Anambas Islands 2016 - Tarempa Area

8.  TAREMPA AREA

8.1 Introduction
This area includes the major town Tarempa plus numerous other villages.  The area to the north has some great anchorages.  You can also anchor off the “Air Terjun Temburun” waterfall, which is a major tourist attraction in the area.

8.2 Tarempa Town
Tarempa (03°13.148N 106°13.151E) This is the administrative and commercial centre of the Anambas Islands.  It’s a pleasant town with lots of small shops where you can buy a wide range of items.

Tarempa Anchorage

The anchorage is at the south-east corner of the harbour alongside a long causeway built on concrete pilings.  The depth is mostly between 20 and 25 metres with shallower patches of coral - watch your depth sounder carefully and look for a smooth patch.

The best place is as close to the corner as you dare, which is clear, firm sand.  We anchored at 03°13.06N 106°13.14E in 10 metres, which seemed to be good, but only one boat will be able to get this spot.

We’ve anchored here twice in 22 metres, with multiple failed attempts due to dragging on rubble and picking up a huge plastic sheet with our anchor.  We also dragged when a squall came through with 45 knot gusts - we only had 60 metres of chain out in 22 metres depth and it wasn’t enough.  We also snagged our chain on coral in one place and had a problem pulling the anchor up.

It sounds grim, but if you check the depth carefully and avoid any shallow patches, when anchor is set the holding can be okay.  It’s worth letting the anchor settle into the mud for 30 minutes before backing it in. 

It’s worth persevering because the town is nice and the people are friendly.

Dinghy Dock.  In 2016, there was a small floating dock at 03°13.027N 106°13.151E, which belongs to the Navy.  A boardwalk from the dock leads to the Naval building, which has a sign saying “Lanal Tarempa”.  The dock is used by an official boat, but they are quite happy for you to use it for your dinghy.  Tie up to the east side and try to keep it close to the sea wall (we sometimes put out a stern anchor).

Tarempa Map

In Town.  From the dock, a boardwalk leads to the main street. With the Naval building in front of you, turn left to find the Customs and Quarantine offices.  Turning right will take you into the main town, where you will find the Immigration and Port Captain Offices.  

Tarempa is a bustling little town with narrow streets packed full of small shops selling a huge variety of items from clothing to motorbike parts and dried fish to plastic bowls.  This is the largest commercial centre in the Anambas Islands and all the outlying villagers buy things from here.  Hardly anyone speaks English, but we got by with our poor Bahasa Indonesia.

A useful contact is Axel who you will find at the Sakura Inn, which is 100 metres from the dinghy dock.  It’s the first large three-storey white building on the right as you walk into town.  Axel speaks very good English; is very helpful and knows where to buy anything in town. His email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The tourist office is slightly out of town just past the fish market. They don’t have a lot of information, but Mayang Mustijah speaks good English and is very helpful.  You can contact her before you arrive on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., she’ll help you with any official problems.

Tarempa

ATM.  There are several banks on the high street and we used the ATM at the BNI Bank several times without any problems. 

Petrol (Bensin).  You can buy petrol at many of the small shops in town.  They supply the fuel in 1½ litre plastic bottles for 14,000 Rupiah per bottle.  There’s a small shop right next to the Naval building at the end of the walkway from the dinghy dock, which is convenient.

Diesel (Solar)  You will probably be approached by some of the water taxis, who can supply diesel for 10,000 Rupiah/litre. We didn’t use this facility as it was expensive.  I suspect that they would deliver the fuel in 30 litre containers. 

“Amulet” walked to a fuel supplier who is directly to the west of the big mosque.  It's a small stall on the corner selling petrol, next to the archway that crosses the road.  They sell the diesel for 7,000 Rupiah/litre.  “Amulet” bought 200 litres of fuel and they arranged to have the fuel delivered directly to their boat.  They gave the boat driver 50,000 Rupiah. 

We contacted the Anambas Lodge (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or +62 821 1412 0632).  They sell diesel for 7,500 Rupiah/litre.  You moor on their wooden dock, which is located at 03°13.62N 106°14.35E with depths of 6-8 metres alongside.  The dock is strongly constructed out of wood, but is rough and has large truck tyres as fenders.  We tried in vain to use our fenders to hold ourselves off the tyres, but gave up and resigned ourselves to 15 minutes work removing black rubber marks from our topsides.

The diesel is supplied in 30 litre containers.  The workers at the hotel will pour the diesel in for you, but you need your own filter funnel (or pump).  They are fairly careful when pouring the diesel, but expect a bit of a clean up job when they've finished.  The fuel is dark, but fairly clean - we only had a few bit of debris left in the filter.

Water.  Desalinated water is available in several places in town.  They will deliver to the dinghy dock if you buy a lot. 

Laundry.  There’s a laundry just past the big Mosque.  They also provide Desalinated water.  Laundry takes two days for wash and dry.

Day Trip.  It’s possible to hire motorbikes - just ask around.  We hired two from a small motorbike workshop near the bridge.  It cost us 50,000 Rupiah per day plus 14,000 Rupiah for fuel.  It’s a pleasant ride to the Air Terjun Temburun waterfall, but when we got there, the waterfall was just a trickle.

Snorkelling.  The water in the bay is surprisingly clear and I had a pleasant few hours poking around under the causeway.

Souvenirs.  There’s a place where they sell material and clothes made from locally fabricated batik cloth.  It’s located next to the tennis court and the sign says “Dharma Wanita Persatuan”.  We think that it’s some sort of association for women run by the Regent’s wife.  They have a range of products including some T-shirts. The place is often closed, so you have to persevere.

8.3 Anambas Lodge
Anambas Lodge (03°13.643N 106°14.386E) This is a favourite anchorage for the small (power boat) rallies that come from Singapore once a year.  Anchor in 22-25 metres in front of the resort.  The hotel has a wooden dock with plenty of depth, so it’s possible to moor alongside.  They can supply substantial amounts of diesel, but need a couple of days’ notice (see above).

The resort is very quiet and two miles from Tarempa town, so we didn’t anchor there. 

8.4 Air Asuk
Air Asuk (03°14.687N 106°17.464E) This is a fishing village that is being promoted by the Tourist office as a place to visit.  There is a secondary school here and the headmistress is reported to speak good English and is friendly.  The anchorage is in 10 metres in the channel between the island and a reef.  It’s good holding, but the current makes the boat swirl around.  We only anchored there for a few hours at lunch time.

Anchored off Air Asuk

The village was very quiet when we were there.

8.5 Tarempa to Air Asuk
The route from Tarempa to Air Asuk passes through or around an extensive reef system.

Route 1.  The shallow draft local water taxis go through the middle of the reef system.  There are navigation posts to follow, but the route passes close to (and over) some shallower reef patches. The waypoints for the passage are shown below, but maintain a good lookout for shallow patches.  

  • 03°13.63N 106°15.30E
  • 03°13.35N 106°16.04E
  • 03°13.35N 106°16.40E
  • 03°13.31N 106°16.60E
  • 03°13.34N 106°16.78E
  • 03°13.44N 106°17.10E
  • 03°13.64N 106°17.24E
  • 03°13.91N 106°17.30E.

Route 2.  An alternative route is to keep to deep water (15 metres) and skirt around the south of the reef system.  This adds about a mile to the route, but in poor light might be safer. The waypoints for the passage are shown below, but maintain a lookout for shallow patches, especially near the end.  

  • 03°13.63N 106°15.30E
  • 03°12.63N 106°16.20E
  • 03°12.50N 106°16.70E
  • 03°12.72N 106°17.17E
  • 03°13.03N 106°17.26E
  • 03°13.91N 106°17.29E

8.6  Temburun Waterfall
Temburun Waterfall (03°10.63N  106°16.77E).  This is a pleasant anchorage near Tarempa's "major" tourist attraction. There's a large village ashore. The anchorage is a little way out from the village, but gives a nice view of the Temburun Waterfall.  Anchor in 13 metres of good holding sand at 03°10.63N  106°16.77E.

Temburun Waterfall

The approach into the anchorage is a little torturous, but it's easy to see the shallow reefs in good light. The way points are:

  • 03°11.317N  106°17.300E
  • 03°11.219N  106°17.201E
  • 03°11.050N  106°17.097E
  • 03°10.897N  106°17.050E
  • 03°10.680N  106°16.812E

Ashore.  There's a concrete dock at 3°10.63N 106°16.48E - go around the two small fish farm nets nearest to the anchorage and the dock will become apparent.  The locals use a stern anchor and tie the bow of their small boats to the dock, so it's best to do the same with your dinghy.  There are a few small shops with very basic provisions.

Waterfall.  The tourist literature says "Standing a magnificent 250 meters high, Temburun's relentless flow cascades down a total of seven separate levels before tumbling directly into the swirling sea below - a spectacular sight!" 

There's a wide path leading up from the main road to the middle of the waterfall.  From the dock walk up to the main road and turn right.  The path is about 50 metres on the left.  It runs parallel to the road for 25 metres then climbs some steep concrete steps. The upper part of the waterfall is more spectacular than the lower half, so it's worth the grind up the hill. 

8.7  Pulau Semut North
Pulau Semut North (03°23.121N 106°17.386E).  This is one of our favourite anchorages.  It’s at the south-east corner of Semut island in 12-15 metres on good holding sand.  There are many reefs surrounding the anchorage, but most seem to be 10 metres deep - there’s probably room for 3 or 4 boats, if some anchor in deeper water.  

It’s a pretty spot, with two beaches with swaying coconut trees and a very shallow pass between the islands, giving beautiful blue colours.  It’s well protected except from the east and very popular with the local fishing boats - some evenings, we had up to ten small fishing boats anchored around us, but most of them go out fishing a few hours after dark.

Snorkelling.  There’s a reef alongside the anchorage to the south, which has some interesting coral heads at a depth of 4-10 metres, but the water is full of particles.  We had a look on the north-east side of Semut Island, where the water was much clearer, but it’s mediocre, rocky reef at depths between 6-12 metres, which gradually slopes deeper.

Semut

Scuba Dive.  We anchored our dinghies in 6 metres of water at the south side of the anchorage (approximately 03°23.070N 106°17.428E). We headed north down the reef until we met the sand at about 17 metres.  Turning east, we followed the edge of the reef until we had used half of our air and then ascended to 10 metres returning to the dinghies.

The visibility was very poor (5 metres) where we anchored the dinghies, but improved dramatically as we headed east out of the channel.  When we turned around the visibility was 20 metres, so it might be worth starting the dive further east.  The coral is in good condition although everything is covered by a fine layer of silt.  It was a reasonable dive considering the conditions and I spotted my first Tomato Anemonefish, which are localised to this region.

A couple of weeks later, we did a second dive here, going a little further east than last time (I guess at around 03°23.09N 106°17.54E), just off a small headland.  The reef is 10 metres deep for a long way, so we found the edge of the reef and anchored on the nearest coral pinnacle.  

We headed north to the drop off and descended to 22 metres following the edge of the reef east.  After a while we ascended to 12 metres, retraced our steps and then played around on the 10 metre reef which is pretty.  The visibility was very good, but there were lots and lots of long particles in the water.  The shallower reef is more interesting than the deeper.  We saw a small Common Lionfish - the first we’ve seen in the Anambas.

8.8 Pulau Tenggiling
Pulau Tenggiling. (03°22.692N 106°13.989E). A lovely white sand patch around 6 metres deep.  Good holding, but exposed to south winds.  “Sea Monkey” anchored here in settled weather for a couple of days and loved it.

Curious boys at Tenggiling

We anchored here for 30 minutes in a south 25 knot wind (as a large system went over) and it was a very uncomfortable lee shore with 2 foot wind waves that built up quickly - we moved 2 miles south to Pulau Mubur NE. We returned the following day when it was sunny and calm, and the anchorage was transformed to a beautiful place.

Snorkelling.  “Sea Monkey” tried snorkelling in various places in eth area and said that that the snorkelling was best around the small island directly south of the anchorage.  We spent an hour snorkelling on the north-east side of the island and found it to be good.

Scuba Diving.  “Going Easy Too” said that the reef to the to the north-east of Pulau Tenggiling (near 03°23.10N 106°13.98E) dropped away steeply and may be a good site for a scuba dive.  We didn’t have time to investigate.

8.9  Pulau Mubur North
Pulau Mubur North (03°23.04N 106°13.48E).   This was reported by a yacht on the 2015 Malaysia Rally as a good anchorage in about 17 metres on sand and coral, with a a white sand beach nearby.

When we investigated, the light was so poor that we couldn’t see the reefs and there's plenty of them.  We didn't stay.

8.10 Pulau Mubur NE
Pulau Mubur NE.  (03°20.79N 106°13.59E).  This is a pleasant, deep bay with a stream at one end of the beach and coconut trees stretching up the hill.  The bay faces north, which gives excellent protection from south winds (we had over 25 knots and heavy rain when we arrived). The snorkelling is mediocre, but there’s a good 2-hour hike from the beach and Long-tailed Macaques forage on the reef at low tide.

The water in the bay gradually reduces from 35 metres to 18 metres and then more quickly down to 5 metres. The fringing reef narrows quickly the further you get into the bay.  

Farmer's Hut on Mubur

On our first visit, we dropped the anchor in 7-8 metres in between two edges of the fringing reef.  We let out 25 metres of chain and settled back to a depth of ten metres, but were a little too close to the side reefs for comfort.  It was a calm evening, so we stayed there. The sea bed is soft, muddy sand.  The following day, we did a small survey and found that the water shelves more slowly at around 20 metres going deeper. 

On our second visit, we anchored at 03°20.79N 106°13.59E in 20-22 metres of water - it seemed to be soft mud/sand, so we let the anchor settle for 30 minutes before backing it in. We felt that this was a better place to anchor.  

Snorkelling.  We tried snorkelling in three separate places in the bay and found that the coral was in poor condition, either from blast fishing or storm damage.

Ashore.  There’s a beach at the head of the bay, with a pleasant coconut palm grove.  A faint path goes through the coconut grove and climbs up the east side of the valley above the bay.  The path is used by locals to gain access to their plantations/gardens higher up and is obvious for most of the time, although it sometimes disappears into the undergrowth. At one point we lost the path next to an isolated triangular shaped rock - the path turns left just before the rock. If in doubt turn left.

It takes about an hour to walk up to a ridge at the head of the valley, where you can see down to the villages on the southern side of the island.  You will pass several small huts that the local farmers use for day shelter.  The crops grown include coconut, banana, chilies, papaya, taro and a few Durian trees.  It’s a nice, if strenuous 2 hour hike.  (I suggest that you take a stick and watch out for snakes - I nearly stood on one on the path.)