Literally translating to “Thousand Islands”, the name of this set of islands off the north coast of Jakarta is figurative rather than literal. Kepulauan Seribu is actually made up of close to 350 islands, most of them uninhabitable. The few that support human settlement house just over 20,000 citizens, making the islands the least populated of all of Jakarta’s districts. It’s a decidedly more simple way of life on Kepulauan Seribu than on the mainland. Though the population is spread around several islands, the local settlements built on them possess some uniformity in their characteristics, namely that they are generally quiet fishing towns that are disconnected to the outside world. And fish is indeed key to the local lifestyle. Though most of the locals aren’t self-sustaining fishermen, the sweet, tangy aroma of ikan bakar (grilled fish) is ubiquitous, particularly in the evenings, when families get together to feast on the catch of the day. But what Kepulauan Seribu is best known for to the outside world is that it’s a quick island getaway destination for mainland Jakartans and indeed tourists from abroad. Several ferry services link up the islands to the mainland, with the fastest of them able to make the journey in just 45 minutes. While 36 islands were designated for recreational use, only 13 are available for regular tourists, while the other 23 are privately owned by the affluent few. Those that are open to the public offer everything from quiet getaways in private and secluded cottages to beach resorts suitable for families and groups looking for fun under the sun. As is the case with most tourist islands, the surrounding water is not to be ignored. Some spots are still teeming with coral reefs and colorful marine life, making for ideal snorkeling and diving spots. There are also the occasional bottleneck dolphin sightings around the waters, though they are said to be quite rare.

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