Island hopping in Indonesia
Explore the Indonesian Archipelago by visiting these 30+ best islands
Indonesia’s enchanting diversity – according to the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs – boasts 17,508 islands, divided into 34 provinces. There are over 300 ethnic groupings in Indonesia, with classification that is not rigid and in some cases fused by migration, cultural and linguistic influences. Have the numbers impressed you yet? Read on.
Elizabeth Pisani’s book Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation, tells of her study exploring a country inhabited by people from different ethnic groups, who between them speak 719 languages! Bahasa Indonesian is the national language, binding the nation together: “Unity in Diversity”.
But that’s not all. With this broad population comes a mix of cultures, languages, religions, traditions and histories. And of course, stunning natural beauty.
With so many to choose from, we’ve whittled it down to 30+ of our favourites.
Komodo Island is part of the Komodo National Park with the surface area covers 390 square kilometers. It is also the home to approximately 2,500 Komodo Dragon, the largest lizard on earth. The island is surrounded by some of the most tempestuous waters in Indonesia, fraught with riptides and whirlpool. Yet, as home to one of the world’s richest marine environments, divers, scientists, and photographers from around the world come to this national park to experience the astonishing biodiversity. The main attraction of this island is spotting the Komodo Dragon. But, you can also do other activities here, such as climbing Mount Ara (538m) to overlooking the expansive and beautiful view from the top. Or, exploring Kampung Komodo, a friendly Muslim Bugis village.
Located in the north of the capital city of Semarang, Karimunjawa one of the hidden gems in Indonesia. There are plenty of things offered on this island. Its pristine beach and sea are home to coral reefs that scatter in an 80 km wide area where you can find some protected biota species. The place is also famous for its exquisite panoramic views and preserved. Enjoy the mesmerizing white sand beaches spread over several points and the unique culture of the local community. Karimunjawa boasts of a massive collection of marine flora and fauna, ranging from tropical fish to the birds you can see flying above the archipelago.
Located in West Nusa Tenggara province, Lombok is an island with a total area of about 1,743 square miles. It is also surrounded by smaller islands locally called Gili. The provincial capital city is Mataram which also takes the largest area on the island. As a neighbor island with Bali, Lombok also shares similar size and density, as well as some cultural heritage. With divine beaches, the majestic Mt. Rinjani and spectacular marine life to discover, Lombok has no shortage of attractions both in and out of the water. It’s no wonder that Lombok has become one of the most popular destinations in West Nusa Tenggara.
Read our 5 TOP THINGS TO DO IN LOMBOK
The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands or Gili island triplets — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air — just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia. Each island has several small resorts, usually consisting of a collection of huts for tourists, a small pool and restaurant. Most local inhabitants live on Trawangan in a township stretching along its east side just inland (which is also where most recent development is taking place). Automobiles and motorized traffic are prohibited on the islands by local ordinance, so the preferred method of transportation is by foot and bicycle or the horse-drawn carriage called a cidomo. Scuba diving and free diving in and around the Gilis is also popular due to the abundance of marine life and attractive coral formations. Most famous diving spots are Shark point, Manta point, and Simon’s reef.
Belitung might look a little slumber compared to its neighbor, Bangka island. But, this tiny island located in the east Sumatra should be on your weekend getaway bucket list. The reason is none other than the natural beauty Belitung has. As well as how the island will bring peace and serenity to your getaway. Its main island’s beaches, including Tanjung Tinggi and Tanjung Kelayang, are known for their rounded granite boulders, fine sand, and calm waters. The island’s largest town, Tanjung Pandan, features Dutch colonial architecture and a colorful harbor. Pulau Lengkuas, one of many small offshore islands, has a 19th-century lighthouse and snorkeling among its coral reefs.
Padar is the third largest island of Komodo National Park and attracts many people because of the colored sand of its bays’ beaches. One is pearly white, another charcoal black, and a third is a very rare baby pink. Padar is also a savannah-covered, mesmerizing landscape fringed by bright green-capped mountains. As well as surrounded by turquoise bays. Padar is home to a remarkable array of wildlife, especially for its size. There are six species of shark, and two of manta rays, and many different reptiles.
Situated just a ferry ride away from Singapore or Johor Bahru in Malaysia, as well as its neighboring Batam Island, Bintan is the largest island in the Riau Islands province. This island offers the perfect getaway with its high-end resorts, world-class golf courses, and a refreshing coastal atmosphere. In recent years, Bintan has also become a world-class Sport-Tourism destination attracting thousands around the world to compete in its marathons, triathlons, extreme sports and golf challenges. The Bintan Resorts have been a home for the world-renowned yearly Triathlon in the past years. There are several attractions in Bintan that might capture your interest. Including, Bintan Lagoon Resort, Penyengat Island, Trikora Beach, and Senggarang and Sebung Village.
8. Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo once was a small fishing village, but now it has become one of the most favorite tourist destinations in Indonesia. The island is a gateway for trips across the nearby islands, such as Komodo Island dan Rinca Island which part of Komodo National Park. Other than being a stopover, the island has many interesting to discover, include several waterfalls, trekking facilities, and many diverse beaches. Labuan Bajo is also known as the island of sunset where you can find plenty of vantage point to enjoy a spectacular sky every day.
Meanwhile, you can also explore The Mirror Cave, a site found in 1951 by Dutch which concludes that this island once located under water. There are three majorities of ethnic groups, namely the Manggarai, Bima, and Bugis. You can meet some of the locals in their beautiful village of Labuan Bajo. The Melo village, in West Manggarai, is known as one of the tourism villages that travelers would come by. Welcoming ceremonies and traditional dances will greet you warmly upon your visit.
Also known as the Land of the Gods, Bali appeals through its sheer natural beauty of looming volcanoes and lush terraced rice fields that exude peace and serenity. It is also famous for surfers’ paradise! Bali enchants with its dramatic dances and colorful ceremonies, its arts, and crafts, to its luxurious beach resorts and exciting nightlife. And everywhere, you will find intricately carved temples.
Visit our Bali page to get a complete guide of everything in Bali.
The Mentawai Islands are a chain of about seventy islands and islets approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. Take a trip into the wild with an adventure to the Mentawai islands. Be surrounded by tropical rainforests and immerse yourself in the traditions of the local people. While the physical distance between the mainland and Mentawai is not great, this remains one of the most isolated places in Indonesia and was only subject to outside influences at the start of the 20th century. A long way from the world of shopping malls and theme parks, this is where travelers come to get a truly off the beaten track adventure.