South of Bandung in West Java, eerie mists cloud dead trees around the pallid waters of an acid crater lake: Kawah Putih (White Crater). More pale turquoise than technically white, Kawah Putih fills the caldera of an extinct volcano. The water is far too acid for swimming, but you can walk out onto a jetty to photograph the unusual site.
There’s an admission fee for foreigners and a smaller ticket charge for locals at Kawah Putih, plus a small additional charge if you’d like to stroll out along the jetty to take pictures.
Kawah Putih tours depart from Bandung and typically include other nearby attractions, such as strawberry farms, tea plantations, waterfalls, and lakes, to make up a complete day trip. While you don’t need to join a tour to visit, West Java’s heavy traffic makes tours an appealing option.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A must for photographers, Kawah Putih is one of West Java’s most striking natural attractions.
- The lake sits at around 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level and can get cool. Bring a jacket.
- Vendors sell masks against sulfur fumes, which can become overpowering under certain conditions.
- Kawah Putih is much more acid than either lemon juice or vinegar. Don’t even think about dipping in a toe to test the waters.
How to Get There
About 9 miles (15 kilometers) south of the market town of Ciwidey, or 36 miles (58 kilometers) south of Bandung, Kawah Putih is fiddly to reach by public transport, requiring no fewer than four separate minibuses from Bandung. A tour is a good way to ensure the traffic-clogged roads are not your problem.
When to Get There
On weekends, it can feel as though the entire population of Bandung—all 2.5 million of them—has descended on Kawah Putih to snap selfies. Visit during the week for better traffic, people-free pictures, and a more relaxing experience all round. The lake can be particularly atmospheric early in the day.
The Colored Crater Lakes of Indonesia
Kawah Putih is one of Indonesia’s most famous colored crater lakes. Others include the three multicolored lakes at Kelimutu on Flores, and the jade green Kawah Ijen in East Java. The lakes change color as their chemical composition changes, depending on the concentration of sulfur, the involvement of oxygen, and the water temperature.