Indonesia conjures up visions of idyllic beaches on quiet, isolated islands bathed in sunshine and lined with coconut trees. There are around 18,000 islands in the archipelago although it’s estimated that only 900 of them are inhabitable. So when it comes to choosing a favourite island or two, you are really spoilt for choice.
But with this said there are five islands that have become firm favourites with visitors from all over the world. These island gems offer a superb diversity of landscapes, sceneries and ambiance. And a few of them are considered as iconic whereas others are not that well known. Here are just five of them to consider when visiting Indonesia.
1. A Divers Paradise – The island of Sabang
Scuba diving in the waters around the island of Sabang takes you to fascinating dive sites. Exploring these underwater worlds is an experience not to be missed. The island of Sabang is also called Pulau Weh and it’s one of the hidden gems in the archipelago that’s remote, unspoilt and beautiful.
The beaches are as you would expect are fabulous. Gapang and Iboih are the best ones to dive off but remember there’s nothing flashy about the island. It’s unspoilt, so don’t expect to find resorts or a bustling night life scene because it doesn’t happen. The island is a wonderful destination to just kick back and enjoy the mellow, laid back ambiance of the place and the wonderful diving.
2. A Quiet Rural Retreat – Sumba
Looking for a remote Indonesian island free of tourists so you can recharge your batteries? The island of Sumba could be the ideal location to head for. You’ll find this island different from the others – it boasts a gorgeous rural landscape with deserted beaches. The locals are extremely friendly; in fact they are the most welcoming in the whole of Indonesia.
The south of the island is the best place to stay if you want to be close to some of the best beaches in the archipelago – although this award often goes to Tarimbang in East Sumba. You get to stay in a hut on the beach which to say the least is idyllic.
3. Adventure Mecca – Sumatra
In 2004, Sumatra was devastated by a tsunami. Slowly and surely the island is being rebuilt to become what it has always been considered to be – the ultimate adventure destination that Indonesia has to offer. The jungles of Sumatra are incredible with lakes (danaus) that are out of this world, the flora on fauna of the island is fabulous too. One attraction is Bukit Lawang where you can spot orang-utangs in their natural habitat. They sometimes like to get too close to anyone who visits there – so it’s worth keeping an eye on these lovely creatures when you do go to see them.
The island has a lot to boast about when it comes to adventure holidays. From superb hikes up a volcano to some of the best surfing on the planet, Sumatra really does have it all.
4. A Superb Indonesian Paradise – Bali
Of all the islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, Bali is arguably the most famous of them. It would be sacrilege not to include it in the list of five best islands to visit in the region. There is a lot to this beautiful island – stunning beaches, a superb coastline, dreamlike temples and landscapes to simply take your breath away. The icing on the cake? The locals are so incredibly warm and welcoming.
The trick is to head inland to Ubud and to take a trip to Kintamani, through the jungle and past paddy fields – you get a good feel for the place and it takes you away from the tourist traps.
5. More Popular But Beautiful Nonetheless – Gili Trawangan
This is the largest of the three islands that make up the Gili islands of Lombok; Gili Trawangan has definitely become the ‘party island’ of the archipelago. However, it’s still a laid back affair with well-known DJs arriving on the island from Bali during the high season.
It remains a haven for people to get away from it all and the mood and ambiance of the place is wonderfully calm. Finding accommodation is easy and it’s affordable. The beaches are wonderful and the diving is pretty good too.
For a holiday of a lifetime, the islands that form the Indonesian archipelago offer the weary traveller the idyllic destination. Each of the islands has its own unique charm, if you’re into diving the choice is superb. If you want adventure, Sumatra has it all. If you want peace and tranquillity, you are spoilt for choice. If you want a more vibrant ambiance then you will find it on Gili Trawangan – the islands really do have it all.
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