Pulau Seribu literally means 'thousand islands', but in fact this mini-archipelago constists of less than 200 coral atols. Scattered over that quiet and shallow Jawa Sea north of Jakarta, they formed the idylic refuge - ever since the time of the VOC - for them who want to escape the suffocating city. Travel time from Jakarta is about three hours by ferry, one hour by speedboat, and twenty minutes by plane. Some islands are rebuilt into modern luxury islands, but most of them are still breathtaking somple.
The islands close to Jakarta were used by the VOC and some are of historic importance. Pulau Onrust (Unrest Island) is just 30 minutes by boat from Ancol Marina. Here J.P. Coen, founder of Batavia, gathered his troops in 1619 for the last attack on Jayakarta,. Later a shipyard was built - a small fortress, a hospital, a church and a storage room for artillery - , where the Dutch ships were repaired after arrivind from Europe. In the Bahari Museum, a maquette can be seen.
The neighboring islands of Kelor, Kahyangan and Damar also have historical, maritime connection to the VOC. On Pulau Biddari ('Nymph-island') there used to be a fortress anfd a leprosis-hospital; now it's a place of recreation and a restaurant. One of the first to appreciate these islands was the Dutch governor-general Camphuis. In 1685 he built a villa in Japanese style, surrounded by gardens with rare animals and plants, on the island of Pulau Damar.
The outside islands
A visit to th outside islands does at least have one night stay. Through weekdays it's very quiet, and some sale may be in order. Weekends, in contrary, can be very crowded, but there will always be a quiet place to be found. Almost every island is bordered with coral reefs and Putri, Genteng and Opak Besar offer good diving places. Serious divers have to remember that the underwater world of Indonesia is much bigger. Starting divers have to watch out for stings, cuts, sunburn and grazes. Protection of a lycra suit is ideal, but a t-shirt and thin shorts will be enough too. Never touch corals or sea-animals, some are poisonous.
The reefs have been suffering enough under the human invasion; yacht for souvenirs damages the fragile ecology. The sea live incluses turtles, murenes, seasnails, deepsea fishes and so much more. Reefsharks are more curious than agressive. During a boat trip to the islands there is a big chance of seeing dolphins and flying fishes.
On Pantara TGimur and Pantara Barat holiday resorts were built for the high-income tourists. They are built with the help from Japan Airlines, and are being visited by tourists who feel close to the nature in a marble bathroom.
Popular and more modest what prices concerned are Pulau Pelangi and Pulau Putri, which are managed by Pulau Seribu Paradise. pulau Putri offers easy holiday housing and bungalows (with airco if you want), a restaurant and a bar. A shop with diving facilities will fill up the needed bottled and rents diving equipment, sailboats and surfing boards.
Pulau Pelangi is bigger and has luxurious holiday houses with airco, tennis courts and a popular restaurant above the water surface. Like everywhere else the shops only sell the most needed products like toothpaste, suncblock and t-shirts, so defenately bring something to eat. Pulau Sepa has some easy houses with mandi-bathroom (one for two connected rooms), a shop with diving equipment and a cafe-restaurant and beautifull beaches.
Papa Theo is praised as a diving camp, but it's more an untouched piece of nature where also non-divers are welcome as well. Clean huts, bed on the floor, clean sheets and a easy water supply. The generator it put out shortly after dark. After that the wind, the light of the stars and the breaking waves break through the palm-leave walls. The restaurant is lit by stormlights and candles; it's serving fish and Indonesian food.
pulau Ayer, with houses on pawls in sea, and Pulau Laki are family resort islands closer to Jakarta. The water is less clear than far-away islands.