Archipelago diaries |

A Road Trip to the West Coast of Java

Archipelago Diaries | 20 December 2019
Sunset at Anyer Coastal Town
Sunsets are always stunning in the west coast of Java. Photos by Rintang Azhar/NOWJAKARTA

Starting from the zero-kilometre mark of the Great Post Road, roll down the window of your car to appreciate the endless nautical beauty of Anyer littoral zone that spans through its long coastline.

Taking a two-hour road trip to the west coast of Java is the easiest thing Jakartans could do to find stunning beaches without having to fly afar to other islands in the archipelago nation that offers a myriad of coastal tourism. Besides Jakarta Bay and Thousand Islands, Anyer is known as a go-to destination for anyone who needs an instant offshore getaway while enjoying the trip on the road. 

Pack any stuff for a short getaway, get in the car and put the gas on. Having a trip with family or friends to Anyer will be fun to enjoy every moment during the trip. For travellers who care about the journey more than the destination, it will be a personal experience to be able to see the scenic view from the windows car and have a conversation with anyone who joins the trip.

Anyer Coastal Town 

It’s not a very picturesque view from the toll road and industrial district nearby the Port of Merak, but it will pay off as one reaches the coastal town that has natural gems and historical narrative that can be discovered throughout its long coastal line. Facing the Sunda Strait, Anyer is home for its inhabitants that lingers through the maritime economy that helps build the coastal town develop to be alluring tourism destination in Banten Province which comes with a list of beaches, offshore tourism, seafood, nautical attraction, maritime festival and their signature beach resort hospitality. 

Established in the late 18th century during the Dutch occupation in Indonesia, the town previously named Angier or Anjer is one of the first moorages for distant travellers in the past, making it one of the most important trade routes in Indonesia. Today, this Northwestern area in Java lays a mega port of Merak that connects the island to Sumatra that also attracts tourists to stop by during holiday seasons.

An approximately 100-kilometre coastal line stretches from Anyer to Tanjung Lesung, tempting one’s eyes to never look away from the open window from their car to feel the sea breeze and sunshine that touch the skin. The road is only steps away from the shore. Natural sound from the swish ripple, swaying coconut trees, and sailing fishermen boat are among the pleasing vistas that will dilate one’s vision and sonic with all those realist beauties. It’s indeed a pleasure to the eye.

Anyer Lighthouse

From Coast to Coast

Start the trip from the zero-kilometre of The Great Post Road (De Grote Postweg) at Anyer Lighthouse in Cikoneng. The most famous landmark in the resort town is believed as the starting point of the historical road that run across Java, connect the dot from Anyer to the eastern point in Panarukan. Built under the reign of Herman Willem Daendels who was at that time is the governor-general of the Dutch East Indies, the original building was destroyed by the 1883 Tsunami until two years later in 1885, at the behest of King Wilhelm III and Queen Wilhelmina of Holland, a new lighthouse was built.

Here, tourists can discover the historic footprint of the Dutch East Indies from the standing monument and the archive at the lighthouse tower. One will be mesmerized at how The Great Post Road that spans 1,000 kilometres long was established, revealing the colonial footprint that passes through Batavia (Jakarta), Meester Cornelis (Jatinegara), Buitenzorg (Bogor), Preanger (Bandung), Candaal (Kendal), Semarang, Lassum (Lasem), Grissee (Gresik), Soerabaja (Surabaya) and ended in Panaeoecan (Panarukan). Today, people are more familiar with the name, Jalan Pantai Utara (Pantura) as an embodiment of the colonial road.

Don’t stop right there as one also could explore the local culinary nearby the lighthouse while sitting under the umbrella of gazebos. Relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous tropical sunsets are the main things to do here. Head to the Pier close to the lighthouse to get the best viewpoint.

There are more than 10 beaches to be discovered throughout the coastline but there are few names that attract the most visitors. Balmy waters and soft white sands enticing families of all ages seeking a sublime holiday at Anyer Beach as it is the most popular beach in the coastal town and it’s within easy reach for those staying in the resorts along the beaches. With a coastal view overlooking Mount Rakata, the child of historical Mount Krakatoa, Anyer boasts the best geographic location to witness sunset during twilight. The established tourism spot has comprehensive facilities. It’s also the annual destination for divers to discover its marine gems. Families and friends could also experience aquatic sports, such as jet ski, speed boat, parasailing and many more.

Karang Bolong
Karang Bolong

During the trip, put Karang Bolong in the itinerary. Karang Bolong, which means a ‘coral hole’ in English, is named by its natural formation with a huge hollowed-out rock arching over the sands that forms a dramatic archway to the beach. It’s the most distinctive beach view compared with others and it’s very affordable for local and domestic tourism. Many visitors come for photography and selfies under the hallowed coral reef that hangs like a ramp. Nestled nearby Anyer Beach and the Lighthouse, it is no wonder Karang Bolong will easily end up being the next stop that add up the memories during the trip to the coastal town. Whether walking on the reef or climbing to the top of the rock, many spots are offered to capture one’s experience at Karang Bolong.

Another activity to do in Karang Bolong Beach is relaxation. You only need to carry a mat and sit in a spot near the coast. This way, you can enjoy the breezy wind while witnessing the stunning sea scenery. The sound of the waves is indeed hypnotizing. Some rocks are possible to climb, so you can see better views from above! Swimming and boat riding are also fun. Make sure to find the right spots to do those activities, though.

Sambolo Beach
Sambolo Beach

lHearing the sound of the wave and with inciting view of the white sand are very hypnotising. Sambolo Beach has it all. Situated in Labuan district, Pandeglang, Sambolo Beach is a popular option for family bonding and water sport. This beach is a great place for swimming, banana boating, scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing and fishing. Don’t miss out on underwater photography as the water is crystal clear with a vibrant coral garden. If one is looking for a stay, the camping ground is also available besides other accommodations, such as a cottage, hotel, bungalow and resort. Sambolo is known from its long pier overlooking the offshore view that is able to capture the dramatic sunset in the panoramic frame.

Head to the south, bring friends and family to learn about local lowland endemic at the conservation area in the forest at Taman Hutan Raya (Tahura) Carita. Within eight minutes of driving, it’s a sanctuary for anyone who looks for mild air after being exposed to the sun. Unfold the mat and have a picnic surrounded by lush greeneries.

Taking a boat Sangiang (Dwarsindenweg in Dutch), an uninhabited island located in midway of the Sunda Strait between the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java. There are few sailing clubs and professional membership that facilitate the sailing to this island. Some of the local properties also offer the sailing experience to Sangiang Island. One could visit here in the group to see the cliffs or dive in the water with instructors and professionals. Due to its status as natural preservation area, Sangiang Island is only available for limited visits to ensure the protection of the untouched jungle and offshore coral reef formations as well as its marine life.

From coast to coast, there are many magnificent beaches that can be explored, including Carita, Marina, Jambu, Florida, Bandulu, Bulakan and Green Garden Beach that lay to the South. Whether laying independently or exclusively offered by the resort, each beach provides a personal experience for anyone coming to visit.

Disaster Mitigation: A Tourism Revival of Past Events

A year has passed since the Sunda Strait Tsunami in 2018 kills tourism activity until today as many people are reluctant to come back for their weekend escape to Anyer. For travellers who are familiar with the disastrous event that took 437 lives last year, of course, it’s a scary thing to have and people don’t want to put themselves in jeopardy. If one looks to the history, Anyer geographic condition will always be challenging as it is located topographically in the belt of Ring of Fire where active volcanos and plate movements are the naturally rimmed around it. People will never be revived if anyone still thinks about the hazardous Krakatoa eruption in 1883 that generated a large tsunami, dramatically destroying the area long ago. Yet, the community has built confidence towards bringing tourism back.

Last year, 69 properties including hotels, villas, restaurants and tenants were destroyed by the Tsunami. Learning from the impact of the past event, Banten Provincial Government has been rehabilitating the dying tourism destinations after the past natural disaster has affected Anyer, Carita and Tanjung Lesung. Along with The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the local government urged to promote disaster mitigation in coastal tourism destinations by investing the infrastructure for early warning systems, a shelter for evacuation and socialisation to the related industries. The industries are also urged to put their guests with knowledge about disaster mitigation.

As the area faces significant economic loss following the Sunda Strait Tsunami in December last year, local government invites tourist to not hesitate to visit Anyer again. Within a year, the government also promotes tourism through Krakatau Culture Festival, Ngaggurah Dano, and Anyer Urban Festival. With a guarantee to improve the quality of coastal tourism showed through undergoing a rehabilitation program, as well as the new investment for the new properties in the area, local and international tourists are urged to bring back the soul of the coastal gem in western Java.

The Other Side of Banten

Anyer, Carita, and Tanjung Lesung are not the only gems of Banten as the province has also been developing satellite cities that could run an independent economy similar to its neighbour, Jakarta. Over the past few years, Tangerang Selatan and The City of Tangerang has been showing significant progress to attract tourists and visitors with lifestyle tourism.

Bintaro and BSD provide comprehensive lifestyle tourism through MICE, design district, start-ups community, culinary spot, luxury accommodations and community tourism. On the other hand, Tangerang city has been focusing on manifesting the tourism and business that reflects to the local potential as the location is close to the Indonesia’s busiest international airport, Soekarno-Hatta.

Where to Stay

Marbella Hotel, Convention & Spa Anyer

Jalan Raya Karang Bolong KM 135
Bandulu, Anyer, Banten
T: +62 254 602345|
IG: @marbellaanyer
FB: marbellaanyer.hotel
www.marbellaanyer.com


Aston Anyer Beach Hotel

Jalan Raya Karang Bolong KM 139
Karang Suraga, Cinangka, Banten
T: +62 254 8495060
IG: @astonanyer
FB: Aston Anyer
www.astonhotelsinternational.com


Double G Resort Anyer

Jalan Raya Anyer-Sirih, Bulakan
Cinangka, Serang, Banten
T: +62 254 6530078
IG: @doublegresort
FB: doublegresort
www.doublegresort.com


Swiss-Belhotel Jakarta Airport

Jalan Husein Sastranegara, Kav I
Benda,Tangerang, Banten
P: +62 21 22523000
IG: @swissbelinnairportjkt
FB: Swiss-Belhotel Airport Jakarta
www.swiss-belhotel.com


Sahid Serpong

Jalan Raya Serpong No. 89, Cilenggang
Serpong, Tangerang Selatan, Banten
T: +62 21 53191388
IG: @sahidhotelsandresorts
FB: sahidserpong
www.sahidhotels.com