May 20 2012

Java’s Ujung Genteng, end of the… roof tile?

Published by at 10:13 am under Java

I’m often asked about my favourite places in Java and I often reply with expected responses such as “Bromo — it is spectacular” and “Dieng — a mystical paradise in the mountains”. But I also mention places such as Karimunjawa and Ujung Genteng, both of which receive very few foreign tourists, but are stunning places well worth checking out.

Looks like paradise

Blues and greens and yellows.

Ujung Genteng translated literally means “end of the roof tile”, which makes no sense at all really. Some think that it was once called Ujung Gunting which means “end of the scissors” — which seems similarly farcical to me. But the theory goes that some parts of the land at Ujung Genteng are shaped like scissors and that people named it for the terrain. Sounds implausible, but I’m no historian. What I do know about is how spectacular this place is.

This beach is completely and utterly empty

This beach is completely and utterly empty.

Ujung Genteng lies on the south coast of west Java about 110 kilometres from the provincial city of Sukabumi. The main reason foreign tourists visit this place is to surf the world famous “Turtles” break, but be assured that these visitors are few and far between, especially in the off season which spans almost the whole year. If you visit Ujung Genteng, you’ll be lucky to see another foreign tourist during your stay.

Want to surf? It's not bad at Turtles

Want to surf? It’s not bad at Turtles.

Apart from the draw of the surf, there is simply mile after mile of beautiful coastline. During low tide, it can look quite unimpressive and when we first visited we thought we had stumbled upon a dud of a place. But low-tide doesn’t stay around too long and the less impressive rocky shoreline soon turns into an shallow ocean of aquamarine water which takes the breath away.

The rocky shoreline can still look spectacular at low tide

The rocky shoreline can still look spectacular at low tide.

Because the water is quite shallow along most parts of the coast, it’s possible to have a swim without feeling like you’re going to get sucked out to sea. Locals are happy to offer to take you out snorkelling or spearfishing — a great idea as apart from fish there really isn’t a whole lot to eat around these parts.

Further up the coast a turtle conservation organisation operates a small hatchery. Most nights, large turtles drag themselves up the beach and lay eggs as they have done for millenia. Staff at the hatchery dig up the eggs and take them to the nearby office where they rebury them in order to ensure maximum survival rates and prevent poaching. These eggs are incubated for a time and the hatchlings released back onto the same beach their mother originally laid them on. Both of these spectacles can be viewed for a small donation on the beach outside the conservation office about two kilometres north of where most accommodation in Ujung Genteng is located — it’s a fabulous experience.

Turtle hatchlings running for the ocean

Turtle hatchlings running for the ocean.

Around 22 kilometres from Ujung Genting a spectacular three-pronged waterfall tumbles out of the forest into a clear rocky pool. During the dry season in the months of June, July and August water often doesn’t flow over these falls, but throughout the rest of the year this sight is a worthwhile excursion from Ujung Genteng.

There's a fair bit of power in the waterfall at most times of the year

There’s a fair bit of power in the waterfall at most times of the year

Ojeks usually charge 100,000 rupiah for the journey which is slightly over the odds, so it’s imperative that you negotiate. Better still, hire your own motorbike and make the journey yourself: simply travel from Ujung Genteng back to Surade and a kilometre after Surade, take a right at the only major road. Follow that road for seven kilometres until a sign for the waterfall appears. A parking area is 500 metres from there. An entrance fee is payable to see this waterfall; locals warn of corrupt local government officials recycling tickets purchased by visitors and pocketing the money.

A wonderful place to watch the sun set

A wonderful place to watch the sun set

Ujung Genteng is one of those places that feels like your own personal hidden paradise. Accommodation is very basic, but those wishing to pay a bit more for some creature comforts are best advised to ignore all other options and grab the double room at Batu Besar for about 260,000 rupiah, dependent on season.

Getting to Ujung Genteng can seem like a bit of a hassle and a detour if you’re planning on travelling from one end of Java to the other. But some of the highlights of Java are off the main tourist trail and spending an extra day or two can really change your experience.

Firstly, you need to get to Sukabumi from wherever you are. Buses depart from Bandung’s Leuwi Panjang and take three hours and cost 21,000 rupiah. From Jakarta, the best bet is to get to Kampung Rambutan bus terminal for onward bus travel to Sukambumi. From Sukabumi’s main bus terminal, you have to catch an angkot for 5,000 rupiah to the Lembur Situ bus terminal, also in Sukabumi, where buses leave for Surade (3.5hr/20,000 rupiah). There are two types of buses heading to Surade. Catch the biggest bus you can find as it will be much quicker.

Once in Surade, catch an angkot to Ujung Genteng for 10,000 rupiah, but don’t be fooled by the angkot driver who will ask you to charter the angkot due to lack of passengers. Once in Ujung Genteng, you may need to hire an ojek to get to your accommodation, depending on its location. Our suggestion is to take a good look around at the accommodation as quality and price varies considerably and better deals are available once you get on the back of a motorbike and head north.

Ujung Genting is simply spectacular. It certainly is a bit of a hassle to get to, but the reward is this: absolute perfection.

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9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Java’s Ujung Genteng, end of the… roof tile?”

  1. Peter Dundason 20 May 2012 at 11:13 am

    Ujung Ganteng ! would make a little sense

  2. Viraon 20 Jun 2012 at 12:25 am

    Oh you’re lucky to be there when the water really falls.. I was there in the dry season.. I could only imagine how the waterfall would look with the water falling

  3. Adamon 20 Jun 2012 at 2:12 am

    @Vira – Yeah, it’s probably the best waterfall I’ve been to in Indonesia so far. Mainly because of the great swimming area and multiple falls. It’s brilliant!

  4. Roberton 04 Jul 2012 at 3:53 am

    I went to Ujung Genteng last weekend and found a new hotel, Turtle Beach, its the first hotel there and truly amazing. I had a great time, the swimming pool is great and its directly on the beach

  5. Adamon 04 Jul 2012 at 9:50 pm

    @Robert – Where is this new hotel and are you the owner of the hotel?

  6. Roberton 10 Jul 2012 at 3:02 am

    Hi Adam

    Where are you based at the moment?

    Yes sorry it is mine, maybe i should have said so :)

    The Hotel opens on the First of August, after a year of development.
    It is right on the beach near Ujung Genteng, next to the conservation area gate as you cross over the first river before you go to Cibuaya.

    We have done our best to make sure that guests will be comfortable, Good restaurant and we plan to have kayaks, music and other forms of fun for people who want to stay longer.

    One of the problems in UJung Genteng has been lack of amenities, eating has been difficult for example and no one offering tours or alternative sea sports.

    We are also trying our very best to make sure that Ujung Genteng stays this way in the future and during our period of investment into the area, we have been able to communicate directly with the Indonesian government, who also plan for this in the future as a natural resort.

    We have also made for the first time a map of the Ujung Genteng area, which we hope will be useful to visitors.



  7. Adamon 15 Jul 2012 at 11:05 am

    Ah yes I know the development. It was still just a pile of bricks a couple
    of months ago. Good luck!

  8. Roberton 15 Jul 2012 at 11:22 am

    Please drop by next time you are around Adam, we will be pleased to see you

  9. O.T.on 30 May 2014 at 11:51 am

    Just thought I’d give a 2014 update, we just went to Ujung Genteng for a few days . The area is really built up with a lot of small resorts along the water. We stayed at Batu Besar, which was decent, but we were a bit disappointed with the amenities and quality of the room for what we paid (310,000 per night for two people, meals extra – 125,000 for three meals per person, but large portions and tasty food), but it was fine for a few nights. Turtle sanctuary was OK, but the release of baby turtles was a circus with several close calls on them being trampled by one of the many, many local tourists crowding around, including two classes of kids. 5,000 per person for that, and watching the egg laying was great and much more deserted, we were the only ones there, probably due to the cost 150,000 per person.

    We were advised by the tourism office in Bogor to go through Pulabuhan Ratu instead of Sukabumi on our way down, but we found it to be quite a hassle as once there everyone told us that there was no bus from there to Surade and that we would have to charter a vehicle or motorcycles. Only after did we learn that the way to do it is to take a minibus from PR to Kiara Dua and from there catch a bus on it’s way to Surade.

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