Looking for a tropical paradise minus the big crowds? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you the Anambas archipelago!
The wonderful nation of Indonesia, which is made up of approximately 18,000 beautiful islands, offers innumerable paradise getaways. The likes of Bali, Lombok, Raja Ampat and Flores make constant appearances on travel websites’ lists of Indonesian dreamy islands, each with its own allure. Compared to the other already popular islands, the Anambas Islands Regency (Anambas for short), which consists of 255 islands blessed with unspoiled coral reefs, warm pristine waters and abundant marine life, has remained relatively unknown, until today.
Spread across the expanse of the South China Sea, Anambas attracts avid scuba divers, snorkellers and sun-worshippers who simply wish to unplug from the hectic urbanised world and be lullabied by the relaxing tropical island vibe. The islands within the Anambas archipelago are remarkably beautiful and unblemished, suitable for romantic honeymooners and outdoor-loving families, including budget-conscious backpackers.
Out of the said 255 islands, only 26 of them are inhabited with the largest ones being Jemaja, Palmatak and Siantan. The Anambas Islands Regency capital, Tarempa, is located on the island of Siantan, where travellers can find most of the affordable hotels and homestays, including auto-teller machines. Agriculture and fishing are the main industries here; the region also contains a large reserve of natural gas exported to Singapore and Malaysia, among other countries.
For fearless divers, the Anambas archipelago has many spectacular dive sites with good visibility, especially those around the islands of Kiabu, Temiang, Semut, Mandau, Pahat, Durai and Renggek. Meanwhile, sun chasers who prefer to lounge blissfully under coconut trees and partake in light swimming should head to the uninhabited Penjalin island with its gorgeous luminescent blue lagoon and stretch of powdery soft sandy beach. Travellers should culminate their Anambas adventure by making a trip to Temburun Waterfall on Siantan island that greets them with beautiful and forceful cascades overlooking the stunning view of the ocean.
Bawah Reserve is notably the archipelago’s most acclaimed resort and has been a constant favourite among the well-heeled across the globe. This resort makes a great first impression by striking a balance between Indonesian rusticity and contemporary sustainability-centric décor. Bawah Reserve seduces romantic types with its three glistening lagoons and 13 private beaches, including its all-inclusive packages comprising transport via seaplane, spa treatments, and slew of activities. Anambas Resort (approximately IDR270,000 per night), Anambas Dive Resort (approximately IDR2,000,000 per night including meals) and Kusuma Resort (IDR10,000,000 for four persons including meals) also offer more affordable yet no-less-remarkable bases.
Reaching Anambas Archipelago
From Johor Bahru International Ferry Terminal, travellers need to take a ferry to either Batam Centre (Batam) or Tanjung Pinang (Bintan). For more information on ferry schedules and rates, refer to www.berjayawaterfront.com.my/info/schedule. Wings Air (part of Lion Air group – browse for more information) flies three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) from Batam to Letung (Anambas) starting on 10 August 2018, while Xpress Air connects Tanjung Pinang to Matak (Anambas) with daily flights on weekdays. There are cars for hire available at Letung and Matak airports that charges approximately IDR50,000 per person to bring travellers to the jetty where they will then take the boat to the desired islands within the Anambas archipelago.
Alternatively, interested travellers may also contact the travel agencies below to arrange their trip to the Anambas islands:
- Bagan Utama Holidays
- BT Tune Holidays & Services
- Dialta Travel & Tours
- East Coast Adventure Travel & Tours
- Overseas Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd
- JB B&J Diving Centre / Divejohor
Should travellers make Tanjung Pinang, Bintan as their first port of embarkation, be sure to allocate extra days to visit some of the nearby attractions. The family-friendly glamping sanctuary, The Canopi, features 100 stylish tents with a huge 6.3 hectares of man-made lagoon filled with crystal clear salt water, where the young and the young at heart can indulge in a wide range of outdoor activities including ATV rides, cable ski, rodeo bull, water slide and airsoft gun games.
The history and cultural buffs, on the other hand, should visit Penyengat Island, which once was a cultural capital of the Malay world, ruled by the Riau sultanate of Bugis descent. Expect to witness traces of the island’s glorious past, ranging from poetic signages to historical monuments such as the Grand Mosque of the Riau Sultanate, Balai Adat Indera Sakti (cultural hall) and Engku Putri Raja Hamidah Tombs Complex where revered historical figures such as Engku Putri Raja Hamidah (the wife of Sultan Mahmudsyah III) and Raja Ali Haji (Malay-Riau’s greatest scholar and poet who was famous for his Malay poetry Gurindam Dua Belas) are laid to rest.
To reach the island, travellers need to board a pompong boat from Tanjung Pinang jetty that costs IDR7,000 per person each way. There are auto rickshaws for hire on the island at IDR30,000 for two persons to bring travellers to the attractions – feel free to ask questions to the riders about the island because they could double up as entertaining guides.
Gaya Travel Magazine extends our heartfelt gratitude to the Consulate General of Indonesia in Johor Bahru and Dinas Pariwisata dan Kebudayaan Kabupaten Kepulauan Anambas for making the writer’s trip to the Anambas islands smooth sailing.
This article is included in Gaya Travel Magazine Issue 13.3. Read the magazine for free HERE.