What is your ideal holiday? Perhaps a tropical island somewhere near the equator? An island boasting both soft white sand beaches and even black ones? One with a jungle and hilly interior as well as a volcano that seem to follow you wherever you go? Ok, we’ll stop with the questions. It is quite easy to spot it – this island is Bali. Also known as the Island of the Gods, this is one of the most desirable places on Earth. Nowhere can you find an interesting mix of culture, nature, food, religion and exotic people in one place. And we know what you are thinking, what else is there beyond Bali?
Bali’s reputation as a pleasing holiday destination is well documented. Many visitors will be there while you are there. And that is a given. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the island. There’s a little something for everyone here, whether you are a part of a group, an adventurer, one in a family or enjoy a romantic time with a loved one.
But somehow, you have that burning desire to find out a little more, to be somewhere outside of the main tourist trail. Well, there are over 17,000 islands in Indonesia, after all. And some are just nearby Bali as well. If you are looking to jump ship and explore some of the immediate area’s lesser visited islands, here is your guide.
Sometimes, you don’t have to venture out too far for paradise. If Bali isn’t enough of one for you, hop on a boat in Padang Bai, Eastern Bali and enjoy the scenic ride to Lombok, what many have commented as Bali 20 years ago. For some, this is perhaps what they were looking for when they envisioned Bali in the first place; beautiful beaches, majestic waterfalls, a looming volcano (here, it is Mount Rijani) and with relatively few tourist. Let’s take a look around the island.
- Kuta Beach – It may share the same name as Bali’s party-beach as well as tides for surfing, but that is where the similarity pretty much ends. You can’t ask for better scenery than this, with cliffs, hills and mountains surrounding the area and the beach. Speaking of beach, some say this may just be the best In Indonesia, with pristine white and soft sand and postcard like ocean waters. Sometimes, you just have to pinch yourself.
- Mount Rinjani – An active volcano in North Lombok. It towers at over 3700 meters above sea level, earning the distinction as Indonesia’s second highest volcano. There is a beautiful crater lake and a hot spring up there. If you love trekking, this is a prime spot for you. This is, however, a very active peak, with activity being recorded as recent as 2010.
- Gili Islands – Just off the coast of West Bali are the Gili Islands. These are a set of three small, relaxing and idyllic spots. These are some of the most peaceful places around; there are no cars or motor vehicles to disturb your tropical beachside holiday.
From Lombok, some head on east to Sumbawa. And guess what, even Indonesians consider this island remote. Three times as large as Lombok but with a third of its population, Sumbawa is practically all yours. And you’ll experience for yourself the beauty tropical island beauty that many will have missed out for not coming here.
Looking for more volcanoes, crater lakes and hot springs? This is the island to go to. Mount Kelimutu is the name and changing lake colors is the game. That’s right, the crater lake changes color like a reptile in camouflage mode, shifting between turquoise, green, red and delicious chocolate brown (sadly, it does not sweeten). Nevertheless, the phenomenon is amazing and is explained by the change in the minerals’ chemical reaction triggered by gaseous volcanic activity. Head on west if you wish to face the Komodo Dragons. Flores has good snorkeling and scuba diving in several locations along the north coast.
Now that we are in the topic of large dragons, let’s put the spotlight on the island. Yes, Komodo is the official home of the Komodo Dragons. And yes, they are dangerous animals! Be sure that you are in the company of park rangers at all times. There is also a unique phenomenon you should check out while in Komodo. Pink Beach is home to, yes, you guessed it, pink beaches. And the attraction is not just limited to the sands; the waters are just as nice, exuding a strikingly blue glow. Go ahead, jump in.
The island is Timor. The countries are East Timor in the east and Indonesia in the west. The Indonesian part of the island is called West Timor (quite logically). The reality is that this is one of the less visited of all Indonesia, but blessed with impressive scenery and rugged terrain. Here, you’ll encounter ancient tribes that still adhere to their traditional dress and ways. The area where this is most prominent is Boti, where the practice is actually enforced by the king, yet is happily, proudly and duly carried out by his subjects.
Sharing the island of Borneo with Malaysia, the vast but sparsely populating area of Indonesia presents one of the world’s richest areas in terms of biodiversity. In fact, the rainforest is even older than the Amazon. If you are interested in untouched and ancient (and we mean ancient) tribes, then head inland. Here, you’ll meet the Dayak Tribe, known for their intricate body tattoos and enormous earrings, among others.
Indonesia is a vast and enormous country with just too many islands that there never really is an official count. So, it’d be impossible to list them all here. We have, however, compiled some pretty cool ‘out of the main tourist trail’ spots that should appease those looking to further their Indonesia experience beyond Java, Sumatra and Bali.
Two of the islands mentioned are in our seven day Flores & Komodo Explorer tour. Of course, there is much more to this huge country. See what’s in store for you by checking out our Indonesia tours page.
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