Up on the Northeastern coast of Java is the bustling city of Surabaya, Indonesia. It’s got a unique blend of history, culture and natural beauty that’s sure to tickle that insatiable wanderlust. Look no further, here’s a list of the coolest things to do in Surabaya.
1. Soak in the hot springs of Bukit Jaddih
Chalk mines don’t seem all that interesting. At least, until you see the mines of Bukit Jaddih. It’s like Pamukkale in Turkey, with a natural hot spring in the middle of the chalk hills, except better because it’s a lot less crowded.
Locals call the natural spring “aeng goweh pote”, or white cave water, which is a pretty apt description for Bukit Jaddih. The sharp angles of its sculpted chalk hills are Instagram-worthy enough on their own. But when set against the clear blue skies and the glistening turquoise of the springs, it’s a sight best seen in person.
The photo-ops you can get around the area and inside the chalk caves make the trip itself worth it already. If you happen to bring along your swimwear (or if it’s a really hot day and you’re not one to care), you could always take a dip or even paddle around on one of the wooden rafts.
Address: WQ95+3RM, Jakan, Parseh, Kec. Socah, Kabupaten Bangkalan, Jawa Timur 69161, Indonesia
Opening hours: 7:00am to 4:00pm
2. Climb a Dutch-era Lighthouse
Just a little bit off the coast of Surabaya is Madura Island, where the little town of Sembilangan Village goes about its quiet daily life. You can’t miss the highlight of the village—its 65m tall lighthouse looks like it was plucked right out of a Dutch tulip field.
Climbing up all 17 storeys is no easy task, of course, but rest assured the view at the top will make the effort worth it. The top of the lighthouse overlooks pretty much the entire village as well as the gorgeous ocean beyond. You can even see Tanjung Perak port from there.
It’s highly recommended to watch the sunset from the top of the lighthouse. The peace and serenity there is truly unlike any other.
Address: Jalan Sembilangan, Socah, Pernajuh, Kec. Bangkalan, Kabupaten Bangkalan, Jawa Timur 69161, Indonesia
3. Visit the Mediterranean at Wisata Bukit Mas
Wisata Bukit Mas might just be a housing complex area, but hear us out. It’s a housing complex that’s got replicas of famous European landmarks for buildings. In a way, it’s like being in Europe without having to be in Europe itself. Wanderlust begone.
Just by walking around, you’ll be transported to Madrid, Versailles, and even Ancient Rome with a Colosseum amphitheatre (it’s a clubhouse, actually). Enjoy all sorts of sports there—table tennis, futsal, karate, you name it.
There’s also a theme park within the complex, and it’s modelled after Notre Dame. There, you’ll find a gorgeous lake and plenty of lakeside activities to fill your day with, as well as an adventure-style swimming pool.
Address: Komplek Perumahan Wisata Bukit Mas, Jalan Raya Menganti Lidah Wetan, Wiyung, Lidah Wetan, Lakarsantri, Kota SBY, Jawa Timur 60213, Indonesia
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday — 6:00am to 5:00pm
4. Check out a train graveyard
With the Y2K resurgence–and a whole new love for all things retro–in vogue, a train graveyard filled with old-school locomotives sounds like the perfect place to visit while in Surabaya.
Dipo Lokomotif Sidotopo was once a train depot used for loading and unloading heavy items onto trains and also served as a train depot for trains to get their regular maintenance. Now, it’s most popular as a photoshoot location. There are plenty of passenger trains and trains that used to ferry goods around, such as the CC201 and CC206s.
Apart from getting to see rare and unusual retro trains stacked up upon one another, legend has it that the train graveyard has a couple of ghosts floating around the place too. Now, that’s a chilling story to tell when you’re back home.
Address: Jl. Sidotopo Lor No.2, Simokerto, Kec. Simokerto, Surabaya, Jawa Timur 60143, Indonesia
5. Tour a volcano at midnight
The only thing that’s cooler than climbing an active volcano is climbing an active volcano under the twinkling stars. Mount Bromo, or Gunung Bromo as the locals call it, is the most famous volcano in Indonesia. It’s located within a sand plain known as the Sea of Sand, and it combines the beauty of watching the sunrise from a mountain peak and the desert together for a breathtaking view.
You can choose to hike up the volcano yourself or take a jeep instead (but we all know half the fun is in the journey itself, so stretch those legs if you can!) Another option is going by horseback, but it’s not recommended as many tourists have pointed out the ill-treatment of the horses in the past. Either way, it’s easy enough to make your way alone, especially when you can just follow the other groups who’d definitely be hiking too. Otherwise, tours are readily available for anyone who’d prefer to leave the planning to someone else.
Considering how Mount Bromo is still an active volcano, it’s best to keep an eye out on local advisories to ensure the conditions are safe enough before visiting.
6. Swim and snorkel in solitude
There’s a reason why Bali remains one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, and it’s because of the amazing beaches and water adventures it’s got to offer. Don’t worry, you can still get that same amazing experience in Surabaya too.
Pulau Noko is located just off the coast of Surabaya, and this uninhabited island is basically a really long uninterrupted stretch of beach lawn that circles the entire island. The clear waters are a snorkeler’s paradise, especially with the abundance of colourful corals teeming with marine life.
There’s even the nearby connecting Gili Island (that you can walk over to during the low tides) with even more white sandy beaches and coral forests to explore. It’s almost amazing to think more people aren’t coming to Surabaya just for Pulau Noko.
Address: Desa Pamona, Kecamatan Sangkapura, Sidogedungbatu, Sangkapura, Gresik
Of course, there are still tonnes more to see, do and enjoy in Surabaya Indonesia, and plenty of scrumptious Indonesian food to indulge in. If you’d like to enjoy even more of Indonesia which isn’t just Bali and Batam, we’ve also got several other guides to places like Medan, Raja Ampat and Pulau Belitung.
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