Madura is an island off the coast of East Java


Madhura ampon kalonta e manca naghara
Buja tor tana kapor
"Madura has gained world fame
Tho’ it abounds in only salt and lime"
-- Ismail

A byword for crowded poverty even in Indonesia, Madura's infertile soil has led to an estimated 10 million Madurese migrants leaving the island, with only around 4 million left to eke out a living from subsistence agriculture (corn), tobacco and cloves, salt panning, fishing and cattle farming. A larger contrast to the largely lush and fertile Java next door is hard to imagine.

Those geographic and climatic reasons, together with a lack of well known sights, make Madura as off the beaten path for travellers as it gets in this part of Indonesia.

History has not dealt the people of Madura a kind card. The island was in an almost perpetual state of conflict with different parts of the island siding with different kingdoms in various medieval Javanese conflicts. In the colonial period the rulers of the east and west Madura were often allied with the Dutch and, in return for protection, provided natural resources and troops. In World War II the Madurese suffered enormously under the Japanese.

The opening of the Suramadu Bridge in mid-2009 might just begin to change the off the beaten path nature of Madura though. There are large investment plans mooted and many of these focus on developing Madura as a tourist destination from 2010. Only time will tell but the omens look good for an island that has had little go in its favour for so long. But until early 2015, there are no sign that industrial big projects came to Madura maybe is caused by infrastructure lacks and quality of the manpower.

Tales and legends have developed around Madurese women who are famous throughout Indonesia for one thing: secretive sex techniques known as goyang Madura. These seem to involve clenching vaginal muscles in a way not unlike Kegel exercises, assisted with herbal preparations like the tongkat Madura (Madura stick) that were a minor hit in Japan a few years back.


This is a very dry and hot island recalling arid eastern parts of Indonesia.

Tourism Information Office

Madura Regency Tourist Information Office: Jalan dr Sutomo No 5, Sumenep, Madura. Tel: +62 328 667148, Tu-Sa, 7AM-3PM.


The local language is Madurese, but standard Bahasa Indonesia is widely spoken. You will find a little bit of English spoken and understood at some of the hotels and amongst well educated younger people, but that's about it.

Get in

By road

The Suramadu Bridge

The Suramadu Bridge (Jembatan Suramadu) was completed in June 2009 after a rather tortured history of stop-start construction, lack of funding and industrial accidents. At 5.5 km it is Indonesia's longest. It connects connects northern Surabaya in Java to Bangkalan in Madura. The one way toll is Rp 30,000 for a car or van and Rp 3,000 for a motorbike with the driver and passengers, if any. It is perfectly possible for visitors to cross to Madura independently using a car or motorbike rented in Surabaya. However, you should tell the hire company that you intend to drive the vehicle to Madura.

By ferry

The classic way to get to Madura involves taking a public ferry from Tanjung Perak, north Surabaya, to Kamal which is 10 km south of Bangkalan. Since the opening of the Suramadu Bridge, travellers are perhaps better off avoiding the ferry altogether, except when Suramadu suspension Bridge is closed for hours due to strong wind or person who carry big rugsack sometimes prefer to use ferry.

Privately-operated ferries have been withdrawn, and now only some of the government-subsidised ferries of Angkutan Sungai Dan Penyeberangan (ASDP) are operating. These have a limited timetable, departing daily from about 08:00 to 20:00. On January 1, 2015 ASDP increase the ticket and made more difficult to compete with Suramadu Bridge. The new tariff is: Rp 5,000 for person only, Rp 40,000 for car and Rp 7,000 for motorcycle with the driver, and become Rp 12,000 if there are second person in the back seat. For the adventurous, there is another ferry route into Madura from Jangkar in the Situbondo regency of north eastern Java. The crossing takes about 5 hours and the schedules are weather dependent and by no means certain. This ferry service arrives in Kalianget, about 10 km south east of Sumenep in eastern Madura and it makes sense if you are coming from the Baluran National Park area.

By bus

Buses from Bungarasih terminal in Surabaya run very regularly to Sumenap (and other points on Madura in between) over the Suramadu bridge.

Get around

Shuttle buses (locally called colts) ply the main south coast and north coast routes from the port at Kamal and the bridge exit point. They run all day from dawn until about 10PM.


Bull racing at Sumenep. Madura




Simple warungs and street-side vendors are the go in Madura. Whether you are looking for a seated restaurant or happy with street stalls, the key is to follow the local crowds.

The Madura style satay is probably the most popular satay variants in Indonesia.Madura dishes are often saltier than other East Java foods. Other specialities include:

Sumenep probably has the best selection of warungs and simple restaurants on the island.


Water and plenty of it. This is a harsh, hot and dry climate.

The Madurese are devout Muslims and while alcohol is not illegal, it is best avoided out of respect.


A government survey in October 2009 found just 31 accommodation options (many of them informal) on an island of 4,250 sq km. There are plans to change this though as part of the general development of the island after the opening of the Suramadu Bridge. Firm expressions of interest have come from several star-rated hotel groups to build properties in Bangkalan and Sumenep.






This is an inherently conservative island and the Madurese are pious Muslims. Many other Indonesians (unfairly) regard the Madurese as kasar (coarse or unrefined) and hot-tempered.

Madura receives relatively few foreign visitors and you are therefore likely to be a source of some curiosity. Behaviour and dress should be appropriately conservative. If you make an effort to understand and respect the Madurese, you will find them welcoming and people with a finely developed sense of humour.


The island of Madura has four telephone area codes.

The internet has been slow to penetrate and spread in Madura but that is changing and you will find options (often very slow) in Sumenep especially.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 12, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.