Pantai Tiga Warna (Three Colours Beach)
January 1, 1970
I hadn’t been in Indonesia for long when I agreed to go ‘touring’ with a friend to Tiga Warna, and I knew nothing about it. Keen to explore a bit more, I didn’t really need to; I heard beach and said yes, obvious decision. For those people who need a bit more, It’s located on the coast of Java, near Malang in the south, and is a protected area of beautiful beach, named for it’s array of colours in both the sand and the ocean.
Tiga Warna is about a 6 hour drive from where I live, and being that this was only a short trip, we left Friday night after work… at 9pm. I was perched on the back of a stranger’s motorbike (a stranger to me, anyway) in a group of about 22 people. We drove in convoy through the Indonesian traffic until our bums were somehow numb and painful at the same time and all feeling in our toes was long forgotten.
We arrived at about 3am, on schedule, and a couple of men with torches met us in the car park. Due to this being a protected area, you have to book your group in and tell them you want to sleep on the beach. This is where it helps to have someone who can speak Indonesian about. Fortunately for me, I had 20 odd people who could only speak Indonesian, so we were sorted here. Unfortunately for me, I myself couldn’t speak any Indonesian, so we struggled through the trip on hand gestures, body language and awkward smiles.
It’s about an hours walk to the beach you can sleep at and where you will spend most of your time – Gatra beach. Tiga Warna is just a short walk away, but in order to preserve the coral, time on the protected section is limited to an hour or two per group. On the way, you must stop at a small hut, where they take an inventory of all of the food, drinks, cigarettes etc that you have brought with you. On the way out, you stop at this same hut and they make sure that you have all of your litter with you. It’s an excellent way to stop people throwing things in the ocean or beach, and a really refreshing attitude for Indonesia.
We arrived on the beach about 4.30am; the walk took a little longer for us as it had been raining and was muddy, but it was totally worth it. The sky was dark blue, the stars were out and we chose our spot to lie down about 5 metres from the calm sea. There wasn’t a lot of point in sleeping, so we sat around and waited for the sunrise.
Tiga Warna Beach
About 7am, a guide came down to take us to Tiga Warna where we could do some snorkelling. The beach is just a 10 minute walk away, and every bit as beautiful as people had said. It was quiet, with us being the only large group (due to them staggering the times), so we had it pretty much to ourselves. There’s an array of beautiful fish so close to the beach if you enjoy snorkelling. If not, there are some benches to sit and watch, and rocks to climb to get a better view. The sand has a pink tinge to it, which is a result of small coral fragments in the sand. It’s part of the three colours, the other being the sea close to the sand, which is a vibrant and clear turquoise, and then the other is the deeper blue of the ocean as it gets further out to sea.
We enjoyed our hour and then went back to the other beach to spend the rest of the day. It was fantastic – sunbathing, swimming, eating and a member of the group brought a ball along too. There were also small kayaks on the beach which you could take out – you can paddle quite far around, past locals fishing and away from the beach a bit, as always, beware of the current! It was a lot easier to get far away than to get back. We stayed until the evening and then made our long trek back.
The long way back
It was a long way for such a short trip, but I am so glad I did it. On the way home we stopped at someones house in Malang, their family had generously provided food for all of us, and this is where the drivers took a little nap, not having slept the night before.
My friend, who had been translating for me all day, fell asleep at this point and to begin with I was a bit lost. I knew my group were friendly and helpful, but I could only pick out the odd word they were saying. I went outside and sat with the others anyway and they put a lot of effort into communicating with me, despite the language barrier. They even taught me a few new phrases and words. A lovely end to the day.
Things to remember before you go:
I really recommend the beach to anyone who is near Malang – but – there are some important things to note:
– Please respect local culture. This is NOT an area for a bikini. I was swimming in shorts and a T-shirt all day.
– Eat before you arrive, and bring lunch/snacks and water with you. There is a little Warung there where you can get some bits and pieces, but the selection isn’t huge, mostly instant noodles and some soft drinks.
– Remember that you have to call ahead to arrange the guides to take you to the beach, you almost certainly won’t be able to do this in English. In fact, interaction with the guides in general will probably need to be done in Indonesian.
– TAKE EVERYTHING YOU BRING WITH YOU. This area remains so beautiful because they are so concerned about litter, and you will (rightfully) get fined if you can’t account for all your packaging on the way out.