Dear readers,

You all probably already realized that this travel blog hasn't been updated for a really long time now. Nothing serious, just being busy and lazy actually. However, expect a reborn sometime in the future. Meanwhile, I just started a new personal blog and promised to update it frequently here.

See ya all!
-- Fakhrur

03 September 2009

Indonesia: Tanjung Karang White-Sandy Beach in Central Sulawesi

Not everyone awares that Indonesia archipelago has more to offer than Bali and Lombok. There's a huge island that lies between Borneo and Maluku, and it's called Sulawesi (old European name: Celebes). Sulawesi is known for the rich wildlife, pristine nature, great coffee, world-class dive sites, religious conflicts and many many more. No I won't talk about Sulawesi much, but you can read your way about Sulawesi in wiki for quick reference or the lonelyplanet thread.

Now we zoom into the mostly-unknown Tanjung Karang beach. Thanks to MisterSteve in this thorntree forum thread, we got ourselves intrigued by the place. To quote his post:

"Fly from Makasar to Palu and visit beautiful Tanjung Karang Beach (located 45 minutes from Palu and 1 1/2 miles from the town of Donggala on the central west coast of Sulawesi). Spend 3 full days there for snorkling and/or diving, and enjoying a real authentic Sulawesi village with very friendly local people. Very nice white sand beach. This is the "real" Indonesia --- NOT like Kadidiri or Taipi Islands in the Togians where all you see are guesthouse accommodations designed for Divers. The town of Donggala has a nice traditional market too."
His description sound promising and we gave it a try, since we already dumped our previous plan that obviously impossible to make within 2 weeks--we wanted to explore the remote Togian Islands.

local childrens on the beach

So there we were, arriving in Palu airport quite late in an evening, thanks to frequent-delay flights that Batavia Air offers--hey, we were still lucky the plane didn't crashed, right? Also, the airport in Palu was small and the most primitive I have been in Indonesia. But we were not to be worried, because our pick-up was patiently waiting for us outside.

click for larger map

full moon on tanjung karang beach

We had pre-arranged the van with the place we're staying, Prince John Dive Resort, 37 km Northwest from Palu. The ride took us almost one hour from the airport and we arrived there at 11pm. The staff was waiting there and lead us to the cottage. We quickly unpacked and took a little walk on the beach. Full moon light our way, it's incredible feeling to see your shadow in the middle of the night, under sky full of stars, and the waves were the only sound you hear. Pro Tips: Do get used to with the sound of the waves! Though the cottages were high above the cliff, you can hear the obvious sound from your room while you're trying to sleep. I had no problem, I love the sound.

Next morning, I woke up and went to the cottage's terrace, and boom, you can see the coral reefs in the beach below, just a few meters away!

caution: coral reefs ahead

While waiting for breakfast time, we lay lazily and make plan to go snorkeling.

(above) and (below) the beach in front of Prince John Dive resort

Prince John Dive Resort
It's probably the most established resort in the area, and from their brochure, their dive center the only dive center in the radius 500km. A friendly German couple, Alex and Gaby run the place. Gaby claimed that she speaks better bahasa Indonesia than English. And as you can guess, the guests were mostly Germans.

I took the cheapest bungalow, cost IDR 440,000 a night, though written €40 in their page. The price includes 3 meals and a tea-break snack. Still thirsty? You can of course order drinks from their small bar. And the airport transport was IDR 200,000 per car one-way. Internet access also available for a price.

However, Prince John Dive Resort was not a star resort. The bathroom was pretty basic and the electricity in the room only run after sunset. Aside of those, the bungalows have nice touch, the foods were delicious, and the staffs were helpful and friendly. Junaidi in the reception was helping us to arranged the trip to Toraja. He was nice to chat with, fluent in English and even refused the tip.

There are other cheaper places around, start from IDR 150,000 a night. But then again, you get what you paid.

Snorkeling in Tanjung Karang
We didn't dive, we're only snorkeling at that time and love it a lot. The corals in front of Prince John were great to begin with. We tested our underwater pocket camera and had a great time.

(above) and (below) corals, literally a few steps away from the beach

grumpy clown fish

Tired after intense snorkeling around? Take a little break, which is no other than sunbathing on Tanjung Karang white sand beach.

Before sunset, we went snorkeling to the Northern tip. It's about 10 minutes easy walk-on-the-beach North from Prince John.

the Northern tip of the small peninsula of Palu gulf, this was the good spot for snorkeling (and diving)

clown fish family picture

BIZZARE! I bet you never see so many lion fishes in a same place, do you?

and in no time the sun set.. we would come back tomorrow

That night, the resort had two unexpected guests. These cuscus like toasts and playing with other guests.

The next morning, we came back to where we left off the other day. This time was a good 200 meter walk from the shore. Luckily it was low tide.

corals, fishes, corals, fishes!

I can't get enough of clown fishes!

Ahhh.. Just like in aquarium.. Oh wait,

starfishes everywhere!

I like this underwater landscape

puffer fish! what a funny guy

anyone wants lobster for dinner?

In the end
We stayed only 3 days in Tanjung Karang, then continued our trip to Tana Toraja. One friend asked me about this place, whether it suits for honeymoon ot not. Well, I must say honestly, it's not. The beach was really nice, but it's "objek wisata" and easily accesible by many people from Palu and around. This mean that the beach can be horribly crowded at weekend (that's why we didn't choose weekend) and of course like many "objek wisata" in Indonesia, it gets dirty. This is indeed very sad.

It's not a secret that many Indonesians don't really care about the environment. They're building bungalows and houses so close that it's literally on the beach. I wonder why this thing failed to be regulated. Maybe "the corrupt government" is typical answer we're looking here. When you're here, you can see in Alex and Gaby helpless eyes, that once pristine dreamland that they built years ago, is falling apart. Not the resort, no the resort is doing fine, but the environment around Tanjung Karang beach.

The other thing that made this place not suitable for romance is because there's no other nice place around. I mean not exactly like touristic site, but there's nothing interesting you can do outside the beach area. So beside the resort, the beach and airport 37 km away, there's a little chance you find something romantic for you two do. Sure there's villages around and you can get close into local life like MisterSteve above mentioned, but personally i would hardly find it interesting.

So unless you want to make an effort to go to Palu and to Tanjung Karang beach or happen to pass this place, you may skip this beach. I bet there are better beaches in Sulawesi, less crowded, more beautiful and more natural. But anyway, while you are in Tanjung Karang, you should indulge yourself with its sun, white sand, colorful fishes, and beautiful corals. Maybe, try diving!

Happy travel!

the deadly and beautiful lion fish


Dira Nrv. said...

yaampun bagus banget..... parah. parah. parah *speechless
du bist ja sehr abenteuerlustig..

Anonymous said...
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