For those who don’t know Probolinggo, it’s one of the best city in East Java to spend a vacation. Located in south east of Surabaya, It has natural tourism site, cultural heritage, museums, and cultural events. Also, Probolinggo gets a nickname “Kota Seribu Taman (City of Thousand Gardens)” for its urban planning.
One of its main attraction is of course Gili Ketapang. Some tourists might know other Gili like Gili Trawangan in Lombok or Gili Labak in Madura, but Gili Ketapang could offer the same experience with less budget than Gili in Lombok and Madura since it’s still located in Java Island and it’s still unknown among tourist.
1. What is Gili Ketapang?
Gili Ketapang is a little island located between Java and Madura Island. Administratively, it’s still the part of Probolinggo City and it’s located around 8kms in the north of Probolinggo Beach. Its population is approximately around 9600 people in 68 hectares land. Most of them are people of Madura as they speak Madura language.
The name Gili Ketapang itself derives from two words, Gili and Ketapang. Gili means the flowing water and Ketapang is the name of a village itself. Which means that Gili Ketapang mostly consists of beaches and is beautiful beach that you can spend your vacation there.
2. How to Go There?
Gili Ketapang is located in City of Ketapang, Sumberasih, Probolinggo, East Java. To get here, you need to reach Probolinggo first, either using private transportation or public transportation. Public transportation is recommended actually since it’s easier to reach and doesn’t really need time to look for a parking. There are two public transportation you can use, either bus or train.
After arriving in bus or train station, go to Tanjung Tembaga Harbour. Then, you rent a local boat to cross the ocean and arrive in Gili Ketapang. Each person will be charged around IDR 10.000 ($ 0,75) and will take around 30 minutes to an hour to get to Gili Ketapang.
3. Unique Snorkelling Place
Gili Ketapang has beautiful marine biota landscape that’s perfect to storm. It’s one of the best snorkelling site in Indonesia. However, not many people know about this site. But, thanks to internet and social media, Gili Ketapang Snorkelling site has now risen its popularity among tourist since the place is still natural and clean.
To do snorkelling, there are three spot in the beach. One in the south side and two other in the south west side. The location is not too far from the beach, around 100 meters from the beach and people can experience the adventure below water to see beautiful corals and fishes.
4. Water Sport and Beautiful Beach
One of the main attraction of Gili Ketapang is its beach’s quality. It has white and smooth sand, at some point it has pink colour. It’s the best place to relax and enjoy the beauty in Gili Ketapang. When the sun sets, the colour vibrates from blue, orange, and yellow, making a beautiful scene to get a photo.
If you don’t like snorkelling, there are other attraction from the beach which is banana boat water sport. You can also rent a boat and go around the island to witness its beauty.
After doing those activities, you can rest and go to the restaurant near the beach who serves local menu and Indonesian seafood. There’s also some local stores who sell traditional souvenirs that might attract your attention.
5. Goa Kucing (Cat Cave)
Other than beach’s attraction, in Gili Ketapang, there is a unique cave that’s located near the beach. Local people call this cave Cat Cave (Goa Kucing). This is very small cave where the entrance is only as big as a well. Only one person can enter the cave and you can find water resource inside.
People believe that an important person who is responsible for the spreading of Islamic teaching in Indonesia has ever been stepped his food in the cave. He is a member of the infamous Wali Songo, Sunan Giri and his brother Sunan Gresik. They both raise many cats in here back in the day and from that story, local people call this cave a Cat Cave.
This cave then becomes famous and most people visit this site for religious purpose. However, local people still welcome other tourists who want to go inside the cave and discover their curiosity inside. There’s an urban legend where in a specific time, you can hear loud voice of cats and when you approach the sound, it suddenly disappears.
6. Camping with Your Friends
Gili Ketapang also offers a camping activities for tourist if they want to spend some nights in the beach. Local people also provide tents to those who don’t bring their own tent. To spend some times in the beach, you can go to the other beach in the east or experience sun sets in Gili Ketapang.
7. Local Heritage
Other than beach, there’s also local heritage that’s being developed for tourism activity. It’s called Petik Laut. Petik Laut celebrates the harvest of the farmers in a year. After working hard in the middle of the ocean, battling against storm and wind, trawl the fishes to be sold in market, farmers and local people gather together to celebrate the harvest and to thank to God for everything he gives for local people.
Usually they sacrifice a cow’s head, utensils, and clothes by putting them on the boat and throw it away in the middle of the sea. At night, local people holds cultural events and show some traditional performance like Ludruk or Ketoprak (traditional comedy theatre) in the open field.
However, this ritual isn’t always held when you visit Gili Ketapang. There’s certain time of a year where they want to celebrate the harvest and it’s tentative. So, bet your luck if you want to see this attraction.
8. What to Prepare before Visiting Gili Ketapang?
There are many recommendation if you want to visit this place. But this article will provide the most essential stuff to prepare before visiting Gili Ketapang. First, Sunblock. It’s an essential product that you need to bring before going here because all the beaches will be exposed by sun light all the time and could burn your skin.
Second, you can go a little earlier to get the best snorkelling experience since the route to get to Gili Ketapang isn’t easy. Third, bring more money because it’s hard to find ATM in Gili Ketapang. Fourth, for tourist outside Probolinggo, it’s recommended to loan a hotel in the city because in Gili Ketapang, there is barely accommodation to loan. The city hotel is quite cheap ranging from IDR 100.000 ($7) to IDR 200.000 ($14). Lastly, be polite and keep the tourism site clean to keep the environment healthy.
Those are some informations about Gili Ketapang, Probolinggo, East Java. While there has to be improvement here and there, the site offers various cool and refreshing vibe of a beach. Moreover, Gili Ketapang could be your cheaper alternative to visit rather than Bali or Lombok. It’s cheaper and nearer. It also has potential to give the same or even better experience for the tourist. With little improvement like accommodation, Gili Ketapang will be a perfect snorkelling site in East Java.