When the island of Krakatoa (Krakatau) in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra erupted in 1883, it literally blew itself and the surrounding archipelago apart. Estimated as the equivalent of letting off 200 megatons of TNT, the explosion completely obliterated settlements on adjacent islands, Banten on Java and Lampung on Sumatra. It was so loud it was heard 3,110km away in Perth, Australia and in Rodrigues near Mauritius, some 4,800km away. The pressure wave radiated out more than 1,000km, unleashing a series of devastating tsunami’s that according to the Dutch authorities of the time, killed over 36,000 people. Some sources say the real number was closer to 120,000.
In the aftermath of the eruption there were reports of human skeletons washing up on the east coast of Africa up to year after the eruption, having floated across the Indian Ocean on rafts of volcanic pumice. The northern hemisphere experienced irregular weather patterns for up to five years with higher temperatures and higher rainfall. The south-western tip of Java and several offshore islands were never repopulated and having reverted to jungle is now the Ujung Kulon National Park.
Krakatoa lay dormant until 1927 when a new island, Anak Krakatoa (Child of Krakatoa) emerged from the 1883 caldera. It’s been active ever since, rumbling and emitting occasional spouts of smoke and lava and no doubt making locals very nervous whilst providing adventurous travelers with an unforgettable experience.
There are number of tour companies offering all inclusive Krakatoa tours or you can visit independently; either way the experience is much the same. From Jakarta you need to travel to Carita Beach by private car (about 3 hours) or public bus via Labuan then transferring to a bus to Serang, onward to Anyer and finally Carita Beach. From Carita’s Marina Lippo you can charter a boat to take you out into the Sunda Strait for a close up view of Krakatoa and if you’re lucky, sightings of dolphins, tuna and fling fish.
An extremely popular option is to camp overnight on nearby Sertung Island, right on the black volcanic sand beach opposite Krakatoa. The sight of Krakatoa’s lava streams and embers glowing in the darkness is unforgettable. Optional activities include swimming, snorkeling and exploring Sertung Island. If camping’s not your bag, there’s a decent range of accommodation at Carita Beach.