Pangandaran beach is the most famous tropical beach in the land of Sunda. It gains its popularity from so many things it offers to its guests.
Pangandaran is not a typical beach because it is located in a peninsula, hence, the waves and current are not as strong as other beaches in the south of Java island, but not as weak as in the north or west of Java. Interestingly, in the morning we only need to take a short walk to east coast to watch the sunrise and in the afternoon we walk to west coast to watch the sunset. The distance between east and west coast is less than 500 meters!
At the end of this peninsula lays a nature reserve called Pananjung, habitats for bull, deer, and monkeys. We could take a guided tour to the bull feeding place, but don’t expect too much. Often the bulls do not want to come there, perhaps they are too afraid to see human. On the other hand, it is easy to find deer and monkeys on the beach, outside of the nature reserve.
People are already used to them, so they don’t disturb each other. However, please be careful when you are eating some snacks near the monkeys, because they often grab it. It’s because many visitors feed them with whatever food they bring, hence, whenever the monkeys are hungry they get out of the forest and try to find some leftover on the beach or find some human to feed them.
There is a white sandy beach called 'pasir putih' inside Pananjung nature reserve. The sands are white and soft. It is a favorite place for snorkeling. There are two ways to go there. First, we walk through the forest. Alternatively, we rent a boat and sail to pasir putih beach.
Some fun activities we can do here are:
I would say that Pangandaran is a heaven for fresh seafood, such as fishes, crab, prawn, and lobster. There are many restaurants scattered around the area. You choose the live seafood by yourself and request how you want them to be cooked: fried or grilled, spicy, sweet or sweet and sour, black pepper, etc. My favorite restaurant is Rasa Sayang restaurant with its superb prawn with salty egg.
One important tip if you are a foreigner, please avoid drinking with ice cubes in the glass. You'd better ask for a cold drink from a refrigerator or cold box. It's because sometimes the ice cubes are made from tap water, which is not a drinking water.
There are so many hotels in Pangandaran, most of them are 3 stars hotels and below. The price ranges starting from Rp 50,000/night/person in low season. This is a very basic bedroom, without air condition and bathroom. The bathrooms are communal, provided in each floor.
The higher grade hotels provide air condition and bathroom in every bedroom. Most of them can fit in 4 adults in one room, since they provide one king size bed and there are two single bed underneath it. I rarely find hotels in other area with this kind of arrangement.
None of the hotel in Pangandaran has any private beach. We must cross the street first before we can reach the west side beach. Nowadays there is no beach in the east coast, since it is eroded by the sea. Thus, I prefer hotel facing west coast near the nature reserve, since we only need to cross the street to go to the beach, and it is only 5 minutes walk to the east coast in other direction.
If you come in low season, you can go directly to the hotel you like, ask the price and bargain it. On the other hand, don’t come here in high season without prior booking, there will not be any room left for you!
Since Pangandaran is the most famous beach in Sunda, it is very crowded during holidays. The peak seasons are: Lebaran (Moslem Ied Fitr holiday), school break around mid June to mid July and New Year holiday. The prices of hotel room and meals are sky rocketing during this time a year.
Tourists come with private cars, buses, even trucks! Can you imagine trucks full with people standing on its bed? Usually the traffic jam start from Banjar, the nearest town. This highest peak season is on the second day of Ied holiday and New Year eve. They don't necessarily stay in hotels, they come to play on the beach all day long and watch the fireworks at night.
One final tip: please remember to bring sufficient cash since ATM machines are difficult to find in Pangandaran.
Pangandaran is approximately 200 km south east of Bandung, which takes about 5 hours driving. If you start from Bandung, take the toll road to Cileunyi, this is the end of the toll road. Next, take a U-turn to go to east. Just remember that Pangandaran is near the border of West Java and Central Java, so choose direction to Central Java, passing Ciamis until you reach the town of Banjar. There you will see many signs to turn right to Pangandaran. Starting here the road is smaller with many turns, it takes approximately 1 hour driving to reach the beach.
Please be cautious at Nagreg, this is the most difficult road in Sunda, because there are too many short turns while the road is going down the mountain. Plus, you must watch out for the vehicles on the other side, since they must drive up the mountain while passing the trucks.
This long journey will be paid off when you reach Pangandaran. I always love to end the day by watching a beautiful sunset.