Banyuwangi is at the easternmost tip of Java, and is best known for its ferry connection at Ketapang to Gilimanuk in Bali. This area has a lot more to offer though and it is becoming better known as a visitor destination in its own right. Banyuwangi is also the gateway to some stunning volcanic scenery on the Ijen Plateau as well as the main access point for the Baluran National Park, world renowned surfing at G-Land (Grajagan), and the remote Alas Purwo National Park.
- Banyuwangi Government Culture and Tourism Service, Jl. A. Yani 78, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Tourist Information Centre, Ketapang Harbour (ASDP), Jl Gatot Subroto, Ketapang.
- Alas Purwo National Park Head Office, Jl A Yani 108, ☏ .
- 1 Blimbingsari Airport (BWX IATA). Batik Air, Citilink, Garuda Indonesia and NAM Air have flights from Jakarta. Garuda Indonesia and Wings Air have flights from Surabaya. Citilink has flights from Kuala Lumpur.
There are multiple daily trains from Surabaya run by the national operator Kereta Api, journey time is just over six hours. Additionally, there is one daily train from Yogjakarta taking 13 hours. There are two stations of interest to travellers:
- 2 Banyuwangi new station (Stasiun Banyuwangi Baru) (located close to the port, for ferries to and from Gilimanuk on Bali), ☏ .
- 3 Karangasem station (Stasiun Karangasem) (closer to the city centre.).
- Sri Tanjung (2 km south of Ketapang port), ☏ . The main bus terminal. Surabaya is 285 km away by road, and buses take about 6 hours.
Ferries run from Gilimanuk in Bali to Ketapang every 30 min, operated 24 hours a day. The journey takes about 45 minutes, although loading and unloading can take much longer. Price is Rp 7,500 for foot passengers, but this credit must be loaded onto a smartcard in order to pass the turnstile. Buy the smartcard at a desk before the main ticket window. Multiple passengers may use the same smartcard, so try to find other tourists to pool the cost. Then, at the main ticket window, load onto it the number of entries required. The ferry operator is ASDP, ☏ .
From Ketapang blue bemos are available 9:00 to 15:00. Prices to downtown area or nearby are Rp 5,000 - 10,000 per person, but they will ask for 2 or 3 times that, the price will go down as you walk away. Another option is to take a metered taxi. The company Bosowa Taxi (dark blue looking taxis) operates the area, and if you don't see one nearby, you can call one at ☏. Price to downtown Banyuwangi is around Rp. 51,000 (Aug 2015). Watch the meter as you arrive at your destination as the driver may switch it off the second you arrive
By fast boat
- Marina Srikandi Fast Boat, Jl. Suwung Batan Kendal No. 8C, Denpasar Selatan, ☏ (booking tickets), (office), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Depart from Kedonganan Harbour in Bali to Blimbingsari everyday. The journey takes about 2 hours. Price is Rp. 375.000 for adult and free for child under 5 years..
The main bus station in Banyuwangi is at Ketapang ferry terminal. From there, regular yellow coloured bemos and shuttle buses run into the city (Sri Tanjung bus terminal/Brawijaya bus terminal), and elsewhere in the vicinity. Becaks (horse-cart/pedicabs) are widely available in town.
Most surfers heading for G-Land are doing so from Bali, and transportation to the camps is part of their surf package. You can however reach G-Land independently with a bus from Sri Tanjung terminal to Benculuk (about 1 hour), where you change and catch another bus to Grajagan (about 30 minutes).
You can hire private jeeps with a driver in Banyuwangi. Vital for independent trips up to the Ijen Crater or for exploring the remote parts of the south eastern coastal National parks.
Alas Purwo National Park
This is one of the more remote and least populated parks areas of Java, and one which is relatively under-visited due to both the difficulties of getting there and the lack of developed accommodation options. It is also an area of great mystical significance to the Javanese - local legend has it that this was the first area of the whole world to emerge from the ocean.
The park is largely flat with highest peak only 320 m and covers some 43,000 hectares. There are some beautiful, deserted beaches here as well as large swatches of lowland tropical forest. The world famous G-land surf camp is on the park borders.
The key access point to the park is the village of Triangulasi which is about 80 km south east of Banyuwangi. Before visiting you should make contact with the national park office in Banyuwangi at Alas Purwo National Park Head Office, Jl A Yani 108, ☏. There is some very basic self-catering hut accommodation at Triangulasi, as well as a camping ground and the park office will be able to advise you on this.
Mammals to be seen inside the park include banteng (the buffalo of Java), asiatic wild dog, leopard cat, muntjac deer and ebony leaf monkey. The park's western beaches are noted turtle hatching areas with olive ridley, hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles all occurring.
The Ijen Plateau
Near Banyuwangi and Bondowoso, this is a spectacular area of volcanic activity. The Ijen Plateau is the centrepoint of the large mountain range west of Banyuwangi, and which abuts the Baluran National Park to the north.
The Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen) can be approached from Bondowoso in the west or Banyuwangi in the east. Both come together at the parking, from where you can go up to the crater. Neither road is good, but the Bondowoso route is easier. The trip can be done during the day or night (departing around 1 AM). The later is the popular choice as that's the only time the "blue fire" can be seen.
From Bondowoso you are best off finding a guide with a car (preferably a 4x4) who will drive you through the village of Wonosari and eastwards up a very basic potholed road which winds its way up the mountain. You will pass through native casuarina forest and extensive coffee plantations before the road ends at the village of Jampit where there is some shelter available (Pos Paltuding). If you are travelling late in the day, you could actually bed down with a sleeping bag or camp here as you could in the disused vulcanology station huts slightly further up the mountain.
From Banyuwangi to the parking lot takes about 1,5 hours by car. Most tourists will have a tour that includes transport on a 4x4, but the road is made of asphalt, and any car in good shape will be able to make it to the parking lot. However the road is narrow, curvy and very steep in some parts, and driving at night can be dangerous.
The crater is a 90 minute hike further on from the parking lot. And an additional 45 minute hike down to the bottom of the caldera. When you arrive the colour of the water in the lake is scarcely believable being an extraordinary vivid aqua blue. Evidence of volcanic activity is everywhere with steaming water and brilliant yellow crystaline sulphur deposits. Collecting the latter is an industry here and one with extremely harsh working conditions. You will see many workers trudging up and down the mountain carrying sacks of sulphur. At night, when the proper conditions are met, the famous "blue fire" (ignited sulphuric gas) can be seen from the top of the caldera and throughout the way down to the bottom.
Safety is not up to western standards, or anywhere near it, and some people decide not to go down the caldera and instead wait on the top. This is especially true when hiking at night, and that's the major reason why a guide may be a good idea. The otherwise obvious path can be very challenging at night. The hike up to the crater is sandy and slippery, and it can be very cold, around 5° Celsius. Proper hiking gear or at least sport shoes and a flash light are very important. Once the caldera is reached, the trail to the bottom of it is the hardest part, with a rocky, steep, single-person trail, where only a few meters have a hand rail. This is where proper gas masks are needed, as the sulfur gets thicker as you go down. The wind also plays an important role here. Once at the bottom, the exposure to white smoke coming out of the sulfur pipes can be irritating on the eyes and it's impossible to breath without a gas mask.
Tours to Kawah Ijen vary in price depending on the travel agency/hotel where it is booked, but all of them offer the same services, which are broken down as follows:
- Transport to/from Ijen: drivers will wait at the parking lot while tourists hike. Around Rp 200,000 per person.
- Entry fee: Rp. 100,000 - 150,000 (Sunday) per foreign person.
- Guide: Rp. 150,000 - 250,000 per group.
- Gas masks: professional "proper" masks are available for Rp. 50,000 each. They can be rented in the caldera, next to the trail that goes down to the bottom.
- Snacks and water: extra.
The information above is only of interest to independent travelers that want transport and masks but will not hire a guide.
Some of the places that offer this and other tours are:
- Ketapang Tours&Travel: Rp. 750,000 - 800,000 per person (Mai 2018).
- Kampung Osing Inn (+6287852738711): Rp. 350,000 - 400,000 per person (August 2015).
- Berlin Barat Hotel: Rp. 750,000 per person (August 2015).
- Hotel Blanbangan: Rp. 700,000 - 1,200,000 per person (August 2015).
Discounts for the transport part are offered to groups of people that get into the same car.
Many other post-caldera cones and craters are within the caldera or along its rim. The largest concentration of post-caldera cones forms an E-W-trending zone across the southern side of the caldera. Coffee plantations cover much of the Ijen caldera floor, and tourists are drawn to its waterfalls, hot springs, and dramatic volcanic scenery. The Ijen Crater is certainly one of the great natural wonders of Indonesia.
This is a highly-regarded art form in Banyuwangi, and one of the nicknames for the city is Gandrung. In Javanese, gandrung means hopelessly in love. The love in this case is directed to Dewi Sri, the goddess of rice. The performance is an homage to Dewi Sri in gratitude for the rice harvest. The performance is a very special cultural event with unique orchestration. Check at the Tourist Information Centre for scheduled performances.
- Surf at G-Land (Grajagan Beach) about 60 km south of Banyuwangi. One of the world's most consistent left-hand reefbreaks, Grajagan was first surfed in 1972. A few years later he Australian Boyum bothers built a rickety bamboo treehouse on the Plengkung Beach bordering the remote Alas Purwo National Park on Java's south-east tip and the G-Land surf camp concept was born. These days there are several basic surfcamps between the wild jungle and kilometre-long coral reef. Permission to stay at G-Land must be obtained from the park rangers in advance, which is handled by the surf camp management. The camps offer all inclusive surf packages from 3 days and upwards, details on the following websites:
- G-Land Bobby's Surf Camp. Run by a Balinese surfer who took over the original surf camp operation from the Boyum brothers.
- G-Land Surf Camp. Also have an office at Okie House, Poppies II, in Kuta, Bali.
- Joyo's G-Land Surf Camp. Also have an office in Bali at Gang Benesari 77, Poppies II, Kuta, Bali.
- See a magician. From all over the archipelago Indonesians flock to consult Banyuwangi's famous and infamous practitioners of white magic and the darker arts, the dutak.
- Gallery & Museum Mozes Misdy, Jl Gatot Subroto 119, Ketapang, ☏ . Mozes Midzy is a renowned Javanese modern artist and he was born in Banyuwangi in 1941. This gallery showcases his work and pieces are available for purchase.
Street stall and simple warung food is the go in Banyuwangi and you will find lots of it. At night, many warungs can be found on the north-west side of Taman Blambangan park and also at the smaller park nearby, next to the Masjid Agung Baiturrahman mosque.
- Grafika, Jl Raya Situbondo km 13, ☏ .
- Melati, Jl Raya Situbondo km 12, ☏ .
- Cawang Indah, Jl Raya Situbondo no.10, ☏ .
- Pondok Wina, Jl Basuki Rahmat (in front of Brawijaya bus terminal), ☏ .
- Wina Emak Joe, Jl Basuki Rahmat, ☏ .
- Tanjung Lestari seafood, Jl.Yos sudarso no.171, ☏ .
- Bik Atik, Jl.Ahmad yani no. 83, ☏ .
There is a lot of fairly identical budget accommodation in Banyuwangi and there are often several well-meaning and well-mannered touts at the Ketapang ferry terminal eager to take you to their option. Not such a bad thing to play along - it will cost you little if any, extra.
Near the ferry
- 1 Osingvacation, Dusun Glondok Licin, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 12:30, check-out: optional. On a quiet side village about 60 minutes from Ketapang ferry port. Can arrange tours. There is a 24-hour front desk. The bed and breakfast also provides car rental. The staff speak English. Price: around Rp 150,000 includes breakfast..
- Hotel Baru, Jl Raya Ketapang (1.5 km from Ketapang terminal), ☏ .
- Manyar Hotel, Jl Gatot Subroto 74 (right at Ketapang ferry terminal), ☏ . A rather soulless hotel but it is convenient for a one night stopover before or after taking the ferry.
- Mirah Hotel, Jl Yos Sudarso, Klatak, Giri., ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. South of Ketapang ferry terminal. from Rp 170,000.
- Berlin Barat Hotel, Jl Letjen Haryono MT 96, Banjarsari, Glagah, ☏ . Good clean rooms arranged around an open courtyard. Western-style toilets but no hot water.
- Wisma Blambangan, Jl Dr Wahidin Sudirohusodo 4, Karangrejo, ☏ .
- Giri Indah Hotel, Jl.Hayam wuruk no. 301 (west of city center on ring road), ☏ . With air-con. Rp 125,000.
- Hotel Warata, Jl.Widuri no.2 (on the way to Desa wisata osing recreation center), ☏ , . Basic backpack accommodation 1.5 km from city centre. Rp 70,000-100,000.
- Ihtiar Surya, Jl Gajah Mada no.9 Banyuwangi, ☏ , .
- Ketapang Indah Hotel, Jl Gatot Subroto Km 6, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Waterfront cottages and rooms about 7 minutes from Ketapang ferry terminal (left hand side, heading south towards Banywangi). Good sized swimming pool and restaurant. Staff are efficient. Conveniently located for access to the ferry terminal. Can arrange tours. Price: around Rp 450,000 for a quite pleasant room with air-con and hot water. Includes breakfast..
- Ijen Resto Cottages, 100 Jl Licin 20km in desa (village) Licin, Ijen (west of Banyuwangi on the way to Ijen), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Rural budget accommodation near Desa (village) Licin, to the west of Banyuwangi, on the way up towards the Ijen Crater. The road is quite bumpy for the last kilometre or so after turning off the main (sealed) road.
- 2 Hotel Blambangan (On the south side of Taman Blambangan park, in downtown Banyuwangi, it has a big green sign on the front), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Restored colonial-era post office with superior and executive rooms. Very attentive staff that will not push tours and will help you with directions, logistics and recommendations. Facilities include Wi-Fi, 24h staff, coffee & tea and a pool. The location is excellent, surrounded by multitude of eating options, the beach coast and other hotels. Rp. 420,000 - 530,000.
- Ijen Hotel, Near Desa (village) Licin, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. About 25 mins out of Banyuwangi to the west, climbing up towards the Ijen plateau (turn west at Licin village). This is nice hotel with bungalows and private villas. Offers a range of activities at Ijen including climbing up to the crater, trekking in the foothills and visits to local villages. In May 2014 the 3-km entrance road (leading off the main sealed road) was in a poor state, making travel into the hotel quite difficult. Price: over $US 150 per person per night.
- Rhiko Hangduwe Guest house (RH), Jl. Raya Situbondo No.256 B Ketapang (Located 7 minutes northwest of Ketapang port), ☏ , ✉ Rhikohangduwe@gmail.com. Beautiful private guest house with 7 bedrooms which can comfortably sleep up to 14.