That’s not to mention the staggering wildlife, from huge Komodo dragons to the tiny tarsiers of Tangkoko National Park, and scores of wild orangutans cavorting among the jungles of Bukit Lawang. But beyond these obvious charms lies an abundance of undiscovered territory. The far-flung Banda Islands are a diver’s paradise, while a boat trip along Borneo’s great rivers offers a taste of traditional Dayak life.
However, we’ve outlined a handful of top contenders to consider for your Indonesia trip.
With its emerald-green rice terraces and artistic culture, Bali has long been the poster child of the Indonesian islands. The popular Kuta-Legian-Seminyak conurbation has an 8km sweep of golden sand lined with accommodation, shops, and bars, while neighboring Canggu is less developed with wilder beaches. For action, the Bukit peninsula is a surfing hotspot, and the tranquil island of Nusa Lembongan and beach resorts of Amed and Padang Bai have excellent snorkeling and diving. Ubud is the undisputed cultural capital of Bali for its traditional dance and music performances and cluster of yoga studios and art galleries.
Lombok and Gili Islands
Around 35 kilometers east of Bali, Lombok has more unspoiled beaches than its neighbor and less traffic and pollution. Visually, it’s stunning, with the awesome bulk of Gunung Rinjani rising above turquoise crater lakes. Just off-shore, the fabled Gili Islands are ringed by white-sand beaches and pristine coral reefs. Of the three, Gili Trawangan is the party island, while Gili Air and Meno have a mellower vibe.
Java’s central spine is dominated by volcanoes, their fertile slopes supporting glimmering rice fields dotted with countless villages. To the south is the homeland of the ethnic Javanese and the center of their traditional arts, culture, and language, epitomized by the royal courts of Yogyakarta and Solo. To the east, the volcanic massif of Gunung Bromo offers excellent hikes, particularly at sunrise. Elsewhere are the ancient temples of the Dieng Plateau, the turquoise lake of Kawah Ijen, and the palm-fringed beaches around Pangandaran.
An explorer’s paradise, much of Sumatra remains undiscovered. Most of the highlights on the beaten path are clustered to the north of the old Trans-Sumatran highway: the orangutan-filled jungles of Bukit Lawang; Danau Toba, the spiritual heartland of the fascinating Batak tribe; the twin volcanoes of Berastagi; and the diving sites of Pulau Weh. To the west, you’ll discover Bukittinggi – the cultural capital of the Minangkabau Highlands – and the jungle-rimmed lake of Danau Maninjau.
Occupying the southern two-thirds of Borneo, Kalimantan remains largely untouched by tourism. With few roads, the interior’s great rivers are its highways, and a boat trip along the waterways will offer a taste of traditional Dayak life. More intrepid explorers can spend weeks navigating their way through seldom-ventured tropical jungle, and a visit to one of the national parks could bring you face to face with wild orangutans.
Flores comprises one of the most alluring landscapes in Indonesia. The volcanic spine of the island soars to 2500m, and torrential wet seasons result in a lushness that marks Flores apart from its scorched neighbors. The most arresting sight is Kelimutu: the three craters of this extinct volcano each contain a lake of different, vibrant, and gradually changing colors.
Off the west coast of Flores lies Komodo National Park, a group of parched but majestic islands that are home to the endemic Komodo dragon. The largest extant lizard in the world, this fearsome creature weighs up to 150lbs and has a toxic bite, allowing them to hunt far bigger prey. The two most-visited islands in the national park are Komodo and Rinca; received wisdom has it that the dragons on the former are bigger but harder to spot.
Sulawesi’s unusual “K” shape means nowhere on the island is much more than 100km from the sea. Mountains isolate its four separate peninsulas from one another and from the outside world – invaders were hard-pushed to colonize beyond the coast, and a unique blend of cultures developed. The south is split between the highland Torajans and the lowland Bugis; various isolated tribes occupy the central highlands, and the Filipino-descended Minahasans reside in the far north. The mountainous Tanah Toraja is the island’s chief attraction, thanks to its beautiful scenery, unusual architecture, and vibrant festivals.
Jakarta is Indonesia’s unrivaled megalopolis, home to almost 30 million people across its 700-square-kilometer concrete sprawl. Though many travelers don’t give the capital a second glance, there’s nowhere better to experience Indonesia’s pulsing dynamism and heart-rending contrasts. Give the city a chance, and you’ll discover everything from fascinating ethnic and historical quarters and interesting museums to heady nightlife and gargantuan new malls.
Enjoy your travel adventure in Indonesia, a country that never fails to captivate with its diversity and natural beauty! For more information, visit Ekilove.