Belitung Island is definitely the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Why? My friend, Deszell and I managed to explore the island in 2 days with plenty of time to spare at the end of the evening which we spent it by lounging around by the pool at our historic Hotel Billiton. How, you asked? Easy. The key is maximizing your time by arriving very early at the destination. In our case, we took the first Citilink flight at 6 o’clock in the morning and went home early Monday morning to arrive in Jakarta with enough time to get ready for work.
This is what our itinerary in Belitung looked like:
Day 1 Island Hopping
Luckily enough we were allowed to check in early as we arrived at Billiton Hotel at around 7.30 am in the morning, so we had time to get change to our islands hopping outfit before heading out for the day.
Breakfast: We had Mie Atep, in Tanjung Pandan; a typical Belitung local noodle dish with seafood and a thick shrimp soup or sauce. Tasty! You all should tried this when visiting this Island.
Get our lunch ready before Island hopping: We headed to a takeaway place to get a packed lunch for our island hopping trip. Read @DeszellFD article here to get some ideas on what to bring for Island hopping in Belitung.
Island hopping: This activity will take you all day. So it is good to schedule it for the whole day in your itinerary. Our first day was filled with islands hopping. The boat cost around IDR 400,000 + extra IDR 20,000 for snorkelling googles and lifejacket. If you are planning to snorkel, which I highly recommend, please always strive to be a responsible travelers. I can’t stress this enough. Please be mindful and don’t do anything that would damage the ocean. I was sad to see that the pollution has already started to show in the corals in this island. Please don’t touch the corals and don’t feed the fish with crackers or bread. Sadly, our driver did, which annoyed me. Crackers or bread are not supposed to be fed to fish. It’s not their natural food and it contains yeast which is harmful to fish when eaten.
Batu Berlayar Island
First stop: Batu Berlayar Island. This island is full of massive granites, which is very interesting to see as it consist of, well, basically, sands and massive granite boulders. We stopped to take pictures and did a little bit of a swim. Further description as well as tips on Batu Berlayar Island can be found here
Next stop: Burong Island; we had a quick stop to swim here. According to our driver, the island is called Burong for its surrounding granites that shaped like birds.
Third stop: Near Lengkuas Island for our chance to snorkel. The water is crystal clear, you can even see the corals and fish from the boat without having to jump in. I was mesmerized by the amount of beautiful colored fish swimming around me. I’ve been snorkeling in other countries before, but this is the first time I was surrounded by hundreds of little colorful fish! The corals are so beautiful. That’s why I can’t stress enough the need for us as travelers to help preserve it by not polluting the sea and be mindful about the corals while we are snorkeling, so we can enjoy this beautiful nature for many years to come and keep the ecosystem balanced.
Fourth stop: Lengkuas Island; Tired from snorkeling we headed out to Lengkuas Island, where the 129 years old lighthouse is located. We stopped here for lunch. By the look of things everyone stops here for a picnic lunch. You could go up the lighthouse if you want, but we both were too tired to climb up the stairs so we decided to get changed and cleaned ourselves up. The sad thing was, I noticed there was a lot of rubbish left here by the people who went for picnic in this island. Please don’t let this be you. Make sure you put away your rubbish properly or brought it back with you to the main island to be disposed in the proper trash bin.
After lunch, we head out to Kepayang Island or Babi Island which is known for the sea turtle conservation center. Be sure to bring some money for donation as a token to visit the center. As we were heading home from Kepayang Island, we passed the Pasir Island. It is a little island made of sand that you can walk on during low tide. We couldn’t stop here as there were already around 15 people on the island. It was quite funny to see people circling the island and looked like they were floating on the sea.
We decided to skip the trip to Tanjung Tinggi (a beach that got famous for being featured in the Laskar Pelangi movie) because we were too tired from all the snorkeling and island hopping. We decided to save it for tomorrow and then headed back to the hotel for a bit of a rest.
We had coffee and pisang bakar at the hotel before heading out for Seafood Dinner at Keramika Restauran. It is only fitting to have a seafood dinner when in Belitung, right? We both thought that the price for dinner is about the same as a seafood dinner in Jakarta so don’t expect anything cheaper.
Day 1 was concluded by souvenir shopping. The typical Belitung souvenir is packaged seafood snacks such as Krupuk Bangka (seafood crackers) or Getas (mackerel crackers) which we managed to get plenty for friends and family back home. Then we headed back to hotel for a girly catch- up session by the pool while seeping ginger tea. Bliss!
Well our trip is not over yet, to be continued to our second leg of the trip!
– As previously published in Travelers Daily, 16 December 2013