Everything you've always wanted to know about Anambas but were afraid to ask.
If you've heard of Anambas and your curiosity has been aroused by what you were told about this blissful island wonderland seemingly at the edge of the earth's frontiers, then take a gander at the frequently asked questions below. But be warned, chances are that you'll be even more intrigued by the end of the page and you may even feel an unstoppable urge to experience this tropical paradise for yourself.
Why would I ever want to go to Anambas?
Well, many travelers do ask themselves this very question after reading or hearing about the Anambas islands for the first time. Despite the Anambas Archipelago's relative proximity to Singapore, at a mere 150 miles, this somewhat mysterious island group has somehow remained under most people's radar, its silent existence never really reaching outside its own boundaries for centuries. In fact, in the past, the only travelers familiar with this hidden gem in the South China Sea were invariably involved in either the oil and gas industry or in the area of marine biology. Outside these fields, Anambas tends to be regarded as just a remote, off-the-beaten-track place where only the most intrepid of traveler would venture.
Fast forward to 2019.
These days, more and more travelers with a penchant for exploring new lands are aware of Anambas and the way it's nothing short of paradise. Many such travelers now also know that most of the Anambas islands are idyllic, breathtakingly beautiful specks of white sand with perhaps a coconut tree here and there and, typically, surrounded by a gorgeous turquoise gin-clear sea. Those that have answered their call for adventure have set foot on a very interesting world of bounty islands and have met the locals, descendants of the once mighty Orang Bugis, the proud seafaring people of yore who - colorful past and all - retain their strong bond with the sea until today. Outsiders who have visited Anambas have also seen the sheer endless reefs around Anambas, filled with a kaleidoscope of colorful coral species, as well as magnificent sea creatures, big and small. Add in ubiquitous verdant jungles and countless cultural and culinary attractions for good measure, and the question of why anyone should visit Anambas has been answered.
Where exactly is this Anambas Archipelago?
The Anambas island group is part of the Indonesian Riau Islands Province. The territory is located about 150 as-the-crow-flies kilometers east of Pulau Tioman. This relative closeness to the mainland of malaysia is part of the reason why Anambas is actually not that inaccessible as it's oftentimes made out to be.
So how would I get to the Anambas Islands?
Well, there are two main ways: by air and by sea. Let's look a little more closer at these.
- By air -
Flight time to Anambas is about 55 minutes, subject to weather and any airport delays of course. Departure time from Bintan is 13.30 and arrival time in Matak Airport, Anambas, is 14.15. Meanwhile, departure time from Matak is 14.40 and arrival time at Bintan is 15.45. Ticket price for the flight is Rupiah 1,750,000 for a one-way ticket. Please note that check-in takes place one hour before departure and an early arrival at the airplane gate is highly recommended. If you prefer to take the flight to Anambas, then click flight to Anambas.
- By sea -
The sea route has a fast and a slow option.
Depending on which day of the week it is, there are two ferries that alternately ply the seas between Batam/Bintan and Anambas. Both vessels' final destination is Tarempa, after a short stopover at Letung, Jemaja. From Letung to Tarempa, it's another two-hour sail, subject to weather, sea state and any logistics or technical issues of course. Total journey time to Tarempa is about 10 hours from Bintan and about 7 hours from Batam.
By the way, Batam and Bintan are connected by ferry from Singapore, which is pretty much an hourly service. For more details on how to get to Anambas, click Anambas Ferry.
Every two weeks or so Indonesian government-owned Pelni shipping company operates a passenger ship called K.M Bukit Raya between Bintan and Kota Letong, Pulau Jemaja (about a 17-20 hour journey) and Kota Tarempa, Pulau Siantan (another 2-3 hours).
Sailing times, however, are prone to fluctuate with weather, sea state and technical issues. Given these travel longer times, the Bukit Raya boat obviously is the slow option.
Mind you, sleeper cabins are available on the Bukit Raya, which for some travelers (read: those with the luxury of time) renders this journey quite an attractive option.
What's the airport like on Matak? Any more information on how to go from Matak to the rest of Anambas?
Located right next to a dazzling lagoon, Matak Airport, hands down, boasts one of the most stunning locations of any airport in the world. Whilst the terminal is modest in size, it's quite adequately furnished, given the not so frequent flights in and out. After your arrival here, just make your way to one of the vehicles that will take you to the jetty. From this jetty, there will be little boats, both speedboats and slower so-called pompongs, which are used to transfer new arrivals to Tarempa. Once in Tarempa, you can fan out anywhere you like.
Where can I stay on Anambas?
As Anambas is gradually finding its way into more and more online and offline travel brochures, the number of accommodations is increasing to meet the rising demand for rooms. If you're looking for a place to stay, then you can try the following hotels and hostels:
Anambas Dive Resort
Nongkat Cottage by the Beach
Tarempak Beach Hotel
Please note that inquiries sent by email to above accommodations may not always be replied to promptly, due to periodic Wi-Fi issues on the island, or the occasional power black-out. If you prefer having your room booked immediately, then call or SMS +65 900 79345. Incidentally, homestay and dorms are also available in Anambas.
Are there any fun activities that we can do on the Anambas Islands?
Well, one of our favorites is to just stroll around Tarempa's sleepy waterfront. The quaint and colorful wooden stilt-houses form a picturesque town backdrop that breathes the rustic atmosphere of years gone by. While you're on your walkabout, do make sure you swing by the ever-bustling fish market for scenes that have remained unchanged for centuries.
Whilst Tarempa is a great place to explore, the main attraction in and around Anambas is of course its beautiful sea and countless reefs. You can charter a boat for a couple of days and ask to be taken around the various stunning islands, gorgeous bays, pretty beaches and azure-blue lagoons filled with crystal clear water. Island-hopping in Anambas should keep you enthralled for a few days at least, particularly if you enjoy going for a picnic or a BBQ.
But you would be missing out bigtime if you also didn't explore the impressive underwater world that is Anambas. After all, its snorkeling and scuba-diving sites rival the best in the world. Examples of underwater Anambas sites that shouldn't be missed are Pulau Ayam, Pulau Temawan, Pulau Penjalin, Pulau Tokong Malangbiru and the Seven Skies and Igara wrecks. But for a true paradise island experience, both above and below the waterline, it's hard - if not impossible - to beat Pulau Bawah.
If you're into fishing, then you'll have a blast around the Anambas sea, because these waters are quite fertile and renown for their rich fishing grounds. Be prepared to hook into tuna, mackerel, giant trevally, grouper and even billfish, just to name a few likely catches.
Staying on the water theme, Pulau Siantan offers quite a spectacular waterfall that consists of seven separate cascading levels. Whilst coming up for a close look at the waterfall does require a pretty steep hike up the mountain, the excellent panorama afforded from the waterfall of Tarempa and the sea below are more than worth the time and effort.
I'm sure there are some drawbacks of visiting Anambas. Any dangers or risks?
Well, let's first have a look at logistics issues which may arise, given that Anambas is only just opening up to the world. Even though its infrastructure is currently being developed at quite a decent clip, it's safe to say that roads, bridges, ferry coverage etc. are still not extensive enough. This means that transport from A to B may be subject to delays. The best way to deal with these interruptions is to take them in your stride. In fact, they're par for the course when exploring places such as Anambas, i.e. that are still in their early development phase. You might even say that the occasional transport hiccup or power outage is part of the appeal of traveling off-the-beaten-track.
Food-wise, it's good to be aware that if you're not able to eat rice or noodle-based dishes throughout the day, you may find it hard to enjoy Anambas, given that bread or potatoes may not always be readily available.
More significantly, Anambas doesn't yet offer a comprehensive hospital. There is a Rumah Sakit, which is more like a clinic, but for now, it's probably prudent to make sure your travel insurance has decent coverage.
Ok, Anambas has really piqued my interest. Do you have any images of the islands that I can see?
Sure, have a look at our gallery.
Can you given an idea of the budget required if I were to stay on the Anambas islands for, let's say, a week?
Whilst your exact budget will depend on quite a few factors, such as accommodation choice, activities, transport, etc, the following will give you an indication. The ferry from Singapore to Bintan is about US$50 for a round-trip. The fast ferry to Anambas is about US$100 for a round-trip. If you prefer to fly to Anambas, then count on the ticket being up to US$150 per one-way trip.
Hostels and hotels vary from US10 for a backpacker-type room to US$ 100 for a lovely room built over clear turquoise water that you simply won't want to check out of.
Food and drink tends to be cheap. Think US$3-5 per full-on meal and perhaps US$1-2 for a cold or hot beverage. Fresh fruit is relatively cheap also, probably cheaper than you've had anywhere.
Chartering a boat isn't cheap, however. Best you take the boat with a group of half a dozen people, so cost can be shared. You can charter a speedboat or a so-called pompong, which is a traditional fishing vessel, pretty much anywhere. Pompongs are cheaper but slower. Count on about US$100 per hour for a pompong and up to US$150 per hour for a speedboat.
Can you wrap up Anambas in a nutshell? What are the cons and the pros?
Anambas cons: Not the easiest place to get to. Not a lot of western food choices. No fully-equipped hospital.
Anambas pros: Countless paradise islands, almost completely untouched by tourism and surrounded by a crystal-clear sea. World-class scuba-diving and snorkeling. Paradise beaches fringed by coconut trees. The place to be whilst it's still idyllic.
Untouched. Undiscovered. Anambas!