It’s been a while since my trip and I can’t believe it took me so long to get this up! But I really wanted to share with you my experience in Jakarta when I spent a few days exploring the Thousand Islands.
To start off 2019 on a high note, I flew off to Jakarta for a quick getaway as I was interested in visiting the Thousand Islands. The pictures looked amazing and the water looked oh-so-blue. Fun fact, there aren’t really 1000 islands, but 342 (and only 13 are fully developed). Despite my eagerness to visit the clear blue waters, my first night was spent in Jakarta city (I stayed in BI Executive Hotel as it was near the marina) as the boat that leaves the Ancol marina for Pramuka island leaves only once a day at 8am. Thus, our first day was spent exploring Central Park, a large mall in central Jakarta. They had a myriad of stores and I ate tons! Also, if you’ve ever visited Manhattan and tried the food truck, The Halal Guys, you’d be ecstatic to know that they have outlets here! I was thrilled.
The next day, we got a ticket at the marina itself (IDR 180,000) and the boat ride was roughly 1.5 hours due to the winds.
I booked Seribu Resort Thousand Island which is on Pramuka island/Pulau Pramuka for 3 nights as through my research, I discovered Pramuka Island to be a good start point for island hopping. Pramuka Island is also the capital of the Thousand Islands and has quite a bit of infrastructure such as banks and resorts. There is also a small turtle conservation area here, but it was pretty difficult to find. It is located inside the Taman Nationale and ticket prices are IDR 150,000. Honestly, after reading about it on a few travel websites, we were hyped and spent a good amount of time trying to find it. However, when we arrived. It was extremely underwhelming in my opinion and we didn’t feel like it was worth it so we didn’t go in.
The resort itself is lovely. A great getaway from the hustle and bustle of modern city life and since the resort was located at the north part of the island, it has a lovely sea view and good bouts of wind to keep cool. It is also right where the boat from the Ancol marina lets passengers off, so you don’t have to worry about finding your way. One staff member was already waiting for us when we arrived to bring us to the resort, so it’s definitely great service.
Food wise, the island didn’t have many options, so we mostly ordered food from the resort itself. There were a few street stalls selling food but I didn’t what type of food they had or how to order so I decided to settle for the resort as well. I do recommend bringing along some snacks so that you can have something to chew on when you’re bored or feeling or peckish.
On our first day, after the attempt of finding the turtle conservation, we booked a boat tour with the resort to explore some islands and do some snorkeling. The resort staff found us a boat captain and we were on our way.
The boat snorkelling trip was IDR 250,000 for each person! I don’t exactly remember the island names but I did remember that the first island he brought us to barely had anything to see, besides three fishes and tons of trash stuck in the sand. That was very saddening to see! The next stop was pretty much in the middle of nowhere in the sea, but there were tons of beautiful and colourful corals! The view rivalled the one I saw at the Great Barrier Reef (read about my experience in Cairns here). I also saw some jellyfish floating around and a gorgeous but venemous lion fish, so I was lucky that I wasn’t stung. Then we headed to the floating restaurant that was really near to Pramuka Island for dinner (you can see it from the resort). The food was decent and I did particularly enjoy their chilli soft shell crab (IDR 120,000)!
The second day started off gloomy with tons of wind, so we decided to just chill in the resort. They have bean bags and hammocks so I took my time on them, reading my kindle and writing in my journal. It was a good day to just reflect on 2018 and set my intentions for 2019.
On our last day, as the weather permitted, we decided to explore Sepa Island / Pulau Sepa via boat. The rental of the boat was IDR 1,200,000 and the journey there was about 1.5 hours. Upon reaching the island, there is an entrance fee of IDR 100,000 too. The water here is crystal clear and there is a nice little beach in the Sepa Island Resort. The sand is white and while it isn’t the softest, I enjoyed lying on it and soaking up the sun. The water was so clear and it glistened under the sun. It was a perfect beach day. I wished we stayed here a little longer.
After, we left Sepa to head to Putri Island / Pulua Putri. The resort we were staying at told us that entrance fee was also IDR 100,000 but when we arrived, they wanted to charge us IDR 250,000 and we were reluctant. I’m not sure if they were trying to scam us, and since we did not really understand anything they were saying, we decided to leave. Our boat captain brought us to Pulau Bira Kecil instead. This island isn’t named on Google map and it looked like a private island of some sort as there was nobody there except for 2 men. There wasn’t a lot to do, besides admire the waters and snorkel a little to see some sea urchins and some corals. In terms of snorkelling, I do think it’s pretty much a hit or miss as it ultimately depends on your boat caption and whether he knows where to stop for the best view. The snorkelling on this day was nothing interesting, as we mostly saw some fishes and bleached corals. After we headed back to the resort, we discovered that there is a little cafe a few steps beside our resort (named Waroeng Teras Pramuka) so we had our dinner there. It was nice to have some food variations, and I highly recommend their hot chocolate! Do be prepared for stray cats to gather around your table whenever you are eating though. After dinner, we requested for a massage and the masseuse came to our room. It wasn’t the most professional, but nonetheless relaxing. The massage cost us IDR 100,000 per person for an hour.
You can purchase the boat ticket back to Jakarta on the island. A staff from the resort brought me to the ticket counter to get a spot on the only boat back at 3pm, which cost IDR 150,000 per person. We were lucky as there wasn’t any new arrivals to the resort that day, so we were allowed to stay in our rooms till it was time to board the boat! So we made use of every last minute to chill.
Overall, Thousand Islands is a really laid back and relaxed area and if you’re seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, this may be an affordable way to do so. The resort we stayed had wifi and air-conditioning, so you aren’t forsaking much comfort either. One thing that I struggled the most was that everything was pretty much in Indonesian and only a handful of people could speak english, so there was a bit of a language barrier when it comes to finding places/seeking help. Other than that, my experience here was zen-like and I loved that I had time to recuperate peacefully before heading back to Singapore to tackle 2019.