The main attraction of these islands are the lovely, long, clean and tout-free beaches, with crystal clear and surprisingly calm turquoise blue seawater. This makes for fantastic swimming diving, snorkeling and sun bathing. The sand is very fine, clean and brillant white. Numerous island just off shore (some can be reached by swimming) make for great day trips and views. One small island off Belitung houses a 18 story Dutch lighthouse built in 1889 that can be climbed.
The society's cultures are dominated by Malay and Hakka Chinese. Large numbers of Bugis and Javanese also live here. The Chinese, Bugis and Javanese we're all brought there as contract labourers by the Dutch to mine tin and help domestically. The tin mining used giant dredging boats, that is one reason for the large population of, normally seafaring, Bugis people. Their are also some Balinese kampongs and Madurese villages, moved there in Suharto era transmigration plans.
Downtown Tanjung Pandan is quite interesting due to the many Dutch Colonial buildings and shop houses. Most of the governmental buildings are the original Dutch buildings and the old Dutch tin mining housing compound is still kept up. Traditional Bugis fishing craft and an odd assortment of other boats make the wharf and fish market an interesting place, certinly for your nose, to visit.
Traditional tin mining methods are cool to watch, no chemicals just water and lots of mud. Also for those who don't live with it every day palm, coconut and pepper plantations can be interesting.
Cultural Belitung has a rich diversity of people. Check out the cool Malay style wooden house's that reminds you of the Caribean or the Bugis traditional raised houses that are half dock to dry fish. A Chinese Buddist temple is said to be one of the oldest in Indonesia built by the survivers of a ancient Chinese trading vessel. Balinese transmigrants have a thriving community that carrys on Bali's traditions and religon.