We visited Pulau Belitung with some friends for a long weekend in May and had the best time: a very relaxing holiday of doing mostly nothing, soaking sunshine and enjoying the beautiful scenery. I was really happy to try a beach holiday outside of Bali and also came back much more relaxed: the trip was less of a hassle (the plane was on time, we got to the hotel 40 min after landing, no traffic…), and always had the beautiful beach to ourselves.
Tanjung Tinggi beach (Belitung’s main beach) is perfect for small kids: calm shallow waters, many rockpools to play in at low tide and even trees to hide away from the sun. Having said that, Belitung is perhaps not for everybody: accommodation is basic (apart from Arumdalu hotel, also very secluded), food is limited to Indonesian cuisine and there is no entertainment on the island, this is not Bali.
When to go
Local people told us the best time to visit is between April to August. We had great weather when we were there, mostly sunny with occasional showers.
What to see/do
We spent most of our time at Tanjung Tinggi beach, Belitung’s most famous beach. It’s 4km long and very calm. Our friends also visited the beach of Arumdalu hotel and said it was also very nice, with more waves (it’s a private beach with an entrance fee of 250,000/pax that are deductible from F&B bills).
Our hotel arranged half day of island hopping and snorkeling for our group. Our wooden boat probably wasn’t the safest out there but we felt comfortable enough to take the kids along. The various spots are rather close to each other (within 15min from each other, furthest point is about an hour from the pier) and the boat took us from small islands with pristine beaches to great snorkeling spots. The whole thing was very reasonable: Rp650,000/half day for boat rental (max 10pax), Rp30,000/Pax for adults/kids lifejackets, Rp75,000/pax snorkeling gear.
Where to stay and eat
We stayed at the Billiton Hotel, a small hotel run by the Dharmawangsa. There were no frills but it was still nice and very reasonably priced.
(Note for those traveling with young children: there is only one broken baby bed, restaurant can prepare baby food but will require infinite patience, good kids pool).
The main drawback of this hotel is its location in the center of town (30min to Tanjung Tinggi Beach, 30min to the pier, 1h30 to Arumdalu hotel).
The ride from Billiton Hotel to the beach was actually nice, the road looks very new and goes through villages and fields but it was still a 30min ride everytime. Hotels on the beach include the Lorin, Bukit Berahu but are rather basic. For those looking to splurge, Arumdalu is the only high end option on the island.
We had most of our meals at the hotel which it was ok, but very slow and by day number 2, we grew tired of eating the same meals. We had a couple of meals at the Lemadang Seafood and Grill on Tanjung Tinggi beach and the food and place were both nice.
How to get there
It’s a short hour flight from Jakarta (we took Garuda but there are other companies flying to Tanjung Pandan) and the airport on arrival is very small so luggages come out pretty quickly. Then it’s a 20min ride to the Billiton hotel, or less than an hour to Tanjung Tinggi beach.
What to pack
The usual suspects (mosquito repellent, sunscreen, hats, wine, games in case of rain, snorkeling gear…) and I didn’t see any big supermarket so best to pack snacks, diapers, (soap and shampoo if you are specific…).