Pulau Bidadari (or the Island of Angels) is one of the many charming islands in the Thousand Islands Marine National Park in the Bay of Jakarta, which also comprise Pulau Tidung and Pulau Pramuka. This beautiful island, formerly known as Pulau Sakit, is located close to the capital city, approximately 15 kilometers (or 20 minutes) away by speedboat. Pulau Bidadari lies in the middle of a cluster of small islands, among which are Pulau Onrust , Pulau Khayangan, Pulau Kelor and Pulau Ayer.
Because of its natural beauty as well as its historic attractions, Pulau Bidadari is at present being developed as a tourist destination. With only six hectares in area, Pulau Bidadari is a small island. You could walk from one end to the other in under two hours.
The beaches of Pulau Bidadari display beautiful, white, sand, and crystal clear sea water. There are also several mangrove forests where you will have the opportunity to see many rare and exotic plants, such as, the tree of peace (Baringtonia exelsa), willows, Pempis acidula, ebony trees (Diospyros maritama), and Glodokan trees, to name a few. Around the forests are also several fruit orchards which are lovely and colorful, especially when in season! Approximately 60% of plants on this island are rare, protected species.
Another interesing fact about Pulau Bidadari is that half of it remains lush, green forest. You can walk along paths and see monitor lizards lurking about tree branches. Up to 50 monitor lizards inhabit the area, some growing to as long as 2 meters.
In the 17th-century, the Dutch built leper hospitals on the island but these are no more. The island was then known as Pulau Sakit (or Sick Island). To give the island a more positive vibe, the name was changed to its current name, Pulau Bidadari. In addition, the Dutch also built a fortress here in 1786 to protect the City of Batavia (today’s Jakarta) from enemy attack.
Prior to 1970, the island had never been visited by tourists. It was not until the 1970’s, when PT Seabreez began to develop the island as a tourist resort as well as raise tourism awareness to this paradisical spot. According to the Pulau Bidadari community, the island gained its name because long ago, the Royal Family of Jayakarta used to come to the island for recreation and relaxation. No one was allowed to visit the island unless they were of royal blood. Hence the name, Pulau Bidadari, literally translated meaning: The Island of Angels.
What to Do
Because of its proximity to Jakarta, the sea is not appropriate for snorkeling or diving. However, there are an interesting variety of water sports provided, such as, jetski, banana boat, canoeing, or fishing.
There is an area designated specially for those of you who are looking to work on your tan. Grab your favorite book and settle down in one of the wooden lazy chairs for a warm and relaxing afternoon. There are umbrellas provided as well if you prefer the shade. Set up camp under a wide umbrella and spread a picnic for the whole family to enjoy.
Pulau Bidadari is also a nursery where dolphins are bred. So you can count on catching a glimpse of a tail of two breaking through the waves during your stay here. One of the most popular island attractions is swimming with the dolphins for both adults and children. There is also a facility offered for therapy for autistic children to interact with the dolphins. The price of this therapy is Rp. 150,000 per half hour. Two male dolphins, Yossy and Nia, will invite you and your family to swim together safely.
On this beautiful island you can also see the historic relics of the fort and its cannons. Following the shape of a control tower in Europe, it is better known as Martello Tower. This is the only fortress in Indonesia whose original structure was kept mainly intact over the years. This building functioned as a control tower and castle with a circular shape measuring 23 meters in diameter and a wall thickness of 2.50 meters. In the center there is a circular wall that functioned as a place to hold fresh drinking water and for cooking purposes for the guards on duty at that time. Based on research and excavations done by the Department of History and Museums of Jakarta, the building was originally a two-storey tower as shown by the holes in the floor support beams. There are seven chambers on the second floor, which served as sleeping rooms as well as for lookout. One room in particular was used as an ammunition storage area. Legend has it that a couple who takes pictures in the fortress will have a long-lasting relationship.
Pulau Bidadari has several specifically ideal spots where you can enjoy the sunset. You can capture the amazing colors on camera every afternoon as the sun begins to set over the horizon, so there is rarely an afternoon without a breathtaking show. Pulau Bidadari at sunset has been used for numerous pre-wedding photo shoots.