Carita Beach with smoking Mt Krakatau volcano
WEST JAVA TRAVEL GUIDE
West Java Travel Guide covers the towns near Jakarta and Bandung, including Bogor and Garut, and Carita Beach, Pangandaran Beach, Pelabuhan Ratu beach, and Ujung Kulon National Park on the far western tip of Java.
Bogor is best known for its Botanic Gardens (Kebun Raya), cool climate and the old summer palace of Indonesia’s first president, the late Ir. Sukarno. It rains almost every other day in Bogor, so visit the gardens early in the morning.
A cheap place to stay in Bogor is Penginapan Damai at Jln Major Oking 29.
Plenty of food stalls are near the Railway Station.
To get to Jakarta, catch the train to central Jakarta .
To Sukabumi catch a bus; to Bandung, the train.
Carita is the closest beach resort to Jakarta and is a favourite weekend retreat for expatriates and locals alike. There are cottages available for nightly rental, as well as the Krakatau Beach Hotel. There is also medium-priced accommodation available on the beach at Anyer and Merak.
The road to the west from Jakarta begins at Grogol and passes by the new Cengkareng International Airport near Tangerang and meets the coast at Cilegon – the site of Indonesia’s steel industry. At Cilegon the road forks. 10km to the right is Merak Ferry Terminal to Sumatra, for those continuing overland. To the left, the road follows the coast to Anyer, Carita and on to Labuan.
Buses to Carita Beach leave from the Grogol Bus Terminal daily at 7 am and 9 am, and the trip takes about four hours.
In the ocean off Carita is the new Krakatau Volcano, having risen again from the sea floor after it was totally destroyed in the 1883 eruption. Boat trips are regularly organised and leave from Labuan harbour. At times when the volcano is active, flames and smoke are clearly visible from the beach.
UJUNG KULON NATIONAL PARK
The Ujung Kulon (west cape) National Park can only be reached by boat from Labuan. Prior permission from the Department of Parks and Wildlife is needed for a trip to the home of the last Javanese Rhinoceros, though don’t expect to see any!
Old Banten is located two and a half hours drive west of Jakarta, on the northern coastline near the city of Serang. Formerly known as Bantam, it was the main trading port for pepper in the sixteenth century, until overpowered by the Dutch VOC/East India Company in the seventeenth century.
Still standing are the remains of 2 old palaces – Kraton Sorosowan and Kraton Kaibun, and one of the oldest Chinese temples in Indonesia – Avalokiteshvara Vihara.
Within the old walled city is the Great Mosque of Banten, and a Dutch fort built in 1682.
Set in a highland valley, Garut is well worth a one night stop-over. The scenery is beautiful and the hot baths at Tarogong are a pleasant walk from town. Watch the village ladies collect shellfish in the streams beside the road. There are a few cheap Losmen near the railway station.
A harbour named after the Goddess of the South Seas, Nyai Loro Kidul. The sea here is especially dangerous, and tourists regularly drown in front of the Samudra Beach Hotel, so be careful. The rips and cross-currents will give even the best surfers a real swim for their money. There are strange tales of scrub fires on the headland at night, but in the mornings there is no sign of there being a fire! Any of the losmen on the waterfront past the market are cheap and quiet.
To get to Pelabuhan Ratu, take the turn-off at Cibadak if coming from Bogor, or turn-off at Sukabumi if coming from Bandung.
From Bandung there are two routes leading to Bogor and Jakarta. The shorter, through Puncak Pass, is very busy with buses as there are many hotels and holiday houses in the Cibodas and Cianjur areas.
Sukabumi is on the road that skirts the western side of Mt. Cede and Mt. Pangrango. There are picturesque hot baths at Sakah, not far out of town.
This beach resort can be reached by train from Bandung or Jogja. Either way, alight at Banjar which is on the border between Central and West Java. From Banjar, catch a bus to the market at Pangandaran. Beware! Drivers on this route are notorious for changing the fare on the way. Make sure you agree to a price before you leave Banjar. From the market, catch a becak 2 km to the beach.
There are a few places to stay on Jalan Pantai Barat, which faces the sunset. Walk over to the eastern beach to watch the locals pull in the fish nets in the morning, and the western beach in the afternoon. Take a long walk through the nature reserve on the headland. Buy fresh fruit from the market each morning. A highly recommended place for a rest on your trip through Java.