Living in Jakarta, you don’t have to travel very far for an island vacation. Near the city bay lies the Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu). Just two hours aboard a boat to one of the nearest islands, and you can spend all day playing in the ocean water. The coral reefs, be they naturally grown or grafts, are waiting for you as your snorkel down below the ocean surface.
Step a bit out of your comfort zone and get to know the fisherman as the give you a glimpse of their daily lives. You can even try to discover new endemic species living under the pristine, clear water.
The Thousand Islands managed within a national park, offering visitors both coastal and underwater experiences. You can explore more than 19 different diving spots scattered throughout the national park, including Semak Daun Island. Gosong Pramuka, Karang Lebar, Kotok Island, Balik Layar Reef, and many more.
The Thousand Islands National Park is divided into several zones: the habitation zone, the recreational zone, the conservation zone, and the main zone. The sea biota species in this area includes 242 species of fish, some of them endemic.
A wealth of other sea creatures also thrives here, including giant clams, sand clams, abalones, seahorses, flasher fish, nidubranches (sea hares), sea turtles, mantis shrimps, and a large amount of renyok fish. If you’re lucky, you might even see a group of dolphins or hawksbill sea turtles surfacing for a breath of fresh air.
For those of you who come with thirst for adventure, the park gives you the opportunity to go drift diving during certain seasons, as well as wreck diving and night diving. Photographers can also express their artistic souls by taking pictures or videos of the striking scenery.
In addition to the park’s underwater beauty, you can also get to know the islands’ locals, their traditional values and ways of life. There are sights to see here that you won’t find anywhere else. There are so many things to do, from attending the occasional sea celebration, to observing the fisherman as they unload their catch, to learning how to make fishnets, and even seeing the children playing freely in the sea, unafraid of being caught in the current.
And that’s not all! The Thousand Islands coastal ecosystem is also home to an equally interesting biodiversity. As a tourism conservation area (marine ecotourism), visitors are invited to participate in eco-friendly activities such as planting mangrove, lamun, and learning how to make reek grafts. One particularly exciting activity is to meet the exceedingly adorable hawksbill sea turtles. Sometimes, you can even assist in releasing hawksbill hatchlings into the sea.
To reach Thousand Islands National Park, you can depart from Muara Angke Harbor via wooden boats while catching a glimpse of a traditional fish auction. You can also travel by speedboat from Marina Ancol Bay. The trip takes between 1 and 2,5 hours, and if you’re lucky you might pass a group of dolphins on the way.
For those of you who wish to stay the night, the park’s management provides visitors with comfortable resort on several islands, including Patri, Pelangi, Sepo, Kotok, and Pantara. Alternatively you can stay with the local residents, choosing from cozy destinations like the Thousand Islands National Park Inn, Villa d’lima, Dock Villa (Villa Dermaga), and several other homestays.
Making your way around the park is quite simple. From the aforementioned lodging spots, the designating diving and snorkeling spots are only a 5- to 15-minute boat trip away. It’s even easier if you just want to stop and enjoy the view while waiting for the sunset. Iseeindonesia.com recommend you to enjoy sunset viewing at Thousands Islands!
In addition to the entrance ticket, visitors must have a Conservation Area Entrance Permit, which can be obtained free of charge at the Thousand Islands National Park Hall Office.