This post was last updated on July 10th, 2020 at 09:18 am
For most people, the beaches will not be the main attraction of Java. Still, there are beautiful beaches on all sides of Java: some popular with surfers, others for snorkeling, and there are beaches for those who enjoy a beautiful sunset. There are gorgeous beaches along almost the entire south coast of the island, but large parts of them are undeveloped and difficult to reach. There are fewer beaches along the north coast. Originally, the coastline here mainly consisted of mangrove forests, but nowadays there are also many rice fields, fish farms, and buildings.
Along the south coast, there are often high waves and a lot of currents, so there are many beaches suitable for surfing. The sea on the north coast is a lot calmer. At the beaches below, tourist infrastructure has been developed to a greater or lesser extent. In short, it is indicated at each beach how to reach it from the nearest major city.
1. City Beach of Jakarta
Most of the coast of Jakarta consists of ports and buildings, but the Ancol Dreamland recreation area has several city beaches. The beaches are usually very busy and not too clean. Besides the beach, the Ancol Dreamland has many other attractions including amusement park Dufan, a large swimming pool, a dolphinarium, an art market, a golf course, a shopping center, and many restaurants and cafes along the water.
» Ancol Dreamland is easily accessible from Jakarta, for example by taxi or with bus line 5 of the Transjakarta network.
2. Thousand Islands
The Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu) are 110 islands in the Bay of Jakarta. The islets are scattered at a distance of between 10 and 80 kilometers from the city. In particular, the closer islands (including Onrust Island, where a Dutch East India Company shipyard was located in the 17th and 18th centuries) suffer from the proximity to the city, including waste in the water and air pollution. The northern islands are less affected by pollution, so there is also more marine life there.
» Boats depart every morning to various islands of the Thousand Islands from the ports of Marina Ancol and Muara Angke in Jakarta. Most islands are open to the public, others are resorts or protected natural areas.
Anyer is the most famous beach resort on the west coast of Java. The place is known, among other things, as the starting point of the Grote Postweg, which was built in 1808 (to Panarukan, see beach number 17), and the lighthouse from the Dutch period. There are all kinds of activities such as jet skiing and parasailing. The Krakatau can be seen in the distance from the beach, and companies offer day trips to that volcano island. Especially on weekends and holidays, Anyer is often busy, as it is quite easily accessible from Jakarta. South of Anyer there are still a few beach resorts, including Carita.
» Anyer is about 2 to 3 hours drive from Jakarta via the toll road. Buses run from Jakarta to the port city of Cilegon, just north of Anyer, and from there, silver minibuses run south along the coast.
4. Tanjung Lesung
Tanjung Lesung is a peninsula in Java between the Sunda Strait and the Teluk Lada. On the peninsula are some resorts and beautiful beaches. To the north of Tanjung Lesung are the busier beaches (such as Anyer) and to the south is the Ujung Kulon National Park. There are also beautiful beaches in the national park, but they are more difficult to reach because there are no roads there.
» Tanjung Lesung is about a 4 to 5-hour drive from Jakarta. It is a bit cumbersome with public transport. There are buses running from Jakarta to the harbor town of Labuan, and from there minivans in the direction of Sumur. Get off at Citeureup and from there take a scooter taxi (ojek) for the last 10 km.
5. Pelabuhan Ratu
Pelabuhan Ratu is a port town on the south coast of Java. The name of the town, literally translated “Queen’s Harbor”, refers to the legend of Nyai Loro Kidul, the goddess or Queen of the South Sea. Because green is the color of the goddess, people in Pelabuhan Ratu (and along the entire south coast of Java) are warned not to wear green clothing. In the large Samudra Beach Hotel, a room is specially dedicated to this goddess.
Pelabuhan Ratu is known for its fishing harbor and fish market, and the villages to the west are popular among surfers. Cimaja is located about 7 km west of Pelabuhan Ratu and Karang Hawu 13 km. Surfboard rental is available and there are also surf lessons for beginners. The quieter surfing village of Sawarna is about 40 km to the west.
» Pelabuhan Ratu is about a 4 to 6-hour drive south of Jakarta. There are no direct buses from Jakarta but there are direct buses from the cities of Bogor and Sukabumi. Minivans (angkot) from Pelabuhan Ratu drive west along the coast.
6. Ujung Genteng
Ujung Genteng is located on the southwestern tip of the province of West Java, where there are beautiful sandy beaches and good waves for surfing (including the harbor and further north the beaches of Pangumbahan and Ombak Tujuh). There are fewer facilities than in the Pelabuhan Ratu area, but there are several hotels, bungalows, and restaurants along the beach.
Ujung Genteng is mainly known for Turtle Beach. Green sea turtles lay their eggs here. An organization protects the eggs and ensures that the young turtles can safely return to the sea. This goes on all year round, but most eggs are laid in July and August. Employees of the organization can tell when and where it is possible and allowed to view the turtles.
» Ujung Genteng is about a 6 to 8-hour drive south of Jakarta. Buses run to the nearby village of Surade from Bogor (once a day, from Bogor bus terminal at 10:00 a.m.) and Sukabumi (a few times a day). From Surade, there are mainly minivans driving to Ujung Genteng in the morning. If they no longer drive you can rent an entire minivan or take a scooter taxi (ojek).
Perhaps the most famous beach in Java is that of Pangandaran. In the town itself, there are black sand beaches with good opportunities to learn to surf. The peninsula at Pangandaran consists of rainforest with plenty of deer and monkeys, and along the coast, there are beautiful white sandy beaches. We also recommend eating lunch with fresh fish and seafood at the fish market in Pangandaran. About 40 kilometers from the town, on the other side of the bay, lies the village of Batu Karas.
The beach here is very suitable for novice surfers, and the warungs (food and drink stalls) along the beach have a very relaxed atmosphere. Halfway between Pangandaran and Batu Karas lies the Green Canyon where you can take a boat across the river between rainforest and rocks.
» Pangandaran is about a 4 to 6-hour drive southeast of Bandung. During the day, a bus from the Budiman bus company runs every hour from the Cicaheum bus terminal in Bandung to Pangandaran. There is no public transport to Batu Karas. Buses (and minibuses) go from Tasikmalaya and Pangandaran to Cijulang and the last 10 km to Batu Karas must be traversed by scooter taxi (ojek).
8. Nusa Kambangan
Nusa Kambangan Island is known as the “Alcatraz of Indonesia”. The island, which is separated from Java by a narrow strip of water, has four strictly guarded prisons. The island is also the location where Indonesia carries out the death penalty. Most of the island is a protected natural area, and because of the prisons, the island has been a prohibited area for a long time. It is, therefore, an unspoiled area with beautiful beaches all around.
There are hardly any roads on the island, and the roads are often for prison staff only, so the best way to visit the beaches is by boat. At some of the beaches, especially on the east side of the island, there are stalls selling snacks and drinks. At Karang Bolong beach, there is also an old Dutch fort.
» On Teluk Penyu beach in the city of Cilacap, you will find people who can take you to Nusa Kambangan by boat. A return ticket to Karang Tengah beach costs about 25,000 rupiahs per person (around US$2). Regular buses run from Yogyakarta to Cilacap, which takes about 5 hours. There is also a daily night train from Jakarta to Cilacap with a journey time of 7 hours.
Kebumen has a coastline of about 60 kilometers along the Indian Ocean. It is a lot less touristy than, for example, Pangandaran or Parangtritis, but especially in the western part of Kebumen, there are very beautiful beaches. The best known are Menganti, Karang Bolong (same name as the beach on Nusa Kambangan, number 8), and Logending. All beaches have stalls for food and drinks and the like, but hardly any facilities such as restaurants and hotels. Most visitors come for the peace and enjoyment of the landscape. Because of the rocks, waves, and currents, you cannot swim everywhere.
» The nearest towns are Gombong and Kebumen (both are also hotels). Both towns are easily accessible by train and bus from Bandung and Yogyakarta, among others. It takes about 1 to 1½ hours to drive to the beaches. Public transport is very limited. The best options are a rental car with a driver or a scooter taxi (ojek).
Parangtritis (and the adjacent Parangkusumo) is the easiest beach to reach from the city of Yogyakarta. It is quite busy on weekends. Many people go there for a beach walk, a horse cart ride, and to enjoy the view. You will also find the only sand dunes in Indonesia at this beach (popular for photography and sand surfing). Swimming is not recommended due to the waves and strong currents. Like Pelabuhan Ratu (No. 5), Parangtritis Beach is also associated with goddess Nyai Loro Kidul, because a 16th-century emperor met her on this beach.
» Parangtritis is an hour south of Yogyakarta by car. Regular buses also run from Giwangan bus terminal in the south of the city directly to Parangtritis. For the way back, keep in mind that the buses will not run after 6:00 p.m.
11. Gunung Kidul
Gunung Kidul Regency is located southeast of the city of Yogyakarta. There are dozens of beaches along the coast of Gunung Kidul, some of which are easily accessible, and others are hidden among the rocks. Between those rocks, you can find all kinds of caves, some of which are navigable by boat or canoe. There are a few sandy beaches, but most of them are rocky. A popular beach, and also suitable for swimming, is Baron beach. Kukup beach has a special rocky island that is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Krakal is one of the beaches where you can see the locals at work harvesting seaweed. The different beaches are close together, so you can combine several in one day.
» Most of the beaches of Gunung Kidul are more than 2 hours away by car from the city of Yogyakarta. Public transport is still somewhat underdeveloped. Irregular minibuses run from the town of Wonosari to Baron beach. There are regular buses to Wonosari from the Giwangan bus terminal in Yogyakarta.
Not far to the east of Gunung Kidul lies Pacitan, in the province of East Java. Just like Gunung Kidul, Pacitan has dozens of beaches hidden between the rocks, as well as some more wide beaches. There are all kinds of lists on the internet of the most beautiful beaches of Pacitan, but actually there are too many to list. The most famous beach in the area is Klayar with its special rock formations. As with Gunung Kidul, the waves and currents are often violent, so swimming is not always possible, and in some places even prohibited. Some beaches are popular with surfers, including Watu Karung just east of Klayar (although there is no surf school or surfboard rental).
» The town of Pacitan is located in the center of Pacitan, on the coast, about a 3 hours drive (100 km) east of Yogyakarta. Buses/minibuses run to the town of Pacitan from, among others, Solo, Yogyakarta, and Surabaya. There is no public transport to the beaches, so you have to continue by rental car or scooter taxi (ojek).
13. Balekambang (Malang)
Balekambang Beach is located in Malang, over 50 km south of Malang City. The beach is particularly striking because just off the coast lies the island of Ismoyo with a Hindu temple on it. Every year the Melasti festival is celebrated at the temple, which takes place three days before the Hindu New Year. There are many other beautiful beaches in the area, including Tiga Warna (“three-color beach”) and Goa Cina (“Chinese cave”).
» Allow 2 hours of driving time from Malang city. By public transport, you can go from the bus terminal Gadang in the south of the city by minibus to the town of Bantur. This takes about 2½ hours. There is no public transport for the last 15 km, so you have to take a scooter taxi (ojek).
Sukamade beach in East Java, like Ujung Genteng in West Java (No. 6), is known for turtles, and you’ll find a turtle shelter here as well. The beach is located in the Meru Betiri National Park. Just east of Sukamade lies Teluk Hijau Beach (often known to tourists as Green Bay). A little further east, and a little easier to reach, are Pulau Merah (“red island”) and Wedi Ireng. The latter is officially no longer accessible because it is located in a protected forest area. If you want to go to Sukamade or its surroundings, it is best to spend the night there in a simple accommodation by the beach, because it is quite remote and the turtles are mainly seen at night.
» The last part of the trip to Sukamade is through the national park, and this is only possible with an off-road vehicle. The easiest way is to book the trip with a travel agency in Banyuwangi or Kalibaru. There is no official public transport, but some backpackers take buses or minibuses to the village of Pesanggaran, from where it is 30 km away, then take a scooter taxi (ojek) or drive a truck.
Discovered by American surfers in the 1970s, G-Land beach is one of the best-known locations for surfing in the world. The beach, also called Plengkung in Indonesia, is located in the Alas Purwo National Park. The waves are usually four to eight meters high and roll two kilometers wide. Although G-Land is still not easily accessible, the facilities are good. The original surf camp G-Land Bobbys, which was founded in the 1970s, now has bungalows with air conditioning and Wi-Fi.
» Many people who go to G-Land take a “fast boat” from Bali, which can be booked through the various surf camps. The boat trip takes 2 hours. It is cheaper with public transport, for example from Banyuwangi, but this takes much longer and you have to transfer several times. Boats also go to G-Land from Grajagan beach on the other side of the bay.
Bama beach is the only beach in this list on the east coast of Java, known for the beautiful view of the sunrise. You have to get up early for this because the sun rises all year round between about 5 a.m. and half-past six. Because the sea is much calmer here than on the south coast of Java, it is more suitable for swimming, snorkeling, and canoeing. The beach is located in Baluran National Park. Most tourist infrastructure (including bungalows) is maintained by the staff of the national park. The national park itself is also special because, unlike the rest of Java, it does not consist of rainforest but of savanna.
» By car, Bama beach is about 2 hours north of Banyuwangi. Many buses run past the entrance to Baluran National Park. For example, these are buses on the Banyuwangi-Surabaya route (please note that the buses take the northern route via Situbondo, not the southern via Jember). The beach is 15 kilometers from the entrance. You can rent a scooter to explore the park and beach yourself or go to the beach with a “taxi” or scooter taxi (ojek).
Situbondo lies on the northeast side of Java. The Baluran National Park with Bama Beach (No. 16) is within the area, but there are also beaches further west around the town of Situbondo. A well-known beach is Pasir Putih (“white sand”). Popular activities on the white sandy beach include swimming, sailing, windsurfing, and canoeing. There are several hotels and restaurants around the beach. Near Situbondo you’ll also find the village of Panarukan, which was the eastern end of the Java Great Post Road, built in 1808 and running all the way to Anyer (No 3).
» Both Situbondo and Pasir Putih Beach are on the main road between Surabaya and Banyuwangi. All buses can also drop you off on the way (please note that the buses take the northern route via Situbondo, not the southern via Jember). Local buses also run on the Situbondo-Besuki route, via Pasir Putih Beach.
Jepara is located on the north coast of Central Java. The beaches of Jepara are often considered to be the most beautiful on Java’s north coast. In the town of Jepara itself, there’s Kartini beach, named after Raden Ayu Kartini. This is really a city beach, often busy, and there is a huge building in the shape of a turtle. More beautiful are the beaches north of the town, such as Bandengan. That beach is often busy but is more natural than Kartini. It is suitable for swimming and there are all kinds of recreation options such as canoeing.
Further north, and therefore quieter, you’ll find Ombak Mati beach. The name of this beach means “dead waves” because the sea is always very calm (so the waves are dead). Just off the coast of the town of Jepara lies the island of Pulau Panjang. It is a fifteen-minute boat ride from Kartini beach. You can swim and snorkel around the island. Officially, the Karimunjawa archipelago (No. 19) belongs to the Jepara area.
» From Semarang, there are regular shuttle buses to Jepara for about 40,000 rupiahs (around US$3.50). There are also all kinds of buses and minibuses on the route (cheaper, but often without air conditioning).
Karimunjawa is an island group about 100 km north of Central Java, with many paradise beaches. Of the 27 islands, a few are inhabited or used as a tourist resort, but most are uninhabited. From the main island (also called Karimunjawa) you can visit the white sandy beaches of the small uninhabited islands, such as Cilik and Cemara Besar, with a small boat. The most famous beach in Karimunjawa is Ujung Gelam on the west tip of the main island, where many people come every day to watch the sunset.
» Ferries to Karimunjawa leave from Jepara, Semarang, and Kendal. A few times a week there are also airplanes to Karimunjawa from Semarang and Surabaya.
Most Beautiful and Popular Beaches
Determining the most beautiful beach in Java is difficult to say, and also subjective. In general, we can say that the beaches along the south coast are the most spectacular, especially those with impressive rock formations such as Kebumen (No. 9), Gunung Kidul (No. 11), and Pacitan (No. 12). Beaches on the north coast of Java, especially the Karimunjawa archipelago (no. 19) are the more typical tropical paradise beaches with white sand and palm trees.
The beaches along the north coast of Java are also most suitable for snorkeling, in particular Karimunjawa (No. 19), Bama (No. 16), and, to a lesser extent, the Thousand Islands (No. 2). There are also beautiful coral reefs at the Ujung Kulon National Park (near No. 4). Along the south coast, the sea is generally too rough for snorkeling. At the places where snorkeling is worthwhile, there is often snorkel gear for rent. The island hopping boats in places like Karimunjawa always have snorkel gear available.
Along the entire south coast (and west coast) of Java, there are many beaches suitable for surfing. The most famous is G-Land (no. 15), which is considered one of the best surfing locations in the world. For beginners, the beaches in West Java, such as Cimaja (No. 5), Ujung Genteng (No. 6), and Pangandaran/Batu Karas (No. 7), are more suitable.
To watch the sunrise you have to be on the east side of Java, especially Bama (no. 16) is a popular option, with a view towards Bali. The sunsets can be viewed from the beaches on the west coast, such as Anyer (No. 3) and Tanjung Lesung (No. 4), with views of the Krakatau Volcano. The islands of a Thousand Islands (No. 2) and Karimunjawa (No. 19) have beaches on both sides.
The beaches mentioned differ significantly in terms of accessibility. The easiest to reach is the city beach of Jakarta (No. 1), while Sukamade (No. 14) and G-Land (No. 15) are difficult to reach because they are located in the middle of a national park and there are few or no roads. The beaches of Anyer (No. 3), Pelabuhan Ratu (No. 5), Pangandaran (No. 7), Parangtritis (No. 10), Situbondo (No. 17) and Jepara (No. 18) are all quite easily accessible by car and also reasonably easy to reach by public transport.
TIP – We’ve also created an article about the best beaches in Indonesia. Check it out!