Cimaja is one of those places that gets very little attention on the backpacker circuit, but is a massive hit with the surfer crowd. The main draw are the world class waves, which stretch along this strip of coast in the south of Java, six hours from Jakarta. More adventurous surfers have apparently found other fantastic waves nearby, but they are a closely guarded secret.
Starting during the late 1980s and continuing on through the '90s, Cimaja was a pumping surfer village attracting hordes from right around the world. Today, Cimaja is much quieter, matching the massive decrease in tourist numbers more generally throughout Java. This has the benefit of meaning you'll rarely find it difficult to get a room, but the disadvantage that some of the accommodation feels a bit dated due to a lack of modernisation.
Cimaja is located five kilometres west of the local tourist town of Pelabuhan Ratu and aside from the world class waves, there are a couple of other activities to do around the area but these are not worth coming all the way here for. The main reason to come here is to surf. If you don't surf, this is not the place for you â€“ try Ujung Genteng instead.
Cipanas Cisolok translates to Cisolok Hot Water in the local Sundanese language of which there are in excess of 30 million speakers. Cipanas Cisolok is a hot spring located eight kilometres to the west of Cimaja and is more of a local tourist attraction than something foreign visitors would get a kick out of visiting.
The boulder-filled river at the bottom of the valley contains hot geysers which spurt into the air and when this hot water mixes with the cold river water, it provides a great environment for bathing. Of course, on weekends the river is filled with locals who love to hang out for ages in the warm water, afterwards having a picnic in the nearby shade. If you come here for a swim, you can store your bags in lockers and get changed in the change rooms.
There is a waterfall nearby, but it's too far away to walk to. Men on bikes will offer to take you there for exorbitant fees and it's really not worth the prices charged. Because the ojek drivers have a monopoly on this route, ojeks from out of the area will be reluctant to ferry you to the waterfall, meaning you may have to pay two different sets of ojek riders if you really want to see the waterfall. The other alternative is to simply hire a motorbike yourself from Cimaja and take the treacherous road up the mountain and then hike down to the waterfall â€“ but only if you have nothing better to do. Public transport doesn't go to the hotsprings so your best bet is to get an ojek or hire a motorbike. Admission is 8,000 rupiah.
One main road in Cimaja slices straight between the mountains and the sea and all accommodation in town is located on this road, although many properties' rooms are set back far enough that noise is not a concern.
Police, medical and ATM services are all available five kilometres to the east of Cimaja in the large port town of Pelabuhan Ratu which is popular with domestic tourists.
By Adam Poskitt