It might be a small coastal town but Banyuwangi in East Java is a beautiful little spot. If you are in West Bali, you can easily reach it via the small bridge connecting Bali and Java. Here’s a quick guide for a day trip to Banyuwangi.
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Table of Contents
How to Get There
From Jakarta, getting to Banyuwangi takes around 15 hours by scooter. By car or bus, it can be longer because of clogged traffic. It’s possible to fly from Jakarta to Blimbimgsari near Banyuwangi, which is your fastest bet.
From Surabaya, the ride takes at least 6 hours and there are guided tours as well, so you don’t have to arrange your trip by yourself.
On a day trip from Bali, you can make your way from Gilimanuk to Banyuwangi. That only takes 1 hour.
More tips: What to pack for your Bali trip
When to Visit
Indonesia has two seasons. The first, rainy season, run from November to March and the name is telling. When it rains, it pours and you will most likely see rain every single day, though not necessarily all day. Don’t forget to have a sturdy poncho with you at all times. Keep it in your scooter’s seat, for instance.
Around the rainy season, the beaches are rather empty as it’s low season but you might also catch trash season. As you’ve probably seen from Bali’s beaches, the ocean washes up plenty of plastic, bottles and other trash, which covers long stretches of beaches at the end of the year.
High season is in dry season, which is from April to October. Visit right at the start or end for the least touristy and still pleasantly sunny time. That being said, Banyuwangi isn’t one of the most popular places to visit in Indonesia. So you won’t have to fear the crowds.
Things to See in Banyuwangi
1. Volcano Hiking
Indonesia lies in a very tectonically active area and as a result has quite a few volcanoes. Some of these you can actually hike and the view from up here is mindblowing.
A massive specimen is Mount Raung with its 3282 metres. Put on hiking boots, pack your gear and come with an iron will; the hike is super challenging and not for the inexperienced.
Wanna see a blue flame steaming from a volcano at night? Then make your way up Kawah Ijen to the Iljen Crater. The flame can be up to 5 metres high and is a result of the sulfuric gases from the inside of the volcano.
Especially if you are solo travelling, you should join an experienced guide. This way you can enjoy an Iljen Crater hike for an epic sunrise experience over the largest acid lake on Java Island as safe as possible.
The hike I found starts at midnight and ends at around 9am. You’ll be picked up at your hotel. The ticket can be booked online and you don’t even need to print the receipt. Book it here.
Should you be crazy for even more volcanoes, you can join a three day journey to see the top three: Mount Bromo, the Madakaripura waterfall, and the Ijen crater. The guided journey starts at Surabaya and includes one night in Banyuwangi. The guide is English speaking and breakfast is included. Reserve your spot here.
2. Beach Vibing
You can’t travel along the coastline of Java without stopping by a beach. Luckily, Banyuwangi has its own beaches, which are mostly untouched.
Apart from the typical unbathing and swimming, you can also enjoy the waves and go surfing. Especially the 7 rolls of waves at Plengkung beach (also known as G Land) are a dream come true for surfers. They can be multiple metres high, so you really have to be an expert.
Should you want to experience black sands, hit up Grajagan beach. You may even get to see local fishermen out at sea.
3. Island Hopping
If you are staying overnight, why not hit some of the nearby islands? One favourite is Tabuhan Island. Another option is Red Island (Pulau Merah), which boasts stunning red sandy beaches.
4. Attending Festivals
Did you know the little town has its very own festival? The Banyuwangi Festival includes 10 festivals that are staged throughout the year and showcase an exciting mix of local culture and modern music.
In October, you can surf and listen to Jazz music. And for the Rainbow Festival at the end of the year, you can become familiar with the local culture.
5. National Park Exploring
While Bali has only one national park and it’s easy to reach from Banyuwangi, Java has 12. For instance, you can see Baluran National Park in Situbondo Regency. The climate here is rather dry and you can therefore see a savannah, mangroves and lowland forests. Hence the name “Little Africa in Java”.
An alternative is Alas Purwo National Park. It lies roughly 80km South of Banyuwangi and stretches over the peninsula Blambangan. It’s particularly known for its beaches and caves. Unless you want to learn how to surf like a pro, stay away during the summer months. The local surfing school attracts thousands of wannabe surfers during that time.
6. Visit A Tourism Village
Made for tourists – like the name suggests – the Osing Kemiren Village invites its guest on a cultural journey. It’s best to visit during carnival or other special events. It’s then that you can admire the wonderfully inticate and colourful costumes and masks of the Osing tribe. Try the excellent coffee, too!
The history of the Osing people (also known as Wong Osing) is rather fascinating. They are very diligent and pride in preserving old customs and rituals. Their ancestors came from the ancient Kingdom of Blambangan and resisted having to convert to Islam for two centuries.
An alternative local tourism village is Kampong Wisata Temenggungan. It’s very centrally located and will give you historical, cultural and spiritual insights in the treasured culture. A special talent in this village is the batik teqnqiue, which has been developed over multiple generations.
7. Walk a Harbour
Fishing is an important trade on the Indonesian islands and you will come across fishing boats a lot throughout your travels. However, for beautifully colourful boats, drive over to the Ikan Muncar Harbour.
The harbour is a little off the beaten tourist paths and offers beautiful sights. On a clear day, youcan see the magnificent mountains rising in the distance.
Fancy seeing a stunning waterfall? Scoot to Kalibendo. Just know that you will have to brave the uneven jungle paths, so you should be confident on a scooter or organize a local driver.
The entrance fee is 5000 IDR per person (0.32 EUR / 0.36 USD) and you’ll get to explore the jungle with two wide rivers flowing through the area. It’s best if you come here after rainy season as the waterfall is still full but the path isn’t flooded anymore.
If you aren’t satisfied yet, here’s my list of the best 25 waterfalls in Bali.
9. Drink Coffee
Besides rice terraces in Java, you should also schedule in a visit to a coffee plantation. One such is Kampong Kopi Lerek Gombengsari, which lies at the foot of Ijen mountain. Originally, the Dutch had the Kaliklatak plantations nearby looked after but the ancestors of the Gombengsari village started their own afterwards.
You can buy local coffee straight from the village and partake in the local coffee tours. In these, you are introduced on how to pick coffee, roast the beans and also how to milk goats.
Coffee is one of the main exports of this village and goat products are the second. Therefore, there are many goat farms around, too.
10. Eat Local Food
Of course, you can’t come to Indonesia (or shouldn’t) without having at least tried the local cuisine. A lot of it is rice based and fried. One staple dish on a cooler day is rujak soto, which is a spicy soup made from vegetables, beef tripe, shrimp paste and peanut sauce.
For a soup with grated coconut, ask for the sego awuk. With it, you’ll get the obligatory rice with a side of spicy vegetables. It is possible to add meat or fish to it.
For a vegetarian dish, try nasi pecel, which is rice with vegetables topped with a peanut sauce. Option B is nasi tempong, which is rice with chili sauce and sides of your choice. Similar to the food in nearby Bali, you usually pick tempeh.
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