It’s a balmy afternoon on a sun-drenched island in the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia. And as island life goes here, things are quiet. The only sounds that interrupt the peaceful swash of the turquoise tide are the crinkling of palm fronds in the wind and the occasional over-sized lizard tap dancing in the brush.
At just a 90-minute boat ride from the murky waste that splashes about in the Anchol Marina in Northern Jakarta, the contrast between the water couldn’t be greater. It literally goes from filthy to flawless. On the journey out of Jakarta, Indonesia’s raucous capital and antithetical manifestation of eco-consciousness, you can pinpoint the line exactly where the pollution ceases as if a giant underwater strainer was set in place. But on Pulau Macan, the lack of harmony with mother nature representative of city life is being made up for in spades.
Pulau Macan (Bahasa Indonesia for Tiger Island, though there are no tigers hold the look-a-like rocking horse at the clubhouse) sits atop the northern part of the Thousand Islands, a misnomer for the chain of about 120 small emerald-green islands that expand north of a Jakarta. A small, insignificant speck of a land that measures one hectare, Pulau Macan adheres to a self-imposed population cap of 30 people. (If you are as unfamiliar with hectares as I am, then picture an island that takes you less then three minutes to cross by foot.) Obviously there are no vehicles here; a crowd consists of a few good friends at the clubhouse or the seaside bar.
The owners, both Indonesian and mixed-blood foreigners born in Indonesia, are billing their venture as an eco-village. Take a closer look at the pier, and you’ll notice the long strip of solar panels that provide the island with power; behind the clubhouse, an organic garden made congruous with the land bears fruit; the accommodation comes complete with driftwood furniture carved by artisans. There is even talk of utilizing the septic tank to create a gray-water garden.
Scheduling is scant. In between meals, which are included in the package tours, visitors can dip in amongst kaleidoscopic fish that teem the surrounding reefs. Pulau Botak (Bald Island), a minute island in the distance, is also owned by Pulau Macan and is close enough to reach with a strong swim or quick paddle. Guided tours about the more eco-friendly aspects of the island are also available by asking one of the owners
Arriving back to the sounds and smells of Jakarta, travelers are once again confronted with the glaring contrast between the near-by neighbors, and most likely glad to have discovered a green getaway such a short distance from the big city.