There are few countries on earth with the beauty and allure of Indonesia. This fast rising economic power is recognized worldwide as a place where international businesses are focusing as a new growth area. In addition, the country is a tourist magnet, attracting visitors from all parts of the world to its biggest city, Jakarta and also to its island paradises which include Bali.
Indonesia with its nearly 250 million in habitants is by far, Southeast Asia’s most inhabited country. This nearly 3,000 mile long archipelago sits right across the equator and consists of more than 18,000 islands with more than 12,000 of those inhabited. When one is interested to coming to Indonesia they usually intend to stay on either Java (the most populate island in the world and where Indonesia’s capital Jakarta is located), or Bali, (its southeastern tropical paradise). But as you can imagine there are many other islands to consider visiting. Some are rough and rugged with little creature comforts while others are well developed and overflowing with amenities. Here is a list of the islands to think about when you consider a vacation in Indonesia.
Since the entire country sits on islands, we should introduce the most popular island destination in Indonesia to start. As mentioned its capital city, Jakarta is located on the island of Java which has more than 150 million inhabitants. Jakarta is a large urban metropolis with all of the usual big city features and amenities. There you can find great hotels, bars and restaurants and a nightlife that is vibrant.
Java’s second city, Yogyakarta is much less busy and serves as a cultural and spiritual hub. Here you will find ancient temples, art exhibits, and many creative performers doing their art out in the open. The city features glorious Prambanan temples, and even a ballet of the Hindu story Ramayana.
Once you leave these two cities, you will find that Java has many areas that are less developed and exceedingly beautiful. The island offers pristine rainforests and two popular destinations: the breathtaking Mount Bromo and the exquisite Kebun Rya Botanical Gardens. Each of these is an all-day affair and you should definitely bring a camera. You will also find many Buddhist temples including the most famous in Indonesia called Borobudur which dates back to the eighth-century.
The following islands are not very well known, but unlike Bali, which has its own magical charm, but is also always a bit crowded, these islands will offer you space, new adventures and undiscovered treasures. Each can be reached by a short plane ride from Jakarta or Bali.
Just Southeast and a one-hour flight from Bali sits the beautiful island of Sumba. Sumba is not what one expects to see in this part of the world. Unlike most of the islands in the archipelago that are covered with lush rainforest, Sumba is renowned for its picturesque limestone hills and its covering of corn fields that can be found on all parts of the island. For sure, there is lots of forest on the island, but the island has its own distinct kind of beauty and many think it is one of the most beautiful in the island chain. The island of course also has its share of white sand beaches and topaz waves lapping its shores and with its perfect weather, there is no need to pack anything more than your swimsuit and light summer clothes.
Sumba’s natives are called the Kampung and are distinct from the typical Indonesian people. Their ancestry is Austronesian and Melanesian and they have a different culture and language. And where Indonesians are typically Muslim, Kampungs are mostly Christian. Of course their brand of Christianity includes many tribal customs that have remained throughout the centuries the most prominent of which is a festival held in March each year called Pasola. This celebration marks the end of a good harvest and allows the young male members of the community to compete against one another to show their strength and courage.
What you can do there: If you are a professional surfer or love to surf, you have surely heard about the outstanding surfing on Sumba. Its most famous surfing attraction is called Occy’s Left which is a rare left hand barrel wave. Surfers come to ride these waves and because the waves are large and consistent.
Sumba citizens are warm and friendly and there are a few mid-level hotels and resorts that can provide you with many types of amenities including tours of the island, hiking and water sports. The only high-end resort is the eco-friendly Nihiwatu Resort. So if you are eco-conscious and you want to have a great time, it is the place you should book. Sumba is an island waiting to be discovered by those who love culture hunting.
If you want to experience a one-of-a-kind destination that will be a conversation piece for you, you have to visit the Mentawai Islands. These are a group of about seventy islands located about 90 miles off the western coast of Sumatra, with Siberut being the largest and most inhabited of the island group.
Although the islands are only a short distance from Sumatra, the Mentawai people developed completely on their own and as a result have a set of beliefs distinct from the main islanders. The local Mentawaians had little contact with the outside world before the 19 century and as a result developed their own culture which remains nearly intact.
What you can do there: Like many of the islands in outer islands in Indonesia, the Mentawai Islands are a surfer’s paradise. They offer some of the best and most consistent breaks throughout the year. It is also a place where the waves are so radical that many are named.
The islands also offers kayaking and boating and have lots of great coral making it fantastic for snorkeling and scuba diving, but a guide is needed to ensure you keep safe.
The fishing off the Mentawai Islands is some of the best in Indonesia with a large variety of large and small fish in great abundance. There are boats on the islands that you can charter. They provide everything you need to catch any of the fish in the waters, so all you need is the desire and they will do the rest.
One of the biggest attractions on the islands is hiking through the dense forests. There are tours that take visitors on excursions to the local villages which lie in the forests and give them a chance to interact with the villagers. Although some are into teeth sharpening and major body tattoos, they welcome visitors and often expect new company to spend the night.
These destinations are chosen to allow you to see some parts of Indonesia that often do not get discussed. They will offer amazing amenities and a cultural experience that you will remember for a lifetime. When you are doing business in Indonesia ask the locals about these places and you will see how loved they are.