Having lived in the three most visited cities by tourist in Indonesia namely Yogyakarta, Jakarta and most recently Bali. With the additional travel here and there, i become accustomed to the concept of what people usually look for when they visit an area/city.
Pangandaran, a small area situated in West Java near the border of Central Java definitely fall into category of undeveloped complete destination. Blessed with the white beaches that you can surf and dive, the rice paddy field dominating the landscape, the unique mountain culture, body-rafting in the famous Green Canyon, the intriguing culture due to the melting pot between West Java and Central Java culture and the list goes on and on.
Already become a favorite spot for local Indonesia but still hidden from the international eyes this place offers an alternative destination for vacation. Especially if you are starting from Jakarta or Yogyakarta.
Having said earlier that this is underdeveloped complete destination, don’t expect a well established resort, a five-star hotel and all but they got everything that you need after a long outdoor activities. Bar at the beaches, warung, restaurant, and everything else is there.
Without further ado here are some of the things you can do in Pangandaran
- Surf and beach lazying out
Thinking about trying to learn to surf but don’t want to risk yourself to be laughed at in the middle of crowd at Bali? Well, Batu Karas beach is the answer. Calm waves already attract surfers from around the globe to relax and enjoy to surf here. And after a long day at the board just sit back, relax and enjoy the sunset with a glass of cold beer in your hand
Surf Report about wave, wind, etc you can check it in here: http://magicseaweed.com/Pangandaran-Surf-Report/631/
Pangandaran according to Lonely Planet: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/java/pangandaran
- Body rafting at Citumang River and Green Canyon
Green Canyon and Citumang River and their river formation is already a popular destination for Indonesian due to its uniqueness. The river and the rock in the river colored green due to special algae that lives in the river. Don’t imagine the green moss color but it is more like turquoise color.
You can body-raft, jumping from top of the cave 7 meter above straight to the river, or you can opt jumping from 10 meter from top of the tree or you just sit back and relax and let the current take you forward.
We haven’t got the chance to try the Green Canyon but we tasted the Citumang River and it was fun! The river and the bodyraft is a must-see must-do thing! Seriously, this is the best river that i ever accros in Java island
- Watch the unique mountain performance art and their delicious food
Although Pangandaran is well known for its beaches but actually the dominating culture is the agri-culture. The mountain culture takes a very unique form of culture that i ever seen here in Indonesia.
Due to the geographical position that near Central Java, their mountain culture absorbs that culture and infuse it to their West Java culture. Try to watch (ask around) the Ronggeng Gunung dance or Kentongan dance. Even for me as Indonesian and Javanese, i think their performance is surprisingly novel and good.
The food! My friend who is a food blogger said that their Pindang gunung is one of the tastiest dish that he ever sample and the highlight dish over there. Pindang basically is a smoked fish, gunung means mountain. So it is basically a fish dish with a lot of mountain ingredients incoorporate in it. So it is very unique.
- Palm Sugar Tour
The area also a producer of palm sugar. Rent a bike, cycle to the village that is well-known for its palm-sugar (ask you hotel receptionist). Try to taste food that incorporate palm sugar in it. It can be as simple as cassava that being boil in the palm water (palm sugar is basically thickened pal water) and taste good because it is fresh and naturally sweet.
- Dive and Snorkel
I did’t have the time to do snorkel nor diving here but looking from the turquoise color of the water it looks promising. The small bit of land down south reminds me of Nusa Dua in Bali whereas Nusa Dua boast a lot of resort this enclave boast a protected park/jungle
How to get there
Get a bus to Bandung or Tasikmalaya (preferably Tasikmalaya-or Banjar if you can catch one). It will cost you Rp. 60.000 from Jakarta to Tasikmalaya (tasik for short) with executive bus (air-con) or it will cost you Rp78.000 from Jakarta to Banjar. From there, if you want to surf at Batu Karas find the bus to Cijulang. If you want to the main beach just find the bus to Pangandaran.
Duration: 8-10 hour (depends on the traffic)
Get a bus to Tasikmalaya and the rest is the same with above.
Duration: 7 hour.
Best Time to be There
Culture wise, there is a ceremony called “Pesta Laut” roughly translate to Sea Party. It is a cultural festival where people gives offering to the sea, rode a boat to the sea and do splash-water-war in the middle of the sea.
Climate wise, april-june is the best month (not too many rain and not to hot) or around Cctober-November is also good.