A Guide To Indonesia’s Most Beautiful Islands

When you’re looking into visiting Indonesia, it’s easy to struggle to choose which destinations to go for. With 17,508 islands as part of this massive archipelago, there are certainly a lot of options and I wouldn’t blame you for struggling with it.

That being said, if you’re limited with time, or you just want to head to a couple of more popular islands without missing out on any of the important ones, we’ve got you covered. Read on, as we take a look at some of Indonesia’s most beautiful islands and why you should definitely visit them!

Komodo National Park is located in the border region between the provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara

Komodo National Park

Even though technically, the Komodo National Park is a group of islands, we could wholeheartedly suggest visiting all of them as part of your Indonesia tour. Komodo, Padar and Rinca are the three major islands part of the national park, but you also have 26 smaller islands. The wildlife is absolutely incredible, and the national park is home to the Komodo dragon, which is the world’s largest lizard species on Earth.

For starters, you can explore Padar island, and then head to Komodo, eventually wrapping things up with Rinca. The coral life is absolutely incredible all around, and if you want to witness it best, a cruise is a way to go because you’ll get up close and personal with the crystal clear waters. To add to this, if you’ve got the opportunity, the national park is a perfect destination for snorkeling and diving, with some stunning underwater flora and fauna.

View of Kao Bay from the top of Cape Barnabas, North Halmahera, North Maluku, Indonesia

Maluku Islands

They go under a few different names – the Maluku Islands, the Moluccas, the Spice Islands, but all the names refer to a single group of islands, which at one point was the only source of nutmeg in the world. This is where their nickname comes from, and this is why back then, they were a major point of contention for nations all around.

The nation that would eventually turn out victorious, especially after the notorious Spice War, were the Dutch, and they went on to establish a monopoly over the islands, and consequently, the nutmeg trade. It was a monopoly that lasted for years until nutmeg seedlings were smuggled for cultivation in Mauritius. The Dutch actually built quite a lot, especially architectural fortifications, and many of them are, even today, in surprisingly great shape – you can visit them if you’re there. Not much has changed over the years, and you’ll get the feeling like you’re walking through a museum.

If you’re keen on stunning landscapes, there’s also Gunung Banda API, which is an active volcano, but one you shouldn’t be worrying about – the last eruption was in 1988. The result of the eruption was a completely rebirth of coral life, with underwater thermal springs that have, altogether, resulted in a magnificent underwater environment you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

Klingking Beach in Bali, Indonesia
Klingking Beach in Bali, Indonesia

Bali

It’s impossible to talk about Indonesia without mentioning Bali, a destination that’s extremely popular for tourists nowadays because it gives you pretty much everything Indonesia has to offer in one tightly packed island. Of course, due to this, it’s not ideal for people who want a calmer environment and a bit more privacy, because the island is bustling with tourists, 24/7, year-round.

If you still want to head there, a good starting point is Nusa Dua Beach, a beautiful, calm, and relaxed beach that has magnificent diving spots. You also have Ubud, which offers a staggering amount of things to do and explore, such as local markets, waterfalls, and temples. Oh, and the nightlife – parties can get very crazy, very quickly.

The downside of Bali, as we mentioned, is the crowds, which make things difficult, especially when it comes to getting around the island. If you’re only there for a few hours, don’t make the mistake of renting a car – you’ll be stuck in traffic before you know it. Instead, go for a tuk-tuk and an experienced driver.

Pianemo karst islands of Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The Pianemo karst islands of Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Raja Ampat

One of the world’s most beautiful destinations, Raja Ampat is often considered to be paradise on earth by many travelers who have visited the area. It’s actually a group of about 600 islands, out of which there are four big ones – Batanta, Salawati, Waigeo, and Misool, and that’s where the name comes from. Conveniently, it translates into “Four Kings”.

Raja Ampat is popular as a prime diving and snorkeling destination, thanks to an incredible coral life that combines deep drop-offs, magnificent reef flats, and secret bays, as well as protected coral gardens. There’s something for everyone, and you’ll enjoy every moment you spend there – it’s that incredible.

Last but not least, it’s also worth mentioning that the region surrounding Raja Ampat is the meeting point of the Indian and the Pacific ocean, which have an average height difference of about six inches. The water movement is stunning, which significantly impacts biodiversity – in a good way, of course.

What other Indonesian islands would you recommend?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

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