Being in Yogyakarta means being just an hour away (at least) from the South Java Sea and its dramatic natural landscapes of sandy cove beaches bordered by limestone cliffs.
With over 60 beaches in the Gunungkidul district alone, Yogyakarta is a beach-hopper’s paradise.
If you don’t have your own wheels, spare some cash and invest in renting either a car or motorcycle, because public transportation to some of these hidden gems is often unreliable.
And your road trip journey itself is half the fun – enjoy the countryside drive meandering past hills and forest trails before you reach your sandy destinations.
With so many beaches to choose from, you might not have time to used as a camping ground by venture to them all.
Don’t settle for tourist trap beaches that are not worth your time. Check out our shortlisted candidates for Yogyakarta’s Best Beach.
1) Chill in a Lagoon by the Sea: Wedi Ombo Beach
Always wanted to take a relaxing dip in the ocean but end up getting washed to and fro by the constant waves? At the Wedi Ombo Beach in Gunungkidul, you can soak peacefully in the salt water as you watch the sun sink into the horizon.
Photo via a_revan
Surrounded by neatly stacked coral rocks, you might even start to think that the lagoon at Wedi Ombo Beach is man-made.
Photo via soga soegiarto
Be wary of the tide levels here though.
Photo via Nita Thalia
High tides have been seen to overflow into the lagoon, bringing its violent waves along. In a worst case scenario, the sudden gush of water creates a current strong enough to pull people towards the sea, possibly hitting coral rocks and causing injuries.
Photo via ant_droid, Nita Thalia
Located in Panggang, one of Gunungkidul’s more untouched sub-districts towards the east, is a rarity only seen on this stretch of the sand. The Wohkudu Beach is certainly a must-visit for those looking for solitude.
Photo via shobekcorp
It’s so quiet – we wonder if it’s because of its inaccessibility or the lack of information available.
Reserved for those who don’t mind getting through a bit of trouble, trade asphalt roads with rocky trails as you enter the Pangggang Sub-District, with nothing but trees on both sides of the road.
The trail gets narrower, to a point where it becomes impossible to go any further. Find a safe place to park your vehicle and you’ll find your well-earned prize in a few minutes’ walk.
Photo via ardhicemet
The Wohkudu Beach is tucked away between two hills that act as barricades to give it that secluded feel. If you can’t find the footpath from the parking area, simply walk between the two hills that’s visible from the area into the mildly dense forest and you will reap your reward.
Besides being stunning to look at, the concave rock formations also provide shelter for visitors. The beach itself is not that wide – half of it is covered by coral rocks lined with moss and shrubs.
Photo via soga-soegiarto
Of course, that wouldn’t be a problem if what you are looking for is some peace and tranquility.
3) Dragonfruit plantation and a View from the Top: Lighthouse at Pandansari Beach
Sitting high and mighty at over 30 metres in height, the Pandansari Beach in Bantul is home to the one-and-only lighthouse in the region of Yogyakarta.
Photo via akmalrouf
Still in operation, visitors are allowed to climb up its winding staircase during the day, to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the beach at seven storeys high.
Photo via ihsanudn, dimashutama
This place is also known for its dragonfruit plantations. You won’t miss the patches of bright red looking down from the top of the lighthouse. Visitors can actually roam around the gardens and pick ripe dragonfruit straight from the trees – it makes for a highly nutritional gift from Pandansari Beach!
Photo via dewinacc, anas_fatoni
And don’t overlook the greyish sands. Spruce trees are found to grow right onto the fringes of the beach, and during the dry seasons between April and September, they shed most of their leaves, leaving behind a stunning sight that reminds you of autumn in Japan.
Photo via alyssa_xeline
4. Hang on a Thread on a ‘Cable Cart’ at Timang Beach
Everyone knows that the Gunungkidul Region is home to the most beautiful beaches of Yogyakarta, including the Timang Beach, which is located 35 kilometres south of Wonosari. It exhibits a fulfilling sight of white waves crashing into coral stones and cliffs.
Photo via cendanaoktaviani
And that’s not it – if you’re an adrenaline junkie, you’ll love to try this out:
Photo via Yunaidi Joepoet
Visitors can test their courage by crossing onto Watu Panjang Island on a wooden ‘cable cart’ tied together on pulleys, not with the usual steel cables, but with fabric rope!
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Photo via Widhidarma
Originally used as a means of transportation by local lobster fishermen, those brave enough to endure dangling above treacherous waves can even bring back a lobster for dinner!
Photo via Listiaevalinas
5) Beach waterfall that flows directly into the sea: Jogan Beach
Hidden behind the Sewu Mountain Range lies a rarity that’s hardly seen elsewhere in Indonesia – a waterfall by the beach that falls directly into the sea.
Photo via DediWahyudi
Known as Jogan Beach, it sits humbly on the south coast of the Gunungkidul region of Yogyakarta, facing the vast Indian Ocean.
Located two hours’ drive away from Yogyakarta city, Jogan Beach is often overlooked by most visitors as it requires an additional several hundred metres’ walk from the more commonly known Siung Beach parking area.
Photo via ArdianKris
Perfect for those looking for a bit of privacy.
The waterfall flowing into the sea is not just an astonishing sight.
Visitors brave enough can enjoy a freshwater shower beneath the waterfall by either rappelling or climbing down the rocks. But be careful – although the rocks have been installed with wooden hand-and-foot grips, they may still be slippery, especially during the rainy season.
Photo via yosafatyeka
The obstacles don’t just end there – past the jagged coral rocks is the habitat of thousands of tiny crabs that won’t hesitate to snip at your feet! They may be only a painless pinch at first, but a few dozen might just become a nuisance.
Are you still up for the challenge?
6) Paraglide from the Hills of Parangtritis Beach
There is simply nothing better than sitting by the shore, enjoying the sunset, and appreciating the view from above with a calming breeze to puff your worries away.
Photo via altandilateh
Situated near Yogyakarta’s most popular beach, the Parangtritis Beach, the Parangndog and Paralayang Hills provides a vantage point where visitors can admire the hills meeting the fringe of the coast and the sea that stretches towards the endless horizon. Westward facing, it’s a great spot to watch the sun go down.
Photo via ekonovatriana
What’s even more fascinating is that the hills are used as training grounds by local paragliders.
Photo via HarrySeptian
Although you will need a license to fly on your own, tandem flights are just as thrilling! Make sure you make a booking beforehand as their availability highly depends on wind conditions.
Photo via ekonovatriana, mgilank
7) Yogyakarta’s Own Tanah Lot: Kukup Beach
With white sands stretching far and wide, Kukup Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Gunungkidul region.
Photo via AdeNoverzan
What makes it so special is the formation of coral rocks that stretches about 100 metres into the sea. Besides serving as a natural stairway into the sea, it provides a breakwater to calm the waves.
Photo via dazfauqii
Let starfish and many more tiny sea creatures tickle your toes as they add a contrast of colours with the brown stones and blue water. The coral stones protect them against the violent currents of the ocean. Do watch out for sea urchins though – their stings aren’t the most pleasant in the world!
Photo via risangnb
Just like Tanah Lot, a tower of coral rocks forms a small island called the Jumino Island right at the edge Kukup Beach. Visitors can cross over a few dozen metres via a bridge to the island to take a closer look, but unlike the temple at Tanah Lot, the authorities at Jumino Island have built a resting shelter at the end of its pathway.
Photo via jogjaoke, claudiagisma
8) Gunungkidul’s Hidden Gem: Nglambor Beach
Facing southwards, most beaches in Yogyakarta often face the Indian Ocean. These conditions do not support snorkeling and the formation of coral reefs.
The Nglambor Beach is an exception – an accumulation of rocks off the bay in the shape of two turtles act as shields from waves. Combined with shallow waters and lots of sunlight, the conditions become just right for a coral reef to form, which in turn attracts lots of colourful fish.
Photo via budi-hardoko, bns
Hidden between Siung Beach and Jogan Beach, there’s no access roads to get to the Nglambor Beach. Visitors on four wheels must park at a designated area and walk several hundred metres.
Photo via Angelina-Anjar
But this inaccessibility keeps the beach more private and exclusive to adventure seekers.
Photo via bns
You can wade among the starfish and other residents of the coral reef, or get up close and personal with the underwater wildlife and rent some snorkeling gear!
Photo via adibyafa
9) The Curious Case of the Stone Doors: Watu Lawang, Gunungkidul
Nestled between the more well-known Pantai Indrayanti and Pantai Pok Tunggal, it’s puzzling why the Pantai Watu Lawang is not as popular as its neighbors.
Photo via Andika-Cahyadi
The beach is split into two by a rocky cave, which offers a great panorama if you manage to find your way to the top of the rocks.
Watu Lawang itself means ‘Stone Door’, which might have been derived from a rock that looks like a door at the cave’s entrance. Consisting of two sides separated by the ‘stone gate’, the west half of the beach is smaller and more private, while the other side is exposed to a wider part of the sea.
Photo via gideonsubagyo
While strolling along its coral bay, you will notice that there are small pods sculpted naturally in just the right shape to curl in and take in the euphoria of the pulling and pushing off the crashing waves.
Photo via fit11fitra
The Watu Lawang beach is considered sacred by its locals. Once a year, on the eighth month on the Lunar Calendar (Sya’ban in the Islamic Calendar, or somewhere around the Mooncake Festival month), a religious ritual called ‘Nyadran’ is held on the beach. A part of the ceremony involves all the participants entering a small cave in the centre of the beach.
Photo via pradana_soekotjo
What’s fascinating is that the locals believe the cave ‘opens up’ to accommodate the people entering. Believe it or not, prove it for yourself!
10) Catch Fresh Fish and Lobsters with the Fishermen of Ngrenehan Beach
Although the Pantai Ngrenehan is a small beach, its uniqueness lies in the formation of rocks that extend on both sides of the beach.
Photo via budiheran
Not just beautiful to look at, these rocks also act as breakwaters that shield the beach from violent waves. Make your way up these rocky hills and find yourself at the best spot to adore the view.
Photo via kompasmania-yswitopr
Observe the simple lives of the village fishermen, their daily activities beginning with setting out to sea in the morning, to sorting out their catch of the day.
Every seafood lover knows that the fresher the fish, the better the taste. Their catch is brought directly to the nearby markets.
Photo via goten444
Auction for the fish of your choice to bring home, or hand them over to waroeng keepers – they might be able to grill and prepare it for you with Liwet Rice for a negotiable price.
A serving of fresh lobster in creamy oyster sauce costs as low as 50,000 IDR (3.50 USD), and if that still hasn’t satisfied your inner fisherman, the locals offer morning fishing trips for visitors on traditional fishing boats.
11) Secluded adventure at the Dadap Ayam Beach
As one of the most secluded spots on our list so far (it isn’t even on google maps!), the only visitors to Pantai Dadap Ayam are the local residents in search of beach vegetation such as the Dadap Ayam herb and seaweed that grow on its concave-shaped rocks.
Photo via shobekcorp
Resembling Padang Padang Beach in Bali, the Pantai Dadap Ayam is a gallery of odd-looking coral stones with overgrown algae and seaweed. Make sure to take extra caution as they might be either sharp or slippery.
Photo via shobekcorp
If you don’t like the sun, you’ll love the shade under the rock canopies that line the beach.
Bring a mat and enjoy a picnic on this secret patch of the beach – it’s so quiet that the calming winds will definitely seduce you to an afternoon nap.
Photo via shobekcorp
Hurry though, a paved road heading towards the Pantai Dadap Ayam is currently being constructed. So although this means you won’t scramble through several bushes and paddy fields, many others may think the same way too.
It might not be as ‘private’ anymore!
12) Sacred Javanese Mausoleum at the Edge of the Sea: Pantai Ngobaran, Gunungkidul
In terms of landscape, the Ngobaran Beach ranks among some of the most amazing beaches in South Yogyakarta. At low tide, moss-covered coral rocks emerge, exposing its collection of flora and fauna.
Photo via matin, tripcanvas
If the tides are calm enough, you can take a dip in one of its ‘stone bath pods’ on the beach. The water inside these pods is actually freshwater, despite being right on the beach!
What you won’t find on any other beaches in Yogyakarta is the series of Hindu, Buddhist, as well as Kejawan temples that are perched on Ngobaran Beach. Believed to be the resting place of the legendary King of Majapahit, the beach is often used as a place of worship. A monument stands right at the edge of a cliff, with statues each depicting moral values of the Kejawan belief.
Photo via matin, tripcanvas
The mosque in the vicinity also faces an open wall – in the direction of the sea with sandy floors. (Though it is commonly criticised because it faces southwards rather than westwards in the direction of Mecca).
Photo via matin, tripcanvas
If you love food, one good reason to drop by this beach is the strange delicacy it serves (and you can hardly find it elsewhere!). Here, sea urchins are cracked open and fried with oils, herbs and spices.
Photo via slvstrbingar
If you’re adventurous, give it a try – who knows, it could be the next culinary breakthrough!
1) Take it up a Notch at the Klayar Beach (3 hours drive from Yogyakarta)
Heading to East Java? Why not make a pit stop at Klayar Beach for a showcase of gigantic coral rocks on another level of exoticism?
Photo via setiyo-mursid
Rock formations beautifully sculpted by the waves reach heights of up to 50 metres on the Klayar Beach.
Photo via Wayan-Wirga
Another cool feature of the Klayar Beach is the Seruling Samudra, a water geyser (or otherwise also known as a waterblow) just behind the rock formations. Created by chambers being instantly pressurized by the waves, water shoots out 15 metres into the air during high tide.
Photo via Iynee-Aini.
Just an hour away from Klayar Beach is the Goa Gong, claimed to be the most gorgeous cave in Indonesia. Exploring caves in the dark is thrilling, but doing so in an array of colourful illuminating lights is an entirely different experience.
Photo via Philips
See it for yourself!
2) Beach-Hopping Rendezvous: Siung Beach (2 hrs drive from Yogyakarta)
Popular for its stone cliffs, the Siung Beach has hosted multiple local and international rock-climbing events. Hidden behind a forest trail, its attributes compare to the best beaches Yogyakarta has to offer.
Photo via spadepicnic
It also serves as a checkpoint for those whose intentions are purely beach-hopping – some of the most exotic beaches in Yogyakarta are within a walking distance from Siung Beach. Nglambor Beach is only a few hundred metres away!
Photo via indra-muchtar
Because of the relatively wide beach, it is commonly used as a camping ground by beachgoers.
Lay out your shelter for the night at around sunset – the beach keepers will offer firewood for a small amount of money.
Photo via Adrian-Zen
The next morning, you can prepare to make your way along the mountainous coastline, to get to Yogyakarta’s favourite beaches.