Anambas Islands 2016 - Jemaja Area

9.  JEMAJA AREA

9.1 Introduction
Jemaja is a large island to the west of the Anambas Archipelago.  There are numerous anchorages and small islands around the coast.  There’s a small town at Letong.  The anchorages are detailed from the north east corner heading anticlockwise.  The anchorages on the west coast are affected by the prevailing south to south west swell and can be rolly.

9.2 Pulau Ayam
Pulau Ayam (02°59.53N 105°48.43E) This is a great anchorage - very well protected and pretty. The anchorage is 8-12 metres deep on a large sandy patch in front of a reef fringing a beach and a reef in the middle of the bay - the south edge of the reef is at 02°59.57N 105°48.43E.  There’s enough room for a dozen boats.  Approach Waypoints are:  03°00.11N 105°49.26E; 02°59.60N 105°48.58E

Snorkelling.  Snorkelling on the eastern tip of Pulau Ayam island is okay with some good healthy coral. We tried several spots around the anchorage including the reef in the middle of the bay and the shallow reef in the pass heading west, but both were uninspiring.  The shore of the mainland to the east of the anchorage was even worse being just rock.

We went to the north-east side of Pulau Ayam and anchored in the second bay at around 03°00.28N 105°48.79E.  There’s a rock awash at the east side of the bay, which is an impressive pinnacle dropping down to 12 metres.  The snorkelling was the best that we found in the area, but mostly rocky reef and the visibility was poor.

Sunset at Ayam

“Amulet” visited the small island called Pulau Penanan (03°00.57N 105°50.23E), but the snorkelling there was nothing to write home about.

Scuba Diving.  Most places that we looked at were gradually shallowing rocky reefs and we felt we could see as much snorkelling.

We saw an Indonesian survey team diving on the North-west corner of Pulau Ayam at 03°00.54N 105°48.25E.  They were checking the condition of the reef.  I chatted to them, but because of language difficulties, I’m not sure about the quality of this dive location.

Other Potential Anchorages.  A big, steel catamaran () anchored at 03°00.09N 105°48.10E in 15 metres of water, which gave them more swinging room - not sure what the sea bed was like.

Navigable Passage.  When leaving the anchorage heading west, “Amulet” took a passage between Pulau Ayam and the mainland of Jemaja.  The minimum depth that they saw was 5 metres, although a good look out needs to be kept for isolated coral heads.  The waypoints are:

  • 02°59.56N 105°48.56E
  • 02°59.70N 105°48.54E
  • 02°59.75N 105°48.41E
  • 02°59.84N 105°48.32E
  • 02°59.94N 105°48.25E
  • 03°00.03N 105°48.13E
  • 03°00.09N 105°48.04E 

9.3 Tukan Bay
Tukan Bay (02°58.49N 105°46.94E).  This is a lovely anchorage and a well-protected bay.  The sea bed gradually slopes from 15 metres to 7 metres and has a sandy sea bed.  There are a few isolated reef patches around the anchorage.  Closer in (towards the white sand beach lined with coconut palms), there is a fringing coral reef.  When we were anchored here, there was a swell hooking into the bay and making it a little rolly at times. 

Snorkelling.  We snorkelled at the north-eastern tip of the bay, which was good, but exposed in the strong winds.  The reef at the middle of the west side of the bay was more interesting with varied coral and some large fish.  We saw a turtle just by the drop off.

9.4 Padang Melang
Padang Melang. (02°59.63N 105°43.76E).  This is the best anchorage in Jemaja, just off a small village in a huge bay with a 3 mile long white sand beach.  The anchorage is in 5 metres of water over firm white sand, which is a blessing in the Anambas Islands.  There is enough room for more than 50 yachts to anchor here.

Ashore.  Padang Melang is a neat and tidy village and is geared up for tourists with Palapas dotted along the edge of the beach and even showers dotted around.  However, there were no tourists in sight and the few small Warangs (restaurants) were closed at lunch time.  As usual in the Anambas, the locals were very friendly and helpful.  A nurse (Yanti) stopped to chat to us and she arranged for us to borrow two motorbikes to explore the island.

Padang Melang

Road Trip.  We drove to Letong, which is a 10 minute ride from Padang Melang (about 2 miles).  From the beach, head south and follow the concrete road over a bridge and then turn right at a small store selling petrol.  In 800 metres, you will arrive at a roundabout, where you bear right into Letong. (See the Letung section for more information)

We visited the Air Terjun Neraja waterfall which was pleasant.  It’s about one hour’s motorbike ride through some lovely countryside and a few small villages.  If you turn left at the roundabout, the nice new road turns rougher and passes through a rice growing area.  You come to a kind of T-junction, where you should turn left and go up the hill past some official looking buildings on the left.  

After that just keep going along the narrow road and eventually you will enter a small village with a disproportionally large road sign at a cross roads pointing left to Air Terjun Neraja.  The road become progressively worse until it peters out at a steep dirt path heading up.  Park your bike and follow the dirt path for 200 metres to the waterfall.  (Back at the crossroads, there’s a very small Warung at the crossroads where we had a basic, but tasty Mee Goreng.)

Eating out.   We ate at a good, local Warung late one afternoon - they open at 15:00 (I think).  It’s 400 metres from the beach.  Follow the road towards Letung and just as you pass under a new archway, the small Warung is on the left.  As an appetiser, we had a local delicacy called Gong Gong, which was interesting and tasty.  It’s a small shellfish, which they boil in heavily salted water and serve with a very hot chili sauce.  The main courses depend on what they have on the go, but the Bakso was very good.  (You might have to ask for Gong Gong - there’s no menu that we saw.)   

Snorkelling.  The isolated rocks 1.5 miles to the north-east of the anchorage are interesting.  Mostly rocky reef with coral, but there are some interesting structures especially to the east of the biggest rocks.  Not many big fish, but we did see a nudibranch and a fairly large carcass of a lobster, so keep your eyes peeled.

Alternative Anchorage.  At the south-east end of the bay, the sea bed shelves slowly and would be better protected from any strong south east winds.  However, there’s two large stone piers for unloading gravel from barges for the new airport, so it’s not very attractive.

9.5 Passage to Kembung Bay
It’s possible to follow the coast when heading north and stay inshore of the outlying islands (it saves about a mile).  It’s mostly deep water, but there are some shallow reef patches around 03°00.31N 105°44.33E, so keep a good eye out. 

  • 03°00.03N 105°44.21E
  • 03°00.31N 105°44.33E  (Reef Patches)
  • 03°01.01N 105°44.55E
  • 03°01.82N 105°44.53E

9.6 Kembung Bay
Kembung Bay. (03°02.32N 105°44.10E) Anchor in 12 metres of water on sand, close to the fringing reef.  It’s a very pretty spot, but the anchorage was exposed to the strong 20-25 knot south winds that we had, so we only stopped for lunch.  If staying overnight, you could anchor further away from the reef in 18 metres.

9.7 Jemaja North 1
Jemaja North 1  (03°02.09N 105°43.32E)  "Amulet" anchored here for two nights in 17 metres between reefs.  Good shelter from south winds. There’s a small village ashore, but they didn’t visit it.

9.8 Jemaja North 2 (Possible)
Jemaja North 2.  (03°02.87N 105°43.96E) A small, rather exposed anchorage - some swell was coming around the corner when we visited - we didn’t anchor here.  It’s difficult to get in close to the pretty beach because of the fringing reefs, so you’d have to anchor in 15-18 metres of water.

9.9 Pulau Impul Kecil
Pulau Impul Kecil (03°04.83N 105°43.73E).  Anchor in 7 metres of firm white sand.  It’s a very pretty anchorage next to a small island. Unfortunately, it’s very exposed to the south winds, so may not be suitable for overnight, but it makes a fair day stop in 20 knot south winds.  There’s a large and shallow reef (with rocks awash) at about 03°04.64N 105°43.67E.

Impul Kecil

Ashore.   There’s a large village with a big mosque.  We did not visit.

Snorkelling.  The snorkelling is good around the exposed rock at 03°04.64N 105°43.67E.  There are some impressive large plates of coral and many large fish.

Cave.  There’s a cave about ½ mile around the east side of Pulau Impul at 03°05.10N 105°44.10E.  It goes back for about 40 metres - you can swim into the cave, but it’s not particularly exciting.  The snorkelling outside the cave is average.

Later, a Reef Survey team told me that there's another cave underwater further around the island - not very far past the visible cave.  There is a very obvious number "4" painted onto the rock above the cave.  Apparently, the entrance to the cave is at 10 metres depth and it goes back for at least 25 metres - dive torches are essential.  

Alternative Anchorage.  We think that it would be possible to anchor in 22 metres in the middle of the bay at 03°04.98N 105°43.39E, but it would offer only slightly more protection from southerly winds.

9.10 Pulau Anak
Pulau Anak.  (03°06.64N 105°40.36E) Friends on “Anthem” reported that there is a good anchorage in 6 metres on sand. Unfortunately, inclement weather kept us away from this anchorage.

Scuba Diving.  A government reef survey team told me that there is good scuba diving to the north of either of the two small islands to the north of the anchorage at roughly 03°07.66N 105°39.97E and 03°07.62N 105°40.46E. We didn’t have time to dive these locations.

Alternative Anchorage.  Google Earth shows that there seems to be a good looking anchorage at 03°06.33N 105°38.59E.  However, we didn’t get a chance to visit this place.

9.11 Pulau Kusik Laut
Pulau Kusik Laut (03°03.79N 105°41.50E) This is a very pretty looking bay and the headland looks like it could be interesting snorkelling or diving.  The light was poor when we had a look at this anchorage and the space between the fringing reefs looks narrow. We didn’t anchor. It may be possible to anchor in 20 metres, but we’re uncertain whether the sea bed is coral or sand.

9.12 Djutan North
Pulau Djutan North (03°01.34N 105°41.72E). This is an interesting little anchorage on white sandy bottom in 6-8 metres, tucked up behind a little island.  There’s room for a couple of boats. Unfortunately, SW swell enters this anchorage, so it's a fair weather anchorage only.  We didn’t anchor here.

9.13 Djutan Bay
Djutan Bay (03°00.54N 105°41.37E).  This bay has good protection from the south winds and is a good alternative to the anchorage at Letung if the weather is bad.  “Amulet” anchored here in a 40 knot south-west squall.  Anchor in 20-23 metres, which looks to be sand between the usual fringing reefs.  There is a village ashore which is about ½ mile from the main town of Letung.

9.14 Passage - Pulau Ipan
It’s possible to go between Pulau Ipan and the mainland with 15 metres of water.  The waypoint for the middle of the passage is 03°00.57N 105°40.39E.  If there’s a strong wind from the south, then there can be large standing waves, which make heading south a challenge.

9.15 Letung Town
Letung (02°59.39N 105°41.32E) This is the main town of Jemaja. The bay is facing south-west, so the only protection from the south winds is tucked behind a small island called Pulau Berhala in 20 metres of water.  We arrived soon after a big 40 knot squall and the anchorage was very “sloppy” with south to south-west swell curving around the edges of the small island.

The current is quite strong when the tide comes in and out, so the boat veers around and can be side-on to the wind for hours.  Combined with the waves hooking around the island, this can make it a bouncy anchorage.  It’s probably a nice anchorage in settled conditions, but when the weather is unsettled, there are better places to be.

Letung Map

Dinghy Dock.  It’s a bit of a challenge to get into town.  There are a lot of shallow reefs to negotiate and if you go into the market in the early morning, then the sun will be directly in your eyes. 

The safest way is to follow the deep water approach used by the local cargo boats.  From the anchorage, head on a bearing of 115°, leaving the cargo dock 200 metres to your left and aim for a green navigation pole, 0.8 miles away at 02°59.00N 105°42.01E. Leaving the green pole to starboard, turn onto a bearing of 050°  and head towards a large building on stilts (02°59.25N 105°42.29E), which is a collection of restaurants to the left of the two large telephone antennae.  Watch out for shallow reef on the way in.

There’s a Large Dock on the south east side of the restaurant, where you can safely tie your dinghy probably between coastal cargo boats.  The dock has strong, horizontal wooden planks (with no nails) which are fairly easy to climb up.

From the dock, it’s a short 100 metre walk to the market area.

Ashore.  The town of Letung is spread out a mile along the main road, which follows the coast.  There’s a kind of town square on the main road and most of the shops and the market are located to seaward of the square.  

The market is based on a road parallel to the sea front.  It opens very early and is finished by 09:00.  You can buy fish, squid, frozen chicken and fresh vegetables, but the range is somewhat limited.  There are many small shops selling a range of other products, including some hardware. 

Main Road through Letung

The town has a number of tourist guest houses and restaurants, which all seem to be built on stilts out towards the sea. However, we saw no white tourists and it is likely that locals will approach you to have their photo taken with them.

9.16 South of Letung
Google Earth shows that there are a couple of potential anchorages at 02°56.15N 105°42.13E and 02°55.18N 105°40.56E, which might be worth exploring.  Unfortunately, when we were in the area, the weather was unsettled with a south-west swell, so we never visited them. 

9.17  Camp Kuku (Possible)
Camp Kuku . This is a tourist destination with a little bit of history.  We're not sure what the anchorage is like in the bay at 02°52.97N 105°41.95E - the Google Earth images aren't too clear, but it may be possible to anchor in between coral reefs.

During the Vietnamese refugee crisis in the early to mid 80's, Camp Kuku was one of the islands used by Indonesia to house the Vietnamese boat people, who were fleeing their country en masse.  A total of 40,000 refugees were retained at Camp Kuku and to a lesser extent on Pulau Air Raya. Regrettably, not everyone made it off the island. For this reason, Kuku still exerts quite a draw to those who spent time here as a refugee, as well as, in some cases, to their children and grandchildren.

9.18 Kampung Kuala (Possible)
There’s a village on the east coast called Kampung Kuala at 02°54.39N 105 48.23E, where there may be a sheltered anchorage in 10-15 metres in the narrow bay in front of the village.  We never visited this bay.