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Best Indonesian Islands for a Getaway

There are many reasons to travel to Indonesia. A country with over 17,000 islands, 8,000 of which are inhabited, Indonesia is like 100 countries in one.

This a land of great adventure, where dramatic landscapes of beaches and volcanos is the norm, and with a rich diversity of people, customs, cultures, animals, plants, artworks and food.

The following are our favorite Indonesian islands for your next getaway. You probably won’t make it to all 17,000 in one trip, but these destinations are a good place to start!

Komodo

Photo CC garyullah

Think dragons don’t exist? Think again! One of the islands that makes up the National Park of the same name, Komodo Island is most famous for the unique Komodo Dragon.

This is an untamed Jurassic Park-like island situated in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores.

On top of unique and exotic wildlife, it offers travelers spectacular landscapes with numerous mountains to climb, and there is amazing scuba diving in Komodo around the stunning coral reefs (the park includes one of the richest marine environments).

“Although the practice of feeding live goats to the dragons stopped a long time ago, you may still feel as if you’ve stepped straight into Jurassic Park if your visit coincides with big tour groups.” For something different, cruise the National Park on a wooden yatch.

Bali

Photo CC mikaku

One of the most popular islands in the archipelago, for most travelers, Bali is synonymous with Indonesia. And the very name evokes thoughts of a paradise, especially for first time travelers.

Though Bali is “more than a place; it’s a mood, an aspiration, a tropical state of mind.” Bali offers travelers a diverse mix of experiences; it has beaches, surfing, diving, and resorts great and small, though also a rich culture to explore for those looking for more than just a fun-in-the-sun retreat.

The small volcanic island is home to the only Hindu society in Southeast Asia, with distinctive temples and elaborate festivals for those seeking a spiritual stay.

The island’s cultural capital, Ubud, sees frequent musical and dance performances, and it is here where you will find galleries selling woodcarving, silverware, textiles, paintings and sculpture.

Also read: 101 Things To Do In Bali With Kids

Mentawai Islands

Photo CC Khairul Abdullah

The Mentawai islands are located 100 km west of Sumatra, and while there are over 40 islands in this chain, only Pulau Siberut can be accessed by tourists (overnight ferry from Padang).

A rainforest clad destination famous for surfing, this is also home to the Mentawai people; an indigenous tribe who live a semi nomadic lifestyle as hunter-gathers. The Mentawai people are known for their body art and heavy spirituality and are happy to interact and share knowledge with travelers visiting their islands.

Raja Ampat

Photo CC m.mooseler91

Travelers visit Raja Ampat for pure, unadulterated beauty. This is a chain of 1,000 islands just off Sorong which could easily be the most beautiful island chains in the whole of Southeast Asia.

“With their sublime scenery of steep, jungle-covered islands, scorching white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons, spooky caves, weird mushroom-shaped islets and pellucid luminous turquoise waters”, these islands are paradise for underwater enthusiasts in search of the best diving in the world. 75% of known coral species and almost 1300 different fish species can be found here. Raja Ampat’s diversity of marine life is a dream come true for snorkellers too. It’s like swimming in a tropical aquarium.

There is also fantastic opportunities for bird watching here. The four biggest islands are Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool.

The Gili Islands

Photo CC by Jorge Lascar

The three tiny teardrop islands of Gili lie just Northwest of Lombok, Bali’s more rugged sister island in Indonesia.  They have been growing ever more popular among backpackers over the last 10 years, but due to their remote location and under-developed circumstance, are still fairly unknown by other tourists.

Though it is their under-development that gives the Gili islands their charm, and cements them as three of the most beautiful paradise islands in the world!

The archipelago that is Gili Trawanagan, Gili Meno and Gili Air sit within spitting distance of each other, and if you were a strong enough swimmer I swear you could swim between them all!

Bintan

Sunset sea turtle

Lying just 50 minutes by boat off the southeast coast of Singapore, Bintan Island is part of the Riau Islands province of Indonesia, and is hailed as the second best tourist destination in the country after Bali.

With over 300k tourists visiting a year, the island is home to some of the most beautiful resorts that Indonesia has to offer. Highlights include the 5 star Banyan Tree Bintan and, for a more family friendly trip, Club Med Bintan Island.

Highlights include Penyengat Indera Sakti, a religious, cultural and administrative centre of the former Riao-Johor sultanate, which lies a short 15-minute boat trip off the coast of Bintan’s capital Tanjung Pinang. It’s also a great island for snorkeling with Indonesian sea turtles.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

    2 Comments

  1. Indonesia is blessed with so many islands – it seems like travelers can find something unique on all of them. Such as the Komodo Dragon and bird watching. Indonesia seems like an amazing country.

    • I count myself amazingly fortunate to be living only a short distance away at the moment (Australia). Hoping for a lot more time in Indonesia in the coming year :)

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