As your plane slowly descends for its approach to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport, you can see a large number of large and small islands dotting the sea in the Bay of Jakarta. These are known as the Thousand Islands, or Kepulauan Seribu. In fact they are a cluster of 76 coral islands with more appearing and disappearing with the tide.
Located 45km north from the city, this part of Jakarta offers a huge change in pace and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, but is near enough for residents and visitors to enjoy the exhilarating marine environment during a one-day excursion.
Here visitors will find great diving, snorkelling and fishing opportunities, as well as fabulous places to laze in the sun with nothing to disturb one’s mind except the chirping of birds amidst the gentle lapping of the waves.
The idyllic Thousand Islands are in fact a marine nature conservation area. They are home to a wealth of sea biota species which form part of its coral reef ecosystem. There are 144 species of fish, two species of giant clam, sea worms of various colours and 17 species of coastal birds.
The Park is a hatching site for green and hawksbill turtles. The hawksbill turtle is an endangered species rarely found in other waters. They are primarily bred on the island of Pramuka. Most of the islands are ringed by coconut palms and mangrove forests where iguanas, golden ring snakes and pythons can be found.
The islands of Pramuka, Semak Daun, Kelapa, and Panggang are interesting for turtle breeding, animal observations and marine tours. For wreck diving the best places are at Pramuka, Opak and Karang Congkak. The Laga, Kotok, Gosong, and Koja Karang islands are the best for diving and snorkeling.
To reach the Thousand Islands, you can go to the Jaya Ancol Marina from Soekarno-Hatta airport, Jakarta. Boats depart there and the journey takes between one to two hours.
Some resorts in the Thousand Islands provide transport for tourists. In addition, the government also provides speedboats called 'Transjakarta Lumba-Lumba' and 'Transjakarta Kerapu'.
Each island has its own character. For instance, Puteri Island in the north of this archipelago has soft white sand, an underwater aquarium, and a mini zoological garden. This island is an ideal place for swimming, diving and other activities.
Kotok island has natural sites with clean seawater. Beautiful reefs offer a special diving experience. This island is also known as a site for Elang Bondol (Brahminy Kite) conservation, which is the mascot of Jakarta province.
Pramuka Island is the site for the Thousand Island National Park. You can see rare sea biota, turtle hatchlings and the Hatchery Laboratory. You can also feed turtles and release hatchlings into the sea. On this island, you can also visit a butterfly conservation site to see the butterfly metamorphosis cycle.
Other islands frequently visited by divers include Peniki, Matahari, Gosonglaga, Kotok, Papa Theo and Sepa islands among others. These islands feature cheap and expensive resorts, hotels and restaurants. Almost all islands offer the chance to enjoy jet skis, banana boats and canoes. Even karaoke is provided by many resorts.
Several types of flora and fauna frequently found in the Thousand Islands include coral reefs, starfish, sand starfish, Betok fish (Anabas Testudineus Bloch) and onamental fish such as the Sargent Major fish among others.
There are cottages available on a number of the larger islands, such as on Pulau Putri, Bidadari, Matahari, Pelangi and Bira Besar.