Postcards from Java

Two weeks traveling through Java

I invited 7 of my most adventurous friends to Indonesia and dragged them on a two week trip through the most populous island in the world. During the trip we were on a small 12 seater airplane, and some of us crashed a scooter. We surfed a long mellow point break, and got smashed by a heavy beach break. We visited some very old temples and climbed some active volcanos. The island is not always comfortable, but it’s a really good place for an adventure.

This is a map of Java. Not loving this map, but it took a long time to make, so I’m not making another one. It’ll have to do:

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The trip started in Jakarta (blue house logo), we flew Susi Air to Batu Karas (black surf logo). We got a ride up to Banjar and took the train to Yogyakarta (yellow Hindu logo). From Yogya we took the train to Probolinggo and got a ride up to Bromo (first blue mountain logo). From Bromo to Ijen (second blue mountain logo) we rode a huge car, the same car dropped us off in Red Island (blue surf logo). After Red Island, some of us flew out from Banyuwangi, and some of us took a car and a ferry over to Bali.

There is more practical information all the way down there. Here are some postcards from the trip.

Batu Karas – best longboard wave in the world?

There are a lot of waves to surf in Java, all the way from Anyer in the west to G-Land in the east. One of the best spots can be found tucked into a peaceful corner on the south coast of West Java. Batu Karas has a long right hander point break, perfect for cruising and practicing cross stepping. The locals are amazing longboarders! The wave is mellow and breaks over a sandy bottom, which makes it good for beginners too. The only thing you need to worry about is running into the busloads of local kids playing close to shore. You can stay for two nights or two months, this place is great if you just want to slow your life down and surf.

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Yogyakarta – Temples, caves, and a volcano!

There’s too much to do in Yogya. The first day we did a temple run together, on the next day we split up into a cave-team and a volcano-team. Since I already had a successful cave run in Yogya, I joined the volcano-team. The last time I climbed Gunung Merapi we had to make our own trail. The guides took us up the backside of the mountain, and at several times we were completely lost in the steep bushy hill. It took us 7 hours to get up, we were soaked, and we missed the sunrise. It wasn’t 100% successful. This time was perfect! We took the normal route that everyone else takes. The normal route is steep too, but totally manageable. I think I had 3 Beng-Bengs during the trip. We made it to the top well before sunrise, and it was amazing. I love Yogya.

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Bromo – the most beautiful place ever?

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park is one of the most photo-friendly places I’ve visited. Maybe only beaten by Padar Island in Komodo National Park (also in Indonesia). For some of my friends, this would be the first meeting with an active volcano. When we arrived it was completely dark, but we could hear the roaring sounds from the volcano somewhere out there. After letting our eyes adjust to the darkness for a couple of minutes, we could see the Milky Way clearly above us. It’s hard to decide what the highlight of Bromo was; staring at the Milkey Way while listening to the volcano, watching the sunrise from the viewpoint overlooking the national park, or standing on the crater rim looking into the active volcano. Please, promise me you’ll visit at least one active volcano during your life!

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Ijen – The blue flame of the earth!

After a long drive, another short night of sleep, and a fast 2-3 hour walk up a steep hill, I suddenly found myself face to face with the blue flames of Ijen. Equipped with a gas mask and tears in my eyes, this hike was something special. I really didn’t expect the gas to be a problem, but I’m glad I had the mask. It was way more crowded than I expected, you’re surrounded by people all the way to the flame. Once you head for the sunrise spot it’s not that crazy anymore. Visiting three volcanoes in four days was amazing, it just made me want to visit more of them. Luckily there are still many volcanoes on Java, and the rest of the country, left to climb.

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Red Island – My new favorite surf spot?

After a couple of tough traveling days with a lot of volcanoes and very little sleep, it felt great to finally arrive at the Red Island Surf Camp. We spent 4 days soaking in the pool, chilling in bean bags and hammocks, and strolling up and down the beautiful beach. One morning I had perfect surf all to myself for about an hour, then shared it with only a couple of guys for another hour. Best feeling in the world. The rest of the time a big swell turned the spot into a giant violent washing machine. I still have sand in my ears.

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After a trip like this, it takes some time to digest every experience. It also takes some time to go through the pictures and find the keepers. This is probably my favorite Indo adventure so far, until the next one…

Thanks for scrolling through,



Practical information

Taking the train on Java is easy, cheap and comfortable. You could do a nice interrail kind of trip through Java. We flew to Batu Karas because it’s an awesome experience flying a tiny Susi Air plane over West Java. Going with a car for the last part of the trip was time-saving, but not comfortable.

Fly Susi Air from Jakarta to Batu Karas
Book your train tickets through Traveloka 
The places you stay will be happy to help you with car transport.

Recommended places to stay:
Batu Karas: Java Cove Hotel or Villa Monyet
Yogyakarta: Gallery Prawirotaman Hotel (A bit fancy. There is a bunch of other options)
Bromo: Lava View Lodge
Ijen: Ijen Adventure Inn (Very nice homestay)
Red Island: Red Island Surf Camp

Other things:
You can easily rent boards at the beach in both Batu Karas and at the surf camp in Red Island.

In Yogya we booked all our tours with Discover Your Indonesia. They were very helpful. They can also help you plan trips all over Indonesia. I kind of wish I booked the Bromo-Ijen trip through them as well.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them as well as I can!

Etc Hiking Java Surf trip

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