Indonesia has over 17,500 islands and choosing the best few to visit is like picking the next American Idol. Every island has a beauty of its own and deciding which one has it would need a lot of advice from the audience, err, travelers. Java and Sumatra are the most common choices for visitors who want to enjoy without going far from the buzz of the country’s center. But for those who want an authentic tropical indulgence, Bali is the paradise to be. Whatever you choose from the best Indonesian islands to visit on this list, you’ll surely have a nice stay.
1. Bali Island
Every tourist would surely have Bali in his or her itinerary. This island is the most famous of all the spots in Indonesia due to its breathtaking landscape, impeccable shoreline, and a very rich culture and religion. You can hike on the Mount Batur, visit Hindu temples like Uluwatu, and wonder on the rice terraces paddies. Aside from the vista of lush green, you shouldn’t miss the water sports on this island like surfing, diving, kayaking, and everything you can imagine.
Bali is the paradise of pleasures in the country. From exotic spas to panoramas that will fill your eyes, this place got it all for you. The island can be crowded during peak seasons but its numerous resorts would surely accommodate you. If you’re coming from Jakarta, you would need to hop on another plane for an hour or ride a train for 24 hours.
2. Best Indonesian Islands To Visit: Bangka-Belitung Islands
Not far from Sumatra lies the Bangka-Belitung Islands. Its azure waters and fine sand would surely charm you to stay for a couple of days. Bangka-Belitung is one of the best spots to swim and get a tan as most of its attractions are located by the shore. If you want to get out of the water for a while, you can visit the Tanjung Kelian Old Lighthouse. There are also Dutch colonial buildings dotting the best Indonesian islands to visit.
If you’re seeking a complete staycation, head to the Matras Beach also known as ‘Heaven Beach’. Many tourists are attracted to this resort because of the white sand and the coconut trees that line up the shore.
Aside from the islands, do you know that Bangka-Belitung is Indonesia’s largest producer of tin? This place is also famous for its white pepper and you can buy some as a souvenir for your trip.
3. Raja Ampat Islands
The Raja Ampat is made of about 600 islets that are famous for its diverse natural wonders, especially underwater. This is the reason why many divers and swimmers go here to take a glimpse of the rich coral treasures that is estimated to be 75% of all species in the world. Raja Ampat is also a favorite bird watching destination and you can spot rare birds here like the Wilson Birds of Paradise and the local Cendrawasih.
Since most of the shores here could be crowded with tourists, you can also try living with the locals to discover the humble culture of the residents. You can also join craft making classes on these best Indonesian islands to visit. The towering rock formations on the islets will also be nice trekking spots.
4. Flores Island
Flores means ‘flowers’ and this place is indeed sweeter than a bunch of roses or daisies. Its scenic beauty is incomparable and the fact that it’s a gateway to the Komodo island makes it a top pick among tourists. If you decided to stay here, never miss the chance to have a panoramic view of the Mount Kelimutu and its crater lakes.
You can also go around and marvel at the famous Spider Web fields where paddies are arranged in a web-like structure. Go trekking on the Padar Island or swim at the Blue Stone Beach that’s covered with blue-colored stones and pebbles.
Before you leave, make sure that you watch a performance of the Caci Dance. This is done by the indigenous Manggarai tribe as a celebration of their traditions.
5. Gili Islands
Before, Gili Islands is the secret hideaway for many backpackers who want to be far from the usual attraction in Indonesia. After being discovered by locals as a potential resort spot, Gili Islands is now accessible to tourists but with the same beauty as before. These best Indonesian islands to visit are perfect for surfing or for a yoga retreat by the shore.
If you’re heading here for honeymoon, I suggest that you go to Gili Meno which is considered as a honeymoon haven for couples. Since Gili is composed of a bunch of islets, you can do a small island hopping during your visit.
During your visit to the Gili Islands, remember to do three things: party, dive, and snorkel. If you want, you can circumnavigate one of the islets in an hour or two.
6. Banda Island
Nutmeg is what makes Banda Island a famous spot for traders in the past. Its beauty captivated the Dutch, British, and Portuguese people and until now, it’s still a favorite tourist destination. If you want a total immersion with nature, you should head here. There are no glamorous shopping malls but there are breathtaking sceneries to watch out for. To culminate your visit, you should hike on the highest point of the island which is the Gunung Api.
Overall, Banda is a raw beauty. The top and underwater views are picturesque and you can indulge in what its 10 islets can offer. You can simply take a dip in its waters and enjoy a freshly grilled fish. The locals here serve authentic Indonesian dishes that you can enjoy without the touristy atmosphere of other attractions. It’s time to go on these best Indonesian islands to visit!
7. Wakatobi Islands
Wakatobi Islands is located in the Sulawesi Tenggara province, and though secluded at the Southeast corner, it’s worth the travel. This is the best diving spot in the whole country and less crowded than the usual destinations near Java. Booking accommodation here would already entail a trip around the island and diving sessions which is a good thing if you want a one-stop vacation.
If you don’t want to dive, the shallow reefs of Wakatobi will be a good spot for snorkeling. Wakatobi is considered as the second largest coral reef in the world and it’s protected as a marine national park. Don’t miss to see a few of the 750 fish species swimming on its waters!
Even if you’re not a diving buff, Wakatobi islands will be a good host. You’ll be welcomed with dancing locals wearing batik.
If you think you’d seen it all in Bali, you may want to head a little bit on the east to see Lombok. This place is underrated but not less beautiful than the tropical paradise of Bali. Here, you can find the Kuta that’s a growing destination for surfers and backpackers due to its laid-back vibe.
Like the other islands, Lombok has its share of colonial structures as well as Hindu temples like the Taman Mayura and Taman Narmada. The best thing about Lombok is that majority of its stretch is still untouched by mass tourism. If you’re looking for a pristine island, you should head here before the locals start building resorts and tourists flocking in.
Don’t miss to have a glimpse of Mount Rinjani which is the second tallest in the country.
9. Ternate Island
I’m sure that once in your history class, you’d heard about the Spice Islands where the likes of nutmeg, cloves, and mace captured the interest of traders. Right now, one of its best Indonesian islands to visit, Ternate, is a lucrative tourist spot. The Gamalama Volcano, as well as numerous beaches like the Sulamadaha Beach, dominantly occupy this island.
If you’re a history buff, you would love touring around the island to see the Fort Oranje and Fort Tolukko which are remnants of the island’s past with the Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish colonizers. You can also check out the Batu Angus, a burnt rock from the lava flow when the Gamalama erupted.
10. Java Island
Last but definitely not the least is the Java Island that houses the country’s capital, Jakarta. The highlight of every Java tour is a pilgrimage to Borobudur and Prambanan temples. After that, you can spend a weekend at the shoreline of Anyer that faces the towering Krakatoa. If you want to be a little tramp, go to Bandung, Surabaya, and other spots in the massive land of Java. There are so many mountains to climb and marvel over here like the Mount Ijen, Mount Merapi, and Mount Bromo. You can also experience the buzz of Jakarta by indulging in the pleasures of Ancol Dreamland.
You shouldn’t miss taking a stop at the Monas monument or shop at the night market adjacent to it. There are also tons of restaurants in the capital that you should try before heading to other destinations. A stroll the Fatahillah Square would also be a nice activity if you want to shop while you relax. There are also museums on the stretch of the square that you can visit for free.
The best Indonesian islands to visit are just a few of the wonderful destinations here in the country. Some are pristine shores while others are the good old ones that never go out of style for tourists. Wherever you’re going, you would surely have a tropical treat. Which of these islands are you planning to go to? Share your traveler thoughts with us!