The Southern Beach
Road to Kukup Beach.
Road to Kukup Beach.
Our contributor Taufan Wijaya goes beach hopping in Gunungkidul...
For centuries, poets have been writing poems about this beautiful coastline. Musicians also sing a song about this place. People come and share stories from across Indonesia. I’m not sure why Gunungkidul, a region in the south coast of Yogyakarta, always inflicts a sense of melancholy. Maybe because of its serenity, the sound of the waves and the remarkable view of the horizon. No wonder the area that was once rather quiet and unheard of among outsiders is now a magnet for tourists and residents, including young couples for pre-wedding photographs and honeymoons.
To this day, even with the rise of visitors, the south coast of Gunungkidul is still as beautiful as it used to be. Clean beaches with white sand and towering rocks, all remain untouched by luxurious hotel or resort chains. Low profile accommodation and small hotels run by locals are available nearby, while fresh seafood with affordable price can be easily found. However, getting to the beach is quite challenging as the area is hilly – which somehow makes this hidden paradise even more worth a visit.
I started my trip to Gunungkidul Beach from Yogyakarta early in the morning. My first stop was Ngobaran Beach, a wonderful starting point to follow the trail of Gunungkidul coast line that boasts layers of rocks, cliffs and the ocean. A temple stands at the edge of the cliff, making the view even more breath taking.
Dawn had come when I moved on to Nglambor Beach, a relatively new destination that became popular through social media. This beach is more like a small bay with low tide, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There are at least three snorkeling establishments here that offer packages which include goggles, fins and underwater photography. On my visit, the water was warm and a guide from one of the snorkeling centers stated that the current was causing the water to be a little bit muddy, which meant that the view underwater may not be clear. Even so, a number of visitors still jumped in and swam in the ocean. As for those who were not up for a swim, lounging in a hotel or resort along the beach was the perfect option.
Morning seemed to end rather quickly and it was time for lunch. I continued to Ngrenehan Beach where fishermen unloaded their freshly caught fish from their trip at dawn. The drive from Nglambor to Ngrenehan took me through more hills and small towns. It was not long before the scent of sea returned to the air. Ngrenehan Beach is shaped like a horseshoe with one of its ends resembling a crocodile head. During rainy season, the horseshoe-shaped part is lush and green but during summer it is quite rocky.
Fishing boats lined up neatly in a row. Children run to the water every time they saw a boat approaching, as if they were welcoming their fathers, uncles, brothers or neighbors. Meanwhile, the men helped each other to pull their fishing boats to shore and lifted the boats on their shoulders off the shore. There was no need to ask for a help, everyone worked to do this chore together. It was such a joyful view to see.
At Ngrenehan Beach, visitors can enjoy freshly caught seafood at many food joints along the beach entrance. A wholesale fish market is also standing nearby. I was not in a rush to relish some fresh seafood, so I took my time to chat with some fishermen who were tidying up their boat. One of them had a small bucket filled with a crab that he just took out of his net. He offered it to me with a price much cheaper than that of surrounding stalls. It was a deal not to be missed for sure. I took the bucket to a nearby food joint, asked them to cook the crab for me.
Devouring the crab with some rice for the side dish and coconut water for my drink on a woven mat at the beach gave a different sensation, certainly much better than enjoying the same dish at a restaurant. On top of that, to see the fishermen’s smiles as they walked by and saw me enjoying the sweet tender crab meat was a pleasure on its own. Their look showed that they felt appreciated for their hard work.
With a full stomach, I decided it was time to hit the road and find a spot for a sunset session. The most popular beach to enjoy sunset on this coastline is either Baron or Kukup Beach, the two beaches that could have become one if it weren’t for the hill standing between them. Getting to Baron and Kukup Beach is quite easy and that’s why these beaches tend to be crowded on the weekends or public holidays – even so, both Baron and Kukup are worth a visit.
Finally, my beach day at Gunungkidul came to an end. As I enjoyed the sea breeze, I couldn’t stop capturing the beautiful view of sunset that left a trace of crimson color on the horizon. It was a moment to treasure for life.
Contributor : Taufan Wijaya
Magazine issue > Beyond Bali