Off the coast of North Jakarta lies a group of over 100 islands referred to as the Thousand Islands or Kepulauan Seribu. Holding a small population of 13,000 inhabitants, the islands are one of the top tourist destinations in this part of Jakarta. People go here to enjoy the pristine beaches and to marvel at the beautiful underwater scenes through snorkeling and diving. Most of the islands are owned by private individuals and have been converted into resorts, although some remain virgin and uninhabited.
Forty-four of the Kepulauan Seribu are part of the Thousand Islands National Park. Two of these – Panjaliran Timur and Panjaliran Barat – are not open to visitors. These areas are protected because they are sea turtle conservation sites.
Of the more than 100 islands, the most popular are Ayer Island, Pulau Hantu or Pantara Island, Pulau Burung or Bird Island, Pulau Putri or Princess Island, Pulau Sepa, Pulau Bidadari or Angel Island, Pulau Kahyangan or Heaven Island, and Pulau Onrust. Ayer is an island resort just 25 to 30 minutes away from Ancol Marina by speedboat. It offers cottages and bungalows for accommodation. This resort in Thousand Islands comes complete with swimming pools (adult and children’s pool), badminton, tennis, and volleyball courts, meeting rooms, café, and restaurant and bar. Some equipment like motorboat, jet skis, canoes, and banana boat are available for rent.
Pulau Hantu can be reached by speedboat in 2 hours from Ancol Marina. This area is famous for having some of the best diving spots in the Thousand Islands. Other water sports activities that people enjoy here aside from diving are wind surfing, snorkeling, and jet skiing. Bird Island, as the name suggests, is a bird sanctuary run by the Forestry Department. It is home to many species of local birds. Migratory birds from other countries also go here at certain times of the year.
Pulau Putri and Sepa Island are both island resorts, like Ayer. Pulau Putri is 55 kilometers away from Ancol Marina and takes approximately one and a half hours to reach by speedboat. Aside from its beautiful beaches, Pulau Putri is famous for its underwater tunnel where one can observe diverse coral reefs, fish, and other marine animals. The tunnel is 10 meters long. Pulau Sepa is considered by many to be one of most beautiful of the Thousand Islands. With its unspoiled surroundings, it is the perfect place to relax and swim at the beach.
The islands of Bididari, Kahyangan, and Onrust have historical significance. In Pulau Bididari, the ruins of Martello Tower, a fortress built in 1849, still stands. Pulau Kahyangan is home to an old fort erected by the Dutch. In Pulau Onrust, the ruins of what used to be a five-sided fort attract tourists. During the time of the Dutch, Pulau Onrust held a naval base that the British attacked many times. What was left of the naval base was destroyed by a giant tidal wave caused by the explosion of Mt. Krakatoa.
You can reach the Thousand Islands in several ways. First, you can hire a speedboat from Ancol Marina. Second, you can take a ferry that takes passengers to some of the islands. If you have the money to spare, you can hire a helicopter to take you to Pulau Macan Besar or Big Tiger Island.