Pulau Tidung, Weekend Get-away in Jakarta’s Thousand Islands

Living in the city of Jakarta, or any large metropolis for that matter, it’s easy to spend your weekends or holidays by just defaulting to what you always do, simply because you always do it. Go to the mall, go shopping, hang out in the café, or maybe catch a movie in the cinema. All of this has become so common place that it just gets boring. So why not try something different this time?

Pulau Tidung is located relatively close to the capital city of Jakarta, that you wouldn’t have to spend unnecessary time and money just trying to get there. For Jakarta-dwellers looking for a simple and affordable weekend getaway – hop on a boat and see if Pulau Tidung isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. Tidung offers secluded beaches, starry nights and an amiable community, just a stone’s throw away from the capital. And unlike Puncak or Bandung, you won’t have to battle with the traffic either.

Pulau Tidung is the largest and one of the most populous islands in the Thousand Islands district. The Thousand Islands are a chain of small islands that stretch about 45 kilometres into the Java Sea, the closest being barely a few kilometres off the north coast of Jakarta. Contrary to its name, the Thousand Islands in reality are made up of only 110 islands, and form Jakarta’s only regency. This also makes Jakarta the only capital city in the world that consists of over a hundred islands!

The Tidung island, Thousand islands
The Tidung island, Thousand islands (Source : pamitrantours.com)

In 2002, the entire area of land and sea was designated by the Ministry of Agriculture as the Marine National Park. Two of these islands prohibit public access and are used for the conservation of sea turtles. The Thousand Island district houses over 300 reef platforms and 700 individual reefs. According to a decree, 36 of the islands may be used for tourism and recreation, but only thirteen of which have until now been developed. The rest are either privately owned or uninhabited.

Pulau Tidung itself is divided into two islands. Pulau Tidung BesarGreater Tidung Island, and Pulau Tidung Kecil, Smaller Tidung Island.

Tidung Island is only about 200-meter wide and 5-kilometre long, and is home to about 4,000 inhabitants. The slim width of the land gives Tidung an interestingly unique shape. A sliver of an island, split by a single, small road; nothing to your left or right but beautiful stretches of sandy, white beaches and clear blue waters surrounding the entire coast of the island. Tidung waters are quite shallow, and almost over grown with coral reefs thriving just inches below the surface of the water. The reefs are in excellent condition and are teeming with a colourful collection of tropical fish and exotic sea creatures. If you stop to think about it, it’s almost unbelievable considering Tidung is barely 30 kilometers off the Java mainland, and is technically part of Jakarta!

Tidung island, Jakarta
Tidung island, Jakarta (Source : ameeeiii.blogspot.co.id)

Tidung is not as developed as some of the other islands in the district, meaning that it is less commercial and noticeably cheaper. Tourism on Tidung island prides itself in being extremely community-based and is operated solely by the locals of the island, giving it a more down-to-earth and laid-back atmosphere. Accommodations on Tidung are in fact people’s homes that have been decorated and air-conditioned and transformed into a sort of homestay, suitable to accommodate the island’s visitors. While very simple, rooms are clean, comfortable, and a pleasant break from Tidung’s more pricey counterparts.

The smaller Tidung Island is for the most part, a breeding area for mangroves. The mangroves are planted once a year, and in time are destined to be part of a “mangrove tour.” Although small, Tidung Kecil proudly exhibits its own display of magnificent, deserted beaches coupled with lush vegetation and exotic flora. Tidung Kecil can still be explored by foot or wheel, though much of the path is overgrown with shrubs and greenery. For the more adventurous visitors, Tidung Kecil has also been used for camping since the building of the bridge.

There are several theories as to where Pulau Tidung got its name. The Indonesian word, tidung means shelter. In the past, the island was often used as a place of refuge from pirates, which is one of the possible origins of its name. An old history book, published in the 1960s or 1970s tells of a time when the Portuguese invaded Malacca.

Prince Fatahillah used the islands of Jakarta Bay as the base for his strategy, one of which was Tidung island. The island’s name is also associated with the Tidung-Tidung Tribe, of the ancient Kingdom of Tarakan in East Kalimantan. After suffering a defeat in battle, the Commander of the Tarakan tribe and his family were exiled to the Thousand Islands region, to the island now known as Pulau Tidung. According to local residents, Tidung has been inhabited since around 1920.

In 1986, electricity first came to the island and Tidung began to advance. The majority of the population had made their livelihood as fishermen, but soon began to progress into cultivation of natural resources and working towards preserving the environment. The island later evolved again towards the development of tourism. Today, Pulau Tidung is the center of the South Thousand Islands sub-district, and is in charge of three other island settlements in the area.

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Because all accommodations on Pulau Tidung are homestay, there are no actual hotels and resorts.

Although a relatively low-cost island adventure, Tidung is not short of things to do. Snorkelling would be your obvious first step, and is what the island is most famous for. Equipment is readily available for a closer look into the turquoise waters and the scores of active little fishes darting about the coral formations. Life jackets are also available for the more aquatic-challenged visitors. Aside from snorkelling, Tidung also offers a range of other water attractions, including banana-boat rides and canoeing. Boats can also be hired for short trips to neighbouring islands.

Pantai Tanjongan Timur, East Coast Beach, is the beach on the far-east coast of the island. Gently sloping land, tempting white beaches, and crystal-clear water makes Pantai Tanjongan Timur the most popular spot for tourists to spend their time playing and swimming at the shore, or just sitting and relaxing in the sand. Beach volleyball is also found here, if you’re feeling up for a game.

Pantai Tanjong Barat, West Coast beach, is far less known by tourists, and it requires a short hike through the forest to get there. This beach no less beautiful than Pantai Tanjongan Timur, and is ideal for those who prefer a more private area to relax and appreciate the island’s natural beauty in solitude. As it is located on the western tip of the island, Pantai Tanjong Barat has astounding view when the sun goes down.

Betok Harbor is located in Southern Tidung. This is the port where a few large ships dock, and the arrival point for visitors travelling back and forth from the mainland. Betok is also a good location for fishing, without having to go too far out to sea. Visitors to Tidung may use the ships at the pier for fishing, or if you prefer reef-fishing, there is a nearby dam flourishing with Casuarina trees. A few benches decorate the harbour and when night falls, this is a favourite spot for locals to play guitar, swap stories, and gaze at the starry night sky.

Tidung has just one main road, two meters wide and paved with bricks. Alongside the road are lodgings, equipment rental stalls, food stalls, and souvenir stores. This road also bypasses the island’s public facilities, such as the police station and the local high school. If you prefer to explore on wheel, bike rentals are positioned along this road, and are available at a dollar a day. Traditional rickshaws are another alternative form of transport on the island, in case you aren’t too fond of bicycles.

Following the main road, at the east end of Tidung Besar, you will come to Jembatan Cinta, or The Love Bridge. The bridge connects the two Tidung islands, and probably the island’s most prominent icon. The love bridge is an arched, wooden bridge, over 600 meters long and is a favourite place for lovers and friends to stroll and absorb the beauty of the island, especially at sunrise or sunset. The highest point of the bridge’s arch stands 6 meters above sea level and has become a popular place for the local children to demonstrate their courage by leaping off the top into the ocean below.


Tidung is about a 3-hour ride away from Muara Angke, the port in North Jakarta via a slower, wooden boat or ferry. The ferry departs from Muara Angke to Tidung only once a day at 7:00a.m., so make sure you wake up early enough to get there on time! Alternatively, you can catch a speed boat from Ancol Marina Harbor, in which case Tidung would be just 1.5 hours away. Lodgings and amenities are found on the main island of Tidung Besar, while the smaller island is almost uninhabited and is mostly mangrove forest.


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