Photo: Late light on the beach.


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Pangandaran on the south coast of West Java has a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde personality—sleepy fishing village midweek and Java’s principle beach resort on weekends and public holidays when it can get so packed with humanity you’d swear the entire population of Java’s 145 million inhabitants had descended here at once.

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Near the border of Central Java, it is approximately eight hours by road from Bandung and Yogyakarta respectively, and ten hours from Jakarta (although times can double when the traffic is busy). Regardless of the distance, locals predominantly from these three cities arrive en masse to paddle in the surf, eat cheap fresh fish and play games on the sand.

Memorable. Photo taken in or around Pangandaran, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Memorable. Photo: Sally Arnold

Pangandaran’s tiny teardrop peninsular which harbours a jungle covered nature reserve is surrounded by the Indian Ocean. The cape has a palm-fringed blackish-grey sand surf beach on the west side yawning away into the distance kilometre after stunning kilometre called somewhat unimaginatively West Beach or Pantai Barat and a seawall on the eastern side—East Beach or Pantai Timur. They call it a beach, but in truth there is nothing of the sort since a tsunami ripped through the village in 2006, causing hundreds of deaths and washing away what little there was of the sand.

Pangandaran is often touted as the local alternative to Bali and the similarities to Bali’s Kuta are not unwarranted, namely the jumble of ugly unregulated hotel blocks and beaches littered with plastic. Despite that, a constant stream of surfable waves crashing into the shoreline are the reason that this place is on the foreign tourist map in the first place, and midweek it has a tranquil relaxing charm and is a decent spot to enjoy walks on the beach or have a drink in one of the many ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,200 words.)

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