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Pulau Harapan, 21-22 September 2013

Thousands Island located in the coastline of North Jakarta actually does not have thousands of islands, but only 110 islands. Among these 110 islands, only few islands can be visited for recreation. They are the nearest islands that can be reached from Jakarta city, yet I’d never been there before. I finally had a chance to visit there last September, and directly went to few of the furthest islands haha. They say, the further and more isolated one place is the more nice it would be, right? We stayed in Pulau Harapan (in English means Hope Island), and hopped on-off 7 islands around it.

One fine Saturday, we were a group of 10 people (5 from Jakarta and 5 from Bandung), gathered together in a gas station near Muara Angke harbor around 6 AM to meet the guide I had booked before. Muara Angke harbor is located right next to a fish market which is often watery or flooded. The smell is really bad. You should be really careful to not step your shoes on the mud there, because the smell would stick on you forever long time. You should arrive in the harbor before 5 AM because after that the traffic, which passing crowded fish market, get really really bad, and you could miss the boat.

We followed our guide to the boat that would take us to Harapan island. He didn’t give us any tickets, no ticket checking also inside the boat, so I guess that’s how it worked. The wooden boat had 2 levels and was packed with people. We had to squeeze our butt to fit in and sit comfortably for the next 4 hours! It boarded from Muara Angke harbor around 7.30 AM, and stopped by in Pramuka Island about 2.5 hours later. Some passengers went off in this port, made the boat seem a little bit roomy. To kill the time, we played card, phones, ate (maybe just me), and slept.

Playing Boggle Slam Card Game

Arrived in Harapan island, I phoned the tour guide leader, Pak Wawi. I got the recommendation about him from a friend Elly. The guide we met in Muara Angke before was one of his men, and only responsible to take us safely into the boat. Pak Wawi then asked another one of his men to lead us to our accommodation. I was expecting Harapan island a bit like Gili Trawangan island in Lombok, but they were different. Harapan island did not have beach like Gili Trawangan. It was also more packed with inhabitants whose houses were very close to each other and rented out for tourists. Our accommodation was the back part of people’s house. We got one big room and one smaller room (both with mattresses), one bathroom, terrace, aircon and a gallon of water. Both mattresses were only fit for 5 people, so the rest would sleep on the carpeted floor. It was not fancy, but enough. I wonder if there is any luxurious place to stay in Harapan island.

The agenda for that day was snorkeling in the sea around 2 PM until sunset. We had about 2 hours to take a rest, played games and had lunch. There was GSM signal but no internet data. The meal for lunch was cooked by Pak Wawi team, and delivered to our place together with dining equipment (plates, glasses, spoons and so on). They served rice, veggies, chilies, fishes, cold syrup (a piece of heaven in that super hot weather) and fruits. It was more than enough.

Then they picked us up for snorkeling. The snorkeling gears were all provided by them based on our measurement we gave before. First stop was near Macan island. Everyone (maybe except our 2 real diver friends hehe) was a little bit scared to jump into the sea for the first time after few years (one of us even hadn’t tried snorkeling before), swimming slowly trying to adjust our breath and view underwater. The water was so clean and we could see many kinds of fish and corals. Second spot was near Tongkeng island. Here, the underwater view was even closer and better. One might be careful tho to not swim and not be scratched by shallow corals. The third and last snorkeling spot was near Bintang island (in English means Star). Just like its name, in this island we could find a lot of Starfishes. Not just in usual orange color, but also blue Starfishes. Enough with the snorkeling, we headed to Gosong Perak island to watch sunset. Gosong means sandbar, and Perak means silver. This very small island didn’t contain anything else except sandbar and white sand beach. Oh, and a 3G signal! Haha everyone started to tweet, path and post everywhere.

Courtesy of Fajar Nurdiansyah

Sunset in Gosong Perak island

We then went back to Harapan island feeling tired but satisfied and happy. For this snorkeling trip, we were guided by 2 sailor men. They did not only drive the boat, but also explained us about the places we visited. They joined us swimming, pointed us the good corals/fishes spots, taught some of us how to swim and dive in without life vest, and also took us underwater pictures with their camera which later copied to us through USB drive.

Arrived back in Harapan island, I was told that dinner would be sent to our place, just like lunch. They also told me to gather in the main village at 9 PM for seafood barbecue. Wait, so dinner and seafood barbecue are different things? I knew we would have barbecue in the evening but I thought that was the dinner. The dinner itself was not that small: rice, chickens, veggies, and fruits. After bath, we walked around the village while waiting for Pak Wawi team finished the grilling. It was a little bit disappointed to not grill the seafood by ourselves, otherwise it would be more fun, right. Anyways, the grilled seafood portion was also big and really nice! Before dinner, we also bought and ate some local fries, eggs and snacks. I guess all the calories we burnt on the afternoon was back inside even more.

The next morning, they gave us morning snacks/cakes and hot tea, before picked us up for another 3 islands hopping, without swimming. This time we shared the boat with another group of Pak Wawi’s tourists. We visited a haunted Pak Harto’s island named Bulat island. Bulat means circle, which was the shape of this island. The late Pak Soeharto (or Pak Harto) was Indonesia’s second and longest termed president. He owned this island and visited it for holiday with family and friends. There was a helipad on one part of this island. We could tell it was a luxurious island in its glorious time, but now it was neglected after Pak Harto died. A family of the island guard was still living there for taking care of the island, but they couldn’t do much without the funding.

Bulat island gate

A pier in Bulat island

Next stop was Kayu Angin island. Harapan island and Bulat island have many cats, but Kayu Angin island is ‘controlled’ by dogs. My dog-typed-husband was so excited to see them. The same like Bulat island, the pier view of this island was amazing, suitable for taking photos. Next and the last stop, we visited Kelapa island to see turtles. Kelapa means coconut, and there are many coconut trees in this island. So, the total islands we visited was 8 islands, out of 110 Thousand Islands.

A pier in Kayu Angin island

Turtle in Kelapa island

We were a little bit slow walking around these 3 islands, so it was quite in a rush to go back to our place in Harapan island and to catch the boat back to Muara Angke harbor. We found our lunch-boxes inside the house, so we could eat it in the boat later. I paid our expense to Pak Wawi, and he gave us boat tickets. Not like the boat going there, we would be asked for our tickets inside the boat to Muara Angke.

Ow yeah, another 4 hours sitting in a wooden boat. This time the boat was even more packed than yesterday boat, but I could sleep since I was too tired. Sitting in a flat solid surface like woods and floors for the whole 2 days made my butt cramps, haha. But in all, it was really enjoyable and perfect weekend getaway. We could also visit Thousand Islands through Marina Ancol faster and more convenient with speedboat, but the cost would not be as cheap as this. Please find below the tour contact and expenses details.

Tour Guide Contact: Pak Nawawi (+6287884365983)
Total Tour Fee: Rp. 3,200,000 for 10 persons, including:

  • Boat tickets from Muara Angke to Harapan Island, and vice versa
  • 3x meals: lunch, dinner, lunch
  • 1x morning snack 
  • 1x seafood barbecue
  • Small boat for islands hopping
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Accommodation for 1 night

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