The Banyuwangi Regency is located at the eastern end of Java, Indonesia, and serves as a port between the islands of Java and Bali. Banyuwangi occupies a population of approximately 1,599,788 (according to the January 2014 Consensus) and boasts a landscape of mountains and forests on its western side, as well as coastlines and sea among its southern and eastern sides.
For the past few years, the Banyuwangi regency has developed their tourism sector to boost their economic sector through the society’s income from selling food, transportation services, selling souvenirs and offering homestay accommodation. This rapid development has led Banyuwangi became the first winner of a world tourism award in Europe through successfully winning three awards from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Madrid, Spain.
During 2016, 53 tourism-based festivals were conducted in Banyuwangi, including motorcycle race (Banyuwangi Tour de Ijen), Gandrung Sewu Festival and Kebo-keboan Festival. Based on data from the Cultural and Tourism Department of Banyuwangi, 50 tourism sites are ready to visit. The most famous ones are Ijen Mountain, Plengkung Beach for surfing, and Sukamade Beach as a place for turtles nearby the National Park area.
The tourism sector in Banywangi over the past five years had continued to develop. Since I’m studying public policy, so my school initiated to have a field trip to Banyuwangi. So I got the chance to see the beautiful Banyuwangi while I was doing my research with my group related to public policy implementation on marine tourism since Banyuwangi’s administration with its “Re-inventing the Government in Tourism” project emerged as the first winner for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance category of the 12th UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism.
In this post, I’m not going to talk about my research with my team. Instead, I would like to write more about the beautiful Banyuwangi from the traveler point of view.
1. Pantai Bangsring. This place is popular amongst tourists for snorkeling. This location boasts 15 hectares of coral reefs that are protected by the government and the public, as well as offering tourists to safely swim with sharks measuring up to one meter long. Pantai Bangsring is considered to be the most accessible beach comparative to the other beaches visited. The road to this beach is in good condition and takes approximately 30 minutes from the city of Banyuwangi.
There are two main tourism sectors in Bangsring, namely the Floating House (Rumah Apung) and the sea conservation area. These two facilities are initiated by a group of approximately 30 fishermen, who started the business on their own before they eventually managed to get the support directly from the Ministry of Fishery through its respective department in charge of Banyuwangi and its surrounding areas.
There are also several homestays that are initiated by the local people with the help of some NGOs that helped by giving ideas on how to attract tourists to visit this beach. One of the homestays in this beach is facilitated with snorkeling activity. You will spend Rp. 25,000 IDR in total for entrance and parking fee for 4 (four) people and 1 (one) car. The beach is also surrounded by small stall (known as warung) that serves light snacks and drinks for visitors at a very affordable price.
2. Grand Watudodol. This beach is located in between Pantai Bangsring and the main city of Banyuwangi. This beach is structurally sound with a vast statue inspired by the local traditional stories and set as the mascot of the beach. There is no entrance fee on this beach, the only fee charged to visitors is parking, which varies from Rp. 2,000 – 5,000 IDR. This beach is facilitated with one main building, which looks more like an open area for visitors, a cafeteria, and public toilets. Compared to other beaches, Grand Watudodol is the only beach with facilities built by the government. However, looking at all buildings and facilities, they have been left un-maintained that many parts are no longer in good condition.
3. Pantai Boom. This beach is the location for the old port and harbor and provides marine transportation to Bali, and is surrounded by a number of other popular beaches such as Pantai Cemara where tourists can partake in releasing sea turtles back into the ocean. The entrance fee to the beach is Rp. 5,000 IDR per person not including parking fee at the same price. This beach is currently building a project called ‘Eco-Adventure’, a kind of water tourism area built for water sport to attract visitors on a commercial basis.
4. Pantai Plengkung, also known as G-land, is located in the Alas Purwo National Park and is the most popular beach for surfing, where Banyuwangi holds yearly surf competitions that tourists from across the world come to participate in. In addition, G-land offers a variety of other marine activities for tourists such as snorkeling, fishing, diving, and turtle breeding and release.
The road leading into Pantai Plengkung takes approximately three hours from the city of Banyuwangi; one hour on regular roads, one hour through a combination or damaged and smooth roads through the Alas Purwo National park, and one hour through an extremely damaged road along the coastline to reach the beach. For the last hour traveling to Pantai Plengkung, tourists must rent a local vehicle with a driver specifically operating to drive through the extremely damaged road. Pantai Plengkung is most commonly known for its annual surf competition. The competitions occur randomly throughout the year (with peak months in June and July when the waves are the biggest for surfing).
5. Pantai Pulau Merah is another beach known for surfing, snorkeling, and sight-seeing and is one of the most popular locations for tourists to visit when in Banyuwangi. Pantai Pulau Merah has just managed to be famous in the past two years. It is named as “Merah” (translated as “red” in English) due to an island located less than 500M away from this beaches coastline, showing some visibly red parts of it from distance. This beach is surrounded by many homestays which are owned by local villagers who initiated, financed, built, and managed these homestays on their own.
6. Ijen Crater is out of my topic of research but I managed to explore this area since WHY NOT! Ijen Crater is well-known as his blue fire always attract people coming to see him. I and 2 friends did trekking at midnight so we expected to see the blue fire in the earlier morning. We reached the spot and guess what, the smell of the crater was extremely strong so if you ever have any chance to be at Ijen Crater make sure you use a special mask, not the cheap one. Unfortunately, we saw the blue fire but not so clear since it was cloudy but it was really incredible. WHAT AN ADVENTURE! FYI, to reach the main entrance, we need to rent a Jeep. The driver will wait for you till you get back from Ijen Crater and do not worry about how to get the contact of driver. Most of the hotels in Banyuwangi will give you the information about it. The rate is not so expensive. So I suggest you to go to Ijen Crater with some buddies to share the cost.
Banyuwangi is one of many beautiful places in Indonesia. I was so lucky to have an opportunity to visit this place. I wasn’t only learn about public policy but more than that I realized that my country is so beautiful.