West Java – The Western Beaches | Sweetravelindonesia

About 110 km (68 miles) west of Jakarta, at Cilegon,

The main road branches off to the right (north) and brings you, after 13 more kms (8 miles), to the small harbour for Bakauhuni on Sumatera. There is a narrow beach and an efficiently run motel at Merak, but the more spacious beaches between Anyer and Carita to the south are more inviting. The area around Cilegon itself is dominated by the vast Krakatau Steel Mill complex, with its adjoining country club, 18 hole golf course and guest house.

There are pretty bays and long stretches of deserted beach past the village of Anyer,  20 kms (12 miles) to the west and south of Cilegon – also an old lighthouse and a  luxurious seaside motel, complete with bowling alleys and a swimming pool. Six kms (4 miles) past the motel, at Karang Bolong, a huge rock forms a natural archway to the sea and this has become a popular (and croweded) weekend swimming spot for Jakartans. Twenty two kms (14 miles) farther down the coast, around the village of Carita, two beachside bungalow resort offer good accommodation, swimming, sailing, diving and dining.

In addition to sun, sea, sand adn solitude, this palm fringed coast is famous for its sunset views out across to the uninhabited volcanic islands of Krakatau. Though dormant for centuries, this volcano achieved instant and lasting infamy in 1883 when it erupted with cataclysmic force, ripping out a huge chunk of the earth’s crust to form a monstrous 41 – sq – km (16 – sq – mile) submarine caldera. The sea rushed in, and tidal waves up to 30 metres (100 feet) high swept the coast, claiming nore than 35,000 lives. In the decades that followed, undersea activity continued and a new cone with a gaping half crater has emerged from the sea Anak Krakatau (‘Son of Krakatua”). Today the four tiny islands of the Krakatau group may be visited by chartering a boat from the port of Labuan for the smooth four hour voyage.

Boats can also be chartered from Labuan to Ujung Kulon National Park at Java’s southwestern tip, for a tramp through pristine tropical rainforests and a first handlook at some of Java’s rare wildlife species. And there is a scenic backroad, leaving Labuan to the east, taht winds through the Parahyangan foothills to Rangkas Bitung and Bogor, skirting the highland home of the mysterious Badui people.

The third, and perhaps most scenic, of West Java’s “escape routes” from Jakarta is the ascent into the dramatic Parahyangan highlands to the south of the city. First stop, along this route, is the town of Bogor – now only an hour’s drive from the city via the new Jagorawi Expressway. Situated about 80 kms (50 miles) inland and 290 metres (900 feet) above sea level in the foothills of Mt. Salak, Bogor is appreciably cooler (and wetter) than Jakarta.

The main attraction here are the glorious Botanical Gardens (Kebun Raya), originally opened by the Dutch in 1817 and world renowned, during the 19th century, for tropical botanical specimens and its reseacrh into cash crops such as tea, cassave, tobacco and cinhona. The vast park, with its rolling lawns, lili ponds and forest groves, contain over 15,000 species of trees and plants (including 400 types of palms), and special orchid nurseries house more than 5,000 orchid varieties from Indonesia and abroad. There is also an excellent zoological museum and a library of richly illustrated botanical tomes. The elegant white presidential summer palace, constructed by the Dutch in 1856 as the offical resident for governors general of the Dutch East Indies, stands at the northern end of the gardens. (Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. very crowded on Sunday.)

The road east from Bogor up to Puncak Pass climbs steadily, winding its way through a manicured landscape of the plantations. Stop at the Rindu Alam Restaurant on the right just before the peak to enjoy a spectacular view (on a clear day) down to Jakarta and the coast. Walk across the road and downhill a short distance to find a path leading to tiny Telaga Warna (“Lake of Many Colours.”)

Seven kms (4 miles) beyond Puncak Pass, a turn off to the right leads to the Cibodas Botanical Gardens, an extension of Bogor’s Kebun Raya famous for its collection of montane and temperate climate flora from around the world. This is also the starling point for the six hour climbs up to the peaks of Mt. Gede and Mt. Pangrango, with their fine views, hotsprings, waterfalls and interisting wildlife. Excellent accommodation and food are available in the nearby mountain resport of Cipanas and this is a lovely place to spend a few days, hiking through the highland forest and tea estates.

The southern coast of West Java, beautiful but dangerous, is also within easy reach of Bogor (about two hours by car). A good road winds south from Ciawi over the pass between Mt. Pangrango and Mt. Salak, where the valleys and hillsides are a lush garden of rubber trees, tea plantations and terraced ricefields. A scenic sideroad branches off to the right at Cibadak and meanders fown to the finishing village of Pelabuhan Ratu, where the ragged, wind lashed Indian Ocean foeams and crashes onto smooth black sand beaches.

The village itself is unspoilt and vital when the boats moor in the morning, the fish market does a roaring trade in fresh tunafish, prawns, whitebait, sharks, stingrays and other delicacies. A number of good swimming beaches and hotels line the coast for several kms past the town (See Travel Tips), but he warned that the surf and the undertow here can be treacherous, so don’t venture in farther than waist deep. From the village of Cisolok, 15 kms (9 miles) beyond Pelabuhan Ratu, a small road leads inland to a sulphur spring gushing from a tiny streambed. With a sturdy vehicle and a sense of adventure, you can then continue on to the goldmines at Cikotok and beyond – ending up eventually at Labuan on the west coast.

–> Read Also : West Java – Bandung City of Flowers

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