See turtles laying eggs at the beach at night. Hike through the forest of Meru Betiri National Park in the morning and visit the baby turtles in the afternoon. The park is situated on the south coast between Banyuwangi and Jember. With magnificent coastal rainforest, abundant wildlife, beaches and superb coastal scenery, it is one of Java’s finest parks.
In 1997 the 580 square kilometres called Meru Betiri got the status National Park, of which 8.5 square kilometres are sea. 477 plants are identified in this park, 291 herbal plants, 218 animals, 25 mammals of which 18 are protected, 8 reptiles of which 6 are protected and 184 birds of which 68 are protected. Bird watching is best done early in the morning (05.30-08.00) or just before sunset (16.00-17.00).
The park’s major attraction is the protected turtle beach at Sukamade. Four kinds of turtles lay their eggs on the beach of Sukamade. Green turtles are the most common, but the giant leatherbacks come in the wet season from December to February. The huge female turtles, weighing up to 750 kg, make their laborious climb up the beach at night and dig a deep whole where they lay up to 50 or more eggs. In an effort to stop poaching and natural predators, park staff collect the eggs and hatch them in tanks before running the young to the sea. At night, if you’re on the beach to see the turtles, you can release hatchlings.
Wildlife, bird spotting and the biggest flower in the world
Wildlife include leopards, wild pigs, deer, banteng, black giant squirrels, civets and pangolins. The silvered-leaf monkey and long tailed macaque are common in the mountain forests. Birdlife is prolific and hornbills, including the rhinoceros hornbill, whoosh and honk overhead. The biggest flower in the world blossoms for seven days somewhere in July or August; Rafflesia zollingeriana. It is a parasitic plant. Balanphora fungosa is another rare endemic and parasitic plant.
Hiking from Bandealit to Sukamade
Trails are limited in the park, but you can hike from Sukamade, via Permisan and Meru to Bandealit. You can camp on the beach, if you feel like it. Sukamade – Permisan is an eight hour return walk. A couple of kilometres farther east is the beach at Meru, which is a four hour walk from Bandealit in the west. From Sukamade it is a one hour walk to Teluk Hijau (Green Bay), with its cliffs and white sand beach framed by a deep green sea. Or, a trail leads if you enter the park on the east side, a kilometer from the road down to Teluk Hijau.
Access to Meru Betiri
In principe four roads lead to Meru Betiri National Park, though not all roads are well maintained or bridges might even be missing. The route via Jajag, Pesanggaran, Sarongan to Sukamade is most used. If you enter from the east you pass Rajegwesi. This village lays on a large bay with a sweeping grey beach and a fishing village. Past the park entrance, the road climbs for expansive views over spectacular Teluk Hijau (Green Bay).