10. EASTERN ISLANDS
There are well over 50 islands in this area, which could could occupy you for weeks. The anchorages that we found are described from the north to the south.
10.2 Air Asuk to Eastern Islands
To get out to the Eastern Islands, there’s a deep channel through the reefs from Air Asuk. The waypoints for the passage are shown below, but maintain a good lookout for shallow patches.
- 03°13.90N 106°17.29E
- 03°13.95N 106°17.63E
- 03°13.99N 106°17.85E
- 03°14.09N 106°17.96E
- 03°14.22N 106°18.04E
- 03°14.22N 106°18.35E
- 03°14.19N 106°18.71E
- 03°13.92N 106°18.86E
- 03°13.93N 106°19.00E
10.3 Pulau Tading (Possible)
Pulau Tading (03°14.234N 106°18.780E) This is on the way out to the eastern islands and it looks like it’s possible to anchor in 20 metres well away from the reef. This is a pretty beach with a well maintained wall - perhaps somewhere the locals go at weekends? We didn’t anchor here and not sure of the name of the island.
10.4 Pulau Penjalin
Pulau Penjalin. (03°23.54N 106°26.84E) This is a great anchorage in a channel between two small islands (Nibung and Setuju) in depths of 14-18 metres over sand. There are many reefs surrounding the anchorage, but most seem to be 10 metres deep. Our anchor slammed into the soft sand, so we felt happy with only 45 metres of chain out giving us a small 3:1 scope and we weathered a few squalls with 30 knot gusts. The anchorage is exposed from north-east to south-east, but this was no problem when we were there.
Potential Anchorage. There’s a sandy patch at 03°23.60N 106°26.60E, which is 10 metres deep with access over the deep reef from the north. It would be possible to anchor there, but it’s very tight with only 50 metres between the reefs and it doesn’t give any better protection than the place where we anchored.
Potential Anchorage. There’s a beautiful looking sand patch at 03°22.94N 106°26.54E off the beach, which may be a lovely anchorage for shallow draft catamarans. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to investigate and find out if there’s sufficient depth to get over the reef and in the anchorage.
Potential Anchorage. Warren Blake told me that he's anchored at 03°22.55N 106°26.72E in 20 metres, but it didn’t look good to us.
Channel. There’s a narrow channel between the two islands, Penjalin Besar and Penjalin Cecil. The channel was easy to navigate in good light with a minimum depth of 10 metres.
Waypoints through the channel are:
- 03 22.3523 N 106 26.4016 E
- 03 22.5671 N 106 26.5073 E
- 03 22.6964 N 106 26.6222 E
- 03 23.1754 N 106 26.8831 E
Snorkelling. The locals rave about this being a fabulous place for snorkelling, but we tried various places, but didn’t find anything special. The reef has been heavily bombed and while there is new growth of coral, the seabed is only made interesting by the various coral heads and boulders.
We found it interesting close to the shore of Pulau Setuju at 03°23.85N 106°27.011E - snorkelling in between the massive boulders. There were some large fish here including several Titan Triggerfish, but they kept a long distance from us.
Scuba Diving. This is supposed to be one of the best scuba diving areas in the Anambas. We looked at various sites around the islands, but couldn’t find any places worth getting all the scuba gear out. Most spots were gradually shallowing rocky reefs and we felt we could see as much snorkelling.
Later, a government reef survey team told me that the diving is good off the north-west tip of Pulau Penjalin Besar at 03°23.72N106°25.95E - we didn’t have time to try it.
The same survey team also told us that the diving is good off the reef on the south east side of Penjalin Cecil around 03°22.15N 106°27.62E - we didn’t have time to try it.
10.5 Pulau Mandriau (Mandanan)
This is a nice island with several potential anchorages. The locals also call this island Mandanan.
Pulau Mandariau Bay (03°18.348N 106°24.219E) This is a lovely anchorage in a bay at the north side of the island. There’s a big patch of white sand, which is 10 metres deep between shallower reefs, with enough room for four boats. The reefs around the anchorage are good with healthy coral.
Pulau Mandariau West (03°18.306N 106°23.467E) It looks like it’s possible to anchor in 10 metres between reefs. The sea bed is sand, but we didn't anchor here. It’s an attractive anchorage.
Pulau Menjali (03°18.284N 106 23.253E) It looks like it is possible to anchor in 13 metres off the small island of Menjali to the west of Mandriau. The seabed is sand, but we didn't anchor here. Nice looking beach and island.
Snorkelling There’s great snorkelling here. We looked along the north-west shore of north-west tip of Menjali, a small island a mile or so to the west of the anchorage. The sea bed was a huge expanse of rock with boulders near the shore and patchy coral in the deeper water. It’s not as pretty as a coral reef, but we like to check out different environments and spent a happy 30 minutes there. Glenys found a dozen large Tiger Cowries hidden in cracks in the flat rock surfaces (alive, so she left them) and I spotted a Nudibranch called a Pimpled Phyllidiella.
We tried in several places along the north shore of Menjali, but it was very rocky until we entered a small bay further south, which was okay coral. We landed at the beach at the south east end of the island, which is lovely soft white sand, but there weren’t any shells worthy of collecting. It would be nice to anchor off this beach in 12 metres on sand away from the fringing reef.
The best snorkelling is just to the north of the anchorage near 03°18.56N 106°24.29E. The reef is very pretty at depths between 5 and 10 metres. Lots of small fish and a few nudibranchs if you look carefully.
Scuba Dive There’s a pleasant scuba dive nearby - we anchored our dinghies on a large coral head at 03°18.570’N 106°24.257’E (It’s about 70 metres south of a rock that is awash near the shore). We descended to 8 metres and then headed west, descending a coral slope to 22 metres. Following the edge of the reef and the sandy sea bed, we headed north until we had used half of our air and then ascended to 12 metres, returning to the dinghy.
It was a nice dive in clear water. There aren’t many large fish, but enough to look at. We saw a Sky Blue Phyllidia and there are some very pretty coral patches. Some areas of the coral slope have been extensively bombed, but there are signs of recovery. There is a small cave at 12 metres depth directly west of where we anchored the dinghy.
10.6 Moon Rock Lagoon, Pulau Sagu Dampar
Moonrock Lagoon (03°14.90N 106°26.71E). This is another stunning anchorage, protected from three sides by islands with white sand beaches. This spot was recommended by Warren Blake who sent me a lovely Hand Drawn Chart of the lagoon. The main island has a very impressive rock bluff overlooking the anchorage which gives the Lagoon its name - named by his crew because the Moonrock Bluff loomed bright in the moonlight. It's well worth scrambling up to the top of Moonrock Bluff for a fabulous view.
The entrance is a little tricky, having to weave through a few reefs for 200 metres, but with good light there is no problem because the narrow channel is very deep. The waypoints for the channel are:
- 03°14.996N 106°26.507E
- 03°14.960N 106°26.577E
- 03°14.964N 106°26.631E
- 03°14.927N 106°26.695E
Once through the entrance, the lagoon opens up and is about 200 metres in diameter with depths of 10 to 14 metres on firm white sand. We anchored at 03°14.90N 106°26.71E in 13 metres.
Ashore. You have to climb to the top of Moonrock Bluff. We landed the dinghy on a tiny little patch of sand directly beneath the Bluff; then headed east for 25 metres and then up a rocky gully. There isn’t really a path, so we climbed more or less straight up the hill, chopping down small branches with my machete and skirting around the numerous fallen trees. We reached the bottom of the bluff and followed the eastern edge of it until we came to the top after 25 minutes.
What a view. You can see for miles - the anchorage looks stunning and the colours are gorgeous. It’s well worth the strenuous climb.
Snorkelling. The water within the lagoon is cloudy and the reef covered with a fine layer of sediment. The reef to the north east of the anchorage is navigable in a dinghy and the snorkelling at the other side at around 03°15.14N 106°26.96E is good with clear water and some interesting coral formations.
Scuba Diving. A reef survey team told me that the diving was good on the east side of the island to the north of the lagoon. We investigated by snorkelling and there's a steep rocky wall, then rocky reef at about 15 metres slowly descending to about 25 metres. The reef looks to be in good condition, with some large fish around. Anchor the dinghy at 03°15.33N 106°27.03E. This is a bouncy lee shore in strong winds. We didn't get to dive this spot.
10.7 Hilton Pool, Pulau Sagu Dampar
Hilton Pool (03°14.54N 106°26.23E). This is another anchorage recommended by Warren Blake, who sent me another lovely Hand Drawn Chart of this anchorage. Unfortunately, when we visited the area, we had strong SSW winds and the anchorage was untenable.
10.8 Pulau Selai
Pulau Selai (03°12.20N 106°29.30E). This is a well protected bay, with a rocky coast line, but no beaches. We anchored in 17 metres on good holding sand, with enough room for maybe two boats between the reefs. There's a shallower sandy patch closer to shore used by small fishing boats, but not much swinging room. We only stopped for lunch.
Snorkelling. We didn't stay long enough to do any snorkelling, but there are some isolated rocks off the headland on the east side of the bay, which might provide good snorkelling or diving at 03°12.38N 106°29.79E
10.9 Passage between Selai and Penilan
The narrow passage between Palau Selai and Pulau Penilan is navigable with at least 16 metres depth. The way points are:
- 03°12.723N 106°28.999E
- 03°12.457N 106°28.763E
- 03°12.233N 106°28.566E
10.10 Pulau Pengedung
Pulau Pengedung (03°09.37N 106°23.934E). This anchorage is on a 10-14 metre deep sand patch alongside the fringing reef and there's room for half a dozen boats. With a rocky coast line and no beach, it's not particularly impressive, but it is very well protected from the prevailing winds and is very close to Pencil Dot Island, which is only 1/2 mile to the north.
Snorkelling. The water visibility is below average around the anchorage, but the reef is healthy.
10.11 Pencil Dot Island (Pulau Selat Ransang)
Pencil Dot Island (03°09.90N 106°23.80E). This island was named by Warren Blake because the island is the size of a pencil dot on the charts. It's only 200 metres long, but is a perfect uninhabited tropical island - a white sand beach; coconut palms swaying in the breeze; rocks to scramble on; and surrounding corals reefs. It's such a small island that it offers very little protection. We didn't anchor there, but visited by dinghy from Pulau Pengedung. We measured the depth of the sea bed off the beach on south-east side which is 12-15 metres deep - it looks like sand, so would be a good lunch stop or an overnight in settled conditions.
Ashore. There's a nice white sand beach and some high rocks on the south-west side that are fun to scramble on.
Snorkelling. The water visibility was below average and the coral is unexciting in the shallows. There was better coral and lots of small fish, next to the drop off.
10.12 Sandspit Island (Pulau Temeruk)
Sandspit Island (03°09.53 N 106°25.61E). Another anchorage named by Warren Blake - the island is actually called Pulau Temuruk. There's a lovely white sand spit leading out to a small, pretty island. It's a little exposed to the prevailing southerly winds, but it's a gorgeous spot in settled conditions. We anchored on a sandy patch at 03°09.53 N 106°25.61E in a depth of 9 metres. There's enough room for 2 or 3 boats.
Ashore. There's a nice long beach, which is fairly clean at the south end, but the plastic garbage builds up as you head north. There's a substantial wooden hut with benches at the south end of the beach. At the north end of the beach is a coconut grove with lots of brown coconuts and sprouting coconuts, which are good enough to gather - there are obviously no rats on this island.
Snorkelling. The water visibility was below average and the coral is unexciting, although there are a surprising number of Anemonefish in the shallows.
10.13 Pulau Pedjaul
Pulau Pedjaul (03°09.24N 106°23.45E). This is a very pleasant anchorage, surrounded on three sides by land and only exposed to the north. The anchorage area appears to be soft sand and is 15-18 metres deep. There are shallow fringing reefs extending a long way from the shore, so the area available for anchoring is about 120 metres in diameter. With 50-60 metres of chain out, there's room for 2 or 3 boats depending on how friendly you are. It's good holding and well sheltered from strong south winds, but the anchorage is subject to katabatic winds, which shriek down from the hills.
The approach to the anchorage is between two fringing reefs, which with good light is no problem. The way points for our route in are:
- 03°09.43N 106°23.62E
- 03°09.31N 106°23.53E
- 03°09.27N 106°23.48E
Ashore. Someone is constructing a new resort on the island. The foundation work for a road system has been dug out and there are the shells of a couple of buildings. There was no work going on when we were there, so I guess that they've run out of money. It's pleasant enough to walk around the island and the windward south-facing beach is very pretty.
10.14 Pulau Akar
Pulau Akar (03°01.96N 106°24.29E). This is a well protected anchorage, but it's a little frustrating because the fringing reef system narrows as you go into the bay and doesn't leave enough swinging room. We eventually had to anchor in 20 metres of water about ½ mile from the end of the bay. The anchorage has 120 metres between the reefs, so there's room for 2 or 3 boats with 60 metres of chain out. It's a pleasant-looking, rocky-shored bay with a small sandy beach on the east side of the anchorage.
The anchor dragged slowly on our first attempt, ploughing through what we think was very soft sand. On our second attempt, we straightened the chain; let the anchor start to plough; and then left it for 30 minutes to “settle” into the sea bed. We then backed the anchor in as normal and it held well.
The approach to the anchorage is between two fringing reefs, which with good light is no problem. The way points for our route in are:
- 03°02.318N 106°24.247E
- 03°02.146N 106°24.248E
- 03°02.001N 106°24.281E
Ashore. Warren Blake told me that "at the head of the bay, there is a short walk across to the south side, with lovely beaches." We had a quick look in the dinghy, but couldn't see an obvious path, so we didn't go ashore.
10.15 Pulau Semut South
Pulau Semut South (03°02.465N 106°22.611E). This is a picturesque anchorage next to a long sand spit sticking out from a small island. There's a large sandy patch at 03°02.465N 106°22.611E which is 14 metres deep. This gives good swinging room, but the edge of the sand patch quickly drops off to more than 20 metres and is fringed with coral heads. We put a couple of fenders on our chain to make sure that the chain didn't snag on coral.
"Amulet" found another sandy patch at about 03°02.437N 106°22.624E, but they were too close to the reef when a squall passed to the north of us giving us gale-force north winds. This made the anchorage a very unpleasant lee-shore and we both ran away when the wind abated.
Snorkelling. The reef next to the sand spit has some nice coral formations and healthy coral.
Scuba Diving. From Google Earth images, the reef at the north west side of the island looks to be very steep and may be a good dive site. The isolated rock at 03°03.06N 106°22.09E also looks to be interesting - it's only 0.8 miles away from the anchorage. Unfortunately, because of inclement weather we were unable to investigate these sites.
10.16 Pulau Bajau North East
Pulau Bajau NE (03°08.84N 106°19.88E). This a well protected bay with a 200 metre diameter anchorage in 18-20 metres. "Amulet" anchored in the middle of the anchorage in 20 metres at the suggested GPS position in mud. We anchored in 17 metres a little further south-west and dragged a little on coral/rubble until the anchor set, so I suggest anchoring in slightly deeper water away from the fringing reef.
Ashore. There's a small fishing community ashore. We didn't visit.
Alternative Anchorages. There are several other anchorages that may be good in the area.
03°09.46N 106°19.83E. We passed 1/2 mile from this bay and through binoculars, it seems to have a nice beach. The Google Earth images show that it's well protected, but there's not enough detail to show whether it's sand or reef in the middle of the bay. It would be well worth a look.
03°08.84N 106°19.41E. A similar looking large bay to Pulau Bajau NE, but there's a beach at this location which might be worth anchoring off. There are other places to anchor in this bay and there is a number of small communities ashore.
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