If you ever happen to be in Pangandaran or around during Idul Fitri, the biggest islamic holiday, and everyone is telling you not to visit the Green Canyon: Don't listen! Go! Yes, it will be packed and yes you will get run over by other boats! But you will never have the chance to meet so many locals on holiday and get to know the culture from an all new perspective like during these joyful days.
The green canyon is located on the southwest coast of Java. The next big town is Pangandaran, which is about an hour drive from the Green Canyon. Getting there is easy and everyone knows the way. Once you are at the car park you can buy a ticket for a boat. Prices are fix and on weekends and especially during public holidays you might have to wait before you can take your turn.
Boats are rented out by time. If you want to have a swim ask for additional costs, otherwise at the end of your trip the boat driver will try to squeeze as much money out of you as possible. Swimming is only allowed once you have reached the main pool. We saw some crocodiles on our way, so better keep your feet dry.
The scenery is breathtaking and really worth the trip. The further you go, the nicer it gets. The water is quite shallow and all boats have a long drive shaft between the engine and the propeller that the driver holds with his foot. In case it gets too shallow the propeller is lifted out of the water barely touching the surface, spinning around like deadly razor blades.
Like I said before we went to the Green Canyon on a public holiday and the river was packed. When we got to the cave right in front of the rock pool it became even more adventurous. You have to imagine all those boats have a 2 meter shaft with a running propeller sticking out the back. Fortunately at some point the driver stopped the engine and started to use the rudders.
When we got out of the boat there was a bunch of people waiting in line. They were handed out helmets and life vests and in a country with almost no safety regulations this seamed a little odd to us. It turned out that most of the people were non-swimmer. We were told to pass the line and go for a swim without any further equipment. The situation became even more absurd when we met a group of body rafter that had been floating down the stream for no less than three hours and non of them was able to swim.
The natural swimming pool is a pearl of nature. The rocks to both sides are covered with millions of small and almost translucent crabs. Touching the walls they will crawl onto your hand and make it disappear within seconds. We climb to a little platform about 7 meters high and were told the water was 9 meters deep so there would be no problem with jumping. The first jump was okay, on the second I made a head dive and hit a rock that was about 2 meters below the surface. Once my hands hit the stone I managed to bend to the side and was not hit on my head, but on my belly instead. I got away with a big bruise, a little blood and a scar that will remind me for the rest of my life not to trust people when it comes down to water deepness.