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Piece of Heaven; “The Sunrise of Java”

Updated: Jan 17

Banyuwangi is the largest region in East Java, even the largest on Java Island. Banyuwangi also become the first region to be illuminated by the sun every day. Located at the eastern tip of Java Island, it's no wonder that the nickname 'The Sunrise of Java' is attached to this area. Rays of sunlight permeate the corners of the region, known as the overland route to Bali. Its land encompasses highlands in the form of mountains and plantations, as well as lowlands with a fairly long coastline stretching from north to south, endowing Banyuwangi with a wealth of marine biodiversity.

Having Three National Parks

No need to travel far to Africa to experience the sensation of savannah complete with its wildlife, as Banyuwangi also has it. Visiting Bekol Savannah in the Baluran National Park area and Sadengan Savannah in the Alas Purwo National Park area, you will encounter herds of bulls, deer, long-tailed monkeys, and even peacocks living side by side in the savannah, reminiscent of Africa. Bekol Savannah in Baluran is even dubbed as 'Africa Van Java' due to its similarity to savannahs found in the African continent.

Entering the forest area of Alas Purwo National Park, we will sense a different aura. Our eyes will be captivated by the lush flora that thrives here. The distinctive fragrance emanating from the pine trees, coupled with the presence of Pura Luhur Giri Salaka, makes Alas Purwo National Park feel more sacred. Pura Luhur Giri Selaka was built for religious ceremonies for the Hindu community, including the Pagerwesi Ceremony held every 210 days according to the Hindu calendar. Not far from the temple, we will come across the Kawitan Site, which is a relic from the Majapahit Empire. This Kawitan Site is renowned for its sacredness and is believed to be more than just an ordinary site.

Although it does not have savannahs like Baluran National Park and Alas Purwo National Park, we can still encounter a variety of rare flora and fauna scattered throughout the Meru Betiri National Park area. In addition to its diverse flora and fauna, we can also explore several beaches, mangrove forests, and caves. These include Buma Beach and the mangrove forest in Baluran National Park, Trianggulasi Beach, Pancur Beach, and some caves in Alas Purwo National Park, as well as Sukamade Beach and Teluk Hijau Beach in the Meru Betiri National Park area. To reach some locations in the three national parks mentioned above, it is recommended to use a 4WD vehicle or similar.

The Global Allure of Mount Ijen

In the early hours accompanied by piercing cold air that chills to the bone, activities in the Mount Ijen area begin to stir. We will encounter tourists getting ready to hike to visit the Ijen Crater and witness the beauty of the blue fire, reportedly only found in two places in the world, namely in Iceland and the Ijen Crater. Along the way, we may feel foreign in this area because the majority of Mount Ijen visitors are foreign tourists, especially from France. The normal climbing time is 3-4 hours, with a terrain ranging from sandy to steep rocky paths, and an incline of around 40 degrees. The blue fire spectacle can be witnessed from 01:00 to 04:00 in the early morning. The star-studded sky will be our climbing companion.

Satisfied after enjoying the blue fire, tourists will hurry towards the summit of Mount Ijen to capture the sunrise moment. As the sun begins to rise, we will be treated to the sight of a dead forest in the area around the peak of Mount Ijen, which stands at an elevation of 2,443 meters above sea level. The greenery of the hills and the towering Mount Raung are visible from a distance. Climbing Mount Ijen is recommended not to go beyond 10:00 in the morning, due to the thickness of sulfur smoke, which is toxic and hazardous to respiratory health.

Behind its internationally renowned charm, the Ijen Crater also holds a story of struggle and sacrifice by traditional sulfur miners for their livelihoods. Starting from the early morning, the footsteps of the miner’s echo alongside those of tourists. The miners, clad in simple boots or even flip-flops, thin clothing, and sometimes without nose masks, navigate the terrain. The sight of them carrying wooden baskets loaded with sulfur chunks weighing between 60 to 100 kilograms becomes a unique spectacle for tourists.

Peeking into the Homes of Surfers and Turtles

Banyuwangi, with its extensive coastline along the Indian Ocean, offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of both surfers and sea turtles. The roaring waves attract surfers from far and wide, turning the region into a hub for wave-riding enthusiasts. On the one hand, surfers find Banyuwangi to be a haven, with popular spots like Plengkung Beach (G-Land) and Red Island Beach providing the perfect conditions for their passion. Many surfers, drawn by the challenging waves, spend extended periods here, immersing themselves in the surf culture that permeates the coastal areas.

On the other hand, Banyuwangi is not only a paradise for surfers but also a sanctuary for sea turtles. One example is Sukamade Beach, located within the Meru Betiri National Park. The challenging and adrenaline-pumping road access to this beach keeps the area from being overly crowded with tourists, allowing turtles to nest peacefully. Sukamade Beach also houses a turtle conservation center. Turtle species commonly found on this beach include the Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, and Olive Ridley Turtle. Visitors are permitted to observe the turtle nesting activities, with the condition that they do not disturb the tranquility of the turtles.

If you wish to visit a turtle conservation center not far from the city center, you can head to Cemara Beach in Pakis Village, Banyuwangi. This beach has a turtle conservation area that started back in 2013. The turtle conservation at Cemara Beach is still managed in a simple manner by the Joint Business Group (KUB) of the local community around the coastal area. Here, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about turtle egg incubation activities (in semi-natural habitats or incubation), baby turtle (tukik) care, and the release of tukik into the open sea, which will undoubtedly be a touching moment. Besides the turtle conservation, the Cemara Beach area also features a conservation area for pine forests, which is a distinctive feature of this beach. Tourists can stroll along the pine forest path, providing a refreshing atmosphere during the day

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