A tranquil island paradise just off the Jakarta coast

A view from the beach on Pantara island; cottages are in the middle of a jungle, giving visitors privacy. (JG)

A view from the beach on Pantara island; cottages are in the middle of a jungle, giving visitors privacy. (JG)

LOOKING for an intimate weekend getaway?

The farthest island of Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands), Pulau Pantara, is the perfect place. Located in the middle of the Java Sea, it offers breathtaking views and its white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water soothe both mind and soul.

The paradise island of only 10.5 hectares first opened to tourism in 1987 and since has developed into a popular destination for people from around the globe.

There are many similar islands in Pulau Seribu, but there is something special about Pantara.

When you walk around the dense jungle, or sit on the beach watching the sunset, the only sounds to break the tranquility are waves hitting the shore and palm leaves rustling in the warm wind. The secret is that cottages are located far apart, separated by trees.

“Actually, right now, from March to July, is high season, and all 40 of the cottages are fully booked, so we have over 90 people on this island,” Dwi Rohadi, receptionist at the island resort, said.

After a two-hour journey on a luxury speedboat, holidaymakers are greeted with live music and a tropical welcome drink in the vast lobby, the largest lobby on the Thousand Islands.

All cottages are located on the shore, so guests have their own private spot on the beach. The western-style food is included in the total price of Rp 1,936,000 ($197) and is served three times a day at the island’s only restaurant.

“Because the price is quite expensive, the majority of our visitors are foreigners. Holidaymakers from as far as South Africa come here to relax,” Dwi said.

“We always try to make our foreign guests feel at home on the island, for example if we have visitors from Italy we play Italian songs at dinner.”

Dwi has been working as a receptionist on the island for 12 years, and has seen all sorts of customers.

“Most of the visitors are very nice, enjoy their stay here and want to come back again,” she says. “But, of course, sometimes you encounter difficult people, who complain about the island being a disappointment and not meeting their expectations,” she said.

One thing foreigners need to prepare for is the lack of pubs and parties. Even though during the day Pantara island offers tennis courts, table tennis and a swimming pool, as the day draws to a close, there is not much to do. The place is far from Bali’s wild discos.

After dinner, Pantara is dead, with nobody to be seen. Buying alcohol after 10 p.m. is impossible — because everything is closed.

As compensation for that missing bottle of wine, visitors can sit beneath the amazingly bright star-lit sky and enjoy the diverse wildlife of the island.

All kinds of birds and insects can be seen wandering around, and if you get lucky you might see the king of the island, which Indonesians call biawak – a giant monitor lizard that can reach up to three meters in length and only lives on small tropical islands where it does not face much competition for food.

“The biawaks do not pose a danger to humans as long as they aren’t disturbed. Our guests should respect that they are wild, so don’t be tempted to get too friendly with them. Once a guest tried to catch a poisonous stingray while snorkeling, and he got hurt,” Dwi recalled.

The man was taken to the Pantara island clinic, where the staff treated the guest using traditional medicine.

Along with a few dangerous sea creatures, the island paradise poses another potential threat – natural disasters are not uncommon.

“Four months ago, there was a hurricane from the sea that rooted out many trees located on the beach. Luckily nobody got hurt,” Dwi said.

Protecting and respecting the flora and fauna is one of the main rules on this untouched piece of paradise. Pantara is one of the few places left in Indonesia where you can truly feel reunited with nature.

A weekend of meditating on the beautiful beach and drifting into calm sleep to the distant sound of waves can really do wonders. – The Jakarta Globe

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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