Hot yet beautiful. That was my first impression of Jayapura, the biggest city in Papua situated by Youtefa bay on the easternmost part of the archipelago. Used to be a headquarter for allied army in World War II and still is a frontier army base for Indonesia’s military troops as well as for community development workers and Christian missionaries, Jayapura is a melting pot of many ethnic groups in Indonesia.
Although starting to be packed by traffic jam, Jayapura is still a pretty sight to see with its lush forested hills, steep roads and busy port. Here are five picks of activities that you can do if you have a chance to set your foot in Jayapura.
Visit Polimak to enjoy the city from the height
Enjoying this hilly city’s scenery won’t be complete without catching its sight from the top of Polimak hill. In accordance to its name, Polimak hill is located in Polimak area and easily can be reached by motorcycle or car in just 20 minutes from the bayside.
The top of Polimak hill is said to be the highest place in Jayapura city which perched at 256 meters above the sea level. The place is one of the city’s ultimate landmarks too with a huge “Jayapura City” signage emblazoned on the hill’s side facing straight to Yotefa bay.
It’s also a popular place to go to enjoy Jayapura’s city lights at night. You can sit and even walk to the edge of the signage. But be extra careful when you do this since this place isn’t equipped with any safety fences.
Souvenir shopping at Pasar Hamadi
A shopping spree to Hamadi market is another thing one has to do while visiting Jayapura. This central market is a perfect place for souvenir hunting and fresh fish shopping. Rows of Papua’s souvenir shops are easily spotted lining up at the roadside. Plenty of Papua’s handicrafts and artworks can be found inside the small shops.
Koteka (male phallocrypt usually worn by indigenous Papuan men) can be found here and sold as tourist’s souvenir. Visitors can also buy Noken (Papuan traditional multifunctional woven bag) and tifa (traditional percussion musical instrument) at the shops. T-shirts, wooden necklaces, leather bracelets as well as various keychains are also popular souvenirs among tourists.
While at the Hamadi market right opposite the souvenir shops, one can find wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits sold straight from the farmers. Sweet potato, avocado and tomato are just some fresh crops available there. Come to the market early in the morning to find a plentiful of fresh fish sold with very low price. You will notice areca nuts are sold in the market as well as at roadside stalls in Jayapura. This is because like in many other parts of Papua, Jayapuran people still have a daily habit of chewing areca nuts.
A good bargaining skill is necessary but usually the price offered still makes sense. The price for koteka, noken, tifa and other wooden handicrafts are commonly higher due to their long and intricate hand-making process.
Eat fresh seafood on the bayside at Dok Dua area
Situated by the bay directly facing Pacific ocean, Jayapura is the perfect place to eat fresh seafood especially at night. There are two seafood restaurants in Dok 2 area that offer delicious seafood dishes with a stunning view of Yotefa bay and Jayapura’s night lights. I went to the one on the left which peculiarly named “Duta Cafe” although obviously it is not a cafe.
Wide variety of fresh seafood are available here for your palate pleasure. Red snappers, parrot fishes, giant prawns, crabs and even lobsters are able to be served with various cooking methods and sauces.
The sparkling city night lights from across the bay will be your dining company along with live music played by a local band. Have a fresh coconut water to drench your thirst and challenge your guts to try the restaurant’s three different chilis for extra spiciness.
Enjoy the serene scenery of Sentani Lake from Ifar Gunung
Take a trip to the top of Makatur hill or also renowned as Ifar Gunung on your way from the airport to downtown Jayapura. The short trip shall worth the effort because of the breathtaking landscape of Sentani Lake to behold from there. The calming lake, lush green hills and blue sky are yours to savor.
A sturdy black and yellow MacArthur monument can also be found on the same location to commemorate American General Douglas MacArthur who was based in Sentani during World War II in 1944. The planning and staging for the invasion of the Philippines were said to be conducted here under his direction.
If you have more time to spare, from the same place you can observe airplanes taking off and landing to Sentani Airport too. There is also a small establishment near the monument which functions as a museum displaying various historic memorabilia and stories of General Douglas MacArthur.
Breathe the ocean’s breeze at Base-G beach
Taking a leisure walk by the seashore is definitely an activity one should do while visiting Jayapura. The bay side city offers several nice beaches which are worthy to visit: Hamadi beach, Holtekamp beach, Base-G beach and Tablanusu beach are the famous ones.
During my short trip there, I had a chance to dip my toes into Base-G beach golden sand. It takes around 20 minutes westward to reach the beach from the city center and it was quite vacant when I went there.
If you are wondering where the odd name comes from, it derives from the historical fact that the beach was used as a landing spot of allied army in World War II and was then named Base-G camp.
Rows of wooden huts are lining up on the beach facing the vast Pacific ocean. But unfortunately nobody gets to sit there for free. Base-G beach is managed by local people and those huts are owned by them. The price just to sit there isn’t very cheap.
The huts are rented to tourists for Rp 150,000 to Rp 300,000 each hut. Rinsing rooms with clean water are available too at Rp 5,000. It is advisable to bring your own snacks and beverages since it is cheaper and only few food stalls are in sight as far as my eyes can see.
This article is originally published on The Jakarta Post Travel