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White sand, coconut palms fringing the shore, multicoloured coral reefs, abundant shoals of unique, colourful fish, a golden sun setting in clear blue skies….does that fit your image of Jakarta? Unlikely, but then you're probably forgetting that the beautiful Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands) are also part of what is known as the city of Jakarta.

Located on a gulf facing the Java Sea, Jakarta has four main ports from which to access the Thousand Islands: Ancol Marina, Sunda Kelepa, Tanjung Priok and Tanjung Kait. Ancol Marina is the most usual departure point, speed boats leaving regularly to whisk you away from the city heat to the cool, palm fringed beaches of paradise. However chartering a boat is also possible for anyone with a more adventurous spirit. The Marina Jaya Ancol itself is buzzing with yachts, motor and sail boats, and is the place to go for marine recreation. Jet skies canoes, sail boats wind surfering and waterskiing are all to be found, along with all kinds of fishing gear you may need for hire. Numerous stalls along the beach serve drinks and snacks while tents are available for sunbathers and sea-lovers.

But it is the Tousand Islands which are the real jewels. The Kepulauan Seribu, as they are known locally, are a group of islands sprinkled across the Java Sea to the north of Jakarta. As the name suggests, the way the islands lie seemingly scattered closely to each other offers you a thousand of beaches, a thousand pleasures and a thousand golden sunsets. The surrounding waters in particular are a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers, Kotok being the most famous.

Despite the romantic name, there are in fact about 340 islets in Kepulauan Seribu. Islets that have been developed for tourism include Bidadari, Ayer, Laki, Puteri and Tanjung, and bungalows, restaurants, diving and sailing facilities are available on all these islets and others. For anyone with dreams of Robinson Crusoe style seclusion, delightful beaches can also be found in Matahari, Kulkul Kotok, Pelangi, Sepa, Onrust, Edam, Bokor, Kelor, Rambut, Ubi Kecil, Untungjawa, Pari, Perak, Melinjo, Pancalirang, Gosong, Ringgit, Sebaru, Hantu, Antuk, Bira, Panjang, Kelapa, Panggang, Lang, Tidung Besar, Payung, Kongsi, Pari, Damar Besar, Kelor, Kapal, Cipir and Nyamuk.

So if you are in Jakarta and become weary of the frenetic turbulence of the modern metropolis, hop on an early morning boat and escape across the Java Sea to a paradise island in the sun…. you can be there in time for breakfast on Saturday morning, and back in town by sunset Sunday evening without even leaving Jakarta!

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