East Java Travel Guide
Ideally positioned between two of the country’s major tourist spots, the special region of Yogyakarta to the west and the island of Bali to the east, East Java boasts a wide diversity of attractions ranging from scenic beaches to temple sites, volcanoes to highland lakes, and marine gardens to wildlife reserves.
The booming provincial capital, Surabaya is Indonesia’s second largest city and is inhabited by over three million people. A major industrial hub and harbor, Surabaya has an old traditional port where the Bugis schooners that sailed the Indonesian seas for several hundred years can still be seen, above all the famous ‘Pinisi’ schooner.
The city’s well-stocked zoo is home to various Indonesian species such as orangutans and Komodo dragons, while the Mpu Tantular Museum is filled with archaeological and cultural displays reaching back to prehistoric times.
Undoubtedly the most popular of East Java’s tourist draws is Mt Bromo, a still active volcano which is set in Mount Bromo and Tengger Caldera Semeru National Park, 70kms from Surabaya. This is a fantastic hiking destination and the pre-dawn trek across the mountain’s unearthly ‘Sand Sea’ in order to watch the breathtaking sunrise at the crater rim is enacted by travelers from around the world every day.
Baluran National Park is located in the north of the province and contains another exceptional region that used to be named ‘Indonesia’s little piece of Africa‘ due to its formerly extensive savanna, which has been largely substituted by Acacia.
Covering an area of 434 square kilometers,was formed by the Blambang Peninsula in the south of East Java and features mangrove, savanna and lowland monsoon forests as well as stunning beaches. The park’s name translates as ‘first forest’ and according to a Javanese legend, the earth emerged here from the ocean.
Animal lovers should aim to visit Meru Betiri National Park, which is somewhat hard to get to but provides incredible coastal rainforest scenery and includes a tiger reserve that is home to plentiful wildlife like leopards, black panthers and turtles.
Those coming from outside Indonesia can fly to Jakarta’s international airport and take a connecting 1-hour flight to Juanda Surabaya International Airport, which is also accessed from Bali (30 minutes) and Yogyakarta (30 minutes). In addition, there are direct international flights to Surabaya from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Beijing (China), Taipei (Taiwan) and Hong Kong. Bus and train services connect Surabaya with other destinations in Java, Bali and Sumatra, with the train ride from Jakarta taking 9 hours.