The town of Pangandaran in West Java, Indonesia is a quiet village known for its great beginners’ surf and relaxed vibe. Since the small town is out of the way of the normal Jakarta-Jogjakarta backpacker path, there will be few foreign tourist roaming the town making it a perfect spot to visit!
We arrived by bus from Bandung for about 55,000 IDR, and were quickly approached by bike taxis offered us a ride to our guesthouse. We declined, as it was only a short walk into town, but we later found out the drivers charge hotel owners one night of accommodation per person they drop off, if the hotel owner doesn’t pay, they won’t drive anyone there, thus lose all of their business. Even if you walk, don’t be surprised if one of them follow you and claim they drove you. Anyways, on the good stuff!
We arrived at the Panorama guest house in the evening and after the bus ride, we were ready to get something to eat. Luckily there was an amazing street food vendor set up on the median of the road. after some pointing, laughing and head shaking we had several different dishes in front of us. Some of it was a mystery, but it was all delicious and only cost a couple dollars!
Since this is a popular spot to learn surfing in Indonesia, I booked a two-hour surf lesson from Pangandaran Surf Camp for 150,000 IDR, about $11 USD, which included one on one instruction, board rental for the day and a wet shirt to protect your chest (go long sleeve!). The surf in Pangandaran is small but it makes for the perfect waves to learn on. I was able to get up on the first wave! It was the perfect beginner location and was much easier than the time I tried to surf in Costa Rica! I’m sure my yoga practice had something to do with it as well. Core strength and balance are key!
After the two hour surf lesson I was soo tired I had to give up for the day! I retired to a comfortable beach hut and had a cold beer with a few people from the guest house. They had taken the lessons too and everyone agreed, it was well worth it!
Dindin’s Green Valley Tour
Later that night we heard everyone talking about a local tour that was too good to miss. Normally I would stay away from tours and adventure on my own, but everyone was raving about a tour guide named Dindin. The Green Valley & Green Canyon Tour operated by Dindin Tour in Pangandaran is #1 on TripAdvisor and after taking the tour I could easily understand why. The full day 10 hour guided tour begins with motorbiking to a remote village to see local Javanese history and culture before hiking into the Green Valley. In the village we watched a local artist create handcrafted puppets which are incredibly detailed and also a dying art.
At the Green Valley, we swam down the crystal clear river, jumping from several waterfalls, cliffs, and trees. All of the jumping was optional but how could I resist? The last jump was from a 10-meter high tree branch that required me to climb up a rope ladder. From the bottom, it looked alright, but once I reached the top I was shaking. But there was only one way down and that was to jump! It was such a good time and the water was cooling on the steaming hot day!
Once we got out of the river, we had lunch at a small restaurant that was suggested by the tour guide Dindin. The restaurant took our orders before the swim so the food was ready when we arrived. The suggested dish was a traditional Indonesian fare called Nasi Liwet, which was ordered by everyone on the tour. The delicious meal was served buffet style and there was more than we could possibly eat.
Green Canyon Tour
The second part of the tour began with a 50 minute motorbike ride to a boat landing filled with people. Here we hopped into traditional local boats and cruised into the Green Canyon. In the canyon, we swam in between two massive rock walls that towered over head. Coming from the edges of the cliffs was a magical rain that poured down from the tree roots and moss that covered the area above. It’s hard to describe such an incredible place, it wasn’t like anything I had seen before. And there was more cliff diving, of course. I wish I would have had a better waterproof camera!
If you are in the area, make sure you take this tour or you will be seriously missing out on this unique and amazing place!
Tips for Pangandaran and the Green Canyon Tour:
Make sure you are protected with travel insurance before surfing or riding a motorbike! I suggest World Nomads as they have awesome coverage for the adventure seeker!
WikiTravel has a great list of prices for the location, keep them in mind when negotiating!
There was only one ATM while I was there so make sure you have enough cash.
Go on DinDin’s Tour of the Green Canyon, everyone in town will be talking about it!
Heading to Jogjakarta next? Don’t miss Kalibiru National Park!