Mon, 02 Jun 2003

Mountains or beaches? Pleasure is only hours away

Feeling tired and in need of some rest and relaxation? Get out of the oppressive heat of Jakarta and refresh your body and mind at resorts close to the capital.

For Jakarta residents, there are several excellent options for weekends and holidays: mountain resorts, beach side hotels and island retreats.

If you want to spend your holiday at a nearby mountain resort, a villa in Puncak is serene.

Although the road to Puncak is often clogged on weekends, many people still choose to spend their weekend in this stress-free environment.

Puncak, south of Bogor, offers spectacular views of dense rainforest and manicured tea plantations and cool fresh air.

Normally it's a two hour drive, but on weekends it will take you around four hours. To avoid the traffic, many leave the capital for Puncak at night.

'Things to do" in Puncak include trekking and horseback riding. South of Puncak are the resorts of Cibodas and a branch of Cibodas Botanical Gardens and Cipanas, where you'll find hot mineral springs and the President's Summer Palace.

If you want to escape to a beach close to Jakarta, then you can stay at a villa or a cottage in Anyer beach resort in Banten, about 160 kilometer south west of Jakarta.

Banten is blessed with many beaches, but the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of Anyer make it the most popular sea side destination.

The shores in Anyer are perfect for taking it extra easy but it's also possible to try paragliding, jet-skiing, tubing, traditional boating or other water sports. In Anyer tourists can choose from simple to five star hotels.

Further along the coast are Carita beach, Tanjung Lesung and Bagedur. Carita beach is just a two-hour drive west of the capital. The resort is accessible from Jakarta by a fair road, one third of which is a toll road that is being extended to the extreme western part of Java in Merak.

Carita and the surroundings have more hotels and accommodation than Pelabuhan Ratu. It is easy to stay here as many cottages, hotels and camping grounds are available, along with excellent seafood.

The white sandy beaches that stretch out behind hundreds of swaying coconut trees provide excellent views as does the infamous Krakatau Volcano, visible from Carita. It rises above the horizon in the Sunda Straits between Java and Sumatra. From here, you can reach the exotic wildlife of Ujung Kulon National Park within an hour.

Another remote resort on Java, offering cottage hotels, is Tanjung Lesung. The peninsula is an exciting new holiday resort that has sandy beaches and crystal clear water.

The resort is an ideal place for relaxed activities such as snorkeling and fishing, and for adventures like wind surfing, canoeing, and jet skiing.

When the afternoon comes you can spend your leisure time cycling or just sitting and watching the sunset. A boat trip to Krakatau or Ujung Kulon is another option for those up for an adventure.

Tanjung Lesung Resort Hotel is ready to help you enjoy your holiday. It offers a comfortable and private vacation. The hotel faces the Sunda Straits with views of Krakatau, Panaitan Island in Ujung Kulon National Park and north Carita.

Driving south west from the capital, resorts can also be found in Sukabumi, West Java, and the 'Jewel of West Java', Pelabuhan Ratu facing the Indian Ocean.

But if you are a real lover of the ocean, sand and sun, then staying at a cottage in Kepulauan Seribu or the Thousands Island will be just what you want. The Thousand Islands are located north of Jakarta, a two hour trip by speedboat from the Jaya Ancol Marina.

Set in a clean blue sea full of tropical fish and ringed by colorful corral reefs, the Thousand Islands are a tempting place to spend your vacation.

But before going to the Thousand Islands, you have to decide on which island you wish to stay as they are scattered across the Java Sea. Most of the developed islands have their own resorts, like Pulau Seribu Marine (Pantara Island), Kulkul Kotok Island Resort, Mentari Resort and Sepa Island Resort, where cottages featuring a 'back to nature' theme are readily available.

At the resorts, blending into nature is a priority, so the buildings are made of bamboo and wood instead of cement. Some cottages go for the 'natural theme' by using oil lamps, instead of electric lights, to create a romantic atmosphere.

Surrounded by the Java Sea, the Thousand Islands offer exciting water sports, including wind surfing, pedal boats, jet- skiing, swimming, sailing or boating, snorkeling and diving. Almost all resorts in the Thousand Islands provide water sport equipment.

Although all resorts offer comfortable facilities and services, each has its own special appeal. At Pulau Seribu Marine Resort, for instance, the natural atmosphere is highlighted in a 'back to nature' theme. There is no television or radio. The only sound you will here are the crashing waves, singing insects and the sounds of nature you never hear in a busy city.

Pulau Seribu Marine Resort is located about 35 kilometers from Jakarta, about a one and a half hour by motor boat. The resort boasts clean and un-polluted water, and is an ideal site for diving and other marine sports.

For those wishing for something out of the ordinary, and want to be close to nature, Sepa Island is the right choice. The resort is admired for its white sandy beaches and its crystal clear water that are teeming with marine life. Sepa Island has outstanding white sandy beaches ideal for suntanning, turquoise water, and coral reefs teeming with marine life. If you want to dive, Sepa Dive Shop rents equipment. Inexpensive boat dives near Sepa Island are also available.

Room rates at the resorts vary, depending on where you stay and what kind of room you want. Prices in the Thousand Islands are commonly listed per package, not per room. The package will usually include round trip transportation, a welcome drink, accommodation based on double occupancy, a breakfast, two lunches, one dinner and 21 percent TAX and Service Charge.

At Tanjung Lesung Cottage Hotel, one cottage with two bedrooms are set at Rp 1.3 million per night for weekday and at Rp 2.5 million per night for a weekend. A studio room at Sol Elite Marbella Anyer is set at Rp 465,000 per night for weekday and Rp565,000 per night for a weekend. The Standard Package at Alam Kotok Island Resort, for instance, is Rp 600,000 (twin bed) for weekday and Rp 650,000 for a weekend. The superior room is set at Rp 700,000 (twin bed, first night) for weekday and Rp 750,000 for a weekend.