Belitung: Land of a Thousand Beaches

Belitung is a region of white sand, blue water and awe-inspiring granite boulders. And best of all, it’s just a short hop away from Jakarta.

It is one of those inexplicable secrets, one that more people really should know about. You can board a plane in overcrowded and overstressed Jakarta, and 45 minutes later step out into the warm sunshine and clean air of Belitung. With natural beauty and gorgeous beaches to spare, Belitung is the perfect destination for travellers, especially those seeking an escape from the concrete jungle of Jakarta.

Belitung Island, has its own gorgeous beaches and sites, but is most famous these days as the setting for the popular novel “Laskar Pelangi,” or “Rainbow Troops,” which was later turned into a hit movie and a stage musical.

There are 189 islands surrounding Belitung, all of them with powdery soft white-sand beaches, granite boulders and crystal-clear seas. They include Nasik Island, Lima Island, Lengkuas Island, Melindung Island, Seliu Island, Nadu Island, Mendanau Island and Batu Dinding Island.

Lengkuas is a little sliver of island, less than a hectare, just off the coast north of Tanjung Binga village. There are several granite islands that you can reach by wading through the sea. More than likely you will have the islands to yourselves, to explore their unique boulder formations or just lie on the white sand.

The golden crown of Lengkuas is an old lighthouse that was built by the Dutch in 1882. Visitors are free to climb to the top of the lighthouse, where you can get an unbelievably gorgeous 360-degree view of the surrounding islands and sea. The best time to visit Lengkuas is from March to November, when the waves aren’t too big, so you can enjoy sailing, snorkelling and swimming.

Between Lengkuas and the fishing port of Tanjung Binga is another island, Burung Island. It’s bigger than Lengkuas, with white-sand beaches to the south and a rocky coast to the north. The most interesting object on the island might be the granite boulder in the shape of a bird’s head, which is how it got its name, Burung (bird) Island.

Tanjung Tinggi is located between two peninsulas, and the stretch of sand is most notable for all the granite boulders along the beach. Some of the boulders are as big as a good-sized house, and are great for climbing on and getting some amazing views. There is also a fishing port, Pelabuhan Bilik, and along the bay a stretch of at least 20 traditional seafood resaturants, where you can grab a coffee or a fresh from the ocean lunch.

Tanjung Kelayang is another beautiful beach on Belitung, near Tanjung Tinggi. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations on the island and you can find a nice combination of white beach, artistic granite boulders and small islands just off the shore. If you want to swim, the eastern side of the beach is your best bet, with clear water that isn’t too intimidating and nothing but white sand.

But walk along the beach about 300 metres to the north and you will find group of granite boulders, spreading along the edge of the peninsula and the sea.

Punai Beach is another interesting destination, especially if you like a bit of adventure. The beach is in the southeast of the island, near Tanjung Kelumpang village. It’s about as remote a place as you will find on Belitung, and during the week you are likely to have all that white sand and those boulders to yourself, but it does get a few visitors on the weekend. Just off the beach is a small island called Pulau Punai. If the tide is out, you can walk out to the island.

Belitung is a land of a thousand beaches. And the best thing is, you don’t have to fly halfway around the world to enjoy it.

Text by Grace Solarbesain | Photos courtesy of Indonesia Ministry of Tourism

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