The small fishing village Kokas one of those unexpectedly interesting places that you sometimes stumble across on your travels. Firstly, there’s the Japanese WWII fortress on the edge of town which comprises of disused weaponry, a bunker and a hand dug tunnel going back 138m into the hillside.
Then there are the numerous ancient rock paintings, cliff side graves and stalactite caves scattered along the limestone cliffs surrounding Berau Bay and the coastline eastward passed the neighbouring fishing villages of Andamata, Fior, Forir, Darembang and Goras. There are also rock paintings in the opposite direct near Arguni and Uga villages.
The age of the rock art sites is unknown but they are certainly many thousands of years old and show remarkable similarity to ancient Aboriginal paintings found in northern Australia. Consisting of mostly handprints and animal depictions applied with red ochre, the locals call them Tapuraran, meaning “blood paintings” and despite their age, many of the galleries are surprisingly well preserved.
Apart from the paintings, be sure to drop into one or two of the little villages. Fior is particularly quaint. The village only has around 60 residents living on a beach around a mosque and a tiny town square where they dry their fish.
Kokas is located on the mid-north coast of the Bomberai Peninsular about 50km’s due north of Fakfak. A daily public bus runs between the two towns and takes about 2 hours. The Japanese fortress is just a short walk from town. To reach the rock art sites you’ll need to hire a longboat as they’re only accessible from the sea. Just head down to the wharf area and ask around. All the local boatmen know where to find the paintings and charge around 400.000Rp for the round trip. Be aware that some boatmen try to save money by only taking people to the nearest sites within 30min of Kokas so make sure you’re very clear about where you want to go. You should allow at least half a day but you could easily spend an entire day exploring if you’re so inclined.