Travel Asia: Unraveling The Beauty of Belitung Island
Belitung Island or Billiton Island might be considerably small compare to other vacation islands in Indonesia. But, the beauty it possessed is not less magnificent. White sandy beach and sparkling blue water is abundance in this land of paradise.
Belitung, or Belitong in local dialect, is located off the coast of South Sumatra, between the South China Sea and Java Sea. The island acts as the main island to surrounding small islands, such as Mendanau, Kalimambang, Gresik and Seliu. Belitung was formerly famous for producing spices and tin, but nowadays more of a holiday island.
There are a lot of beaches in Belitung, but the one that most favorite is the Tanjung Tinggi Beach. The reason for this is because the beach line is quite long, so people can enjoy more scenery. Plus, it’s quite clean, so it would be the perfect place to swim or to take a dip, or even for snorkeling.
Tanjung Tinggi is quiet famous in Indonesia, because it was used as the shooting location for the movie “Laskar Pelangi” (Rainbow Squad) which received huge appreciation and watched by millions Indonesian. “Laskar Pelangi” tells a beautiful story about diligent students from a humble school in Belitung.
The movie was based from a novel with the same title by Andrea Hirata. Hirata is a local Belitong who achieved great academic achievement. He studied in University Indonesia, one of the most prestigious universities in Indonesia, and received scholarship to study in Europe.
When you grew tired playing at the beach, feel free to explore islands around Belitung. To do this, you can rent a boat from Tanjung Binga Port for the price around $40. The boat can accommodate 5 to 6 person, excluding the boat master.
The boat master usually takes visitors for a trip to Lengkuas Island (there’s a historical lighthouse here), Burung Island and Babi Island. Please remember that there is no food vendor of any kind in these islands, so bring your own F&B for the whole day.
Buying food in Belitung can be quite tricky. Some food is quite cheap, a bowl of Bangka noodle would only cost half a dollar, but certain menus in restaurants can be pricey. To avoid spending too much money on food, be sure to ask the price of the food before ordering.
Most menus are seafood, so you must be careful with what you order if you have allergies. The taste of food in Belitong is quite tasty, but might not suited with visitor from Europe or the US. Therefore, a trip to a fast-food restaurant is recommended. But, if you are willing to be a little bit adventurous, go ahead and try some of the local delicacies.
Belitung was formerly a tin mining island, and the mining site is now used as tourist attraction. In Kelapa Kampit, a small town located about 54 kilometers east of Tanjung Pandan, you can explore the old underground tin mining site.
How to Get to Belitung
Belitung can be reached with direct flight from Jakarta. The cost for round-trip ticket is about $50 to $120, depending on the season. The flight would be about 45 minutes from Soekarno-Hatta Airport to Tanjung Pandan Airport.
There are a lot of hotel to choose from in Tanjung Pandan. Budget-conscious traveler might prefer Martani Hotel, with room rate around $12 to $35, while those who prefer more deluxe accommodation can choose Billiton Hotel with room rate around $60 to $100 per night. Even more luxurious rooms can be found in Tanjung Kelayang, Tanjung Tinggi and Tanjung Binga.
For transportation around the island, visitors can rent a car for about $40. The price is excluded fuel and driver’s tip. Renting a motorbike would only cost $4 a day.