Java, lying between Sumatra and Bali, is a volcano-dotted island that’s at the geographic and economic center of Indonesia, and home to more than half its people. Java’s largest city is modern, sprawling Jakarta, the nation’s capital. You can visit some of the top highlights in Indonesia in the form of stunning temples or active volcanoes. Other options here include trekking through jungle to secluded caves and waterfalls, or you can get out on the water and explore the islands off the coast. In short, Java offers you a whole host of attractions.
Best Time to Visit
The best time of year to visit the island of Java is during dry season which spans from May to September, when days are hot, dry and sunny. These months are also an ideal time to travel if you are planning on climbing the mountains of Bromo or Ijen.
Top Places to Visit in Java
1. Borobudur Temple
Borobudur Temple is one of the most famous attractions in Indonesia and consists of a large Buddhist temple complex in Central Java. It is easy to visit Borobudur from the neighboring city of Yogyakarta on a day trip, and the temple is an impressive relic of a different time, having been built in the 9th century.It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has an amazing 72 sculpted figures of Buddha.Borobudur is also the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and you can climb all over the structure, including up to the central platform which affords you amazing views over the rest of the complex.It is particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset so try to time your visit to make the most of the natural light show here.
2. Anyer Beach
The pretty seaside town of Anyer is located in Banten and is known for its gorgeous beach that faces the towering Mount Krakatau. Anyer Beach is the quintessential seaside experience in Indonesia, and as well as turquoise seas you can also expect a wealth of water sports options like jet skiing and parasailing. You can stroll along the beach until you get to the old lighthouse of Cikoneng and you can even go diving here. Due to the high mineral content in the water from the volcanic lands that surround the city, underwater life thrives here, so any budding marine biologists won’t be disappointed.
3. Batu Karas Beach
When people think of beaches they tend to think of Bali as having the monopoly on the best sands and waves. Bali does indeed have some of the best beaches in Indonesia, but Java is also no slouch, and Batu Karas is one of the best of its kind. If you make the trip here you will be rewarded with miles of rolling golden sand that is often deserted. Unlike many other beaches in Indonesia, Batu Karas has some good surfing and you can also swim here, or just sunbathe if you are looking for a relaxing beach holiday.
4. Waterfalls of Baturaden
Located in Purwokerto in Java, the waterfalls of Baturaden look more like something that you would find in the Amazon. The trek out to the waterfalls is slightly long and arduous, but you will be rewarded along the hike with gorgeous vistas across the lush scenery which ends in the culmination of the mighty falls that drop through the forest canopy into limpid pools below. There is a selection of different cataracts here but one of the prettiest and best known is Curug Belot, so make sure to make the trip out here if you are in the area.
5. Mount Ijen
Indonesia is known for its majestic mountains, but one of the most impressive is the graceful Mount Ijen which is not as famous as others but well worth a visit. The big draw here is that the largest acidic crater lake in the world sits at the top of the mountain and if you come here under the cover of darkness you will be able to observe blue flames erupting out of the lake. The reason for this is that the sulfuric acid rises to the surface and ignites, and this is turn glows blue thanks to the light of the moon, resulting in one of the prettiest natural phenomena in Indonesia.
6. Mount Bromo
One of the highlights of a trip to Java is the chance to visit Mount Bromo. The mountain is also one of Indonesia many active volcanoes and it is named after the Hindu god named Brahma and considered sacred. The volcano is mostly dormant, although it does sometimes still erupt, but when it is lightly smoking you can still climb to the summit and watch the stunning sunset over the lip of the crater. The views stretch out over the gorgeous Tengger Massif below, which is a mountain chain that includes Mount Bromo, and this is also one of the less strenuous volcano treks in Indonesia. You can take a car much of the way to the summit, and most people start around 3 am or 4 am to catch the sunrise here.
7. Sewu Temple
Sewu Temple is often rather usurped in Java by both Borobudur and Candi Prambanan, although it is only 10 minutes away from the latter on foot. The temple is not as well preserved as others in the area which means that it crumbles gracefully in front of you, and this is actually one of its great charms. It is also covered in alleys and hidden corners to explore and there are some 200 temples here. Make sure to check out the ornate carvings that will allow you to imagine the complex as it would have been in its glory days.
8. Timang Beach
Located in the Gunung Kidul area is Timang Beach which sits around an hour away from the city of Yogyakarta. The beach is the perfect place to go if you want to get out of the city and enjoy a day at the seaside, and you will find a huge number of little stalls lining the beach that serve local snacks like fresh coconuts and noodles. This is one of the best loved beaches in the area and gets busy at the weekends, and one of the reasons for this is the seafood restaurants nearby where you can get fresh crab, shrimp, and even lobster.
9. Mount Merapi
One of the most famous and feared volcanoes in Indonesia is Mount Merapi and if you don’t like trekking it is still worth coming here as this is one of the easier mountain hikes in Java. The volcano is still active and erupted in spectacular fashion in 2010 so you can only trek here when it is deemed safe by the authorities to do so. The best way to visit Mount Merapi is as part of a tour from neighboring Yogyakarta and there are a number of tours that you can take that will explain the history of the mountain and its status as a sacred spot in Indonesia.
10. Goa Jomblang
Another great day trip from Yogyakarta is a visit to Goa Jomblang in the Gunung Kidul area. This famous cave is located about an hour outside the city and you will travel some 60 meters down the side of the cliff into the cavern. This then leads to a cave system which is encircled by forests and the main cave to visit here is called Grubug Cave. There is a hole in the top of the rock formation that lets the sunlight stream in and this is a fantastic experience for anyone who likes spelunking.
11. Kalibiru National Park
Some visitors to Kalibiru National Park may recognize the scenery, as it has been made famous on Instagram in recent years thanks to its picturesque views. One of the biggest draws in the park is its viewpoints which allow you to see for miles and you can climb up into the trees and enjoy the sights from rustic wooden viewing platforms. Many people try to come here in the morning or evenings when the light is at its most beautiful and there are also a range of other activities available in the park such as zip lining.