Written by Beverley Lennon
Craving for a short escape from the crazy traffic and bustling city streets of Jakarta? Have you heard of beautiful white sand beaches and pristine islands just a short ferry ride away? Yes, we mean the Thousand Islands!
We know that it’s not easy to find islands that still have clean beaches and waters – a common complaint is that there’s trash floating in the waters near the islands, especially those near Ancol in Jakarta. Trash flows from Jakarta to the islands, and as the existing rubbish disposal infrastructure on the islands are still very poor, it is extremely difficult to clean it up.
So let’s all do our part to keep the islands clean (check out our tips at the end of this article!), and guess what, there are actually still beautiful beaches and seas in the Thousand Islands, less than 3 hours from Jakarta!
Don’t believe us? Check out these 8 pristine islands that are easily accessible for a day trip or even an extended weekend break – paradise isn’t so far away after all!
Note: For this curated list, we took accessibility, conditions, and location of the islands into account, without forgetting their stunning natural crystal clear waters, unspoiled coastlines and incredible beaches!
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This post is made possible by Indonesia Tourism Board
Step 1: From Singapore to Jakarta (Direct flight – total cost from SGD 116)
Take Tigerair, Scoot, Jetstar, Lion Air, AirAsia, Garuda Indonesia, Singapore Airlines from Singapore Changi Airport to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (Flight time: ~1h 45min)
Step 2: From Jakarta to Thousand Islands
Ferry ticket fare starts from Rp. 15,000 to Rp. 125,000 (approximately SGD 1.50 to 12)
Step 1: From Malaysia to Jakarta: Direct flight (total cost from RM 350)
Take Malindo Air, AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (Flight time: ~2h 10min)
Step 2: From Jakarta to Thousand Islands:
Ferry ticket fare starts from Rp. 15,000 to Rp. 125,000 (approximately RM 4.50 to RM 36)
Step 1: From Perth to Jakarta (total cost from 469 AUD, stopover at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Singapore International Airport, or Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport)
Take AirAsia, Singapore Airlines, Jetstar, or Qantas from Perth Airport to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (Total flight duration – including layover at Kuala Lumpur/Singapore/Bali: From 7 hours and above)
Step 2: From Jakarta to Thousand Islands:
Ferry ticket fare starts from Rp. 15,000 to Rp. 125,000 (approximately AUD 1.40 to AUD 12)
Depart from the nearest harbour in Jakarta such as Marina Ancol, Kali Adem, or Sunda Kelapa.
Getting around: You can generally walk around the islands or rent a bike if you wish to explore more areas.
This story would not have been possible without the support of Indonesia Tourism Board. For more information, check out Thousand Island’s official website.
Good for Day Trips
1. Spend the day on a swing with feet in the water – Pulau Pelangi
Paradise is just a 90-minute boat ride away from Jakarta! Pelangi Island is already a seasoned favourite for locals and foreigners looking for a tropical escape from the bustling city, but don’t worry, the island is never yet crowded to the brim. There are several beautiful beaches around Pulau Pelangi that are waiting to be ambushed by beach bums!
The tropical wonderland is densely covered by lush virgin forest and you can expect an amazing biodiversity and marine ecosystem across the island. It’s no surprise that Pulau Pelangi is a snorkeler’s favourite playground – the island is surrounded by coral reefs full of colourful fishes and other marine creatures!
With relatively shallow corals, swimmers don’t have to venture far to get a magnificent view of what lies just beneath its crystal clear surface.
Skip lunch at the beach for a meal above water at the island’s unique Kemegah Floating Restaurant, with specialties like Nasi Goreng and Bubur Ayam. Nothing beats their local seafood dishes though – these are perfect for your empty growling stomach after a tiring swim!
Thinking of extending your day trip to an overnight escape? Accommodation options are also available, with basic comforts like air-conditioning and hot water! With their bungalows facing the beach so that you can enjoy the beautiful sea view and tropical sunset or sunrise, how can you say no to Pulau Pelangi?
Accommodation rates: From Rp.1,650,000 per person per night (Approximately USD$118.70)
Getting there: Boat from Marina Ancol (90 minutes, USD$70 for one-day tour)
Recommended tour: Maritim Travel
To-do: Snorkeling, Diving, Watersports
Eat at: Kemegah Floating Restaurant
Stay at: Pelangi Island Resort
At Pulau Putri, it’s not just scuba divers and snorkellers who can catch a glimpse of submarine life on the reef. The island is unique for its array of activities that satisfy both great and non-swimmers. Some of them do not require any of you to swim or get exposed to the water, perfect for families with little ones or those who do not fancy getting wet!
2-a) Slide down to the sea- Waterslides
This is not your usual water park slide! At Pulau Putri, you get to slide down directly into the shallow sea! I mean, how can we not be grateful for such man-made inventions? Probably one of the best ideas coming from humans (right after or before infinity pools!). While the slides are ideal for some family fun; two out of the three slides are restricted to adults only. Have a fun time filled with laughters while you get catapulted out into the sea at the foot of the slide!
Seriously, we think that the person behind this had a consulting session with our inner child because how on earth would the waterslide of our dreams possibly exist just a boat ride away from Jakarta?!
P.S Once you’ve finished your foot-first plunge into the sea, you can climb back up the stairs and do it all over again and again!
2-b) Take a stroll underwater without getting wet – Underwater Tunnel
Dreaming of experiencing the underwater world but afraid of the sea and don’t fancy swimming? Or simply looking for an activity fit for every member of your family?
No swimming trunks, no swimming or diving skills required – just come and set foot under the sea at the island’s unique underwater tunnel that brings you the marine realm, with an array of species and creatures that are unknown to you!
Besides being fun for the whole family, this window to the ocean is a unique educational activity, ideal for your little ones!
2-c) Set sail under the grand ocean – Submarine Glass Bottom Boat
See beyond the enclosed aquarium and explore the great ocean in a submarine! The submarine experience brings you below the surface of the blue waters, so you will technically be underwater without getting wet! What a unique chance to observe marine life up close!
While on board the submarine, you get to weave your way through unspoiled and lively corals, as well as schools of fish.
The kilometres of ocean surrounding the island are known to be home to a fabulous underwater world that is accessible to all on the glass bottom boat. So embark on a unique and memorable journey, and even non-swimmers will delight in the underwater world!
Never too much fun? Stay over for the night! Accommodation options are available at Putri Island Resort with packages inclusive of activities listed!
Note: Activities listed above are all available for booking via tours.
Accommodation rates: From Rp. 1,320,000 per room per night (Approximately USD$95) Book your stay here
Getting there: Boat from Marina Ancol (90 minutes, USD$16-19 for boat transfer/ weekday and weekend rates or USD$100 for one-day tour)
Boat schedule: Departure From Marina Ancol Pier No. 09
Marina Ancol to Putri Island: 8am
Putri Island to Marina Ancol: 2pm
Boarding Time 7:30am
Recommended tour: Holiday Jakarta
To-do: Waterslides, Glass Bottom Boat, Underwater tunnel
Stay at: Putri Island Resort
3. Get your fins, mask and tuba ready to splash in – Pulau Sepa
Ready? Set, Snorkel! Peek into amazing aqua fauna of the marine world at Pulau Sepa. The experience is not only bound to transport you to a whole new world but you will also get to embrace life’s little pleasures and enjoy the scenic view of underwater life.
Pulau Sepa holds the title of “the heart of Thousand Islands’ diving” – coral reefs have never looked so lively and untouched than the ones you will get to admire here.
Truth is, there is nothing much to do besides being in the water, but you will be surprised by how welcoming Pulau Sepa is for both beginners and certified divers.
If you are not too keen to dive, simply enjoy the idyllic view of the amazing diversity of fish and other marine life while snorkelling or from atop the jetty. They are equally satisfying!
The surrounding glistening waters are crystal-clear with bone-white beaches – nearly comparable to the ones in the Maldives… or even better!
A trip to Pulau Sepa is best visited on an island hopping tour with other surrounding islands. Why see less when you can actually see and do more in one single day?!
Accommodation rates: From Rp.1,688,000 per adult per night (Approximately USD$121) Book your stay here
Getting there: Boat from Marina Ancol (2 hours, USD$63 for one-day tour including boat transfer, lunch and canoeing)
Boat Schedule: Departure from Marina Ancol Pier 19
Marina Ancol to Sepa Island: 8am
Sepa Island to Marina Ancol: 2pm
Recommended tour: Gogonesia
To-do: Snorkeling, Diving, Watersports
Stay at: Sepa Island Resort
4. Discover a hidden island with glittering water – Pulau Bira
Pulau Bira is a hidden crowd-free island treasure, located just 2 hours by boat from Jakarta and it is totally worth it!
With crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, lush trees and an incredible underwater world, Pulau Bira is close to being heaven on Earth! Needless to say, since it ticks off all of these dreamy features, the island is the perfect answer if you’re seeking to relax while remaining barefoot out of the hustle and bustle of Jakarta.
The stunning Pulau Bira is a small and tranquil speck of land with no settlements besides a sleepy resort. But hey, it’s the little development, unspoiled nature, rustic accommodation and numerous stunning white-sand beaches that make up one of Thousand Islands’ most divine islands…
You might not want to leave, so pack some clothes and stay at the island resort for a night or two! 😉
Rates: From Rp.1,400,000 per person per night (Approximately USD$100 inclusive of room, activities, meals and boat transfers) Book your stay package here
Getting there: Boat from Marina Ancol (2-hours, USD$ 68 for one-day tour)
Recommended tour: Paket Wisata Liburan Pulau Seribu
To-do: Snorkeling, Diving
Stay at: Bira Island Resort
5. Get lost in blues that never looked so good – Pulau Pari
Pulau Pari is known for its vistas of brilliant light-clear turquoise water; something unimaginable, considering that it is a mere 90-minute boat ride from the marina in Jakarta!
Of course the waters are inviting and worth snorkelling in, but once you are done, you truly should consider spending time at Pasir Perawan Beach (Virgin Beach). This extended stretch of sand looks like it was front of the queue when the beach gods were passing out idyllic places to lounge (not even exaggerating!).
And if you tire of the sugary sands, Virgin Beach is also famous for its mangrove tour! Rent a little canoe and row through tall and thick mangroves. It’s best to tour when the tide is high. Just ask the local fishermen and they’ll be more than happy to advise you if the time is good!
At sunset, fight for the perfect spot at Lipi (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia), which is easily accessible by bicycle or simply by foot!
While there are no hotels on the island, you might want to consider staying over at a local homestay – a unique experience to immerse in their local fishermen lifestyle!
What’s for dinner? Virgin Beach takes a lively turn in the evening with a BBQ dinner but don’t expect a wide variety in terms of meat, as it is a sea-to-table concept, often accompanied by performances. You might want to stay longer as this is where locals often gather to share stories about life on the island!
Note: While there are many starfishes around beaches at Pulau Bari, we highly discourage travellers to pick them out of the water or touch them as it can affect their life span.
Tour rates: USD$43 for one-day tour inclusive of boat transfer, tour guide bicycle rental, lunch and entrance ticket)
Mangrove tour: Rp. 15,000 per person (Approximately USD$1)
Sunset at Lipi: Rp. 5,000 per person (Approximately USD$0.36)
Bicycle rental: Rp. 10,000 per day (Approximately USD$0.72)
Getting there: Boat from Marina Ancol (2 hours)
Recommended one-day tour: Keliling Nusantara
Recommended 2D1N package: Pamitran (Homestay)
To-do: Snorkelling, Diving, Virgin Beach, Mangrove Tour
Good for: Weekend break (2D1N)
6. Row row your boat to your cosy bungalow – Pulau Macan
We’re secretly planning our next vacation to Pulau Macan while writing this! How on earth did this island not make it yet to the list of “world’s best private islands”?.
The island is exclusively owned and managed by Tiger Island Eco Village & Resort and every corner will make you feel like you’re in paradise!
Your barefoot affordable luxury stay comes in various options, with huts ideal for 2 to 6 people. They take sustainability very seriously – although you don’t have to sleep in a tent, and all necessary comforts and facilities are provided, the huts have no air conditioning nor TVs.
The eco resort concept aims at conserving energy and helping you experience nature and its wonders. The constant cool breeze on the island easily makes up for the non-existent fans or air conditioning!
Several water-based activities are available throughout the stay – snorkeling, paddle boarding, diving, as well as island hopping. You can use the tennis and badminton court too, though the young-crowd favourite is the clubhouse.
You could also choose to just relax by your private deck, or if you are feeling a little more adventurous, simply borrow their rowboat and paddle to the neighbouring deserted island! Don’t forget to pack a hammock (provided by the resort) and your favourite book! That’s how you treat yourself, darling!
At night, the resort organises a communal BBQ dinner with sustainably sourced seafood – fresh locally-grown ingredients without preservatives. Try out their in-house specialty – Karedok (which is similar to Gado-Gado and is made with Chinese long beans), cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, and a spicy-sweet peanut sauce… And don’t leave without trying their fresh catch-of-the-day!
*Note: Breakfast and lunch are served in the clubhouse, while dinner is served on the sun deck overlooking the sea.
Accommodation rates: USD$173 for 2D1N resort package inclusive of accommodation, full-board meals (breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner), unlimited water, tea, coffee, snorkelling trip (depending on the weather), and the use of all facilities such as snorkelling gear Book your stay here
Getting there: Boat from Marina Ancol (2 hours)
*Note: Boat transfers are quoted separately with carbon offset, tax and services directly from the resort*
To-do: Snorkelling, Swimming, Diving, Island Hopping, Paddling, Clubhouse
To drink: Driftwood Bar
7. Stay over and help the turtle and shark conservation centres – Pulau Pramuka
How can you possibly say no to uncrowded beaches with crystal-clear waters like the ones at Pulau Pramuka?
Of course the island does not have all of your Bali comforts, but it also has no crowd, so it’s a potential option to consider for your next holiday escape!
The island offers several accommodation options ranging from hostels to affordable hotels and homestays, which are fairly affordable with a range of facilities and conveniences for families and groups, such as air conditioning, television, and bathroom with hot water!
7-a) Save the turtles! – Turtle Breeding and Conservation Centre
This is the story of a local man who battles on the daily to save the Hawksbill turtles of his island from complete extinction. Mr. Salim founded the turtle conservation centre years ago when he noticed that fewer turtles were coming to the shores; reason being – they were being hunted for their beautiful shells!
The centre focuses on the breeding and upbringing of baby turtles before they are released into the open ocean – an activity you can take part in while visiting the island!
Besides guiding them to the sea, you are allowed to help out during feeding sessions and you’ll get to learn important aspects of conservation and preservation of fauna and flora, as well as share ideas on future initiatives.
Editor’s Note: We know baby sea turtles are really cute, but please do not touch them – they do not enjoy being touched or disturbed. Let’s do our part to care for the well-being of these tiny creatures!
7-b) Swim with Baby shark, Daddy shark, Mommy shark – Shark Breeding and Conservation Centre
Besides saving the turtles, Pulau Pramuka is also known for saving the ocean, one shark at a time!
Here, you’ll learn all about the alarming exploitation of both shark populations and other marine life in Indonesian waters. It’s an urgent need to protect many marine species, and the centre emphasizes on that. You’ll get lots of insightful information about the marine environment too!
And yes, you’ll get to swim with the sharks! It’s an activity that helps to develop a compassionate desire among visitors to conserve sharks, by replacing the scary “Jaws” syndrome with positive understanding and respect. You’ll be encouraged to consume seafood sustainably too (say no to shark’s fin soup!).
Tour rates: USD$75 for 2D1N tour inclusive of tour guide, boat transfer, meals, turtle and shark conservation centres, BBQ night, snorkeling, banana boat and insurance)
Getting there: Boat from Marina Ancol (1 hour), USD$10 per way for boat transfer only.
Recommended 2D1N package: Indonusa Tour & Travel (Homestay)
To-do: Snorkelling, Swimming, Diving, Turtle and Shark Conservation Centres
To eat: Nusa Resto Pulau Pramuka (Floating Seafood Restaurant)
8. Expect a fun-packed holiday with exciting water activities – Pulau Harapan
Besides being a picturesque paradise and a marine-life sanctuary, Pulau Harapan is what we like to refer to as a dream playground for those who love watersports.
Just ask and you’ll get it. From diving, banana boating, snorkelling, to jet skiing and canoeing, these activities are held in crystal-clear waters that scream “SWIM IN HERE!”
You will also find numerous accommodation options around the island, though they are more commonly homestays. The locals are hospitable and friendly, and they will make sure you have the time of your lives while on the island! The rooms are comfortable and equipped with all the necessary amenities, while the island itself is known to be safe.
The island also has a turtle breeding centre, and if you are lucky enough, you might even get to experience their release into the ocean!
Pulau Harapan is yet to be discovered by mass travellers, and few know about its remarkable white-sand beaches (as most people tend to head to Pulau Pramuka for their beach escape). But if you’re just like us who favour serenity and tranquility together with a whole lot of fun, Pulau Harapan deserves to be on your bucket list!
And here’s a little tip: We highly recommend you to book a tour that’s inclusive of island hopping to the nearby deserted island that looks like it’s straight out of a movie scene!
1. Do not expect good cell phone reception across the island! Currently, no wifi connection has been established across homestays on Pulau Harapan.
2. We know baby sea turtles are really cute, but please do not touch them – they do not enjoy being touched or disturbed. Let’s do our part to care for the well-being of these tiny creatures!
Rates: USD$80 for 2D1N homestay package, inclusive of boat transfer, accommodation, meals, BBQ, underwater camera rental, snorkelling gear, marine insurance) *Note: Price may differ depending on nationality*
Getting there: Boat from Marina Ancol (3 hours)
Recommended tour package: Explore Pulau Seribu
To-do: Snorkeling, Swimming, Diving, Island Hopping, Watersports
To eat: Local cuisine at your homestay
Best time to travel
To avoid big and high waves that may make your trip unpleasant (usually from November to February), we recommend you to visit Thousand Islands during the periods of late March to May, or September to October as the sea condition would be relatively calm.
Avoid visiting the Thousand Islands during Indonesia’s major public holidays such as Eid, Chinese New Year or Christmas too, as it may get very crowded with local tourists from Jakarta flocking here for a short getaway.
With limited resources to maintain their waste disposal systems (the lack of infrastructure is why the trash on the popular islands are not properly cleared), it is important that we, as visitors, do our best to keep the islands as clean as possible.
Let’s be responsible for our own waste, and preserve the islands’ cleanliness, so they don’t turn into a nasty soup of water bottles, styrofoam cups, cigarette butts and tiny plastic fibers that affect the marine life and biodiversity.
Waves of plastic waste from Jakarta can be seen flooding into rivers and oceans, and have been causing problems for years — clogging waterways in the city but also affecting the nearby Thousand Islands and even killing marine animals who ingest or become trapped by plastic packaging.
We all love beautiful untouched islands, so let’s do our best to keep it that way! See our tips below!
Ready for your escape from the city? These islands feature soft white sand beaches to support your steps, palm trees to provide sun protection when you are pruned from swimming, and crystal clear waters to coax you into a state of calm. Thousand Islands is paradise realised!
Who is the beach bum you’re bringing along? Tag them in the comment section below!
PLEASE NOTE: All the above information is correct at the date of publication. If you come across any changes or updates, please let us know and we will update the information accordingly. Thank you!
|PLEASE NOTE: All the above information is correct at the date of publication. If you come across any changes or updates, please let us know and we will update the information accordingly. Thank you! |