Bira, May 2017
The southeast corner of South Sulawesi is famous for its white beaches and its boat building tradition. AccessibleIndonesia visited to survey the area as a new destination for guests with disability, particularly those who use a wheelchair.
It takes around 4 hours by car from Makassar to Bira, and a bit more if we take it easy and stop for the many great views of the landscape between ocean and mountains.
Tanah Beru is a major center of traditional Indonesian boat building. In former days the world-famous Pinisi schooners were built at its white beaches; today it is wooden cargo ships and charter vessels for the tourismindustries.
The west-coast beach of the cape of Bira is frequented by local tourists especially at weekends. Dozens of guesthouses are available; almost all of them build in the style of traditional stilt houses, with wooden ladders leading up to the rooms, therefore rather useless for wheelchair users.
On the other side of the cape, secluded between cliffs and the ocean, lies Panrangluhu, a fisher village beneath tall coconut trees. A guesthouse at the beach offers cottages which, although really not wheelchair-friendly, can be adapted to become accessible for wheelchair-users who are ready for some improvisation.
What to do in Bira? Enjoy white beaches far away from the main destinations of tourism, have a coconut milk drink right from the tree, and try the delicious fish dishes, as they are prepared by the people here. Meet the boat builders in their sheds on the beach, the women weaving beneath their stilt houses, the children playing in the waves, the fishermen and sea grass farmers. Have a cool bear in a bar at the beach at the end of the day and prepare for a quiet night under trillions of stars.