Years end in Jakarta can be a stressful experience – traffic becomes worse than usual, flight prices go through the roof, and organizing a family vacation can take on a nightmarish cast. Fortunately, a little-known island chain right on the doorstep of Jakarta can make everything much, much easier.
Quite often, it’s the attempt to actually leave Jakarta that can turn even the most mild-mannered of commuters into a raving lunatic. We’ve all been there – toll gate queues stretching to the horizon, muggy sun reflecting off endless numbers of bumper bars and windshields, and ojek brushing their handlebars literally under our nose. This is even before we get to the airport and brave rushing crowds, overtaxed check-in desks and scrutinizing immigration officials. Add a couple of kids into this mix, and it’s a fairly combustible combination that makes vacationing almost not worth the bother.
Luckily, there are some options much closer to home that can cater for families, singles, or groups who wish to get away and have some fun!
Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands) are a chain of islets and larger islands stretching off north of Jakarta. Far enough away to claim beautiful stretches of clear water, the closest of the islands can be reached in only 45 minutes from Pantai Mutiara in North Jakarta. Don’t be fooled by the name though – the coral islands number only 76, with others surfacing at low tide.
Even though we are well into rainy season, the crossing generally remains quite sheltered, and travel to the islands is swift. Boat options can range from a sedate family cruiser to party yachts with DJs and ample beverage options.
If staying aboard is your thing, there are a myriad of different activities to pursue. There are some diving spots around the Thousand Islands – indeed, some dive schools hold accreditation around some of the easier reefs. Fishing is always available, although some of the fish stocks have been slightly depleted in recent times. Other water-based activities can be hired at resorts on the islands, such as kayaking, windsurfing and Jet Skiing rentals.
Boat parties can also be organized very easily. Get some mates together, nominate your favourite music or beverage, and that’s all there is to it! Choose to either cruise around all day, or snuggle into a sheltered bay – it’s up to you. Just be aware that motoring around all day will chew more fuel, and hence increase the cost.
Overnight stays can be organized aboard one of the many liveaboard boats servicing Pulau Seribu. Drifting to sleep with the relaxing sound of water lapping at the side of the boat is a soothing experience indeed, and much preferable to the blaring of car horns or the catcall from nasi sellers at 6am! If sleeping aboard is not your thing, there are over a dozen resorts scattered throughout the islands with varying degrees of quality and price.
Ask an Indonesian about the Thousand Islands, and it’s a good chance that they haven’t been there either! It is certainly a shame that most turn their eyes solely towards East Nusa Tenggara for a beach holiday with so many decent options closer to home. You can finish work and be on a boat within an hour from Jakarta – what’s not to like!
There are many different boat services and tours available. For services in English, Spiceislandcharters.com runs weekly boat services to the Thousand Islands with various options on models and accommodation. Family trips, parties and resort accommodation can all be booked swiftly and easily.
If you’re not sure how to plan your boat party on this special season, you can simply contact Spice Island Charters at 0897 7187 616 or visit www.spiceislandcharters.com/pulauseribu for all the information you need. Just pack your bags, tag your friends or family along, and activate ‘holiday season’ mode!