On the tiny resort island of Pulau Macan, about 85 km north of Jakarta, you might not notice the solar panels mounted above the sun-drenched pier, or the energy-efficient lightbulbs tucked into corners of huts. As you snooze in a hammock, no diesel generator disturbs your peace. Instead, energy comes from an incongruously bright red battery bank behind the clubhouse. Fed electricity by the pier's solar panels, which rotate to follow the sun, it provides power for the entire island.
It's one sign that Pulau Macan, or Tiger Island one of the Indonesian capital's best weekend getaways strives to live in harmony with nature. Request a tour and staff will show off others, like an organic garden, compost pits and furniture made of driftwood. Less visible are the island's recycling and waste-management practices. But you'll probably see and smell the lack of such practices as you're picked up by the resort's speedboat at Ancol Marina in polluted north Jakarta. Indeed, the speedboat must make occasional stops to clear garbage from its engines as it leaves the area.
It's a matter of administrative irony that pristine Pulau Macan falls in an area that technically is part of Jakarta a sprawling megacity with a distinct lack of ecological cred. Resort guests typically board the boat around 8 a.m. on Saturday for the 90-minute journey and return the next day by about 4 p.m. That might sound like a very short break, but, oh, what a difference a day and a half can make. Near the island, which takes minutes to walk or paddle around, corals teeming with life make for excellent snorkeling. You can take a boat to a neighboring islet also part of the resort that's uninhabited and has soft white-sand beaches. At night, you sleep in one of the handful of huts dotting the island, some of which are open and face directly out to sea. When the environmental netherworld of Jakarta gets too much, this slice of environmental heaven beckons. See pulaumacan.com for more.