A coastal fishing village that has seen rapid tourism development in recent years, the beach resort of Palabuhanratu was packed with two million holidaymakers during the three days of Lebaran festivities.
Situated on the south coast of Java in Sukabumi district, Palabuhanratu beach resort is only a three-hour drive - through picturesque mountain villages - from Jakarta and Bandung.
"As of Tuesday afternoon, around 2 million holidaymakers have flocked to the stunning beach with good surfing conditions," Sukabumi Tourist Rescue Agency (Balawista) spokesman Erik said here on Wednesday.
He noted that Palabuhanratu was a popular tourist resort among holidaymakers from Jakarta, Bandung and other places because of its breathtaking beauty with hills, mountains and wide sandy beaches overlooking the deep blue Indian Ocean.
Right next to the long stretches of white beaches, visitors can find thick tropical forests on rolling hills.
"Taking walks uphill will enable them to have a view of the horseshoe shape of the bay`s coastline, whereas at night hundreds of fishing boats` lamps seemingly compete with the star-studded sky above. It is both enchanting and romantic," Erik said.
He noted that only 50,000 holidaymakers visited the beach resort of Palabuhanratu on the second day of Lebaran festival, but the numbers rose sharply and touched 2 million on the third day (Tuesday).
"But the numbers are approximate and are likely to keep rising until Saturday, the last day of the long Lebaran holidays," Erik said, adding that the holidaymakers, most of whom were students and workers, would return to their schools and workplaces on Monday.
Palabuhanratu is a place of picturesque and unique beauty, enhanced by steep cliffs and the roaring waves breaking on the beach.
The famous deep blue waters of Palabuhanratu Bay provide both visitors and locals with an opportunity to enjoy a wide range of water sports.
In addition to the ever popular swimming and surfing activities, there are boating, wind-surfing, deep-sea fishing and water-skiing facilities available.
This area represents unspoiled beauty in a typically tropical setting with hospitable inhabitants.
Because of its proximity to Jakarta, the area sees more tourists from the capital than from Bandung.
Moreover, the highways to and from Palabuhanratu have recently been greatly improved to ensure that visitors enjoy a smooth ride.
But the sea and many parts of the south coast of Java are treacherous, with massive rip currents.
Therefore, the visitors are warned against swimming in the dangerous waters of Palabuhanratu.
The beautiful but deadly sea has a legend attached to it. Locals well know the story of Nyi Loro Kidul, the Queen of the South Seas, who took seafarers to their deaths.
Head of the Sukabumi Search and Rescue agency Okih Fajri said tourists had been warned not to swim too far into the sea, adding that "a black flag marks the beginning of dangerous waters".
He stated that two local tourists drowned, with another one still missing, while swimming at the dangerous area off Palabuhanratu on Tuesday.
One of the victims, Dewi (19), was still alive when brought ashore but she died not long after receiving emergency treatment at a local hospital.
The other victim was Kiki (11), while the one still missing is Heru (19).
"They belong to a group of holidaymakers, including Fahmi (11) and Desi (15) who were also swept to the sea by the Indian Ocean waves but were saved by local rescue team," Okih noted.
He pointed out that the deep blue water of Palabuhanratu Bay was impressive and beautiful, but its strong currents must be treated with caution.
"Therefore, visitors are asked not wear green or red colour on the beach or in the water because these are the colours of Nyai Loro Kidul, the goddess of Palabuhanratu, who takes fishermen and swimmers wearing these colours into her watery kingdom," he said.
Previously just a small traditional fishing village, Palabuhanratu has grown into a beautiful holiday resort, especially for people from Jakarta seeking a break from the busy and crowded city.
The area is suitable for hiking, with magnificent rocky cliffs along West Java`s deserted southern coastline, along with deep river gorges and caves.
The beach also hosts the annual Sea Festival in April, when the fishermen sacrifice a buffalo and scatter flowers over the seawater.
Not far from the beach, there is also a beautiful national park, the natural forest of Mount Halimun Salak, situated between Sukabumi and Bogor.(Antara)