If you're the type of traveler that can't wait to set foot on your hotel lobby's plush carpet, can't wait to bask in round-the-clock air-con, and can't wait to revel at beck and call room service, then Anambas is not for you.
The Anambas Archipelago is a kind of no-man's land. The territory seemingly lies at the very edges of earth's frontiers, as very few have even heard of this mystery land. As a consequence, Anambas is still in possession of most of its original rich and varied ecosystem. Anambas is still real; by and large, most of the Anambas islands are as good as untouched by man, without traffic jams, without cars even, and without industrial pollution or even noise pollution. Flora and fauna is thriving on all the islands and there are very little - if any - major threats from man.
If this sounds like some fictional place, it's not. In fact, anyone living in South East Asia won't even have to travel all that far to get to Anambas, because at least in theory, it's actually quite centrally located in the western end of the South China Sea.
Locals often call the Anambas Islands, Jemaja, Siantan, Matak, Mubur, Telaga, Airabu and Bajau, the Seven Islands. And best of all, each of these islands is still mostly virginal. In actual fact, this is fairly surprising, because they're not that far, as the crow flies anyway, from major cities such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
Somehow, in spite of its awesome weekend getaway potential, Anambas has managed to stay undiscovered.
So, how do you get to Anambas? Well, to go there, Anambas explorers need catch a plane to Bintan Island first. From Bintan, there are two options.
1. You can take another plane from Bintan to Matak Island, located within the Anambas territory. This plane hop takes about one hour. From Matak, you can then take a little boat to pretty much anywhere in Anambas, although the most likely destination is Tarempa, Anambas' capital, about a 20 minutes boat ride from Matak.
2. You can also take a fast ferry from Bintan to either Jemaja or Tarempa. The ferry takes about 7 and 9 hours, respectively, to reach these islands. For details on the ferry to Anambas, click Anambas Ferry.
That said, like any explorer, you probably shouldn't be in too much of a hurry and you'll also need to be a bit flexible. Basically, if you tend to travel without relying on a set-in-stone itinerary, then you'll be just fine.
So now that you've made it to your frontier land, what can you expect? Well, for one thing, even though the local inhabitants, mostly of Malay stock, with some Chinese, have lived in the Anambas islands for years, the islands are not very densely populated by any stretch. The only exception to that rule is Tarempa. Tarempa, which incidentally is also spelled "Terempa" and "Tarempak", is pretty much the epicenter of the Anambas islands.
Then again, even the island Siantan, which is where Tarempa is, as a whole isn't quite populous. It's just that its mountainous interior has made it difficult for locals to live there. Which is why most villagers live in houses built at the water's edge, many of which on stilts, locally known as kelong.
The majority of the Anambas residents are fishermen, or work in some fish-related field. However, tourism is making serious inroads into this traditional living and this is actively encouraged by the authorities.
In fact, it goes without saying that Anambas has enormous potential when it comes to tourism. The snorkeling and scuba-diving, for instance, is excellent in the Anambas Archipelago's pristine areas.
Another recreational option that is on in Anambas offer is sport-fishing. The Anambas area offers a tremendous variety of trophy fish; from tuna to grouper and snappers. Even billfish are routinely caught here. As it happens, the Anambas islands have been quite a favorite spot for fishing enthusiasts. But ever since all immigration issues have been resolved, groups of Singaporeans and tourists from other neighboring countries can and do make excursions to the islands more frequently than before to indulge in their hobbies.
One of the Anambas islands' major draws is turtle-watching. Turtles have always featured highly on the list of those who sympathize with animal species that are endangered. In Anambas, in particular, on Pulau Durai and Pulau Mengkait, which have now been bestowed with a special protected status, turtle aficionados can observe turtles, especially hawksbills and green turtles, come ashore to spawn. Turtle-watching, particularly the hatching of the eggs and the subsequent dash for the sea by the hatchlings, is becoming a major attraction in Anambas.
For the best chance to see the turtles in action, the months of July to October are recommended.
Those who are interested in culture and architecture will find plenty of sites and attractions to write home about. Take the nice, old buildings, in Tarempa, for example, that were built by the Dutch during their colonial heyday. Some of these buildings are currently in use by the Indonesian military and government administration departments, but are well maintained and certainly have retained their zeitgeist.
Meanwhile, in the Tarempa port you can see toiling fishermen, sailors and other workers the way they have done for countless years.
If you want to see Anambas while it's still blissfully authentic and unspoilt by mass tourism, perhaps Asia's last hidden paradise, then now is the time to go. These are the resorts, hotels and hostels that are available:
Do note that due to the remoteness of the islands, Wi-Fi may not always be up in the hotels. In other words, if you're sending your accommodation inquiry by email, then a little patience will go a long way. Or Whatsup +65 900 79345 for more information.