Tagged: batu karas

Batu Karas to Jogjakarta (Yogyakarta)

Getting away from Batu Karas proved to be a bit more difficult than getting there was, and as I’ll describe later on, I really did feel like I was getting away.

There is really no direct line between Batu Karas and Jogjakarta. One could fly to Bandung on Susi air; then catch a train from Bandung to Jogjakarta – there are several. The total cost would be about Rp.480,000.

The public bus is the cheapest option. You would need to get an ojek from Batu Karas to Cijulang, and catch a bus to Cilacap when they are running. If not, you’d need to go to Pangandaran and get a bus to Cilacap. From there, you can get a bus directly to Jogjakarta. The name of the bus you want in Cilacap is “EFISIENSI.” The total cost for this option is about Rp.65,000.

You also have the option of ojekking it to Cijulang; then taking a bus to Pangandaran, and another bus to Banjar, where the trains to Jogjakarta stop. The problem with Banjar is that the trains are though trains, so turning up and hoping to buy a ticket to travel on the same day can be hit or miss. Should you have to wait a day or two in Banjar, extreme boredom would surely set in – there is not much there. It’s far better to book ahead, but sadly there is no reliable way to do that from Pangandaran or Batu Karas. You would have to book the ticket in Jakarta, Bandung, or Jogjakarta before coming to Batu Karas. The total cost to do this would be about Rp.125,000, unless it’s a busy holiday period, when they require passengers who embark in route to pay the full fare from the train’s point of origin.

For me, the public buses aren’t a good option because I have more luggage than I can carry in one go. On public busses in Indonesia, there is sometimes a bit of jostling for position, so you need to have all of your luggage in your hand as you board the bus.

The worst option, and the one I chose, actually sounds the best. There is a mini bus that offers a package deal. It’s picks up in Batu Karas and takes you to the train station in Sidareja for Rp.250,000, which includes the minibus ride and the train ticket.

Unfortunately, there is no travel agency in Batu Karas, so you need to find a local who has the number to call, and who will tack on a little commission to the price. The price I was quoted by a Batu Karas local was Rp.500,000. Knowing that was way too high, I went to Pangandaran and booked the same trip for Rp.250,000 – the price printed on the brochure in the travel office. However, I didn’t even get back to Batu Karas before the local network kicked in and I got a call saying they had made a mistake and the price was actually Rp.500,000.

What happened is obvious – the local got his commission.

I decided to go ahead and pay the higher price because I wasn’t sure if I would get a refund for the Rp.250,000 if I didn’t, and it was still the quickest way to Jogjakarta. But, after a miserable ride in the hot, non air-conditioned, cramped mini bus, over a derelict road, I would surely choose to fly back to Bandung, and book a train from there, for about the same money.

It’s a sad thing – I had a great time in Batu Karas, and the people were very hospitable. Besides staying in a hotel, and eating in local restaurants, I rented a motorbike from a local, and also paid him to guide me around a bit. One would think they would want visitors to leave with a good feeling about the place, so you’ll speak well about it, and return some day. But instead, some of the locals feel they need to get one last fistful of cash.

Would I return to Batu Karas? Sure, but not without my transport out pre-arranged. If going from Jakarta or Bandung, I would either fly, or take a train to Banjar, and I would have my return ticket in hand. There are cars one can hire in Banjar to go to Batu Karas for Rp.150,000. I’d get the drivers number, and arrange for him to pick me up.

What I would never do, is trust a Batu Karas local with my transportation arrangements.

Currently, the hotels in Batu Karas don’t book transportation because they don’t want to compete with the locals. It’s certainly a policy they need to look at.

At the end of the day, being overcharged Rp.250,000 is not the end of the world, and I’m sure it’s not the last time it will happen on this trip. None the less, it’s still annoying, so I’m tagging this post and any similar, future posts, “overcharged” so it will be easy for everyone to see what they need to watch out for.

Do you have and overcharge stories? Please tell us about it in the comment section below.

Around Batu Karas

One of the pleasures of staying in Batu Karas is renting a motorbike and riding around enjoying the scenery. There are a number of short trips you can take.

I’ve already written about Green Canyon, and Pangandaran, but there are a few more choices.

Batu Hiu (Shark Rock) has an interesting past.

According to an 11th century legend, a group of soldiers from the kingdom of Mataram, led by Aki and Nini Gede, came to this spot.

The soldiers had been exiled from the kingdom because of their mystical abilities – something the ruling party feared.

Upon their arrival, the soldiers started fishing, and caught a huge shark. Aki and Nini Gede ordered the release of the magnificent fish, and upon its return to the sea, the shark turned to stone.

From then on, this area has been known as Batu Hiu (Shark Rock).

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Enter the Batu Hiu recreation park through the mouth of a giant shark.
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Government ran sea turtle breeding project near Batu Hiu.

Citumang is sometimes referred to as ‘Green Canyon 2′ – it has a beautiful nature trail through a Balsa wood forest, along a river fed by a natural spring.

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The natural spring in this cave is the source of the river.
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The river goes over several waterfalls as it winds its way through the valley below, providing a natural irrigation system.
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A very easy to follow trail among the Balsa trees.

Just a short walk over the hill from Batu Karas, the lies the very private and secluded Batu Nungul beach. Just walk through the car park in the center of the village and ask directions. There is a marginal trail that leads up and over the hill. Take your lunch – it’s a nice spot to spend the day.

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batu karas,batu nungul

The pictures below are a small sampling of the scenic beauty around Batu Karas you can enjoy by just riding around.

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batu karas, tsunami warning
Living with the ever present possibility of a tsunami is a fact of life here. A tsunami can happen at any time, even when no earthquake is felt.

Batu Karas Accommodation

There are just a few accommodation options in Batu Karas. The majority of visitors to Batu Karas are Indonesians, so avoid arriving on weekends, or public holidays, unless you book ahead – Batu Karas hotels fill up quickly at these times.

During busy, holiday periods, hotel rates can quadruple.

Bonsai Bungalows, Java Cove, and Teratai Hotel are the only hotels in the center of the village, near the best surf break. The others are over the hill to the north towards the secondary surf (reef) break.

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Bonsai Bungalows

This Australian owned hotel is my top choice. It’s extremely well managed, clean, and has a very helpful staff. Its design also blends well with the rustic atmosphere of Batu Karas.

They have four rooms with twin beds, and two large rooms that sleep six. Air conditioning and hot water showers are available. Rates start at Rp.150,000 for a fan room with a cold shower – there is a community hot shower that everyone has access to at no additional charge. Complementary coffee will be waiting for you every morning on your veranda.

Phone:+62 26 5709 3199

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Java Cove

As far upscale as you can go in Batu Karas, Australian owned Java Cove offers plush, air conditioned rooms, with cable TV, and hot water for Rp.900,000. They have other room options all along the price scale, down to a fan room, with cold water shower for Rp.150,000. Their restaurant serves up fresh bread flown in from Bandung, and the best (and only) pizza and western breakfast in town.

Phone:+62 26 708 2020

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Teratai Hotel

Teratai is getting all new rooms that are scheduled to be complete 12 September, 2010. They have twin rooms and bungalows with fan and cold water showers from Rp.150,000. Leni, the owner, is a delight.

Phone:+62 26 5708 2024, +62 81 662 3372

sindang asih hotel, batu karas hotel
Sindang Asih

This is closer to a home stay than a hotel – a very friendly family offers three small, fairly new rooms with fan and cold water shower for Rp.150,000. On occasion, they may invite you for dinner with the family.

Phone:+62 81 3951 42258

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Sunrise Resort

Batu Karas’s newest luxury option, Australian owned Sunrise Resort, will offer plush rooms with all the amenities. It’s scheduled to open later this year.

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Pondok Putri Hotel

This is a simple, clean mid-range hotel. It has air conditioned rooms, hot water showers, a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and the only bar in town. Rates start at Rp.260,000. The entire top floor is a family suite with a living room, study, two bedrooms, a kitchen, and two balconies that goes for Rp.1,000,000 a night.

Phone:+62 81 323 106 115, +62 81 323 085 284

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Reef Hotel

Reef Hotel is right across from the reef break at the north end of the village. They are currently doing some renovations, so it should be a bit nicer than it was in the past. They have simple fan rooms with cold water showers for Rp.200,000. Their restaurant serves up the normal traveler’s menu at fair prices.

Phone:+62 81 3203 40193

Batu Karas

Batu Karas is a secret Indonesian surf spot, only known to those in the know, so implies one website that offers a tour to an unnamed, charming surf village offering sand barrels and shorty takeoffs on a 300 meter point break.

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Batu Karas Point creates the famous Point Break surf wave in Batu Karas.
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Black sand beach at Batu Karas.
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Surfer challenges the reef break at Batu Karas.

In 2006, Tom Williams, owner of Bonsai Bungalows, came to Batu Karas on a holiday, fell in love with the village, and never left. A local surfer showed him the plot of land where Bonsai Bungalows now stands and he made a snap decision to buy it. He realized there would be pitfalls, but also knew they could be dealt with along the way, as they have.

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Bonsai Bungalows offers simple, clean accommodation from Rp.150,000. +62 26 5709 3199

So, what is it about Batu Karas that makes it so special?

Batu Karas is a sleepy village, possessing a rare charm and friendly vibe, despite recent growth in tourism to the area.

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Downtown Batu Karas

The locals are a large part of what makes Batu Karas special – always ready with a smile, eager to interact with visitors, and they seem to have a good understanding of what travelers want to experience.

It’s the best place in Java to learn to surf – lessons from talented local surfers are readily available. But, you don’t have to be a surfer to feel at home here – you may choose to simply relax on the beach, and enjoy the charm of this relaxed fishing village.

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Most of the locals are fishermen.

There is no one trying to sell you sunglasses, sarongs, or massages on the beach, your privacy is warmly respected, and yet, if you do need something – a bike to rent or a guide to a nearby place of interest – then they will easily accommodate your needs. Prices for things such as surf board, bike, and boat rental are fairly fixed in the village, which helps to avoid haggling, and any ill feelings or misunderstandings.

Although choices for places to eat are a little limited, the few restaurants that do exist are friendly and have a nice atmosphere. Jesfas restaurant in particular, is a warm, friendly, family run establishment and a popular meeting spot for locals and tourists alike. If it’s a delicious seafood meal with fresh local produce you seek, then Bay View restaurant has an impressive array of lobsters, tiger prawns and local fish, freshly caught on the day.

Night life is fairly non existent, but partying is not really what this place is about – its true asset is that it’s a relaxed friendly little village where the days can be passed eating, surfing, and simply lazing in a hammock and working on your sun tan. There are plenty of adventurous things to do in the surrounding areas, but for Batu Karas itself, there is just one rule – take it easy and soak up the serenity!

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Sunset on the reef.

Getting to Batu Karas

The easiest way to get to Batu Karas from Jakarta or Bandung is the 40 minute Susi Air flight. My experience on Susi Air was fantastic!

By bus: to Pangandaran, then to Cijulang, then an ojek to Batu Karas.

By Train: Banjar is the transit point on the Jakarta – Jogjakarta line. From Banjar it’s a two hour bus ride to Pangandaran, then on to Cijulang where you can get an ojek to Batu Karas.

batr karasWalking from Cijulang is also an option. From the bus station in Cijulang, go left about a half km, across a bridge. Turn left just after the bridge, walk through the sawmill, then onto a very easy to follow path that will take you through the jungle, across a bamboo bridge, then to the main road. Turn left at the “Y” intersection, and follow the road into Batu Karas. It’s about 4.5 km from Cijulang and takes about an hour.

The path from Cijulang to Batu Karas looks like this:

cijulang to batu karas

Top left: After you turn left after crossing the bridge on the main road.
Top right: At the top of the hill, turn right.
Bottom left: Walk straight to the top of the next hill.
Bottom right: Follow the nice tree-lined path through the jungle.

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Cross the beautiful bridge.

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Top left: After you cross the bridge, pay the Rp.1000 toll.
Top right: Turn right, and walk down this path for about 100 meters.
Bottom left: Turn left at this intersection.
Bottom right: Enjoy the walk through the villages.

cijulang to batu karas

Top left: Continue walking along the shady, tree-lined road.
Top right: Past children who seldom see a foreigner.
Bottom left: To the end of the road at Batu Karas.
Bottom right: Turn right, and walk about half km to the main village.