There’s more to Indonesia than Bali.
Whether you’re a surfer or a spa enthusiast, Bali is one of the most idyllic places in the world to soak up the sunshine. It’s certainly worthy of the acclaim and attention that it has received in recent years, as it is truly a remarkable island, but I wonder, how many people know that Bali is not a country, and is instead merely just a speck amongst the thousands of islands that make up Indonesia? There’s more to Indonesia than Bali and this short guide will take you through some of Indonesia’s greatest islands, set to give Bali a run for its money.
Image Credit: SkySeeker
Next to Bali lies one of the more well-known Indonesian islands, Lombok. This beautiful island is a toned down version of its popular sister. Quiet, secluded and often deserted beaches Selong Belanak and Mawun are the ideal spots to take a dip in the clear blue waters or to relax in peace on the soft white sand.
There are a number of epic cascading waterfalls dotted around the island, most notably Tiu Teja and Tiu Kelep, but Mount Rinjani is the centrepiece of the island.
It is much revered amongst the locals, and recognised as a sacred place. Wherever you are stood on the island, this will be your reference point. This mammoth volcano, like many in the region, is still active and the courageous amongst you will be excited to hear that for a voyage to the top, you will be rewarded generously. A huge, water filled crater, measuring a staggering 6 by 8.5km in width and 660ft in depth, sits on top. Its bright blue appearance matches the sky, and a trip to the top provides truly awe inspiring views of surrounding Lombok, and in clear conditions, Bali. The main allure however, is the number of rejuvenating and refreshing hot springs that are formed in this lake. Many will venture to the hot springs, skipping the crater, just to feel the warmth of this volcanic water on their skin. At 6600ft in the sky, this is a surreal experience.
Being so close to Bali, it’s not long before Lombok becomes a permanent fixture on the world’s island hopping scene, so make sure you make it to Lombok before the whole world does.
2. Komodo Island
Image Credit: Gabriel
Behind Bali, Komodo Island is probably the most recognisable of the Indonesian islands, and it’s all thanks to one animal. This isn’t just any animal though, I’m talking about the world’s largest lizard, The Komodo Dragon. The 390km² Komodo National Park is home to 4000 of these incredible creatures and they’ve had people flocking to the island for years. These friendly giants can grow to over 3 metres in length, so it’s the closest you’ll ever come to making contact with a real life dinosaur.
The national park itself is incredibly diverse, made up of dense forests, beaches, savannas and shrub-lands, where visitors can enjoy meeting the Komodo dragons in their natural environment.
The park is also home to a number of other wild animals such as pigs, monkeys and horses. As well as being a fantastic environment for the dragons, the island is also an incredible environment for diving. Batu Balong, a 20 metre wall of rock lies underwater on the coast of Komodo amongst the unspoiled coral. This underwater wall acts as a paradise for marine life, causing hundreds of different species to pass through daily, making this one of the best dive sites in the world. If diving isn’t your thing, then the pink beaches of Komodo are a unique addition to the island, formed from old coral, they are a great place to watch the masses of flying foxes gliding through the twilight sky. Komodo is the only place to see these fascinating animals in their natural habitat and although the preservation of them and their habitat is thanks to tireless conservation efforts, if the dinosaurs are anything to go by, it’s recommended you take a trip there sooner rather than later.
Image Credit: Gabriel
If you’re on your way to Komodo Island, Flores Island is the gateway you’ll more than likely pass through, and like most of the many islands that make up Indonesia, the beaches here need no introduction. They are no less than tropical paradises, ideal for complete relaxation. Flores has more to offer than just quality beaches, because it has something so unique and breathtaking that it almost doesn’t seem real.
Kelimutu National Park is the main draw of the island, as it’s the home of Mount Kelimutu.
The winding roads of this peak can be navigated in the comfort of a car, however the remaining 1.5km and 127 steps need to be conquered on foot. On the very top you’ll find three lakes of differing colour and what’s so unique about these lakes is that throughout the year, like a chameleon, they will change colour. As the water glows so prominently below, the sheer vibrancy of these colours will almost certainly make you question whether what you are seeing is in fact reality. You might be greeted by green waters one year and blue the next, in fact the lakes have been known to turn black, or shades of dark brown- this is all completely unpredictable. The locals believe that the lake’s colours are dictated by the neglected, ancestral souls of the island, but why not visit and decide for yourself.
Image Credit: Bryn Pinzgauer
This paradisaical island is the perfect sunny retreat for those looking for minimal travel times, as due to a more northern location, this remote island is conveniently accessed from Singapore in a matter of hours. Guests have the option to stay at the Telunas beach resort on the larger island of Pulau Sugi, which is a more family orientated stay, boasting abundances of activities such as waterfall trekking, low rope courses, kayaking and sports. However, the true gem is the private island of Telunas. This is the ideal location to pamper yourself in complete luxury.
Visitors can stay in one of the iconic, traditional Indonesian stilt houses, which stand boldly in the ocean, as the waves lap gently against them.
The design of these eye-catching two storey houses is in keeping with the focus on natural beauty, where upcycled wooden boats have been used to craft attractive furniture. Each stilt house benefits from the luxury of a private terrace that overlooks the ocean. Guests can enjoy time spent on the terrace catching the sunshine, spotting the sea life and admiring the sun sets. Once the sun goes down, Telunas is the perfect location away from bright city lights to enjoy some star gazing, using the resort’s telescope. Visit this private island for a utopian experience that doesn’t cost the world.
Image Credit: Ratha Grimes
This private eco resort may be slightly off the beaten track, but not to worry, as the journey itself is part of the appeal. Weaving through the sporadically strewn islands on speed boat is almost certainly the best way to experience Indonesia’s Raja Ampat area.
Gliding through lagoons as you attract entourages of dolphins, you’ll feel a million miles away from the buzz of urban life.
Your destination is set amongst a plethora of uninhabited islands, so you will feel the tranquility. Primarily, this is the ultimate location for divers looking to dive rich reefs, abundant with sea life, but for non-divers this island is also perfection. The resort’s accommodation is reminiscent of our wildest dreams of paradise. Stay in a stunning sea cottage. You’ll have your own private hammock that hangs invitingly over the water, meaning the crystal clear sea is just a step away. Built with reclaimed tropical hard woods, the accommodation follows the eco-vibe of the entire resort, which specialises in the conservation of sea life, with particular focus on their shark and manta sanctuaries. Misool is about as far away as it gets from the franticness of the towns and cities around the world that lead us to want to travel in the first place.
Featured Image Credit: Rice Planters in Lombok, Andolent