Many of us have seen real life dolphins, whether in zoos, aquariums, or animal shows, but watching schools of dolphins darting across the open sea, or swimming merrily alongside your boat is an entirely different experience altogether.
The herds of wild dolphins diving freely beneath the crystal sea, coupled with sandy white beaches against a backdrop of a clear blue sky are key elements representing the unabridged natural beauty of Kiluan Bay.
Though 10 years ago Kiluan was relatively unheard of, even among the locals of the province, this beautiful and tranquil spot now attracts tourists from around Indonesia and abroad. The gulf is located in Kiluan Village in the District of Tanggamus in Lampung Province, South Sumatra.
Kiluan Bay functions as a migration path for two species of Dolphin; the Bottle-nose dolphin and the Spinner dolphin. The number of these amazing marine creaes that pass through the bay is estimated in the thousands, one of the largest number of migrating dolphins in the world. Beaches around the bay are also nesting grounds for two species of sea turtle; the green sea turtle and the hawksbill turtle.
Kiluan is often compared toLovina Beach in north Bali which is also known as a ‘dolphin spotting’ area. Unlike Lovina, Kiluan has two species of Dolphin, and they are much easier to spot due to their sheer number. The dolphins are also very out-going creatures and are happy to approach the boats, beckoning to the guests with a friendly welcome.
Dolphins can be seen weaving their way between the waves just 20 minutes from the coast. A variety of boats can be chartered from the locals to take you out to sea, such as the bercadik – a small boat that carries a maximum of 3 guests plus 1 guide / boatman.
Accommodations in Kiluan Bay are limited to homestay style rooms, which are simple, yet comfortable. Rates per night are only about 150,000 Rupiah per room, which can be occupied by 5-6 people.
Homestay facilities can also be found on Kiluan Island. Four minimal and modest rooms are available at a rental price of just 150,000 rupiah a night, which again can be occupied by 5-6 people.
Watching dolphins living free in the wild is of course the prime attraction of Kiluan Bay. Small boats can be rented for 250,000 – 300,000 rupiah, so you can get a closer look at the tens or sometimes even hundreds of dolphins leaping across the waters in seeming unison. The dolphins are a highly intelligent species, and are also exceptionally friendly. Seeing a boat, they love to swim and jump around close by in the surrounding waters. Some will even let you touch them. Aside from the dolphins, Sea Turtles can also be seen gliding beneath the surface of the water.
As a nesting ground for turtles, depending on the time of year, visitors can observe the turtles climbing the beach at night to lay their eggs, or watch as the tiny hatchlings make the journey back to the ocean.
Yet another prized possession of the Gulf is its mesmerizing landscape. Famous for their tropical charm, most beaches in Lampung region have for now managed to retain their natural beauty. Soft white sands followed by sparkling turquoise waters, and though coral isn’t on the list of Kiluan’s delights, you will find that it’s underwater park is still abundant in marine life. Swimming and snorkeling can be done just off the shore, or simply relax on the beach, enjoying the fresh air and tranquil surroundings with friends and family.
For those who are keen to explore, hired boats can also take you to Kiluan Island, a tiny island nestled in the middle of the bay. The island measures just 6 acres and is sheltered in tropical palm trees. Getting to Kiluan Island takes only about 10-15 minutes, and costs just 15,000 rupiah per person. Kiluan Fishing Week is held on the island each year, usually in the month of August.
Keep a camera on hand to document your trip. The great moment to catch is when the sun sinks beneath the horizon, coloring the sky in magnificent hues of pinks and orange.
Kiluan Bay is located about 80 km from the city of Bandar Lampung. Getting to Kiluan will take approximately 3-4 hours across winding and hilly trails. Some of the roads are not in good condition, so it is advisable to hire a large car for the trip. Roads may flood during the rainy season, so visitors should take note to travel during the dry season between April and September. Despite the roads inadequate condition, the calming sights of rolling hills and stretches of green paddy fields will help take your mind off the bumpy road.
It’s best to visit the Kiluan Gulf during the dry season, as bad road conditions during heavy rain may hinder your journey. Dry season is usually from April to September.
If you have a tendency towards motion sickness, make sure to bring the appropriate medicines.
Bring some food and snacks from the city, as there aren’t many stalls or shops around the Kiluan Region.
Be sure to bring your sunblock, camera, and of course enough clothes for your trip. If you cannot swim, do bring your own life jacket as well.