A long way from anywhere, the small south-coast town of Pacitan lies on a horseshoe bay ringed by rocky cliffs. It’s a beach resort with a good choice of accommodation and fresh seafood restaurants. Few foreigners make it here; if you visit during the week you’ve a good chance of bagging a virtually deserted beach cove to yourself, if you have some wheels. There are also some excellent surf spots dotted along this spectacular shoreline.

Pantai Ria Teleng, 4km or so from town, has golden sand and good surfing conditions for beginners as the waves break over a sandy bottom. Surf and bodyboards can be hired here, and there are lifeguards. Swimming is possible when the seas are calm – the safest area is towards the fishing boats at the southwestern end of the bay, where there’s also a pool.

Pacitan has several banks and a couple of internet cafes.

Around Pacitan

About 13km southwest of Pacitan via a rough hilly road, stunning Watu Karung is a blissful cove beach with an arc of fine white sand and turquoise water offshore. This is one of Java’s best surf beaches, with rights and lefts and occasional barrels. There’s a village behind the bay but no surf gear for hire.

At Punung village, on the Solo road 30km northwest of Pacitan, is the turn-off to some magnificent limestone caves. Goa Putri is 2km from the highway and the much more impressive Gua Gong, 8km away, is the largest and most spectacular cave system in the area.

The more famous Gua Tabuhan (Musical Cave) is 4km north on the highway beyond Punung, and then another 4km from there. This huge limestone cavern was a refuge for prehistoric humans 50,000 years ago. Pay the resident musicians here and they’ll strike up an impressive ‘orchestral’ performance by striking rocks against stalactites, each in perfect pitch, and echoing pure gamelan melodies. You must hire a guide and lamp.

This is also agate country, and hawkers sell reasonably priced polished stones and rings.

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