Despite its obvious beauty, most people don’t just stumble upon Bira as their main destination when looking for paradise. There’s a couple reasons for that. First, it’s four hours away form a big city like Makassar and actually, most foreigners in Makassar are just stopping through before getting to places like Bali, Toraja or Manado. If you are living in Makassar and struggling with the city like I was, Bira is heaven to be found some hours away and can alleviate the frustrations of settling into Makassar as an expat (if you can just survive the drive on extremely poor roads).
Bira was one of the first oases to welcome us in Indonesia and woke me up to the idea that there was so much more beyond the new hectic city we called home. I had hardly any idea how intense Indonesian beauty could be, but this trip introduced me quite well. Having been to Turks and Caicos before, I was surprised at how similar the waters were there and in Bira. Mostly unheard of by tourists looking to explore Indonesia, Bira offers everything a beach lover could ever salivate over…stunning water, great diving and snorkeling, friendly locals and untapped beauty. While we visited that short weekend, we were lucky to meet the enthusiastic and charming guys at Bira Divers (the only dive center in town) and snorkeled with them while others dove. It’s worth interrupting lazy beach time to see the interesting cultural highlight of that area – traditional boat Phinisi building in the village of Tanah Beru. If lazy beach time with a backdrop of pure beauty is what you’re looking for, look no further.
There are a variety of home stays available on the main street on the way to the beach that offer basic accommodation. The good thing is that they’re so close to the beach, the dive shop and the restaurants. In terms of accommodation, your best bet is to stay at Bara Beach Bungalows or Amatoa Resort as they’re really the only upscale options in town. It’s a bit pricey for Indonesia but well worth it if you’re looking for a more refined touch to your time time in Bira.