BDG Lux
Marina Palma Cuarentena
Ashore Marine
Absolute Boat Care
IPM Group
Marina Ibiza
Breaking News
Home > Features > Indonesia’s Amazing Anambas Archipelago
Anambas-Island-Sunset

Indonesia’s Amazing Anambas Archipelago

Tarempa_Harbor_Anambas_Islands_Indonesia

Indonesia is easing access for yachts to enter into Bali, Batam, Bintan and Nunukan and quarantine is now lifted for arrivals by air or by sea. And good news for foreign-flagged yachts… a new visa is on the horizon as the country slowly gets back to pre-Covid times.

“Most importantly, a new visa is being rolled out soon that would give 180 days straight away with no extensions”, explains Captain Thomas Taatjas of Asia Pacific Superyachts Bali, adding, “This is exciting news as the previous one needed time consuming extensions at immigration offices every month. This was really a pain for people cruising”.

Noting Visa on Arrival is currently available only at the airport and not seaports, including Bali, he added, “The new relaxed rules and measures are a good reason to again look at the seldom visited Anambas Islands Archipelago in Indonesia. The island cluster is being recognised as a new and exceedingly attractive South China Sea cruising destination, thanks to a huge improvement in facilities and especially now, in clearing yachts in and out.

Based on CNN, referring to the Anambas Islands as one of Southeast Asia’s most spectacular coastal spots, it’s also fantastic for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts and a tropical paradise. A collection of 255 small Indonesian islands in the Anambas cluster, with only 26 inhabited, are a part of the Indonesian Riau Islands Province on the South China Sea and among Indonesia’s northern-most border archipelagos between Singapore and Borneo.

The relatively seldom visited Anambas Islands Regency (or Kabupaten Kepulauan Anambas) is located 150 nautical miles northeast of Batam Island in the North Natuna Sea between the Malaysian mainland to the west and the island of Borneo to the east. It is geographically part of the Tudjuh Archipelago and an administratively an autonomous district covering an area of 46,667 sq.kms.  Its outer seas are nearly 90 percent crossed by foreign vessels and has only recently become a separate district apart from the neighbouring Natuna islands.

Lying quite far out in the South China Sea, away from most of the other Indonesian islands, the largest islands are Siantan, Palmatak and Jemaja, with the capital of the district of Anambas called Tarempa, on the island of Siantan. Gaining recognition worldwide for its potential as a paradise island holiday and marine eco-tourism destination, the main attractions of the Anambas Archipelago are its ruggedly beautiful environment, the exceptional clarity of its sea water and significant coral reef coverage along with the many as yet untouched ‘Survivor-type’ islands and their lush and often still-unexplored jungles.

ANAMBAS-ISLANDS-MAP

The panoramic view of blue seas and green islands are dotted with azure lagoons, especially on the islands of Pantai Selat Rangsang, Pulau Bawah, Pulau Rongkat and Pantai Pulau Penjalin. Here islands emerge from the sea as out of nowhere. At low tide the islets grow together by the connecting sands, creating an inland sea and an outer sea beyond, with lagoons that are paved with white sand and here and colorful corals. In fact, all of the islands in the Anambas have fine white beaches which glisten and become even more beautiful as the lagoons fill with aquamarine water through which strange corals and schools of fish darting in the clear water can be seen. Here you’ll find excellent dive spots with an amazing colorful underwater life and on land and rows of coconut trees protecting the soft white sand beaches, where turtles have made the shores of the islands of Keramut and Mangkal their habitat.

This group of islands has remained under most yachts’ radar. Its silent existence goes back for centuries, never really reaching outside its own boundaries. In fact, in the past the Anambas group of islands tended to be regarded as just a remote off-the-beaten-track place where only the most intrepid of traveler would venture. However, these days those with yachts and a penchant for exploring new seas and lands, more are becoming aware of the Anambas group of islands and the fact it’s nothing short of paradise.

anambas-clear-water

This group of islands has also been avoided by most cruising yachts in the past despite the Archipelago’s relative proximity to Singapore, Malaysia and somewhat further, Borneo. A major reason – in years past Indonesia was difficult to visit by yacht because of the immigration rules for yachts. With immigration formalities updated and pandemic measures easing, your agent can arrange for stress-free entry and will know the ports where e-forms are accepted and will ensure formalities are completed before the yacht reaches the Anambas Archipelago.

Cruising Anambas Islands

Anambas-cloud-sea-island

On a cruising voyage from Borneo to the Anambas Islands, Captain Thomas reported yachts can sail directly to Tarempa from Borneo (240 miles), from Singapore (150 miles), from Tioman, Malaysia (130 miles) and from relatively nearby Indonesian islands, such as Batam. A Captain on a cruising yacht in the Andaman Archipelago reported there’s only a lot of praise for what the local and administrative people have done for cruising visitors, making this an exceedingly worthy and yet to be discovered archipelago for yachts to visit.

It’s possible to cruise among the Anambas Islands any time of the year; however, the season of SW monsoon (April to September) offers drier conditions and a calmer sea”, says Captain Thomas, adding, “While most of the predominant winds come from the SW or NE according to the season, it is advisable to be anchored with the possibility to swing 180 degrees with a switch of wind under a passing cloud (and with reefs normally not too far away)”.

“At a radius of 40 miles from Tarempa there’s an amazing choice of anchorages waiting for you to enjoy diving, snorkelling, sunbathing or visiting a luxurious hotel (such as on Bawa island), or simply meeting the hospitable local people. A nice surprise is the friendliness of the locals when visiting the small villages scattered among the bays, helping to make your visit an enriching experience”, enthuses Captain Thomas.

For those feeling more adventurous there are many trails to hike crossing the islands, often bringing you to a spectacular viewpoint from the top of an island or leading to beautiful waterfalls. While anchored in one of the idyllic lagoons or bays you can easily swim from your boat to a snorkelling or diving area and discover the underwater beauty or a deserted beach to explore.

Many reefs border the Anambas Islands and provide well protected anchorages. Because of narrow passages to enter those lagoons navigation can be tricky and paper charts, as well as some system of electronic charts (like CM93 and Navionics charts), are not accurate enough for this area. It is therefore advisable to use a KAP file to view Google Earth for higher accuracy. And, of course, good sunlight and visual navigation is essential most of the time. The following are some amazing islands suggested by Asia Pacific Superyachts when visiting the archipelago:

Pulau Bawah Island. This Southern island has a stunning anchorage in a beautiful lagoon and is the perfect point of arrival or departure (according to your cruise). The snorkelling in the lagoon is good, however it doesn’t compare with the outside of the reef where there is better visibility, mostly on NE of the island.

 Pulau Ritan Island. About 15 miles NW of Pulau Bawa, this island offers more magic — a small anchorage in middle of the reef. Like most of the beaches in the archipelago the beaches are deserted and uninhabited though there might be evidence of ‘civilisation’ (i.e. plastic pollution). However this is more than compensated by being in a calm and beautiful anchorage, with the vessel most likely alone, surrounded by reefs where you can snorkel in clear waters and stroll the beach at a beautiful sunset.

Pulau Airabu Island. Less than 10 miles North from Pulau Ritan, this much bigger island presents several well protected anchorages. Maybe the best one can be found on the South of the island. The only (small) village can be found on the on the West coast on the North of the island. Excellent snorkelling and white sandy beaches welcomes visitors.

Durai Island. Sailing about 30 miles North towards Durai Island, you pass again in front of many good and attractive anchorages with fishing villages to visit and more of isolated lagoons and beaches. Durai Island is now a national park and there’s an abundance of sea turtles to view.

The turtles are protected; however, you can walk around quite freely and see many tracks of turtles on the sand. The turtle eggs are collected and protected by staff until they hatch, at which point the baby turtles are then released to the sea.

Tempara, Sintan Island. It’s now time to visit the biggest and very pleasant town of Tempara on Sintan Island where all the formalities are done. It is a deep anchorage near a long road built on piles.  This is the best place to resupply and also welcome guests flying in to join the yacht.

An airport is on another island less than 10 miles away (Pulau Matak Island), where you can anchor close by if more convenient. The East side of both Puala Sintan and Pulau Matak offer an incredible choice of anchorages, too numerous to be described. Adventure at its best!

SNORKEING-TENGGILING-ISLAND

Spending a few days or even better a month, in the Anambas Archipelago, offers new and isolated anchorages with clear water and a few fishing villages along the archipelago to ensure a fresh supply of seafood for sumptuous meals.

Those that journey to the Anambas Islands might find it difficult to raise anchor when it’s time to sail away, however, there’s also more dream voyage discoveries in setting forth towards Borneo, Tioman, Singapore and other parts of Indonesia.

It is very rare nowadays to be fortunate enough to cruise a new destination, one that appears so close from your port but actually so remote, the Anambas Archipelago.

By Linda Cartlidge

Asia Pacifics Superyachts

www.asia-pacific-superyachts.com