Belitung, or I always call it a heaven 45 minutes from Jakarta, is an island in Bangka-Belitung Province, the east side of Sumatera. The island itself is famous for having a granite rocks. Yes the granite rocks are spread throughout the island and beaches, making a beautifully unique combination with the light-blue clear water and soft sandy beaches. Here we go, Travel Guide Belitung.
1. Getting Here
On a daily basis, you can reach the island by plane from Jakarta. Its used to be only 45 minutes flight but due to the air-traffic occurs recently, the flight is scheduled to be an hour. Landing in Tanjung Pandan, don’t expect that you will have a taxi available. Public transport in Belitung is not sufficiently developed yet so that you will need to rent a car or motorbike. However, prior your departure to Belitung, you can book the airport transfer in some local travel agent, the cost will be IDR 120,000 one way per car. Or, you can negotiate with the local drivers who are available in front of the arrival gate, IDR 60,000 per person should please them. You can expect to pay IDR 50,000 per day for motorbike rent, even though it could be cheaper or more expensive depends on the season and IDR 350,000 per day for car rent (driver and fuel included for the car rent).
Another way to get to Belitung, which is quite an effort, is 24 hours of trip by ferry. Note that this ferry operates bi-weekly from Tanjung Priok Jakarta to Belitung. Alternatively, if you depart from Pangkal Pinang, there is a daily Bahari speed boat serves the trip to Belitung with trip duration of 4 hours.
The best time to have your vacation in Belitung is during dry season (June-September) but even October is still nice too.
2. Attractions and Activities
Belitung started to become famous after the movie based on the novel by Andrea Hirata, Laskar Pelangi, or in English means The Rainbow Troops. The attractions offered are mostly inspired by the movie as well.
Tanjung Tinggi beach is definitely the most visited place in Belitung, thanks to Andrea Hirata, with the arrays of granite rocks surrounding the beach. In July or during school holiday, the beach is likely crowded but in September, it is just perfectly calm, as calm as the wave. Kayaking, swimming and floating with inflatable boat are the perfect activities. Surprisingly, the rent of inflatable boat costs only IDR 50,000 for unlimited time. Woohoo.
After the activities, you can grab some fish barbecue in the restaurant nearby the beach and trust me it is really affordable starting from IDR 60,000 per whole big fish. Yummy!
Even some people recommend to enjoy the sunset at Tanjung Pendam beach but I still prefer Tanjung Tinggi beach for the sunset spot. You will experience an amazing sunset as in your fantasy. Just fantastico!
Next beach destination, around 13 km east of Tanjung Tinggi, there is Bukit Berahu beach. Actually the beach is part of the Bukit Berahu cottage but the visitor is free to visit the beach. Bukit Berahu cottage itself is a nice and affordable place to stay with the beach right in front of the cottage. If you visit Belitung in GROUP or FAMILY, I recommend this cottage. The nightly rate is IDR 484,000 per cottage for two persons.
Belitung is surrounded by more than a hundred small islands. Island hopping activity can be done in one full day by renting local boat depart from Tanjung Kelayang beach. The smallest boat with capacity of 12 persons costs IDR 450,000. Life vest, and of course the boat Captain, are included with the rent fee but not the snorkelling gear. You can rent the snorkelling gear from the boat for IDR 60,000.
In order to avoid the crowd, you can start as early as 8 am and make Lengkuas island (Pulau Lengkuas) as your first destination. Why? Because it is the furthest island in the north with trip duration of 20 minutes. Moreover, the lighthouse built by Dutch colonial government in 1882 is the main attraction of the island, when you start early will be less queue. With an entrance fee on IDR 5,000 you are allowed to climb 12 floors of the lighthouse and enjoy the view of the island from the height. As the old quote said, No Pain No Gain.
Not many snorkelling spot is available, there is one just next to Pulau Lengkuas. After, you can head to Pulau Kepayang or Pulau Babi for swimming and having lunch. Inviting the boat captain for lunch will not break your wallet 😉
Then, the island hopping can continue to Pulau Burung with the granite rocks that structurally look like the head of bird (burung = bird), Pulau Pasir (pasir = sand) where you can find a starfish and Pulau Batu Berlayar for snorkelling.
There are still many other islands to visit but in one day, four islands are already enough.
Manggar is a city located in east Belitung, ±80 km from Tanjung Pandan. It has the same typical beaches yet less crowded than the main attractions.
Membalong is a district in south Belitung. With one and half hour of driving from Tanjung Pandan (± 70 km), membalong offers you the quite Penyabong beach.
Belitung main business is mining so that there is a lake right in Tanjung Pandan which was created by the mining activity named Kaolin Lake. Somehow, local people say that bathing in Kaolin Lake may smoothen your skin. Fingers crossed.
As Tanjung Pandan is the city center of Belitung, staying in Tanjung Pandan becomes my preference. In the evening, some other spot in the island is “death” so you can only have dinner in the hotel. But in Tanjung Pandan is different, you will have more “alive” ambient. There are many restaurants open for dinner and you should, at least once, try to eat at food court in Tanjung Pendam. You will be requested to pay for the entrance fee IDR 2,000 but you will have plenty of restaurant, café and warung to choose.
Local food in Belitung is mainly a Chinese taste, delicious and very cheap. Range of price could be as low as IDR 15,000 – IDR 24,000 per meal including drink if you are in moderate budget.
Gangan Kepala Ketarap is a special food in Belitung, it is a yellow soup with the head of big fish named Ketarap. The taste is fresh and a little bit sour spicy, similar like Tom Yum from Thailand. Eating noodles is also an option, try to grab crab noodles in Bakmie Diva, the famous noodle restaurant in Belitung.
Beware of the jellyfish while doing sea activities such as swimming or snorkelling anywhere in Belitung and I know I may sound like your mommy, but don’t forget to apply your sunblocks.
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