There are not many places where you can snorkel “close” to the metropolis of Jakarta. The thousand islands are nearly destroyed by pollution or overcrowded during the weekends.
Probably the best option is the island hotel “Pulau Umang”. It is not a Hilton or Marriot resort; no, you are in Indonesia, probably a good 3 star place. It is located on an island, approx. 7 min. by speed boat from the coast (close to Samur).
The island itself has just the hotel with 30 bungalows; each of them hosts two separate apartments. The apartments itself have two levels. On the upper level there is the sleeping area with mosquito net – do not worry, just better than without. (In the mosquito season, i.e. 4 weeks after the rainy months have passed, you will find mosquitos in any x star location in Indonesia, if windows or doors can be opened by you.) The living area of the bungalows is spacious, two sofas, one comfortable lounge chair, table etc., huge fridge.
The hotel started 2005/2006. Even after only 8 years you see it. The original design is very nice. But the owner does not seem to realize that the rough climate, the salty air asks for its tribute. It is time to change the cover of the sofas or to fix all wooden parts, which come into contact with water. While I was there, a lot of renovation work was underway, but focusing mainly on the island itself and not the bungalows. Both tasks are very necessary.
The island itself is something rare in Java. No scooters, no traffic noise, just the water and waves around you; very relaxing.
The hotel is mainly used by residents of the Jakarta metropolis. Foreign tourists will not like to travel the 4 – 6 hours on the roads to the harbor station opposite Palau Umang.
I was lucky; because I spent a weekend there during the Ramadan. Only 3 bungalows were occupied. I was serviced perfectly. The manager – Erik (grandson of Dutch-Indonesian couple, but fully Indonesian) – picked me up at the pier and treated my like a personal friend during my whole stay. I cannot make any bad comment. I was treated very well. During high season, it might be quite crowded, as there is not a lot of free space besides the bungalows and the main building.
The kitchen of the resort offers mainly local Indonesian food. I am a European and have to admit, Indonesian dishes are not my favorites, please apologize; of course, if prepared nicely they might be fine also for me. Here, the cook focused more on the quantity. Foreign visitors who are keen on any seafood might even like it; but for me squid should be tender and not hard like rubber (I know, that is not so easy to prepare.). I was the only Western guest during my stay. It seemed that the other guests were quite happy with the food.
My target was not the food but the snorkeling. The resort has a second private island, which is nearly virgin-like. The world below the water line is spectacular. The colors of the corals and fishes are just fantastic and worth every hour of the long trip from Jakarta. The varieties of the fishes in colors and shapes are stunning for any visitor like me, who comes from a country without a coast line. Erik brought me to this jewel the two mornings, just a 5 min. ride by speed boat. I enjoyed these trips very much.
Sports: The resort has a nice pool, approx. 15 by 25 m, rectangular, perfectly for a swim. I made my 1 ½ km each morning and evening. Jogging is not really possible. The island is just too small and the trails are not very smooth.
Summary: I can recommend Palau Umang for a weekend break very much. But you will be only fully satisfied if you are willing to enjoy the under water paradise. You might have to make a compromise regarding the apartments and the food; but otherwise the prices would be double – and it is already not really cheap.
- Also Known As:
- Pulau Umang Resort And Spa
- Pulau Umang Hotel Serang