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Exploring the wild island of Java


For some years I had in mind I wanted to visit Indonesia, I have always been attracted by the tropical climate, the jungle, crystalline waters and the Asian culture of different countries. What I didn’t know at that time is that I would come back from this trip completely in love with this country.

Indonesia is a really big country, to give you an idea, it’s made of a group of more than 17,000 islands, and of course we had to decide on which one we would start the adventure.

The criteria for choosing the island was really simple, my adventure partner and I had two things very clear: we wanted adventure and very little tourism. The island of Java met these requirements, so we decided to spend two weeks exploring the east of that island.

Upon landing in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, we took another flight to Surabaya, a city on the east of the island and the starting point of our journey.

We rented a car and started our East Java adventure for the next two weeks. As a day to day blog would become really extensive, I will divide this post into 5 locations, 5 incredible spots found along and wide East Java.

1. Rainbow Village, Malang. A small village where roofs are painted in different colours by the kids, in order to attract tourism.

2. Lumajang, a village of waterfalls.

3. Tabuhan and Menjangang Islands.

4. Ijen Volcano

Day 5 back home!

Here is a MyMaps so you can see the route.

1. Rainbow Village, Malang

Our first stop, located about 4 hours from Surabaya. It was our closest option to spend the night. When we got there it was dark already, so we set the alarms and first thing in the morning we were already there, in the rainbow village.

This village has a beautiful history behind it, it was painted like a rainbow by students at Malang University a few years back. What used to be a village with very few means and a very precarious way of life, began to attract tourism to improve the conditions in which people lived. If you ever visit East Java, it’s a must-see stop, to meet its people and to get lost in its colorful streets. After spending our first day in this area, it was time to return to the hostel. The next day we had an intense day on the car to reach one of the most impressive areas of the island.

2. Lumajang, Indonesia’s most impressive waterfalls

Our base for the next 3/4 days, the small village of Lumajang. Once at Dear Traveler hostel, it was time to explore this area. As soon as the alarm went off, there we were, ready to take advantage of the best day light.

I will leave here all the waterfalls we visited, without any special order, although I already have clear which one is my favourite. Do you?

Tumpak Sewu

Known as the waterfall of a thousand waterfalls, I don't think it needs an explanation. I remember that day, we were at the top even before sunrise, we only heard the noise of the water and the jungle, rarely have I felt so much peace. Little by little the sun began to rise, illuminating the scene with a soft light, it was the perfect moment to raise the drone and enjoy for a while.

The descent to the waterfall was a good adventure, crossing rivers and clinging to bamboo canes. When I arrived, my eyes couldn't believe what I was seeing, that sensation was all over my body. For a moment I thought I was on another planet. I will leave you these pictures, because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Goa Tetes

Following the river in the opposite direction to Tumpak Sewu we found this very spectacular system of waterfalls and caves, the best part of all is that the water was warm, it was a spa in full nature.

Kabut Pelangi, Kapas Biru: each more spectacular. Only the descent towards these waterfalls through the jungle was worth it, from time to time we would come across a local whose fields were near the river, a spectacular landscape. Giant ferns and stone walls covered with tropical plants, madness.

We didn't get tired of seeing waterfalls and jungle, although the last of the days by the zone of Lumajang we decided to drive south, a 1 hour drive from where we were staying, we wanted to go to the beach and motorbike. It didn't cost us much to find it. We rented a motorcycle to a local for about what it would have been 20 euros, and we had so much fun driving around the volcanic sand beach at dusk, without anyone else, enjoying the sea breeze, the calm with which the fishermen live in the area and everything around us.

3. Tabuhan and Menjangang Islands

The adventure continued along the east coast of Java, heading for some small islands located 1 hour away by boat. The first stop was the island of Menjangang, closer to Bali than Java, so it was inevitable to meet some tourists. The inhabitants of the island are a bit strange, they have brown fur and four legs, they are deers! It was interesting to see them running across the island.

We couldn’t miss the snorkel, a pair of fins, glasses, tube and enjoy one of the most impressive seabeds of Java. We saw many species of fish, starfish etc. Surrounded by a spectacular coral.

The next stop was Tabuhan Island, smaller than the previous one and closer to the coast of Java. And now we had it all to ourselves.

There was absolutely no one else there, what a feeling... The splashes were very recurrent, it was hard to stay out of the water considering the heat outside.

4. Ijen Volcano

We continued the adventure to visit one of the most emblematic points of Java, the Kawah Ijen volcano, which has in its interior the largest acid lake in the world, ideal for a bath (just kidding, don't even think about putting a finger in that water). It was a walk of about 3/4 hours to the top, then down to the crater to see the blue fire, and the miners working without a break, a hard reality that is hard to assume the moment you see it. The blue fire that I was telling you about is the result of the combustion of sulphur in a gaseous state, it is not recommended to breathe it, that's why you rent gas masks right there before the ascent.

Note: If you go, I ask you to respect the miners, even if it is a tourist attraction there are people
working in very harsh conditions and sometimes tourists get in the way while carrying baskets full of sulphur weighing up to 70-80kg.

Without a doubt, the walk was worth it, to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunrises of the whole trip. Make sure to bring a coat to the top because ¨fai un frio do carallo¨.

5. Bromo Volcano and Madakaripura, the sacred area of East Java.

The last two stops of our adventure. We returned to Malang from Ijen, a full day's journey, and settled there again to start the route to El Bromo. The Bromo volcano, active and with an altitude of about 2300 meters, is one of the busiest tourist spots in East Java. That's why we decided to avoid the masses and go first thing in the morning. In Malang we met a local friend, we rented some trail bikes and drove two hours at night to get up in time for sunrise.

The road is quite dangerous, if you do not have experience with the bike I do not recommend it. In that case, there are many tours that take you there in a jeep, much safer, but the window of improvisation is closed, and that's something we don't like very much hehe. Once upstairs prepare to get cold, the change from being at 30C on average to being at 0 or under 0 it’s brutal. I'm not exaggerating. But it is undoubtedly worth it... to be contemplating that landscape that seems to have been taken from Mars, at dawn, of course there is no waste.

After taking advantage of the best possible light, it was time to go down to the Savana del Bromo, a sea of sand where Jeeps and motorcycles cross like madmen, horsemen on horseback cross the road... I swear I had never seen anything like it, it was like being on another planet literally hard to explain.

It was our turn to climb the bromine ring, and see the volcano from above, a slip here can cost you your life, so proceed with caution and watch your step.

We had swallowed enough sand, so we took the bikes and went back to Malang, our base camp.

The last stop of the trip was the immense Madakaripura waterfall, a sacred area for local people, and a 200-meter waterfall, one of the highest in all of Java. Exhausted at this point of the trip, by the amount of adventures that we got into our bodies, by getting up every day at dawn and staying at dusk, because of the hours we spent on the car, motorcycle, boat, snorkel, two weeks non-stop, it was time to recover some energy. We flew to Jakarta from Surabaya to spend the last day of the trip there, relaxing, back to civilization.

Here we put an end to this adventure and this little travel diary. I cannot recommend Indonesia enough, neither my photos nor my words can describe what I have experienced during these two weeks. We had high expectations, but without a doubt they were surpassed, by their landscapes, nature, but above all, by their people.

If you want to see more, here’s a video I made about the trip:

Author Profile

Pablo Garcia, Galician and from the world, lover of the adventures, of the remote places and of the cultures. Eager to share with the world what his eyes see through his photos and videos. He is one of the creators of content that we have the pleasure to count on in Blue Banana, because we love the nature of his trips and his desire for adventure.

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