Weekend Trip: Belitung
The island of Belitung looks very different from any other island I have seen in Indonesia. Huge, smooth, gray and white granite boulders jut out of the water as if they were carved by the sea. Sand bars peek above the sea and the white sand beaches felt like powder between my toes.
Belitung is bordered by the Java Sea and the South China Sea. Its brilliant turquoise waters are fairly shallow, making its calm waters excellent for snorkeling and fishing. Sea life abounds with many colorful fish species. I even spotted a dolphin jumping out of the water.
Belitung used to be a stronghold for the Dutch mining tin. The coral has made a comeback in last few years because of exploitative dynamite fishing. I marveled at the bright colors of the coral as I snorkeled for hours. Bright pinks, greens and even dazzling golds shone under the water. I reached out to rainbow colored fish as they darted between textured coral.
I stayed at Kelayang Beach Cottages for Rp300,000 (US$30.00) a night. A small property with five private huts on the beach. The cabin was quite large with a private bathroom. A white mosquito net circled the bed. The location is quite remote, so be sure to pack a small first aid kit with pain killers, upset stomach relief, band aids and mosquito repellant. I desperately needed some pain killers in the middle of the night, but the closest pharmacy was an hour away. The hotel’s restaurant serves up traditional Indonesian food with emphasis on the day’s catch from fishermen. The barbeque grilled fish is a must. There is no hard liquor, but plenty of Bintang beer.
The hotel will arrange transportation for an extra RP 150,000 (US 15.00). The ride is about 40 minutes from the airport to the hotel. Best of all, there is no traffic. We landed at 5pm and I was expecting rush hour traffic, but we were the only car on the road. Sweet!
There are quite a few tours available of the city and old mines. I wanted to stay on the beach.
- When you check in, arrange with the front desk to rent a boat for the day to go to the Lengkuas Island, home of the 19th century lighthouse. Climb the stairs for a beautiful view of Burung, Babi, Pengardaran and Lutung Islands. We had a boat all to ourselves and spent as much or as little time exploring tiny islands or swimming leisurely in the ocean, Island hopping and snorkeling.
- Kelayang Beach is great for laying out and catching some rays. Rent a kayak and paddle to the nearby granite rocks for a closer look. You can even climb these rocks for a panaromic view.
- At sunset, walk along the beach up the bridge and watch the sky change colors from orange to violet with tinges of blue.
- Renting a motorbike is the best way to get into and around town. Close by beaches are accessible by motorbike.