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19 Best Things To Do in Banyuwangi, East Java
The Banyuwangi area of East Java is one of the most underrated yet beautiful destinations I’ve had the pleasure of visiting within Indonesia.
I have no doubt that tourism is going to explode here over the next few years, especially in some of these places around Banyuwangi that I list below.
It’s only a short boat ride away from Bali and everything in this list is accessible within a 2 hour drive from the town of Banyuwangi. The list is made in the order of the activities we did over the course of 4 days, although you could definitely do this in less time as we had a very relaxed itinerary.
19 best things to do in Banyuwangi, East Java
1. Rumah Apung Bangsring
Rumah Apung translates to ‘Floating Room’. No, it’s not an floating hotel room but instead a rehab centre for baby sharks, which you can see swimming around their floating rooms! You can also swim around the feeding platform and rehab centre, enabling you to see some pretty impressive marine life.
Bangsring is also the jumping off point for a lot of the local boat trips including being the gateway to Menjangan and Tabuhan Island, which I’ll get to next!
2. Menjangan Island
Ok so this is technically still part of Bali and is situated on the very Northern tip as part of West Bali National Park. However, you can reach it from Bangsring and it is included as part of their island tour. Since you’re able to do it on a tour from Banyuwangi and since that’s what I did, I decided to include it here anyway.
Menjangan island has some of the best snorkeling and diving in the whole of Bali. Just look at the colour of the water and tell me you don’t want to jump in?
Besides having the crystal clear waters, it is also home to deer that can often be spotted taking a dip in the sea with you. In fact, Menjangan is actually the Indonesian word for deer!
3. Tabuhan Island
We also visited this island as part of the 3 island Bangsring tour and it was our last stop of the day. I have to say that although I’ve included this in the list, it could be so much more beautiful than it was!
It’s a potentially stunning paradise island with a magnificient mountain in it’s backdrop and yet the uninhabited beach was covered in rubbish!
It was still beautiful though and I would definitely reccommend checking it out. Who knows, perhaps by the time you visit the beach will be cleaner! You can spend as long as you want here, just communicate to your boat driver how long you want to stay and enjoy the island completely to yourself.
4. Blue Fire Lounge
The rooftop bar of Illira Hotel in Banyuwangi offers some of the best views across the bay. It’s a perfect spot to sip on a cocktail and watch the sunset over Bali.
The loung offers relaxation spaces and serves refreshments along with designer snacks. Blue Fire Lounge & Bar has some chill-out music and the panoramic view of Banyuwangi City, the Sea-View of Bali Strait and Mount Ijen too on a clear day.
5. Bajulmati Resevoir
This is one place that took me completely by surprise. After all, how many times have you thought about visiting a resevoir as part of your Indonesian itinerary? Even when we arrived, I wasn’t exactly sure why we were going to visit a resevoir.
What I discovered however is some of the best natural scenery of the whole trip! It sort of looked like Raja Ampat from above, with the grassy attols poking out of the lake. I have to be honest though, the best views were definitely captured using my drone – which isn’t a first person perspective most people can get.
However, if you do drive all the way to the end of the road then there are some large hills that will give you a good vantage point over Bajulmati resevoir.
6. Baluran National Park
Taman Nasional Baluran (or Baluran National Park) is somewhat famous across Indonesia and yet most foreign tourists don’t know about it; I certainly didn’t! The park is roughly in the shape of a circle with the extinct volcano ‘Baluran’ at it’s centre. It has some of the most unique nature in all of Java and was even home to the Javan tiger up until the mid-1960s.
These days however it is mostly home to wild monkeys, buffalo, Sumatran wild cats and if you’re incredibly lucky then you could also spot the Javan Leopard!
You can drive your own car or scooter through the park and are able to get the National Park ticket at the entrance.
7. Savanna Bekol
In the middle of Baluran National Park, set under the Baluran volcano, is the huge Savana Bekol – also known as little Africa! In fact, the Savanna even makes up to 40% of the entire National Park.
While I can’t suggest many activities, it is a sight to see and perhaps stop for a quick photo in front of the many Buffalo skulls that line the entrance.
8. Bama Beach
Keep driving through Savanna Bekol and eventually you will get to the fairly exclusive Bama Beach.
Not that many people come here and it is a very local beach, with just a small shack available for food.
The good thing about it is that you’re most likely to be here completely on your own!
The whole beach is pretty empty and there’s also a mangrove trail that you can walk along next to it. We just stopped here for lunch but you could definitely spend longer if you fancy sunbathing on your own private beach.
9. Kawah Ijen Sunrise
The sunrise from the top of Kawah Ijen (Mount Ijen) is one of the most beautiful you can see in all of East Java. This is one of the main things that people come to Banyuwangi for and it’s definitely something not to miss.
The climb to the top is about 2 hours long, so make sure to leave yourself enough time to make it for sunrise. It’s a bit steep in parts but not too tough and anyone with a reasonable level of fitness will make it to the top.
10. Blue Fire Crater
At the bottom of Kawah Ijen is the sulphuric crater, where you have the possibility of seeing the incredible ‘Blue Fire’. It’s a natural phenomenon where sulphuric gas is ignited as it comes out and can create huge blue flames up to 5 metres high.
It’s not guaranteed and unfortunately on my trip we didn’t get to see it, but you win some and you lose some – hopefully you’ll be a bit luckier!
It takes about 45 minutes to hike down to the bottom (and of course 45 minutes back up) so make sure to leave yourself enough time to get down there and back up to the top in time for sunrise. You will also likely see the miners walking up and down this path, be sure to give them space and you can read more about them here.
11. Jagir Waterfall
Jagir Waterfall can be visited on the way back from Kawah Ijen to Banyuwangi and is an impressive waterfall in it’s own right, which you can also swim in!
Take a pair of swimming shorts or your bikini with you and cool off here after the tough climb you just did in the morning.
12. Kalipahit waterfall
This waterfall is actually just a 10 minute drive away from Mount Ijen and can easily be seen straight after you finish the climb. It’s more of a quick sight to see on your way back to Banyuwangi and I wouldnt recommend spending too much time here.
Fun fact: the name actually means Bitter River as it is a sulphuric waterfall!
13. De Djawatan Forest
This forest feels like it should be a set in Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. It’s an epic setting that made me feel as if I wasn’t even in Indonesia any more. It has become quite famous to Indonesian’s and you can spot a lot of people coming here for their selfies and even pre-wedding videos.
In fact, there are even selfie stations set around the forest where you can get a fairly unique Instagram photo, if that’s what you’re into.
This is a good stop off on the way to the beautiful beaches that I’m about to get to next!
14. Mustika Beach
Mustika Beach is a huge bay with barely anyone on it. It actually reminded me of Kuta Beach in Bali, except without all the people trying to hassle you to buy something! It’s yet another beautiful beach with hardly any tourists and it’s also a gateway to the incredible Wedi Ireng secret beach and connects to the famous Pulau Merah.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t spend too long here as the next two beaches are far better!
15. Wedi Ireng Beach
A short boat ride away from Mustika Beach is the secluded hideaway beach of Wedi Ireng. This was probably my favourite out of all the beaches we visited and it really felt like your own hidden paradise island.
You have to get a local boat to take you around the bay and then the beach will reveal itself to you. If you’re looking for a paradise beach to yourself, then this is probably it. You could spend most of the day here before heading back to Pulau Merah for the sunset. Which brings us to…
16. Pulau Merah Sunset
The sunset at Pulau Merah is nothing short of spectacular. It’s the optimal beach setting for a stunning sunset and it delivered in amazing fashion. Hire yourself a beach bed for 50,000 IDR and watch as the waves roll in with a golden sunset behind.
You can also get young coconuts, smoothies, Bintangs and any other typical beach drinks you want while waiting for the sunset.
17. Surf Pulau Merah
Pulau Merah is also a good surf spot and although I didn’t get to try it out myself, I have been told that the waves here are fantastic for beginners. If you’re not content to sit on the sidelines while waiting for the sunset then you can hire a board from any of the local vendors.
18. Banyuwangi Festival
It seems as if there is constantly something happening in Banyuwangi and in 2019 especially there are festivals going on everywhere! There are a range of events happening including food fairs, cultural performances, live music and parades.
If you’re planning on visiting this year then make sure to search for Banyuwangi Festival beforehand or better yet, ask your hotel reception or hostel what’s going on that week.
19. Try Local Food
As with everywhere in Indonesia, the local food in Banyuwangi is incredible and something you just have to try for yourself. I was taken to a couple of local Indonesian restaurants by my guides and their choices were fantastic.
I tried the Nasi Kampung and Ayam Betutu and it was honestly some of the best Indonesian food I’ve had so far!
That’s it! Those are the 19 best things to do in Banyuwangi in East Java.
This is an area that I’ve only scratched the surface of and I’m sure there are actually a lot more things to do here than I’ve listed!
If you have any further suggestions then please leave them in the comments below.
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