Pulau Bangka or Bangka Island is a jewel of the Java Sea, situated off the East coast of Sumatra and nestled in next to Belitung Island. There are numerous flights available from Jakarta on a number of carriers, with a return cost of around US$100 (less if you snag yourself a sale fare!).
There are a number of attractions to draw you to Pulau Bangka, so it’s worth looking at both what it does have and what it doesn’t have. Beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters abound, despite both the onshore and off shore tin mining that takes place at various locations around the island. Below is the water off the Tanjong Pesona Beach Resort, located at the northern end of the island. There’s an entrance fee of Rp. 20,000 for those not staying at the resort.
There are an array of additional beautiful beaches located around the island, including one at the Grand Parai Resort. The resort also offers with delightful dining options for those who wish to sample the local seafood specialities, including the tasty lempah kuning. An entrance fee of Rp. 20,00 is also applied here for those not staying at the resort.
It’s not just beaches on offer around the island though. If you’re looking for a change of pace you can head to Tirta Tapta Pemali and enjoy the hot springs and waterslides. Certainly it’s not the grandest water park in the world, but with an entrance fee of Rp. 15,000 it won’t break the bank either! Along with the water fun they have a range of eating options available, live entertainment on weekends and a mini-zoo that may unfortunately displease any animal lovers out there.
If you’re looking for more of a spiritual experience there’s also the opportunity to visit Jesus in the jungle amongst other Christian sights at Gua Maria, close to the town of Belinyu in the north of the island. All the stations of the cross are included along with a man-made cave housing Maria as well.
For those of more of a Buddist bent there’s intriguing temples available as well, especially in and around the main city of Pangkalpinang. The central area of Pangkalpinang has a bustling collection of shops too, though the development of new malls alongside this district may change the more traditional character of the city.
Finally, after a busy day of sightseeing there’s nothing like grabbing a snack at a local institution, Warung Kopi Tung Tau. Having first opened in 1938, they have branches now in both Pangkalpinang and Sungaliat and offer up a local twist on toasted treats along with a range of beguiling beverages.
In addition to all of the above, if you’re looking for a snack or a souvenir to take with you once your holiday is done then the kerupuk (crackers) produced locally on Pulau Bangka is highly recommended. Once you’ve tried it you won’t be able to go back to the bland offerings available elsewhere, real seafood flavours shine through here!
As for what Pulau Bangka doesn’t have, firstly it doesn’t have crowds (especially on weekdays). As you can see from the photos, those beaches were solitary experiences, along with the visit to Tirta Tapta Pemali and to Gua Maria. Even though the island is reasonably large, the lack of crowds and the well maintained roads around the island made sightseeing easy. It’s fair to say it doesn’t have the fanciest resorts either, with those along the beaches more humble affairs, though some mid-scale hotels have started springing up around Pangkalpinang (though not located along the beachfront). English wasn’t widely spoken either from my experience so you may want to bring along a phrase book or your favourite translation app if your Bahasa Indonesia skills are lacking.
Thanks so much for the article and the pictures. 🙂 🙂
and my brother for some pictures! cheers man!