively known as the Thousand Islands or Kepulauan Seribu. The Thousand Islands are a popular tourist destination in the area. The name is a bit misleading, however, as Kepulauan Seribu only consists of over 100 islands. Of these, 44 belong to the Thousand Island National Park.
Pulau Burung is a favorite among bird enthusiasts. As the name suggests, Bird Island is a haven for different species of birds. Migratory birds fly to the island from the months of April to August each year. Some of them come from nearby Asian countries, while others come from as far as Africa and Australia. Measuring about 30 hectares, the island is home to oriental darters, herons, milky storks, and egrets, among others. All in all, an estimated 60 species of migratory birds go to Pulau Burung every year, which makes it a paradise for people who love to observe or photograph these winged animals.
The island is just a short ferry ride away from the town of Banten. The fare is not expensive; Rp 10,000 to 20,000 is reasonable. However, ferry operators might ask foreigners for a higher rate, so make ready your bargaining power. If you don’t mind getting a bit of mud on your feet, you can walk your way over to the island along the shoal at low tide. Still, the safer way to go to the bird sanctuary island is by boat.
Bird Island is managed by the Forestry Department. Usually, a permit is needed for you to be allowed entry, but sometimes visitors are granted permission to go around the sanctuary even without it. But to make sure that your trip is not wasted, it is better to secure the necessary permit.
In the midst of the towering trees on the island, you will find a tall watch tower. The watch tower gives observers a good vantage point to observe the birds’ movements. The surrounding beach is also an attraction in itself. You will find different kinds of coral reefs and many fish species inhabiting the waters around the island. However, sometimes the beach is littered with trash and other items that visitors leave behind. Cleanup is done every once in a while.
There are no places to eat in Pulau Burung, but there are plenty of outdoor restaurants serving delicious seafood in nearby Pulau Untung Jawa. If you want to eat, you can board ferries that stop over at Pulau Burung en route to Pulau Untung Jawa, which is just 10 minutes away.
The most convenient way to visit Pulau Burung is by booking a tour. Bird Island tour packages often include pickup from Jakarta, boat rides to and from the island, use of snorkeling gear, necessary permits to enter the bird sanctuary, and insurance. Meals and snacks are also served during the tour.