It was not easy for me to find a place that is environment-friendly, secluded close to nature but accessible from the city, and, of course, affordable to my pocket. After some searching, I finally found Jiwa Laut, which is located in Watu Kodok Beach, Gunung Kidul Regency in the south of Yogyakarta Province.
Being fond of nature, Jiwa Laut fits into the above requirement that I looked for. Its 80-km distance from Yogyakarta City is covered in a two-hour drive by car. Hidden on a small hill, Bukit Kelor, Jiwa Laut is about 100 meters from Watu Kodok Beach. The owners, Fab and Ira–a team of husband and wife—run the place and they are committed to providing the service as well as they can to their guests.
They have four rented houses scattered in an elevated lush green garden. All houses are made of natural materials like bamboo, wood, and limestone. The houses are designed with a local architectural taste that is ecological. Guests can choose the house depending on their needs, the biggest house can accommodate up to 5 people. I myself chose the Limas House which can accommodate up to two persons. Those who come in a big group can sleep in the dormitory, which is situated down nearby the entrance.
The garden is planted with tropical trees and shrubs, some of them are rare trees like neem or maja trees. The owners who practice permaculture let all trees grow naturally.
Air Conditioner is Unnecessary
Jiwa Laut is not a villa or a resort, it is not for people who seek comfort such as an air-conditioned room with a TV set, refrigerator, and Wifi. To harmonize with nature, the owners try to save water and electricity as much as possible. They also try to reduce the waste, as such the paper tissue is only provided in the bathroom. Guests are requested to bring back their plastic waste with them because the local administration doesn’t have a mechanism to process plastic waste. In short, guests are asked to have a natural way of life while they stay there.
The guesthouse may not be suitable for toddlers or young children because the path to the houses is not flat and the cemented descending path could be slippery in the rains.
Statues and paintings decorate my basic room in the Limas house. The size is quite big. There is a bed with a mosquito net, a lower desk, and a standing mirror, all of them are made of wood. There is a wooden box to keep the snacks that the guests bring as insects can be attracted to uncovered snacks. A hammock and two chairs are located on a small balcony. I have a contained bathroom with a shower. Another house that is popular among the guests has a semi-outdoor bathroom. Jiwa Laut is not a hotel either, so there is no room service or a phone line connected to the front desk.
Being in the middle of a lush garden, guests need to bring insect repellent to stay away from insect bites. Guests also need to bring their own amenities, since only the towel and soap are provided. During the day, the air inside the house is refreshinf since the wind blows from the opened windows and door, and at night, as the weather becomes chilly, the air conditioner is basically not necessary. However, a fan and electric insect killer is provided in the room, just in case. The only sound I heard at night was the roar of the sea waves which were soothing for me. Watching or staring at the starry sky should not be skipped either. On a clear and dark sky, the stars twinkle brightly which I could observe in the parking area.
Both Ira and Fab will serve breakfast, lunch, or dinner–which is not included in the room rate–depending on the guests’ request. The food needs to be requested in advance, so they can prepare the materials. The hosts try to support the local farmers that supply the raw materials. Sometimes they take them from their own gardens, such as vegetables or fruits. All food is organic, freshly cooked or prepared, and yummy. Ira and Fab usually join with the guests during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The conversation can be about anything, from the light to serious one but it is entertaining. The kitchen that is situated next to the dining table will be closed by 9 pm.
Guests are free to have their food outside Jiwa Laut or stay out on the beach at night.
What to See
The owners who also live there will gladly give suggestions about the places to see in the area. Guests can have a day excursion in the neighboring village, track the village, and visit the caves there. Ira and Fab can help to arrange it.
Some beaches in Gunung Kidul area can be explored on foot on the coastline, but some need to be accessed by the connecting road. Watukodok and Drini beaches are walking distance from Jiwa Laut. The beaches can be very crowded on the weekend with visitors from the neighboring cities. Prepare small cash for the entrance tickets to each beach.
For safety reasons, swimming in the ocean is not allowed, just follow the instructions from the locals. Getting food on the beach is not an issue, especially on weekends, since there are a lot of food vendors by the beach with fish and seafood as the main dishes.
The easy way to get to Watu Kodok Beach from Yogjakarta City is by taking an online taxi through the application. Another way is taking Damri bus from Malioboro (in front of Bank Indonesia) to Baron Beach, which is close to Watu Kodok Beach. From Baron Beach, take a motorcycle taxi to Jiwa Laut in Watu Kodok Beach.
The Damri bus runs every day from Malioboro to Pantai Baron with the following schedule: 6.30, 7.30, 12.30, and 13.30.
Going back to Yogyakarta, take Damri bus from Pantai Baron. The schedule is as follows 8.30, 9.30, 14.30 and 15.30. Taking an online taxi is possible, but it should be from a more accessible spot like a bigger village like Wonosari. The owner could give suggestions.
When leaving, make sure it is at least four or five hours before departure time, to anticipate the congestion of the big buses that also leave the beach area from the Gunung Kidul beaches.
Jiwa Laut is not a regular place. It is for those who want to stay close to nature while enjoying listening to the roars of the sea waves, and songs of insects or birds, being in nature and watching the starry nights. It is not a place for those who need luxury or keep engaging with daily habits like watching television, sleeping in an air-conditioned room, or connecting to the internet. It is a place to detox your five senses from what you call modern life. Both Ira and Fab are helpful and trying to make your stay as memorable as possible. ©️wahyunikamah