Tanjung Pandan is the main city on the island. Nice town with colonial era downtown. Most original Dutch colonial buildings in good shape. No traffic jams and polite drivers. Has a neat wharf area and traditional Bugis and Malaya fishing fleet. Very friendly and respectful locals.
'''''''The Quick Low-down'''''''
Belitung is one of the nicest islands in Southeast Asia. Pristine white sand beaches look out on a turquoise sea filled with great snorkelling and a fantastic display of off shore islands. Check out Tanjung Kelayang and Tanjung Tinggi beaches for World Class beaches with out the hustle and bustle now found at beaches of this caliber anywhere else. The small uninhabited off shore islands range from white sand fringed coconut plantations to elaborate granite rock formations to long tempory sand bars of sand the quality of powdered sugar. Some are long swim distance from the beach but colourful local fishing boats will take you on an island tour. There is a 100+ year lighthouse on one island that was cast in England then shipped to Indonesia and assembled by the Dutch in 1889. Each peice has a number stamped on it and they were bolted together. No big resort areas are built there but it will not remain the sleepy paradise it is now long. There are already cool places to stay backside in Tanjung Kelayang beach and Tanjung Tinggi. Snorkelling and diving is quite good with lots of still untouched and living reef waiting to be explored
Daily flights connect Tanjung Pandan to Palembang, Jakarta, Pangkal Pinang and Batam. These routes are served by Sriwijaya Air, Batavia Air, Linus, and Riau Airlines.
Ferrys leave and go to Jakarta, Cirbon, Kalimantan, and Banka. Smaller fishing craft can be chartered for some harder to reach places and small islands.
Taxis are non-existant and public transportation on the island is hard to find. Hence the only practical way of moving around is to rent a car or a motorcycle. Expect to be asked for Rp 400,000 - Rp 600,000 per day (all inclusive) for a good car with driver. A common and fair deal for both parts is between Rp 600,000 and Rp 800,000 for the whole weekend including airport drop-off the last morning. Keep in mind that with that they have enough for the whole month. Overpaying only causes greed.
Enterprising locals drive to the airport at flight times, so you can haggle with them to get you to your hotel and arrange the rest of the transportation from there. Or ask your hotel to pick you up from the airport (which the upscale ones will do anyway).
The Way Out
The same way you came in but about an hour later. A interesting new run through Indonesia could take you From (1) Jakarta to Belitung by air then (2) ferry to Banka past a bunch of small islands then the (3) Pelni boat to Batam (4) Renew my Visa in Singaore (5) Back on the Pelni boat evetually ending up in Kalimantan or (5) going into Sumatra from Batam.
Things To Do
Besides the obvious beach activeties, like swimming in the crystal clear seas and laying around on the white sand beaches, Belitung has plenty more to offer. Snorkeling is great. The coral right offshore in many places is still in fantastic shape. Island hopping is another fun activity. Belitung has many smaller largly uninhabited islands surronding it, one island has a 100 year+ old 18 story lighthouse waiting to be climbed. Other islands look like abstract sculptures consisting entirely of granite rock. Local fishing boats will be glad to take you out for a fair fee. Beachcombing and long beach walks discovering hidden coves and secret beaches are another healthy activity.
Downtown Tanjung Pandan is quite interesting due to the many Dutch Colonial buildings and shop houses. Most of the governmental buildings are the original Dutch buildings and the old Dutch tin mining housing compound is still kept up.
A pretty waterfall and swimming hole on Mount Tagam also make for a nice day trip.
Traditional Bugis fishing craft and an odd assortment of other boats make the wharf and fish market an interesting place, certinly for your nose, to visit. Traditional tin mining methods are cool to watch, no chemicals just water and lots of mud. Also for those who don't live with it every day palm, coconut and pepper plantations can be interesting.
Cultural Belitung has a rich diversity of people. Check out the cool Malay style wooden house's that reminds you of the Caribean or the Bugis traditional raised houses that are half dock to dry fish. A Chinese Buddist temple is said to be one of the oldest in Indonesia built by the survivers of a ancient Chinese trading vessel. Balinese transmigrants have a thriving community that carrys on Bali's traditions and religon.
Fresh seafood and special Belitung cakes
Beer with ice in it. Hard to find cold beer except for Mama Mia's restaurant in Tanjung Kelayang at Kelayang Beach Cottages.
Downtown there are a bunch of places just past the Pandam Beach. There are two places out at the beaches one at Tanjung Tingii Beach and one at Kelayang Beach. Kelayang Beach Cottages www.kelayangcottages.com