Bangka Belitung islands are to be found off the eastern coast of Sumatra and form a province of Indonesia consisting of the two main islands, Bangka and Belitung, and a further 250 small islets in the surrounding waters. The province is unusual with water making up almost 80% of its territory and the land areas covered with unusual rock formations.
As an emerging tourist destination and only an hour’s flight from Jakarta, Belitung Island is well known for its distinctive landscape with its beaches decorated with pearly white sand, crystal clear waters and splendid granite boulders piled up on its shallow shores.
Here you can enjoy the usual beach activities, such as swimming in clear waters and lounging on white sand beaches, but Belitung has plenty more to offer including snorkeling, diving, walking through the coral banks just offshore and island hopping which, in many cases, only requires a short swim.
Bangka Belitung is an Indonesian showcase of a plural society in which ethnic groups from Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Malaysia, China and others live side by side in harmony. You can even find a Balinese community who live in Giri Jati village, complete with all aspects of Balinese culture and way of life. Members of the Bugis tribe can also be found in the fishing village at Tanjung Binga.
Melayu culture has a powerful influence in the daily life of the island and the dominant language spoken is Malay. Melayu culture inspires many of the traditional ceremonies including the famous Rebo Kasan performed by the village people who believe that for one day each year God sends 320,000 angels to the world so the people must gather together and pray.
The mix of cultures is also represented in the food of Bangka Belitung where you’ll find a combination of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cuisine. Owing to the proximity of the sea, understandably sea food has become the most popular food on the island. Many of their authentic local dishes taste wonderful but are rarely found outside Bangka Belitung.
Belitung might not offer the level of facilities and infrastructure you might expect in more developed tourist destinations such as Bali, Phuket and Lombok but rest assured that the landscape of these islands is beyond imagination.
The white beach sand is like sugar and when combined with the crystal clear blue waters, unique rock formations and the views of the surrounding islands, Bangka Belitung is an unusual and captivating place and a special place to visit.