The South Java Sea is notorious for its gnarly surf and wicked undertow, a boon to surfers and serious challenge to leisurely swimmers. But if big waves, fine sandy beaches, and dramatic volcanic outcroppings are your thing, head to Pantai Sadranan and its sister beaches. What follows is a quick guide to best beaches near the city of Yogyakarta – the Javanese cultural capital and a fine base for any backpacker to explore Central Java.
Pantai Sadranan, Selili, Krakal, Kukup, Sepanjang, Baron, Indrayanti, Ngandong, and Sundak to name a few of the most scenic beaches, cover a 25 km stretch of coastline in the southeast corner of Yogyakarta Province. Though only 60 km from Yogkarata, I would not recommend making a day trip out of any of these beaches. With traffic the rout can take up to three hours each way. Predictably, the congestion is worst on weekends when locals flock to the coast for fresh air, serene views and tasty ocean fish. Also, avoid traveling by motor bike, unless you’re going during the week. The reckless drivers, intense smog and searing heat make for a poor start to any relaxing beach getaway.
Pantai Sadranan, Selili and Krakal are the least crowded of these beaches. They are the furthest east, and hence the longest drive from Yogyakarta. All are equally stunning and empty during the weekdays, but if you’re going on a weekend, I highly recommend venturing as far east as you can.
Once you arrive, you’ll find a variety of accommodations available, ranging from 10 – 60 USD per night. Basically, you get what you pay for. The first place we checked out was on Pantai Sadranan and it was pretty much the worst hotel in the world . It cost 20 USD per night. Despite the gorgeous hill-top view, it was incredibly dirty and was infested with wasps, tree frogs and roosting bats, amongst other lesser creatures.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, pack a tent and camp for free on the soft sandy beaches. You can buy fresh fish at the market and cook it up right on the beach. To me this sounds ideal – a slice of paradise enjoyed properly.
During the height of the sun, from 11:00 – 3:00, escape the heat by renting one of the beachside gazebos on Pantai Indrayanti. It will cost roughly 2 USD and you can stay as long as you want. The nearby restaurants serve fresh caught “ikan bakar” (barbequed fish) and tropical juices, which you can eat picnic style under your gazebo.
Swimming is best from 3:00 – 5:00 when the sun and the heat abate. The sun sets around 6:00 every day, and the colors are spectacular. Hike to the top of one of the many volcanic outcroppings between Pantai Sadranan and Pantai Selili for the best views. After dark, theres not much to do other than eat and drink. Reward yourself by heading to one of the local restaurants for a second serving ikan bakar and a cold beer to cap the day.