Pangandaran is a small town and a subdistrict in southern Pangandaran Regency, formerly Ciamis Regency, and West Java, Indonesia. It is located on the southern coast of Java. Pangandaran is a popular tourist destination, having a beach which is considered to be one of the finest in Java and which offers excellent surfing.
A kite-flying festival is held on the beach in July each year. Locals regularly use kites in the evenings to catch bats, which are either eaten or used in Chinese remedies. There is a local belief that wearing any green garment in this area will anger Loro Kidul, the Javanese guardian spirit or goddess of the southern sea, and will bring misfortune.
The Penanjung Pangandaran nature reserve is nearby on a peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow neck of land. The isthmus is around 200 m wide and we can see sunrise at East Beach and also sunset at West Beach when the sun is above the southern hemisphere. About eighty percent of the nature reserve is secondary rainforest. The flora of the nature reserve includes the Rafflesia.
On July 17, 2006, an undersea earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale triggered a devastating tsunami effulging the resort and causing destruction as far inland as half a kilometer. Extensive damage was caused and hundreds were killed including a small number of foreign tourists.
Pangandaran is a large fishing village situated on a narrow isthmus of land with Pangandaran National Park occupying the entire headland. On either side to the east and to the west of Pangandaran village and the National Park isthmus are two beaches of volcanic black sand. These east and west facing beaches provide Pangandaran with the unusual reputation as being one of the few beach resorts in the world where one can watch a sunrise in the morning and a sunset in the evening.
Pangandaran Beach has become increasingly popular with surfers as there are several beaches and surf breaks within easy travelling distance. There are also surfboard hire facilities and surf schools available at the beach. Pangandaran is also popular with Indonesian domestic tourists, particularly at the end of Ramadan, New Year and the long school holidays.
Pangandaran is one of West Java’s best kept-secrets as far as international tourists are concerned. Located on a peninsula on the south coast of West Java, about 91 Km from the town of Ciamis, Pangandaran offers uniquely black and white sand, calm waved beaches and spectacular sunsets. The beach resort facing the Indian Ocean is 223 Km from Bandung and 400km from Jakarta, and lies halfway between Bandung and Yogyakarta.
This beautiful peninsula was once better known as a small fishing place; fishermen would set sail in the morning and return in the afternoon with their catch. As the fishermen return, all the locals would meet them on the beach and help them pull the nets heavy with fish to shore. This activity can still be seen today; you can also participate and experience the sensation of pulling the heavy fish nets back to shore and get to know what it is like to be a fisherman. It also makes a swell picture.
Pananjung beach, located at the western end of the peninsula, is an ideal place for family activities. Here, the waves are relatively calm so you and your family can swim around safely. You can also bathe under the sun or simply just watch the enchanting panoramic view. Next to the beach is a forested hill which is also a natural reserve. It is the dwelling place for many monkeys, deer, buffaloes and other exotic animals. There are also a number of natural caves and some man-made caves built as bunkers by the Japanese during the Second World War. At the top of the hill is a beautiful waterfall which drops directly into the ocean. To reach it, you must first take a hike, but don’t worry, for along the way you’ll be presented with astonishing views and you will likely meet various animals. From this high location, you will also get a better view of the entire coastal area of the peninsula.
The eastern coast is a paradise for Fresh Sea Food Lovers. Here, you can take your pick among many selections of restaurants and food stalls that offers freshly caught fish, squids, crabs, prawns and others, which are displayed on their front veranda. At the south end of this restaurant line-up, is the fresh fish market where you can buy fresh caught fish and other sea food, and have them grilled or barbequed to your own liking. The East Coast is also a place for Jet Skiing and Banana Boat Rides which are surely perfect activities to release your stress and return completely revitalized.
Pangandaran also hosts many annual events. One in particular is the International Kite Festival which is held in July every year. This festival is a gathering of kite enthusiasts from all over the world and a place where all different kinds of kites are flown together under the Blue Pangandaran skies.
Pangandaran is a one stop complete experience. From swimming, snorkeling, Jet Skiing, Fishing to Hiking and hill climbing, Pangandaran has it all. It is a full package vacation, fit for every age and an ideal place to be visited at anytime of the year.
The best way to get around Pangandaran is on foot, since a walk on the beach and having your feet touch the sand offers its own sensation. You may also want to try to get around Pangandaran on a bike. There are a lot of bike rental services that offer various kinds of bicycles for rent, from the usual bike such as BMX or standard bike to the Tandem Bike that can take two or three persons. If you feel a bit tired after a long stroll, just call out “becak”, a three-wheeled cart that can take you back to your Hotel or other places.
In general, Pangandaran is a fabulous beach destination. It offers all kinds of beach and marine activities such as sunbathing, swimming, surfboarding, fishing, Jet Skiing, and more. You can also explore the human side of Pangandaran by cycling through the village and observe various activities of the fishermen and villagers. There is also a dirt track fit for Semi Pro Cyclist Uphill and Downhill ride.
- Pananjung/Western Beach: Pananjung Beach is a calm black sand beach that is fit for family activities such as swimming, surfboarding or just playing around in the sand. There are also boats that can take you to the marine park and you can also snorkel there. These boats can also take you to fishing spots, where you can spend your day fishing for that big catch.
- Pananjung Natural Reserve: You can explore the beauty of natural life by just walking around this natural reserve accompanied by groups of monkeys that will greet you around every corner. Take a time to visit some of the caves and marvel at the enchanting panoramic view to the shore. For a more exciting adventure, you can hike to the buffalo’s field and upward to the waterfall. On your way up the hill, you will find a clear lake with fresh mountain water that tempts you to jump in at the moment of its sight.
- Eastern Beach: The Eastern Beach is a place for extreme fun water sports. Here you can rent Jet Skis, Banana Boats and other adventurous rides. The Eastern Beach is also The Seafood Center of Pangandaran. You can feast on the various selections of fish, crabs, shrimps and other Seafood.
- Coral Reefs: Coral reefs in Pangandaran are the fringing reef type, which is dominated by Acropora along the Western Beach and Monticora at the Eastern Beach. Corals at both places are dominated by the branching, encrusting, and massive types; which indicate that there are strong currents in this marine area. It makes a great place for snorkeling, or just simply enjoying these from aboard a wooden boat. Sadly, observations in 2008 show that some of these reefs have been damaged, and this has called for a mission to save them. You can join in the reef rehabilitation mission by taking part in the “Adopt a Baby Coral” program.