[Bira – Sulawesi.]
Bira is a beach town at the far south of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. It’s popular for its beautiful beaches and great diving spots.
Given its isolated location it’s not an over-developed beach spot, which for some people this is part of its charm. Unless you are going to Selayar Island this is the end of the line.
Bira’s location was part of its appeal for me. Other travellers I met here were hard-core divers or were slow-travelling their way around Indonesia.
Bira Beach is the most popular of the beaches. Here is where the beach huts with tourist stalls and restaurants are. The beach has soft, white sand, but the low tide which reveals a staggering amount of broken glass in the sand. I walked in my flip-flops after seeing all the glass which was a shame because the sand was so soft to walk on.
The best beach in Bira also happens to be the quietest. Too quiet perhaps as there are no amenities here (not even a coconut vendor).
Once you walk by the rock that marks the end of Bira Beach the beach here opens out into a long, sandy expanse with perfect white sand.
[East Beach – Bira.]
If you dream about escaping to a remote Indonesian fishing village then this might fit the bill.
The East beach is just north of the ferry harbour.
It’s a working fishing village with traditional Bugis houses that are common in South Sulawesi.
[Traditional Bugis houses.]
The sand is perfect, soft, white, sand, and at the end of the beach there are boat builders which is interesting to watch being made.
There are a few places to stay here but it is still very much a village. There is even a cemetery on prime beach-front property.
The main problem here is the rubbish. There is so so much plastic and fishing-related garbage on the beach, which seems to be a common problem throughout Indonesia.
[Rubbish on the beach.]
Where to stay
Bira Beach is where most of the accommodation is. The best way to find a place to stay is to walk around and ask. Most of the home stays aren’t on any booking sites, and I’m always reluctant to make a booking via a yahoo email. For online bookings try your luck with Agoda.
I stayed at the Riswan Guest House in Bira which cost 120,000 IDR. That was a typical budget guesthouse with a bucket shower (I told you it was budget!) I found some nicer rooms (with functional bathrooms) for 200,000 IDR and above. It’s best to see what is available once you are there, and you can negotiate.
Anda Beach Hotel is located on the cliff overlooking the beach. You can’t miss it as the restaurant is a ship.
[Anda Beach Hotel.]
Cosmos Bungalows has one of the best locations of any of the beach accommodations. The cafe/restaurant is perched over the beach which is accessible via a rickety stair case. Behind the cafe are bungalows with beach views.
Kaluku Cottages have bungalows next to the beach and a cafe that faces the water. I didn’t stay here but the cafe was my favourite in Bira and the location is ideal.
[Kaluku Kafe Cottages.]
How to get to Bira Beach
From Makassar there are buses and Kijang’s that depart from the Malengkeri Bus Terminal. A taxi from the Chinatown/Fort Rotterdam area to the terminal is about 50,000 IDR. Allow 30 minutes travel time.
[Kijang’s at Malengkeri Bus Terminal.]
I got the Aneka Trans bus which cost 150,000 IDR. This took 5.5 hours, including 30 minute lunch. This bus continues to Selayar Island via the ferry at Bira, so you will be dropped off at the road to Bira Beach, which is a 10 minute walk.
I returned in a Kijang which was 90,000 IDR in a vehicle that can carry eight passengers, but sometimes squeeze in more. You can offer to buy another seat if there are not enough passengers to get started. On the way I was offered to pay 200,000 to get the car started (there were only two other passengers).
The Kijang took 4 hours and 40 minutes, though it also spent 30 minutes picking up passengers. There was only a ten minute toilet break on this trip and the seating is tight, so it’s a more uncomfortable trip than the bus.
Lonely Planet Indonesia – Information on Bira in the Sulawesi section, and great coverage of where else to go in Sulawesi.
Bira Photo Gallery – Photo gallery of my visit to Bira.