Bali is by far the most popular and globally known of the Indonesian islands. Although it can get crowded here during the high season it remains one of the best islands in Indonesia to visit. Also known as the Island of the Gods, Bali boasts a varied landscape, incredible beaches and an intriguing Hindu culture. One of the most interesting spots on the island is the town of Ubud, home to forests filled with monkeys, artists and galleries. While in Bali, you can explore Hindu temples, hike around the foothills of the active volcano called Mount Batur or see the traditional rice terraces still farmed by local residents. If there is an outdoor sport you can imagine, it is likely available in Bali. Surfing, kayaking, fishing, yoga, and diving are just as few of the countless pastimes you can enjoy on the large, scenic island of Bali.
Often dubbed Bali’s more laid-back sister, Lombok has beauty to more than match its world-famous sibling. In fact, over the years Lombok’s popularity has quickly risen as more tourists attest to its satisfying escape from Bali’s crowds. The island hosts a wide array of attractions, including mountains, beaches, forests, temples and even historic cities. Many of its beautiful beaches are a surfers’ paradise, especially for those who prefer a more intimate atmosphere. Avid hikers come to this island to conquer the beautiful Mount Rinjani, with its iconic blue lake on top.
Flores, named after the Portuguese word for ‘flowers’, is a gorgeous small island in East Nusa Tenggara. Although the island features many natural charms — mountains, beaches, and the tri-coloured Kelimutu lake - perhaps the most intriguing quality is its culture. Flores is home to many different ethnic groups, each with their own unique cultures and customs. Staying with the locals and living their lifestyles is a popular, horizon-expanding activity, especially in well-known villages like Wae Rebo, which is prized for its beautiful mountain vista and quirky traditional houses.
The island of Nusa Lembongan makes a great choice if you don’t want to travel too far off the beaten track but still want to stay away from touristy areas. Located off the coast of Bali, many people wrongly think that Nusa Lembongan is part of the same area although it is actually a different regency in its own right. Despite being close to Bali and Lombok, Nusa Lembongan is often overlooked by visitors which means that it still retains a serene atmosphere and relaxed pace, and if you like diving then this is a much better choice than most parts of Bali as the visibility is clearer and you have a good chance of seeing sharks, rays, and turtles.
Nusa Penida is situated close to Bali and is joined to neighboring Nusa Lembongan via a bridge. Many people choose to come here instead of Nusa Lembongan if they want to get completely off the grid, and you won’t find much here other than some seaweed farms, long sandy beaches, and beautiful diving and snorkeling opportunities.
Many people also argue that the diving is slightly better around Nusa Penida than Nusa Lembongan and you can dive with rays and turtles which come closer to shore thanks to the relative lack of visitors here.
In the Papua region of Indonesia are the Raja Ampat Islands. Although there are over 600 individual islands that make up Raja Ampat, the four major isles are Waigeo, Misoo, Bantanta and Salawati. These islands are known for their biological diversity, making it a top spot for scuba divers, snorkelers and bird watchers. In Raja Ampat, you can spot rare birds like the Cendrawasih and Wilson Birds of Paradise. These islands are also home to spectacular beaches, with shallow blue waters and fine white sand. Lagoons provide protection from the wind and a special place to relax in paradise. Also popular on the islands is living with locals and learning local crafts and skills.