SURFERS PARADISE – THE SIMPLE LIFE OF BATU KARAS, WEST JAVA

You’re traveling through South-East Asia and you’d like to learn surfing? Then Batu Karas is for you! This is Everything you need to know to organize your trip on a budget!

We stayed a month in the small village of Batu Karas to learn surfing (total beginners). The beach is perfect for beginners and long-boarders! See the map here.

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How to get to Batu Karas from Jakarta?

Buses

From the Soekarno-Hatta international airport (CGK Jakarta), we took the DAMRI bus to Kampung Rambutan and paid 40,000 IDR (≃ 2,50 €) per person. It takes between 1h30 and 2h to reach this bus station, depending on the traffic.

At Kampung Rambutan, we waited a few hours the local bus to go to Pangandaran.

Don’t worry about the locals at the bus station. You might get a few different answers if you ask about “when the bus is going and from where etc”. We sometimes pretty uncomfortable at this bus station because people were staring at us, but it’s like they don’t see people with blond hair that often, so don’t worry…

Usually, the bus is driving between 5 and 6pm and it has a big Pangandaran-sign in the front window. Buy your ticket on the bus. Easy.

We finally started driving at 6:30pm.

We paid 100,000 IDR (6,20 €) per person for the bus ride. Count 12 hours ride to reach Pangandaran.

The bus is not the most comfortable we’ve driven in. We stopped only once & after 6 hours of driving!  So if you need to pee every 2 hours, avoid this way of transportation!

You gonna arrive around 5-6am in Pangandaran. When you are at the bus station in Pangandaran, just wait on the side of the main road and jump into an Angkot (small bus).

The Angkot is driving every 10 to 15 minutes from Pangandaran to Cijulang, and it costs 20,000 IDR (≃ 1,20 €) per person. When you wait for the Angkot and he’s stopping, tell him that you want to go to Cijulang and not Batu Karas! Because usually the Angkots are not driving to Batu Karas, but they are really cheap, like a local bus.

As recommended by a local from Batu Karas (BK), when we sat in the Angkot, I asked him to drive us to Batu Karas and gave him 100,000 IDR (≃ 6,20 €) and he dropped us straight at in our hotel in BK. It was about 45 minutes – 1-hour drive.

The reason you don’t want to tell him at the beginning how much or if he can bring you to Batu Karas is because there are Taxi Motorbikes which are the “usual” tourist transportation and they gonna charge you $$$ tourist prices. So Tell everybody who gonna ask you, you go to Cijulang and follow the instruction above. Easy Peasy.

Train

It’s also possible to come from Jakarta to Banjar or Sidareja by train. Then you can take a bus to Pangandaran. And you can grab one Angkot like we did (read above).

With the app tiket.com, you can check the time table of the trains. It’s not possible to use a foreign credit card. No worries, you can buy the train tickets in the Alfamart and Indomaret (supermarket).

When we left Batu Karas, we took a private car from BK to the train station of Banjar. It cost us 500,000 IDR ( 31 €) for 1-hour drive. It might take 2 hours depending on the traffic. Then we took the train from Banjar to Jakarta, we paid 300,000 IDR ( 18 €) for both of us.

We chose the “eksekutif class”. It was really good for the legs space. Just take clothes with you, it’s really cold inside. It took 8h30 to reach Jakarta. You can bring your own drinks and food into the train, or buy what you need inside.

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Obviously, it was more expensive than taking the bus but it was also a really comfortable way of transportation.

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The view from the train

Plane

Obviously, the plane is the fastest way to reach Batu Karas from Jakarta.

The closest airport is Pangandaran (Nusawiru – Cijulang). The flight is about 1 hour and the price 900,000 IDR ( 56 €) + need to ad luggage if you have some.

Susi Air is the only company which offers this journey. See their website here.

Where To Eat?

Salt Cafe

Salt Cafe is offering a great variety of choices for breakfast like pancakes, muesli, eggs, toasts… and a really good Arabica Coffee.

They also have a Western Menu, Indonesian food, and fresh beers 😊 

Find their Facebook page & Instagram account & location here.

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Beach Corner Restaurant

Right on the beach, Beach Corner has a perfect location to watch the surfers. We enjoyed eating there for lunch. See location here.

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BK Restaurant

We particularly enjoyed the Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng at BK restaurant. They also have tasty fresh fruits juices served with bamboo or metal straws – Good one, guys! See location here.

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Warung Comeng

Small warung with Sea View. We recommend you to eat the bbq fish. The BEST fishes we ever ate! We ate here a few times! It was always a delicious dinner!

PLUS the prices are really good! Perfect. See location here.

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Kedai Mini

Located on the rice fields, Kedai Mini is serving really good Indonesian food, and really cheap. We didn’t try the Western meals. See location here.

Kebun Pizza

Open only on Saturday & Sunday from 6:15pm till 9:30pm. Check if it’s open before heading there (you can ask at Salt Café).

This guy is inviting you to his garden where he built a pizza oven. The place is unusual, do not except a “real restaurant with tables and stuff”. It’s different and the pizzas are delicious! See location here.

IMG_5432PS: You can bring your own drinks.

Prices between 40,000 and 70,000 IDR ( 2,50 – 4,30 €) per pizza.

INFO: All the restaurants serve good traditional, cheap food. And they all sell beers 😉 Just try them all 😉

During Ramadan, many restaurants were closed but don’t worry, you’ll always find a place open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There are more local restaurants in Batu Karas but we only ate at the same places. We’ve never been disappointed 😉

FOOD – Average Prices

We generally spent between 40,000 IDR ( 2,50 €) and 100,000 IDR ( 6,20 €) per meal, and for 2 people, depending on what we ate (Indonesian, Seafood or Western food). EASY!

DRINKS – Average Prices in Warungs/Restaurants:

Coke: 8,000 IDR ( 0,50 €)

Coconut: 10,000 IDR ( 0,60 €)

Big Water: 10,000 IDR ( 0,60 €)

Small Beer: 30,000 IDR ( 1,90 €)

Large Beer: 50,000 IDR ( 3,10 €)

Java Coffee: 10,000 IDR ( 0,60 €)

Fresh Juice: between 10,000 and 20,000 IDR ( 0,60 € – 1,20 €)

Where To Stay?

We visited a few places near the beach. They were all kind of the same: basic room with basic bathroom without sink… average price per night between 150,000 and 200,000 IDR ( 9,30 – 12,40 €) generally includes the breakfast.

So after visiting a few places, we chose to stay at Salt Cafe. We really liked the room and had good feelings with the owners.

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The building is located in front of the beach which is really nice & really convenient, we didn’t need to rent a scooter. The wifi is incredibly good, too!

In less than 3 minutes walk you are at the “surf beach”.

We paid 190,000 IDR ( 11,80 €) per night for an AC room with bathroom + breakfast & water included. We got a discount because we stayed for a month.

Various Information

Prices Surf – Scooter – Internet

Surfboard Rental: it’s 75,000 IDR ( 4,60 €) per day. Same price for daily or hourly rental.

Private Surf Lesson: 300,000 IRD ( 18,70 €). Price for one hour which includes the board rental for the day.

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Scooter Rental: 50,000 IDR ( 3,10 €) per day. No need to look for “an agency”, just ask at your guesthouse when you need a scooter and they will send it to you. We never had any problem which “checking the motorbike”. Zero struggle. Love it.

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PS: If you stay near the beach you do not need to rent a scooter every day, the warungs and the small shops are all reachable on foot.

Internet

We bought a Telkomsel Sim Card at the Bus Station Kampung Rambutan:  5 GB for 100,000 ( 6,20 €).

After a few struggles to top-up with our own credit card, we asked a local to recharge for us and we gave him the cash. Much easier like that!

So we bought around 50 GB for 205,000 ( 12,70 €). We put the Sim Card in our mobile router and the internet was working perfectly.

INFO: at the airport, they sell the same Sim Card (+ 5GB) for 200,000 IDR (≃ 12,40 €). So if you don’t need it straight away, buy your sim Card outside of the airport.

What to do in BK except surfing?

Have a trip to the Green Canyon!

Honestly, I didn’t expect that. The Green Canyon is a natural masterpiece, emerald river surrounding by impressive rock formations, green lush jungle and waterfalls – a stunning landscape!

One boat can take 5 people. The starting price is 300,000 IDR (≃ 18,70 €) per boat. You can add a bit of cash to extend your trip into the canyon. Which I totally recommend doing!

We were 3 people, with 2 guides (plus the boat driver), we paid 200,000 IDR (≃ 12,50 €) per person. We spend an amazing time in this canyon: swimming, climbing, jumping… AN AWESOME TRIP. See location here.

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Explore the surrounding areas

>>> Drive on the bamboo bridge. This bridge connects the villages of Batu Karas & Cijulang – a short cut pretty impressive to drive on! Hold the steering tight!

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>>> Admire the Mangrove of Cijulang. You can do a boat trip through the Mangrove if you want to (sorry, we don’t know the prices!).

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>>> Have a swim at Situ Cisamping lake.

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>>> Pantai Masirat is a beautiful beach 15 km away from Batu Karas.

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>>> Admire the rice fields

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>>> Enjoy the sunset

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>>> Go for a day trip to Pangandaran: 40min – 60min drive by scooter.

What is the Best time to come to Batu Karas?

“The point season (dry season). Perfect spot for beginners due to long, soft right-hand waves in a protected sand bay. From April to October.

The reef season (wet season). The best months are from December to April.  This wave long right-hander break that on good days, and higher tides, sends a faster and more workable wall up to 150 meters. Intermediate and advanced surfers only out here. “

Info: @Longboard Wave 

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When NOT to come to Batu Karas?

If your plan is to surf in Batu Karas – DO NOT come after Ramadan! It’s the Indonesian holidays! The village and the beach get soooo crowded for 10 days. It’s nearly impossible to catch some waves surrounding by hundreds of swimmers & banana boats!

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The banana boats are just so irresponsible, they “drive crazy” among the swimmers and the surfers. It’s really dangerous!

This year 2019: holidays started on the 5th of June and ended on the 15th of June.

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PS: If you travel through Asia and you visit different places you always know after your time there if you would like to come back or not. Batu Karas is by far one of the TOP places we’ve been to in 2019. We definitely would go there again! No questions ask!

Heading to Langkawi? Check out our Freaking Travel Tips here!


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 Amandine & Adrian @whynotabroad

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