The slow life in Batu Karas, Indonesia

Batu Karas is a coastal village surrounded by jungle, rice terraces and a perfect black beach facing the sunrise situated in South Java, Indonesia. It has a rare charm and friendly vibe. The local are a large part of what makes that place special -always smiling, eager to interact with visitors and to share their culture.

After two hours tossed in a decayed minibus -we start getting used to it-, we stop. The journey across South Java continues on a moto-taxi, through luxuriant nature, authentic bamboo bridges and bumpy roads. Twenty minutes later, there we are. Adrenaline rush. We've talked about this trip, we've planned it, we've dreamed about it. BATU KARAS. 

Turquoise water. Beach bordered by palm trees. Waves. Waves. Waves

What can I say... On arrival to Batu Karas we were immediately taken by surprise. This place is fantastic. I can't say that enough, so I'll only say it once. There is no massage, no sarong to buy on the beach, neither Frappuccinos -you can also forget about the Wi-Fi. In Batu Karas, you are connected to people -and to yourself. You are part of a family. Welcome home.

The vibe is perfect and beyond definition. It's laid-back and friendly in equal parts. 

We spent seven days of pure happiness traveling in Batu Karas. We met the locals, learned a bit of Bahasa Indonesia, and also met lots of nice travelers -mainly surfers. The village is so tiny, it doesn't take much to feel at home.

In only a week, we created a routine -the best we could imagine. Waking up before sunrise to catch it from our boards, in the sea. Photo shoot while the village is still sleepy and the light perfect. Then combo chocolate-banana-pancakes + strawberry-lemon-juice in our favorite warung. Hanging out on the beach with other travelers. Driving around to discover some secret spots. Nasi Goreng on the beach. Nap on our hammock made of fishing net. Catching the waves again. Slackline + Bintangs for sunset. Then fish barbecue with the locals. And it starts again...

Uncovering Secluded Empty Beaches|the wilderness

You wouldn't believe the gems hidden along the coast of South Java. We drove through the jungle for hours with a couple of fellow travelers and a local from the village. He took us in the most beautiful and remote beaches we have ever seen so far.  

Eating Traditional|the real Indonesian Style

We had the chance to be invited to an Indonesian barbecue. It consists on a long table covered with two giant banana leaves, full of all kind of seafood : sniper, gambas, squid, octopus, silver dory... All nicely spiced, to be eaten WITH THE HANDS. It's one of the most incredible travel experience we had. And not only the atmosphere and the authenticity were fabulous, but the food: it was delicious! 

Exploring the Green Canyon|into the rainforest

We took an authentic Indonesian boat to the Green Canyon, sailing through lush rainforest, then started what happened to be the most incredible canyoning. The scenery is dramatic, the roof of the canyon is rainforest, and you can hear the wildlife screaming and singing around... -Indiana Jones style! 

Catching the Waves|mellooow

Batu Karas is known as one of the best places to surf in Java. And it is. I've been struggling with the waves in South New Zealand and in Bali, but Batu Karas was different. There's not much people, and the locals are friendly. The waves, too. 

Soaking up the serenity|the slow life

One tip to enjoy Batu Karas as much as we did. Wake up early -you'll sleep on the beach later. Take a stroll on the beach. Meet the fishermen. Take a cruise around on a bicycle. Live with the sun. Enjoy every moment, and embrace a slower pace of life. 

How to get there?

Batu Karas is amazing during weekdays. It's really different on weekends, when travel coaches offload dozens and dozens of tourists on the beach -as it is one of the best destinations in Java for locals. Be aware of that before you go, it makes a big difference.

To get there, the easiest way is to fly Susi Air from Jakarta, then take a moto-taxi from the airport to Batu Karas. Coming from Yogiakarta, we took a night bus to Pangandaran (9 lenghty and dreadful hours without air-con), then two hours minibus + 20 min moto-taxi -easy, isn't it? Trust me, it's worth it. It's hard to get to Batu Karas, but it's even harder to leave this place. You'll never want to.