If you live in Jakarta and ever wonder about other destinations as short getaway to spend your weekend, else than Bali or Bandung, you should consider Sawarna. The village is located in Banten province, Lebak regency, 6-8 hours from Jakarta. Several travel guides mention Sawarna as a hidden paradise. I think that is overrated. But whether Sawarna is worth visiting or not, I would definitely say it is, especially if you would like to try caving.
There are several guides you can easily find on the internet, if you consider to travel by public transport (via Kampung Rambutan to Pangandaran and continue to Sawarna). However if it is not the case, Sawarna can be reached via Sukabumi, which is preferable if one wishes to drive at ease, but does not mind a longer travel time. Besides, an alternative is Cibadak route, which requires shorter travel time, but comprises narrower road (or cliff road at some point) with overwhelming steep curves and holey surfaces. I recommend traveling in daytime since it can be very foggy at night and most importantly; have your spare tire ready.
We spent two days and one night in Sawarna, visited four tourist attractions: Goa Lalay, Pasir Putih, Tanjung Layar, and Legon Pari. Goa Lalay, is a perfect start for those who would like to try caving. It is a 1.800 meters dead-end route, which is a home for a species of tiny-sized bats, with stalactites and stalagmites along the way. The path is watery and muddy, at some points you will need to crawl so be prepared to get wet… and dirty! This is the point where you might consider what wardrobe will do, I personally wore quick-dry shirt and my usual hiking short. Don’t worry about footwear, the guide will insist that you need to enter the cave barefoot (because it is a lot easier). Bring only what you need. In fact, don’t bring anything. Helmet and headlamp are provided once you pay the entrance fee (I honestly forgot how much). Taking pictures in the cave, you will need a water resistant camera bag (or water resistant camera). If you are only curious about caving but are not keen to enter that far, you can pick the shorter journey of 400 meters (and you don’t need to pay the tour guide, but the entrance fee).
Sawarna is famous for its wonderful beaches, though I personally don’t recommend swimming. However, tourism development as part of economic activities, in many cases, is not followed by sufficient environment preservation efforts. You can find the beach is polluted by waste that comes from the river. Nevertheless, there are plenty of cleaner and strategic spots where you can sit while reading and watching the sun sets on the Indian Ocean.
|On the bridge, crossing the river on the way to Gua Lalay|
|Children swimming in the river|
|Stalactites in Gua Lalay|
|Mineral rich water drops at the same place and forms stalagmites|
|Pantai Pasir Putih|
|Twin rocks of Pantai Tanjung Layar|
|Fishes usually trapped in corals during low tide|
|Infinite landscape available on top|
|Favorit spot at the home stay|
Accomodation in Sawarna:
Niken home stay: Rp. 500.000,- per room (081906368816)
Alternative is Aura home stay (081906336111). I personally recommend the two for rice field view and closer walk to Pasir Putih.