Banyuwangi is the most easterly town of Java, counting just over 100,000 inhabitants. Everyone travelling overland from Yogyakarta to Bali passes through its ferry harbour, Ketapang, located just 10 kilometres north of town centre. The town is also the capital of Banyuwangi regency, with 5,800 square kilometres Java’s largest in area. While the town has not much of interest to tourists, it functions as base from where to visit numerous sights in the regency. Four national parks lie wholly or in part within the boundaries of Banyuwangi regency. There are attractive beaches as well as coffee plantations both within and outside these parks. On the western border of Banyuwangi regency lies Kalibaru; not more than a village, but with its coffee and cocoa plantations a favourite agro-tourism centre.
POPULAR SEE & DO
- Alas Purwo National Park covers the Blambangan peninsula and adjacent wetlands. It is arguably Java’s most important park from an ecological viewpoint. The name Alas Purwo can be translated as ‘First Forest’ or ‘Original Forest’ and expresses the belief that here the island Java started emerging from the primeval ocean. In other words, the forest of Alas Purwo is held sacred, and that is a good thing for its conservation. Except for the G-land surf camps at the southern tip of Blambangan, there are no amenities for tourists and none are planned. So this is your park for a wildlife and bird spotting expediton.
- Baluran National Park, the driest region of East Java.
- Meru Betiri National Park, a largely unspoilt tropical forest reserve. Its Turtle Conservation Project at Sukamade Beach and secluded Green Bay can be accessed from Banyuwangi or from Kalibaru.
- Touristic Park Kawah Ijen in the Ijen Highlands is the most popular attraction in Banyuwangi Regency due to the ‘blue fire’ sight of burning sulfur at night.
- Pulau Merah or Red Island – A cone-shaped island facing a wide sandy beach. At low tide it is possible to wade over to the island. The cone is covered in lush green foliage, so why is it named Red Island? The side of the island facing the sea consists of reddish rock, perhaps because of iron ore. The distance from Banyuwangi or Kalibaru to Red Island is about 65 kilometres, the roads are sealed throughout.
- Teluk Hijau or Green Bay – A secluded bay with white sand beach. As the name suggests the water reflects the forest surrounding it. Green Bay lies within Meru Betiri National Park, three kilometres from the eastern entrance gate, and can be reached by a sedan car.
- Sukamade Turtle Beach – The turtle conservation project of Meru Betiri National Park.
Banyuwangi Airport, at 18 kilometres south of town centre, connects by direct flights to Jakarta and to Denpasar (Bali). The airport is being enlarged to accommodate Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 planes.
Banyuwangi Baru station lies at the end of the railway line from Surabaya, and is located conveniently close to Ketapang ferry harbour. Four trains daily run the line in both directions, two of them executive class (Mutiara Timur Siang and Mutiara Timur Malam), the other two economy class (Sri Tanjung and Probowangi). A third economy train (Tawang Alun) runs between Banyuwangi and Malang via Pasuruan.
There is ample choice of accommodation in and around Banyuwangi town in all price ranges. Those staying over just one night on their way from Java to Bali or vice versa, may opt for Ketapang Indah Hotel, Mirah Hotel or Manyar Garden Hotel at a 15-minute walk from Ketapang harbour and 20 minutes from Banyuwangibaru station.