Dec 15, 2008

A Weekend Getaway at Pulau Seribu, Jakarta

Jakarta citizens often look so far and hard for places to spend holidays. A lot of them forgot – and some aren’t even aware of – this mini archipelago with beautiful underwater views just one to three hours of boat ride from north Jakarta (depends on what island is your first stop).

Getting There

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.


This lodge is located in the middle of Pramuka island. It’s a small island, not so many lodges provided. Other than Wisma Dermaga, I’ve only seen 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 snack fries sellers, and some houses.

The room rate 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.


Semak Daun, Gosong Balik Layar, Aer, Gosong Karang Sempit, and Baliho islands were our destinations that first day. We rented a 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 were the best to go as to avoid bumping into (sharp) corals. He even helped two of us who got nudged by sea urchins in their legs.

Sea urchin attack!

We heard that if a ‘thorn’ of sea urchins got you, the only way to cure the wound is by urinating on it (there’s some substance that urine has which can help, I forgot what it is). 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 another much much easier and convenient way to heal the wound. That guide of ours poked the victim’s leg (right at the wound spot) with a rubber sandal long enough to crush the thorn in the flesh. It took maybe around half an hour. That way, the crushed thorn soon dissolves with her flesh, and is harmless. And why rubber sandal? Well, just anything that’s not too hard to poke with, but hard enough to crush the thorn.

Gosong Balik Layar Island + Gosong Karang Sempit

For me, the best underwater sceneries were 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.

Semak Daun Island

On Semak Daun island, we had our lunch in boxes, not forgetting 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.

Aer Island

Aer island was very serene with neat rows of trees on the sides of the main port. It even has sidewalk and some sort of garden. (I heard it’s 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.

Baliho Island

Getting closer to sunset, we hopped to Baliho island, where there were 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 bumps with the pool surface..! Ouch!! We were laughing at their entertaining stupidity, though.. hahahaha..

After enjoying the setting sun from Baliho’s pool side, we went back to our lodge at Pramuka island. Washing up, I was so eager to have dinner. Swimming always makes you hungry, doesn’t it?

The island is quite dull at night. Even the fries sellers were already gone back home. Some of us decided to just walk about the island, checked out the tourism information center, sat at the port area and had chit chats until we couldn’t stand the mosquito bites and went back to Wisma Dermaga.


At the port of Pramuka island, we saw some people were 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 hatchery, 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 to the port by the staff there.

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 same result ;)


Novi and I would’ve paddled for more if we didn’t have to move on with our trip to Karya island. This is what got us all interested in going to One Thousands Islands in the first place. Ipinx showed us pictures of her friends vacationing on this island and that got us drooled and eager to go.

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.

Now, 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 new fun friendship is all it took for such a great weekend.. :) Thank you, Genggong.

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