The nation of Indonesia has literally thousands of islands for you to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing sunbath on the beach or adrenaline-pumping hike to a volcano’s summit, there is an island here for you. However, most tourists will just say “Go to Bali!” If you really want to stand out, travel to one of the remote locations on this list and don’t just enjoy something remarkable, but also something unique.
The island’s name literally translates to “The four kings,” and that will seem endlessly appropriate when you encounter the natural luxury of this scuba diving paradise. Located near West Papua with hundreds of tiny islands in this archipelago, the area itself is a lot like a mini Indonesia.
If you’re here for diving, you can stay at one of the many resorts on the main island. Once you’ve booked your accommodation you can schedule tours on a boat and hop from coral reefs to sea caves, to sandbars in the middle of the ocean. Visit famous reefs and divings spots like Cape Kri which has 374 different species of fish and Magic Mountain which is a great spot to see manta rays.
Don’t forget to book your trip to Pianemo or the Wayag Archipelago otherwise you’ll miss scenery as you’ve never seen before. Similar to the images you’ll see of Thailand’s islands, bite-sized mountains erupt out of sapphire waters as you weave in and out of deserted beaches and pristine overlooks. Wayag is quite far from the main island and would require a boat for more than 10 hours (we recommend to book with a large group to split the large overall cost). Pianemo is much closer and the trip is cheap enough to be done with a minimum of two people.
Far out in the eastern waters of Indonesia, these were voted some of the best beaches in the world by National geographic. Their untouched white sand and lack of crowds make them desirable for travelers of all shapes and sizes.
Our recommendation for the Kei is to book with a resort-like Savana or Coastal cottages and there you can get the true island-life experience. You will have one of the beautiful beaches of the Kei Kecil right next to your doorstep and evening fish grills and chats with other tourists will make you feel as if you’re a member of one big happy family. During the day ask your hotel for a trip around the island to go snorkeling and see some of the bluest coral in the pacific ocean.
Don’t be afraid to rent a scooter and bring it into the main town on Kei Kecil to see a rainbow painted village with a busy and labyrinth-like local market. Just avoid the islands during the rainy season (in January), as it can dramatically limit the activities available.
Maluku is the province with the smallest islands in Indonesia. It’s a great place to go hopping from Island to Island and do hiking and aquatic adventures. This area is also very volcanically active and most of the islands sport a fully active volcano. Halmahera is our selection because while it may be the largest island in North Maluku, it is still one of the lesser-known spots in Indonesia. I came here with a friend from Jakarta and we were able to get a homestay for 4 people for less than $5 a day (in total)!
Visit the fabulous beaches along the coast and you’ll feel like a celebrity as the only foreigners on the beach. In the very north of the island, near the town of Tobelo is the Dukono Volcano where you can still see red-glowing magma in its pit. Make sure you hire an experienced local guide for your trek as the rainforests here are dense and untamed.
Looking for a cute island paradise that won’t break the bank? Look no further than just off the coast of Sumatra. Belitung is a very tiny Indonesia island (4,800.6 km2), but the resorts on the north side of the island are absolutely fabulous and cheap enough for even the most frugal of travelers. Take up residence at one of the resorts on the north side of the island and you’ll have your own private beach swept daily.
Once you’re done at the hotel rent a motor scooter and take a trip over Tanjung Tinggi Beach to see the interestingly smooth rock formations that characterize the area. Follow that up with a trip to the local Hindu and Buddhist temples to get a little cultural feel for the island. Finally, head over to Danau Kaolin, a giant lake that was formerly the site for a mining operation. The white mineral deposits on the lacks floor give the water a unique electric blue color that makes it perfect for pictures.
There isn’t much to be said about these islands beyond the fact that they’re near Bali and have an awesome party scene. If you really must visit Bali then make sure to hop on a ferry to this place for a night of debauchery and enthusiasm.
Drugs are legal on the Gilis, or at least not policed. The locals who loiter on the beaches and boardwalks are famous for their outdoor-dirt marijuana and semi-potent magic mushrooms. We don’t recommend sampling these local delicacies, but the restaurants and bars that line the coast are guaranteed fun.
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