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Published on November 2, 2014

Strangely,  when Jakarta residents go on holiday and at weekends their favored destinations are locations in the south of the capital city to Puncak  and Bandung,  in the heartland of West Java.

Few think of going west to the neighboring province of Banten.

Well, the Tourism and Culture Office of Banten wants to change all that. So, to promote the many attractions in Banten, a groupd of media, including own writer, were invited just to see and experience the many exciting attractions that Banten actually has to offer.

Originally part of the province of West Java, the Province of Banten was formally established in the year 2000 only, with its capital city Serang,  situated on the north coast, facing the Java sea, some 2 hours drive from Jakarta.  Serang is not only the center of government and business activities of this province , but it is also the  gateway to some of the most spellbinding wonders of Banten such as the  Ujung Kulon National Park, the Tanjung Lesung Resort, Carita Beach, the traditional village of Baduy, and a lot more.

The Grand Mosque of Banten and the Old Banten Complex within this city radiate the glory of the former Banten Sultanate that was once a thriving kingdom and international trading post on Java.

Situated at the heart of Serang, directly facing Serang Square, is the Pendopo Gubernur Banten, or “The Governor’s  Office of Banten”. It is the legacy of the Dutch Colonial era that also marks the change of reign over this area of then West Java,  from the Banten Sultanate to the Dutch Colonial administration.

Banten itself played  a very important role in the Dutch East Indies history since it was here that the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) first opened its office in the Far East in 1603,  later taken over by the Kingdom of the Netherlands,whostarted the  colonization of the entire Indonesian Archipelago.

The historical account of Banten is also carved at the Port of Karangantu on the north coast of the city, which was once known as the largest port on Java before the arrival of Dutch colonial forces and the move to Batavia (present day Jakarta) as their hub of activities. Situated near the old Banten Complex, this main port of Banten’s Sultanante wasonce abuzz with merchant ships from China, Arabia, Turkey,  and other countries that regularly called on this port.  Today, although  the porthas become just  a small fishing town, however,  it is also the gateway to some of the most fascinating islands off the coast of Banten for those who enjoy fishing, snorkeling, and diving.

Banten’s Hidden Treasures

Roughly about 2 hours boat ride away north of Banten Bay from Karangantu Port, is  Tunda Island,  an enchanting little island surrounded by astonishing underwater wonders. With relatively calm waves, the sea around the island is filled with anabundance coral reefs of various colors, shape, and sizes. “Finding Nemo” will not be a problem here, since one will have plenty of opportunity to sea clown fish as well as other unique underwater creatures. Between the month of July to September, visitors will also get the opportunity to watch passing dolphins that are sometimes seen  circling  the island. Tunda Island is also the spot for anglers to catch giant trevally and other deep sea fish.

To reach Tunda island you can take the regular ferry. Homestays are available on the island.

Leaving Serang, about 67km or about one and a half hours’ drive west of the city, you will find yourself on Carita Beach, a prime beach destination frequently visited by Jakartans on the weekend. Directly facing the Sunda Strait, Carita beach is also the staging point to go to the Krakatau Islands Nature Reserve which is administratively located in the  Lampung Province. This natural monument of the most catastrophic event in earth’s history is truly magnificent. As the boat approaches the group of mountainous islands in the middle of the Sunda Strait, the ambience is truly breathtaking, especially with the Mount Anak Krakatau (The Child of Krakatau) standing gallantly in the center and still emitting smoke as if declaring  that Krakatau is still here, well and alive.

Further up north, about two and half hours’ boat ride from Carita Beach,  is Sangiang Island, covering a total area of 700.35 hectares. It is a marine natural park which offers amazing underwater splendors. Sangiang offers some of the best diving experience close to Jakarta. The sheer sensation of getting up close and personal to the dwellers of the sea floor is truly one of a kind experience. Its location in the Sunda Strait which directly connects to the Indian Ocean means that during  your trip youwill come across some strong winds and waves. Prepare yourself for a bit of a bumpy boat ride and splashes. However, the long and somewhat bumpy journey will truly pay off once you put on your goggles and submerge yourself  in the beauty of Sangiang Island.

So look west of Jakarta  and think Banten to find some amazing attractions to enjoy your next holiday.