Category: South Coast


After enjoying the calm of Batu Karas for a week, Pangandaran’s hawker, and warung lined beaches seemed a bit harsh. In reality though, Pangandaran is charming – an over-grown fishing village that has evolved into a popular beach resort for Indonesian’s. It remains mostly off the foreign tourist’s radar for a couple of reasons – it’s difficult to reach, and nearby Bali seems to offer much more.

But, more is not always better. For the foreign tourists who do make the effort, Pangandaran has one of Java’s best beaches, a chilled atmosphere, and waterfront café’s that offer a relatively quiet respite from the crowds of Bali, especially during the week. On weekends, it gets crowded as people from Jakarta and Bandung arrive. Public holidays are definitely a time to avoid visiting.

Pangandaran is on a Peninsula, so its beaches face East and West. The road along the west beach is lined with hotels and restaurants, and the beach itself is crowded with makeshift vendor tents offering everything from sandals to tattoos. There seems to be an endless parade of hawkers as well, which tend to take something away from the serenity of the beach. Then, of course, there are the obligatory banana boat and jets ski rentals that detract a bit more. Surfers enjoy the good swells that roll in from the southwest. The beach gets quieter at the north end, but swimming at the northern end is not safe.

pangandaran, pangandaran beach
West Beach - Pangandaran

The east beach is much quieter, but it’s mostly a fishing beach. It’s the place to be at dinner time when the numerous seafood restaurants are cooking up the catches of the day – crab, a variety of fish, shrimp, and squid. Some of the restaurants are market style where you chose your dinner while it’s swimming in an aquarium.The seafood and atmosphere is so good, I know people who drive all the way from jakarta on the weekend just for dinner.

Taman Nasional Pangandaran (Pangandaran National Park) covers the southern end of the Peninsula. The stone path around the recreation area is very easy to follow, and a very pleasant walk through the Pananjung forest. There is a variety of wildlife to see – monkeys, deer, lizards, Flying Lumur, Hornbill, and a variety of other birds are in abundance.

Taman Nasional Pangandaran, Pangandaran National Park,Pananjung forest
An easy to follow map of the trails in Pananjung forest.

The monkeys are very aggressive, because of visitors being encouraged to buy peanuts to feed them. Be prepared to be challenged by a group of monkeys expecting a handout. If you don’t have anything, pick up a tree branch – that will disperse them. Keep a close watch on all your belongings – the monkeys take pleasure in snatching anything that is loose.

About 700 species of plants live in the Pananjung forest – Marong, Ki Segal, Laban, Teak, Mahogany, and Acacia. The real gem is the huge Rafflesia flower when it’s in bloom – June and July.

If you want to see more than the well defined recreation area, a guide can show you more remote areas of the recreation area, and may even venture into the jungle preserve, which is normally off limits to tourists. Guides will offer their services at the entrance – Rp.100,000 for a three hour tour.

Overall all, Pangandaran is a great place for a holiday for those wanting to escape the crowds. One could spend a chilled week there and go home refreshed. But, does it rival Bali, as some claim? It could, if relaxation is what you’re after. But, for diversity of choice, scenery, surf, beaches, shopping, and nightlife Bali scores far ahead.

Getting to Pangandaran

From Jakarta, Bandung, or Jogjakarta, take the train to Banjar, then a bus to Pangandaran.

Alternatively, you can go the whole distance by bus – Pangandaran is well served by bus from all points in Java. The scheduled time from Bandung by bus is five hours, but that can easily stretch to 10, depending on road, and traffic conditions.

The easiest and most enjoyable way to get to Pangandaran from Jakarta or Bandung in on Susi Air – I’ve used their service, and it’s excellent. You may want to check out my post about my Susi Air experience.

Have you been to Pangandaran? What was your experience like? Please share with a comment.

Green Canyon

Just one km from Batu Karas, The Green Canyon (Cukang Taneuh – land bridge) is a nice morning trip. Be sure and go at least two days after the last rain, as the water turns from its normal emerald green, to a muddy brown, after a rain.

The normal routine is for the boat to take you up river to the canyon, where there is a small waterfall in a cavern. They’ll tie off there for a while so you can take photos and swim if you want to. Life jackets are provided for swimming. It’s a requirement that you wear one – there have been drownings due to swimmers being caught in the turbulent, agitator action at the base of the waterfall.

Rather than try to describe Green Canyons beauty further, here are some photos that will show you.

 Green Canyon,java waterfall

Green Canyon,java river

Green Canyon,biawak
Biawak Lizard

Green Canyon,java river

Green Canyon,java waterfall

Green Canyon,java waterfall

Green Canyon,java waterfall

Green Canyon,java river

Green Canyon,java waterfall

Green Canyon,java waterfall

Green Canyon,java river

Green Canyon,java river

Green Canyon,java waterfall

Green Canyon,java cave

Green Canyon,java river

Green Canyon,java river

Green River is very easy to find on the main road between Cjulang and Batu Karas. There are many boats available to hire that carry up to five people, for Rp.100,000.

Many tour operators offer day trips from Pangandaran. Alternatively, take a public bus to Cjulang, and take an ojek from the bus station. If you’re staying in Batu Karas you can hire a local ojek. There are no ojeks standing by for the return trip, so you’ll want the okek to wait for you.

Another option is to rent a motorbike for Rp.50,000 per day, and go on your own.

Bandung to Pangandaran

Traveling from Bandung to Pangandaran, I decided to try one of Indonesia’s small, regional airlines – Susi Air.

I found Bandung’s airport very impressive. It’s very comfortable and modern, despite its small size. Everyone was very friendly, and helpful. The baggage screeners even had a cheery disposition.

The airport at the other end is in Cijulang, about 25 km from Pangandaran. If you need transport to Pangandaran or Batu Karas, Susi Air offeres a shuttle service to either place for Rp.25,000 – schedule it when you buy the ticket. If you have another destination, There are a few ojeks (motor bike taxis) waiting outside.

The plane I was on was a fairly new, 12 seat Cessna Grand Caravan. From the time I bought my ticket, to I got off the plane in Pangandaran (Cijulang), the service was fantastic. I was late getting to the ticket office the day I bought my ticket, but my friend Tara called the ticket agent (a little Bahasa Indinesian helps), and she waited. The day of my flight, I arrived before the ticket counter opened so I went to the waiting area. When the ticket agent arrived, she came and got my bag, took it to the ticket counter and checked it in, then returned with the paperwork. I never had to even get up. The pilots were two guys from abroad, and also very friendly, as was the ground staff in Pangandaran (Cijulang).

Susi Air
Susi Air operates fairly new planes that are flown by experienced pilots, and equipped with modern electronic navigation.

In these days rude, impersonal service at major airports, and by the big airlines, flying between two regional airports on a small carrier was a flashback of how air travel used to be – enjoyable!

This trip is highly recommended for that reason alone.

But there’s more. The 40 minute flight is so much nicer than the 10 hour bus ride, and the scenery from the plane is beautiful.

Java View
Aerial view between Bandung and Pangandaran.

Java Mountains
Aerial view between Bandung and Pangandaran.

Java landscape
Aerial view between Bandung and Pangandaran.

Terraced rice paddies.
Terraced rice paddies.

South Java coast
South Java coast.

Susi Air has daily scheduled flights between Bandung and Pangandaran (Rp.280,000), Jakarta and Pangandaran (Rp.520,000), Jakarta and Bandung (Rp.250,000), and Jakarta and Cilacap (580,000). However, they need a minimum of two passengers on the flight, so some days they don’t fly. I had to wait one day for my flight.

Their call center number is: +62 811 212 3080 / 3090

Susi Air’s airport sales office numbers are: Jakarta – +62 811 212 3921 / 3922, Bandung – +62 811 212 3923 / 3924, Pangandaran – +62 811 212 3925 / 3926, Cilacap – +62 811 212 3927 / 3928