I’ve had my eye on the Thousand Islands for a while now, which are frequently touted as the perfect weekend getaway from the oppressive Jakarta smog. Despite the proximity – or perhaps even because of it – it wasn’t until Andrew’s parents came for a visit that we finally booked in a day trip to Palau Macan.
After reading up on the different options in Palau Seribu (there are about 150 islands to chose from), the promise of rubbish-free beaches, clear blue water and eco-friendly habitation put Tiger Island in the clear lead. Using their website, I booked in for the four of us at RP850,000 per head, payable by bank transfer or at a local BCA outlet.
On a Wednesday morning, we made our way up to Pier 6 at Ancol Marina for an 8am departure, where a small crowd of Indonesians and tourists were mingling around. Once the speedboat arrived, we were quickly directed on board into the air-conditioned cabin, and spent the next 90 minutes pushing past slicks of rubbish in search of clear blue water.
Arriving at Tiger Island, we were greeted by several members of the staff, and a delicious breakfast of pancakes, fruit, cereals and toast. Seating out on the wooden deck and sunning myself over a flawless ocean, I could feel the tension of Jakarta starting to slip away already as I sipped on a fresh ginger tea and decided what to do first.
The day trip includes full use of the facilities, including snorkelling gear, paddle boards and canoes. We decked ourselves out in some anti-sting shoes and drifted over to the adjacent island, then spent half an hour lying in the shallows while working on our tans. We also spent twenty minutes poking around the accommodation, which are a gorgeous series of open, ocean-facing bungalows complete with private decks.
Lunch was served at 1pm, the highlight of which was a whole baked fish caught freshly that morning. A variety of salads and stirfries, as well as the most delicious hot chips I’ve ever tasted, were a tasty accompaniment and for Andrew’s parents, an introduction to Indonesian food. Although not included in the price, a bar full of spirits, beers and pre-mixed drinks are also available, and at a very reasonable price.
We spent the afternoon lounging in the outdoor couches, playing board games and reading books. Best of all, before jumping back on the boat at 2:30pm we were provided with some fresh towels and directed off to the showers, where we lathered up with lemongrass body wash and coconut rum shampoo.
The only downside of Tiger Island is that a day trip isn’t really long enough, and I’d gladly have stayed for an extra day or two. I’m looking forward to heading back when I next need some time out from JKT, knowing that my pennies will be well spent.