Amazing Anambas

Indonesia’s remote and breathtaking Anambas Islands are proving an increasingly attractive cruising destination.

Photography by Amazing Anambas and Asia Pacific Superyachts

21 February 2024


Indonesia’s remote Anambas Islands are slowly being recognised as a new and attractive cruising destination due to a huge improvement in facilities, clearing yachts in and out, and glowing reports from visiting yachts.

That’s according to the regional yacht agency group Asia Pacific Superyachts, which is promoting the archipelago – recently designated an official port of entry for Indonesia – as an up-and-coming destination for luxury cruises.

A collection of over 200 small Indonesian islands in the South China Sea, the Anambas Islands continue to be regarded as just a remote, off-the-beaten-track place. That arguably makes them all the more attractive for those with a penchant for exploring new seas and lands.

Facing the wide-open ocean, the Anambas Islands provide a panoramic view of blue seas and green islands dotted with azure lagoons, with coral reefs filled with colourful species and sea creatures, big and small. On land, verdant jungles and countless cultural and culinary unique experiences await.


Part of the Indonesian Riau Islands province, the Anambas Islands are a relatively rarely visited island group that lies between Singapore and Borneo, and is among Indonesia’s northernmost border archipelagos. In all, there are only 26 inhabited islands, with a total population of around 50,000.

Despite the relative proximity to Singapore at a mere 150 miles, this island group has remained under the radar. However, when the Indonesian government announced the reclassification of the Anambas Islands in 2016 as an official port of entry for Indonesia, things changed, as yachts no longer needed to clear at the closest POE in Nongsa Point, Batam.

Setting foot in this intriguing network of islands also awards visitors the opportunity to meet the locals, descendants of the Orang Bugis people of southern Sulawesi. With a colourful seafaring past, these proud people retain their strong bond with the sea today.

“Customs, immigration, port captain and quarantine offices are all based at the town of Terempa on Sintan Island,” explains Asia Pacific Superyachts’ Indonesia GM, Thomas Taatjes.

“There has been a huge improvement with this official port of entry, a port where e-immigration forms are accepted. Fly-ins are still at about 99 percent of visitors but we’re currently sussing out the boat arrivals.”

Changing regulations are paving the way to welcoming more yachts, according to Taatjes, and formalities-wise, you can internationally clear into Indonesia by vessel and permits, visas etc, the same as elsewhere in Indonesia. The cruising permit is valid for three years, and visas are normal for tourists: VOA, for 30+30 days or pre-visa, for 180 days.

“There’s a lot of praise for what the local and administrative people have done for cruising visitors. Your agent will know the ports where e-forms are accepted as not all ports in Indonesia accept e-forms,” adds Thomas.

Another captain who knows these waters well reports yachts can sail directly to Tarempa from Borneo (240 miles), from Singapore (150 miles), from Tioman, Malaysia (130 miles), and from relatively nearby Indonesian islands such as Batam. At a radius of 40 miles from Tarempa, there’s an amazing choice of anchorages to enjoy diving, snorkelling, meeting the locals or visiting a luxurious stayover, such as on Pulau Bawa Island.

When spending a few weeks, or even better, a month, in the Anambas Archipelago, you’ll find isolated anchorages with clear water and fishing villages along the way, ensuring a fresh supply of seafood.

The fishing is fantastic as the waters are fertile with tuna, mackerel, giant trevally, grouper and even billfish just a few of the likely catches. Fish-based products are Anambas’ signature dishes, the two most popular ones being mie tarempa and luti gendang.

Captain Thomas suggests Pulau Bawah Island, Pulau Ritan Island, Pulau Airabu Island and Durai Island as the best islands for voyaging. The biggest island (and a very pleasant town) where all formalities take place on arrival is Terempa on Sintan Island. It is a deep anchorage near a long road built on piles.

Thomas adds that Terempa is the best place to resupply and also serves as the spot to welcome guests flying in to join the yacht. The airport is on Pulau Matak Island, less than 10 miles away, and you can anchor close by if more convenient.

The east side of both Puala Sintan and Pulau Matak offer an incredible choice of anchorages. Many reefs border the Anambas Islands and provide well-protected anchorages but because of narrow passages to enter these lagoons, navigation can be tricky.

It’s possible to cruise among the Anambas Islands any time of the year, however, Thomas notes the season of southwest monsoon (April to September) offers drier conditions and a calmer sea.

“While most of the predominant winds come from the southwest or northeast according to the season, it’s advisable to be anchored with the possibility to swing 180 degrees with a switch of wind under a passing cloud and with reefs normally not too far away,” he says.



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