Last weekend we took a trip out to Pulau Seribu, a group of a few hundred islands lying about 50km of the north Java coast. The boat ride to Pulau Putri Kecil took an hour and a half and was a bit bumpy but it was good to feel the motion of the ocean again. The ferry was of the “flying coffin” variety – it more looks like a plane without wings than a boat. The four 250HP Suzuki engines made sure we ate up the kms pretty fast but, with only one door at the back, you wouldn’t want to be in it if it turned over. Luckily it didn’t and we got there in one piece!


We went to the islands with our neighbours Ali and Alexis. Ali was finishing off her PADI openwater diving course so we came along for the ride. We were keen to check out the islands as an easy weekend escape from Jakarta without having to battle the traffic. However because they are so close to Jakarta we had fairly low expectations about the clarity of the water and the state of the reefs.

view from our room

I was really pleasantly surprised! The coral was in really good shape, all sorts of brain coral, stag horn coral, sponges and large gorgonian fans, anemones sheltering cute little Nemos . . . and plenty of fish.

getting ready to dive

The variety of species seemed to be a bit limited, most notably Fusilier fish and Sargent Majors, but we also saw turtles and a moray eel. The water was a bit murky with quite a bit of particulate matter (hmm, probably something to do with the seventy cabins on the island but best not to dwell on it too long) so the visibility was only 8-10m. Nonethless it was easy diving on steep reef walls with enough life to keep you interested for a couple of dives. Great to have that on the doorstep!

For those weekends when we don’t go out to the islands Jakarta offers another opportunity to get up close and personal with our fishy friends – the fish spa! After four years in Thailand I thought I’d encountered every kind of spa imaginable but no. Head down to the basement floor of Pacific Place in Jakarta for a whole new spa experience. Low glass tanks full of tiny fish are set on the floor beside benches in a very tastefully decorated room. You’re invited to take off your shoes, have your feet washed then plunge them into the tanks.

fish spa

You sit there with your feet in the water for about half an hour while the fish nibble off all your dead skin cells. Yeah – I know it sounds disgusting! When you first put your feet there’s a feeding frenzy! The little nibbles tingle like little tiny electric shocks and it tickles at the same time. It’s definitely weird but when you pull your legs out they feel really smooth – even Neils!! OK I guess you’ve got to try it!


Suzy and Neil

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