For someone who quit her 9-to-5 job, whose one of the goals was to see more of Indonesia, it’s safe to say I fail miserably; at least to achieve them in the last year.
Sure, I spent a month in the Island of Gods, Bali, last year. Then there was a weekend getaway in Lombok and the Gili Islands earlier in May this year. But among the approximately 18,000 islands in Indonesia, I have only seen a fraction of this beautiful country I am proud to call home.
So imagine my delight when I was invited on a trip to Tanjung Lesung, a quiet peninsula on the West Coast of Java, in the province of Banten. Finally, a chance to see a bit more of Indonesia! While I have been to this side of the country – mainly to visit the beaches such as Carita or Anyer back in the school days, and later to Umang Island a few years ago – I have never visited Tanjung Lesung and the surrounding areas of the Ujung Kulon National Park.
I joined the trip with five Indonesian travel bloggers consisted of Trinity (The Naked Traveler), Rini, Mumun from Indohoy, Barry, and Harris ; all very passionate about travelling and almost every one of them has seen more of Indonesia than most people I know.
After a three-hour drive from Jakarta, we arrived at Tanjung Lesung Resort around lunch time and checked into our accommodation for the next three days, at Kalicaa Villa a 3-bedroom spacious villa, that comes with open air lounge and kitchen, and a private swimming pool. We all had big grinds on our faces at the thought of lounging and relaxing by the pool for the next three days.
But before all that, we were called for lunch at the seaside Club Villa restaurant with this view.
The resort spreads across an area of 1500 ha, surrounded by several beaches, with parks built around the area. With facilities such as restaurants, a beach club (with snorkeling gear and boats available for use) as well as spacious outdoor area to take a walk or ride on a bicycle, the resort makes a great weekend getaway spot.
A few of us went on bicycles to explore the resort while the rest, that included me, went off for the afternoon to swim by the beach club. Now, I didn’t expect to see this view coming in, maybe because I never thought such scene would exist on the island of Java, having been to places like Bali and Lombok.
But it does.
View from the resort’s beach club
Around 5pm we moved to Bodur Beach, another gorgeous beach on the site, in time to watch the sunset. The sunset that evening, despite a little cloudy, was still mesmerising.
Sunset over Bodur Beach.
Some of us often get so engrossed in taking pictures, that we actually forget to just enjoy and be in the moment. I took a few shots of the sunsets, and later put down the camera, sat on the bench staring at the sun as it went down disappearing into the horizon. Just gazing at the empty space. Stillness. Until my travel buddies, all in the water, giggling and chattering, excitedly called out encouraging me to jump in. I obliged.
I think the last time I swam in the sunset was that one afternoon in Bali on Balangan beach, with a friend. That was almost two years ago, and I had forgotten what it felt like.
If there was one blissful moment from this trip, it was this – swimming in the ray of light, feeling the white soft powdery sands on my feet as I was standing on the soft sea base, with waves came gently crashing on to us, all laughing in joy, being in the moment.
As if we weren’t spoiled enough with the beaches on the first day, the next day we were welcomed by this view as we docked on Peucang Island, an island that would usually take an hour to an hour and half from our resort. The wind was quite strong on that day that our trip took slightly longer, as our boat captain navigated his way through the rough sea. It took us about two and a half hours to cross the strait.
But what a sight to welcome us.
I was telling my travel buddies that the best beach I have seen so far in Indonesia would have to be the ones I saw Gili Air, one of the Gili Islands off Lombok. Obviously, they have seen more of these pristine beaches having travelled to the eastern side of Indonesia, but Peucang Island beach, as we all agree, would rate pretty much up there as the best beach for the west side of the Java region. It has super clear water – check out the photo of a jelly fish I saw in the gallery – and soft powdery sand, that actually made me want to lie and roll around on it.
As much as I wanted to do that, we had some exploring to do on the island.
Peucang Island is part of the Ujung Kulon National Park, declared as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We went trekking through the forest, 6km trek that saw us walking past some of the craziest looking trees, simply because they are hundreds years old and a sweet looking wild deer.
It took us one and half hours to reach the top of the cliff, overlooking “Karang Copong”, a big piece of rock that looks more like a tiny island in the middle of the sea. We spent about an hour up at the top before we headed back down to the beach for lunch.
I had wished that we spent the whole day on the island just lie on the white sand beach and swim in the clear water, but on our next to do list was snorkeling, which in fact excited me more since I’ve missed diving for quite some time – yes, I realise it’s not quite the same, but it was good enough to see the underwater. We did this about half way between Peucang Island and our resort, at a site called Cimayang.
I dreaded the boat ride back to the resort as the sea was rough, even worse than when we left the resort; bumpy ride, strong wind and waves up to probably two metres high, water splashing in the boat and all – you name it. All I could think of then was my DSLR camera, not being in a dry bag, a rookie mistake one might say. But luckily, while I wasn’t so dry, the camera was when we got back safely to the resort.
The last day at the resort was spent lazying around before we were due to head back to Jakarta after lunch. We repeated the first day experience of swimming in the sea, off the beach club and added snorkeling this time since it was high tide. I was very pleasantly surprise at how much there was to see snorkeling, not far from the dock by the beach club. I saw butterfly fish, trumpet fish, trevali, some puffer fish even some clown fish. It was only when I saw a trigger fish that I decided to head back to the shore. Every time I see a triggerfish, I am reminded of that dive trip in Amed, Bali, when a pregnant triggerfish attacked me. I thought it was funny at the time (it got my fins instead of my ear), but knowing how bad it could have been, the sight of a triggerfish has become a trigger of that memory (yes, pun intended) and always made me a little nervous.
Since the sensation of feeling the white sand on your feet while swimming was so pleasurable, we went for another dip at Bodur Beach. In day light, as opposed during sunset, you could see how blue and clear the water was.
We made the most of that swim, and I was reminded again on how beautiful Indonesia is, with all these hidden gems. And I still have a long way to go to explore the rest of them.
Note: I visited Tanjung Lesung Resort as a guest of PT Jababeka Tbk, the holding company behind Tanjung Lesung Resort. However all opinions expressed above are all mine