From Above to Below

Indonesian know Pacitan as the birthplace of Indonesia’s current and first directly elected president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. But this town, which lies in the border of East Java and Central Java, actually has a charm all uniquely in its own.


When I first entered the town square area, I immediately fell in love with it sense of tidiness and simplicity that evoked the feeling of serenity. It’s a kind of feeling where it forces you to stop, take deep breath and realize that this is how life should be lived. School-bound children that morning rode their bycicles in clusters, their excited chattering and shrill laughter echoed in the half-empty square. Cars and buses have not made their racous appearences yet; in any case, there aren’t many of them in this city anyways. Only motorcycles and bicycles dominate the streets.

I decided to make the Teleng Ria beach as my basecamp. The beach is strategic because besides being located in a central Pacitan tourism circuit, it also has a fairly good amount of facilities, albeit less manicured than some of the more developed tourism area. But lodgings, surfing centre, food stalls, outbond facilities, camping ground and even fishing ponds are all readily available here.


Beautiful sceneries of rice filed and green hills dominate the view. Not many vehicles passed on the road. To enter the Teleng Ria beach, visitors are subjected to a tarrif of IDR 5,000 per person. That morning I saw a couple tour busses carrying group of tourists, most whom were school children. The beach are looked pretty quite with large trees which grew plentifully along the side of the road.

There aren’t many stalls on the roadside; instead, the bulk of the warung (food stall) is concentrated on the right side of the beach, which is a wide, sloping area and which various stalls selling everything from snacks to soups to instant noodles to fresh coconut and grilled fish crowd together. The tourists largely converge there, too. The right side of the beach area is more spacious and has relativity calm waves. The left side of the beach has large waves and its quite dangerous for swimming.

The next morning, as planned, I set out accompanied by Ikhsan, one of the hotel’s staff, to visit several of Pacitan’s tourism mainstay. Riding on his faithful motorbike, we cruised down the street to my first target location: Srau Beach, in the district of Pringkuku, about 25 kilometers west of Pacitan. It was during this time that I could fully see the beauty of coastal Pacitan from the top of the hill. The route was relatively empty save for several random passing of inter-city buses and through a few villages and forests along the way.


About 45 minutes later, we arrived at Srau Beach. Beyond my expactations, Srau beach is quite expansive with a few areas of interest in different directions. The first is a gently sloping beach area with a long coastline of about 1 kilometer. The beach sares it border with large hills that extend all the way into the sea. The waves here are also quite fierce.

About 100 metres away is the second area, which is a basin with a narrow beach and a large rock walls on either side of the beach. A large stone slab also sits right in the middle of the beach, breaking large waves. The stone appears to have been eroded at the bottom due to the constant pounding of the waves. This is one of wonders of Srau beach: the large rocks resemble mushrooms; the slender bases unfailingly supporting the heavier umbrella-shaped tops while still holding off against the strong current. Again, due to the intense waves and sharp rocks, no one dares to swim here.


Through the middle of the day, Ikhsan and I continued the journey to Klayar beach. We rode through a rocky, gravel area. The beach has a unique feature which the local calls “flute of the sea”. The rocks in this beach has gaps or holes that resemble the holes in musical instrument flute, and as the violent force from the waves hit the rocks, sprays of water will emit from these holes, sometimes emitting a whistling sound as well.

Klayar beach itself is located about 35 kilometers away from Pacitan, precisely in Donorojo district. The road going in to this beach is not as smooth as before. In addition to winding roads full of sharp turns and climbs, we also had to go through rocky, gravel roads before finally arriving at Klayar. But it all paid off when I arrived at this beautiful beach. There is no official body managing this tourism area; everything is managed by local residents.

Unlike Srau, Klayar has only one area  of interest that is pretty packed full of visitors that afternoon. The landscape of the beach is such that it is surrounded by both tall cliffs and rocks that lie on the beach. That lack of visitors who swim here result in the sand still looking sparkly white. Observing the same violent waves as the ones in Srau, I understood the reason why no one wants to swim here.

On the leftside of the beach, there are large rocks that jutted out into the sea. On the right side there is a hill and an observation deck at its peak. Distracted, I made a beeline for it. The path to the deck is not as steep and relatively safe due to its wide track. The beauty of Klayar in and the open sea views of the Indian Ocean can be seen from this point.


Our next goal is Gua Gong (Gong Cave), another must-visit site in Pacitan. Aside from being the tourism mascot of Pacitan, a city nicknamed the” City of 1001 Caves”, Gong Cave is also touted as South-East Asia’s most beautiful cave. The trip to Gong Cave again saw us carve the winding roads through the countryside and, again, there are no public transportation to this location. Tracing it namesake, Gong Cave is named so not because of its similarity to the musical instrument Gamelan gong, but because striking a particular stalactite inside the cave will produce a sound effect similar to the gong.

After paying an entrance fee of IDR 4,000, I first have to climb the stairs before reaching the mouth of the cave. Once there, a throng of ladies offering guide services and rented flashlights for use inside the cave greeted me. The good news was that the journey into this cave is far from performing the stunts of sport caving. The mouth of the cave has been designed like modern museum gate. Cemented pathway make up the trek routes complete with railing for safety. Coloured lights to enhance the cave’s atmosphere also double as illumitaion. Fans help wick moisture away and keep visitors from feeling too stuffed up while inside the cave.

The play of lights emanating from the coloured lamps made the scenery hauntingly beautiful. The beauty of this subterranean wonder matches that of its above-ground counterparts. But apparently one must also allow a good close of excersise in vigilance, for I almost slipped down a rung current due to the naturally humid conditions and the spellbinding beauty of the cave.

Inside the cave there are 5 springs, which are reputed to have healing powers to cure all kinds of disease and make anyone who wash themselves with water from the spring to look younger. Curious?

One response to “From Above to Below

  1. if you’re into highlands, you should try to explore the northern-part of Pacitan.

    on the road that leads to Ponorogo, you’ll find yourself to a place that looks like a scene of “3 Idiots” movie – a winding road that hang on cliffs, parallel with meandering river flows on the east. the air is unpolluted and looks rather deserted.

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