Visitors and even residence in Bali often explore destinations east of the island, be it the Gili Isles, Lombok or indeed Flores. However, very few look west to Java despite how incredibly accessible it is. The closest destination is Banyuwangi, East Java, making a name for itself among domestic tourists.
Banyuwangi is in fact a regency that occupies most of Java’s eastern coastline, with Banyuwangi town as its capital – only 30-minutes from Ketapang Port where one arrives on the ferry from Bali. The regency is home to fiery volcanoes, natural parks, white sand beaches and one of Indonesia’s most legendary surfs; it’s certainly an area more people should explore.
The Natural Beauty of Banyuwangi
Without a doubt, what Banyuwangi is most famous for is Mount Ijen, or more specifically the blue flames that burn bright within this volcano’s crater, as well as the turquoise-coloured acidic crater lake. The Ijen Plateau (2,560 hectares) was created by a previous eruption of Ijen and is the largest caldera on Java. Mt.Ijen is not alone inside this expansive caldera, Mt. Merapi and Mt.Raung are also found bubbling away beside the volcanic complex. But the area’s fertility has created a land rich in springs, plantations and forest.
Banyuwangi Regency is also boasts the richly diverse Alas Purwo National Park, which blankets an entire peninsula jutting out from Java’s southwest corner. Across 43,000 hectares of land, one will find a savanna, mangrove forest, beach forest and lowland tropical forest. It is home to rare and endangered mammals, including the Asiatic wild dog, wild oxen and leopards. Thousands of migrating birds visit its pristine forests each year and turtles come to lay their eggs on its secluded beaches.
On the same peninsula, is one of Indonesia’s most famous surf sites. Known among surfers as ‘G-Land’, Plengkung Beach is a must-visit destination for surfers, with waves up to six metres draw in the seasoned and professional.
On the northern region of Banyuwangi Regency, one will find Baluran National Park (yes, another one!) The only place in Indonesia which looks like an African savanna. It boasts 444 species of trees and is home to 26 mammal species such as Java water buffalo, leopard, mouse deer and mangrove cats. Off this coast is Tabuhan Island, with spectacular marine gardens, coral reefs and clear waters. Kite boarding, windsurfing, snorkelling and scuba diving are among some of the experiences here. Other sites include De Djawatan Forest, with its iconic ‘hairy’ trembesi trees; or Taman Gandrung Terakota, a park of 1.000 terracota dancers.
Banyuwangi is a big regency with so much to offer visitors. Plenty of beaches line the east coast, looking out towards Bali, and from north to south the national parks and mountains will keep any adventurer busy.
Where to Stay in Banyuwangi
One of the area’s iconic accommodations is the Kokoon Hotel Banyuwangi, found within the town of Banyuwangi itself. Found at the centre of the regency the hotel’s location makes it strategic for those looking to explore north, south and further west (inland, towards Ijen Plateau). It’s also only 30-minutes from the port and 20-mins from Banyuwangi International Airport.
This modern hotel towers in the town, boasting a 360-degree vista out to the surrounding mountain ranges from its Rooftop Lounge. The stylish, designer rooms and suites are complete with all the modern conveniences and amenities and enjoy either views of Mt.Ijen or the Bali Straits (beach views), depending on your preference. There are five room categories at the hotel, including a Family Room accommodating 4 people; or their extra spacious Kokoon Suite for those want a little extra leg room.
With its international Ijen Restaurant, semi-indoor swimming pool, sauna, spa and gym — just to name a few of the facilities — Kokoon Hotel Banyuwangi serves as a real comfort after a day of discover the area. Soak in a warm bath, stretch out in the gym’s yoga studio or recover in the sauna after a mountain hike; or maybe an excellent wind down with a cocktail on the rooftop lounge, looking out to lands just explored.
So, if you’re looking for a little getaway from Bali, why not hop across the straits and discover more of what Banyuwangi and East Java have to offer.
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