Ujung Genteng, West Java, Indonesia
Ujung Genteng is located on the south shore of Java Island and is SO worth every single, bumpy hour of its 7 hr drive south from Jakarta. We came there in September. And it must have been during its low season because we found it hard to believe that a beach so beautiful, so pristine, could be so devoid of people. We were the only people on the beach in the picture below.
Where We Stayed
My parents rented a 2-bedroom beach house in the main ‘tourist’ section of the beach. The ‘tourist’ section consisted of a short stretch of bungalows across the street from a beach. Once more we were struck at how quiet everything is.
Where are the families with half-naked kids running around? Where are the hawkers trying to sell us bracelets and horse-rides along the beach?
It almost made us wonder if we had come during an epidemic that we hadn’t heard before. It was that surreal.
The Most Gorgeous Beach We’ve Ever Seen
Soon after we arrived at our rented beach house, a couple of local kids strolled by pushing their motorcycles. They asked if we’d be interested in getting a ride to the beach.
I pointed to the shimmering water in front of us, ‘That’s the beach in front of us’
‘No, no’, they assured us. It’s a different beach. A much much better beach.
Intrigued, we told them to come back in an hour to give us time to settle in.
Exactly on hour afterward they came and we jumped onto the back seat of their motorcycles. After a ride through some pretty bumpy and muddy paths by motorcyles ($1-$2), we came down to this deserted beach.
It was simply one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve been to. As far as the eyes can see there were gentle rolling hills covered with smooth white sand. And apart from our rides, we didn’t see anybody else. We spent the whole day exploring the beach and the tide pools, collecting hermit crabs (don’t worry, we released them back afterward), and we stayed to watch the sunset.
It was the best day, ever. But little did we know that it would only get better.
Note: I believe the beach is called “Cipanarikan” Beach. We’ve heard variations of the name, but that seems to be the consensus. If you ever find yourself in this area, just ask the locals to take you to where the river meets the ocean.
The sea turtle conservation in Ujung Genteng
From July to March, green turtles come to lay their eggs in the sandy shore of a beach in Ujung Genteng. That night, we arranged a motorbike ride ($4-$5) to take us down to this beach to watch for turtles. It was so cold and windy we regretted not to bring warmer clothes. The stars were out in full force too and it made us wish that we had brought a blanket so we could lie on our backs and star gaze while waiting for the turtles to arrive.
Eventually, they came. Where there was only a stretch of sand, there were now these dark round shapes on the wet sand. They were moving so slowly up the shore that if you hadn’t seen the empty beach before, you’d be forgiven to think they were rocks.
To watch these turtles coming out from the sea to dig a hole in the sand and deposit between 100-200 eggs at once was both exhilarating and sadly touching. It looks like a lot of work! And to think that only a very small percentage of these eggs will make it into adulthood.
Apparently turtle eggs are considered delicacies in some communities and they can fetch a hefty price. So what the conservation does is collect these eggs after the turtles leave and artificially hatch them inside a guarded building.
If you get there in late afternoon, before the turtles start coming to the shore, they might take you inside to see these uber cute, wiggly, hatchlings. You could also help releasing them into the wild. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any that were old enough to be released back to the wild when we were.
In general, I like the idea of ecotourism. But I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty getting so close to these beautiful animals while they’re laboring away laying their eggs. Are we disturbing them? Stressing them out? It’s impossible to tell.
The fish market
The next day, we stopped by the nearby fish market in the morning. My parents are the kind of people that are oblivious to the fact that sleeping in is what people usually do on vacations. We got there SO early we saw fishermen hauling in their catch off their boats.
My parents bought some fresh-off-the-boat fish from the market. There are restaurants (sometimes no more than a patio of a house with a grill) nearby who will clean and cook your fish for you for a small fee.
And I’ll tell you.. Nothing, NOTHING, tastes better than a grilled freshly caught fish, eaten with nothing more than a pinch of salt and steaming white rice.
I find it hard to pick the highlights of our visit there. Is it the beautiful beach that we had for ourselves? The nighttime adventure of turtle watching? Or the grilled fish, so fresh off the boat it’s delicious with just a touch of salt?
Definitely not the 7 hour drive to get there. But we’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Note: we took this trip with Jill’s parents back in 2007. Hopefully things haven’t changed much since then and Ujung Genteng is still a quiet fishing village who happens to be located nearby to quite possibly the most pristine stretch of beach in the whole island.
We’ve been to Hawaii, we’ve been to Bali, Lombok and other ‘beach’ places but Ujung Genteng is still the prettiest beach we’ve ever been to. What’s the prettiest beach you’ve ever been to?
Great post! I went there myself a couple of weeks ago, and it was just as quiet and serene as you described it. You got a much better photo of the turtle laying though. 🙂 We had a different beach all to ourselves – just spectacular! You can also take surfing lessons in a small, protected cove with smaller waves and great swimming. 🙂
I'll be going there in March for one week! It looks gorgeous. Thanks for sharing the pictures.
Wow, wish I could have an Indonesian beach to myself! Just a note, not sure if it's cause I'm on a netbook with a small screen, but your social sharing tool slider thing is blocking me from seeing some of your content. Prob. my screen, but yeah kind of annoying.
Thanks for letting me know. I've made some changes. Just curious – what's your screen's size? Checked it with Jack's 11 in monitor post-changes and it looks fine – is urs smaller than that?
Nice. I might head there myself if I can figure out public transport to there.
This looks amazing! I think this place has just officially entered my list of places to go 🙂
Looks like a great place to visit !
Is it hard to go there if you don't have a private car ?
It is!! So worth it if you happen to be in Java. Depending on where you're coming from getting there from public transportation might be possible. Sukabumi is the nearest big town and it might be possible to catch an 'angkot' to get you close to the area. The road was extremely potholed when we were there, hopefully it's much better now…
Loved this post! Ujung Genteng looks stunning. That must have been so strange (and amazing!) to be somewhere so quiet and removed from busy life.
I have also wondered about the sea turtle thing, whether humans observing them affects them negatively at all. I also feel weird about the fact that their eggs are removed from their natural habitat and artificially hatched, but if that's what keeps them safe from people who want to eat them, then it's likely a good thing!
Back then, I thought it made sense to protect the eggs from thiefs. And I wonder if the hatching rate is higher doing it artificially. But lately I've been wondering of the consequences of collecting the eggs too… sometimes humans do things with best intentions but ended up with unforeseen consequences.
it sounds like the best place to have a vacation
It's definitely one of our favorite places we've ever been to.
Very interesting writeup and looks like a great area of Java to go check out. Can't imagine it has changed much since '07 — the wheels turn pretty slowly here! Did you plan to be there for the egg laying or was it a lucky coincidence?
Hey, thanks for coming by. It was just a lucky coincidence. Yeah, I hope it hasn't changed much, we'd love to go back and explore that area further. There's also a waterfall nearby that's supposed to be pretty fun to swim and explore about but it was dry when we were there.
I can't believe you got to see turtles laying their eggs! I used to love watching documentaries on it on the Discovery Channel (I know, I'm such a dork) and have always thought it would be so cool to see in person. In a lot of places they have volunteers come and help the little hatchlings make it to the ocean (to avoid predators… I guess of the animal AND human variety), but I've never heard of a place incubating them in a building.
Thanks for sharing this! 🙂
Wow!! Wow!! That's about all I can say, seriously what a perfect day!
Venturing to the market to get the fresh caught fish is something I have always wanted to do but I just don't wake up early enough! It's a must do for me next time I'm in a place good for seafood.
I'm a 100% vegetarian now, or try to (we went to Ujung Genteng when I still ate fish), but fresh seafood that's sustainably harvested has always been the only cause of my relapse :p But yes, you don't need any kind of sauce to enjoy fresh caugt seafood. It's delish just on its own!
That looks amazing! What a place to have to yourself!
I know, huh? We were so lucky!