Indonesia, the world’s largest island country, sprawls over 5,120 kilometres from east to west and offers a vast array of tropical holiday options, from rugged volcanic beauty to rainforests, colourful marine life to mesmerising cultures, island escapes to bustling cities. While Bali is still the number one Indonesian destination, there is so much more to explore. Here are some of our suggestions for your future travel plans in this astounding archipelago.
When talking about Indonesia, Bali will inevitably come up. This little island is renowned for its warm, welcoming people, fascinating culture and beautiful nature, in addition to its world-class surf spots, indulgent spa experiences and plethora of opulent resorts and famed eating establishments. Whatever your budget, Bali has something amazing to suit you.
A major gateway to paradisiacal Indonesia, Bali offers many great activities around the island. The jungles of Ubud can satisfy your thirst for adrenaline-pumping adventure, as well as yoga and meditation retreats. For surfers, Kuta and Uluwatu offer sparkling beaches and waves for all skill levels to hone their talent. Meanwhile, in Seminyak, luxury travellers can indulge in upscale resorts, bars and restaurants, along with high-end boutique shopping.
Where to stay: There are so many choices, you are sure to find something idyllic. Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort is a luxurious beachfront property with the full range of indulgent facilities. Up on the hills of Uluwatu, The edge Bali offers a selection of private luxury villas with high-class amenities and is a great venue for intimate weddings. While in Ubud, Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is famed for its personalised service, serenity and sophistication. In peaceful Sanur, the newly revamped Hyatt Regency Bali provides guests with a beachfront venue and great service, while for stylish travellers, W Bali – Seminyak epitomizes truly trendy and comfortable living in the heart of Seminyak with its famed bars and restaurants, and magnificent sunset views.
How to get there: Ngurah Rai International Airport is Bali’s only airport. Daily flights are available from many countries, including those in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.
Touted as The Last Aquatic Paradise in the world, Raja Ampat offers pristine clear blue waters as far as the eye can see. Situated off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula on Papua, Raja Ampat consists of 1,500 small islands that surround the four main islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool.
Surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty, Raja Ampat is world-famed for its marine life, making it one of the world’s ultimate underwater experiences. With around 9.8 million acres of land and sea, the ocean here is home to 540 types of coral, more than 1,000 types of coral fish and 700 types of molluscs.
While its underwater splendours are exceptional, the landscape above the surface is equally breathtaking. The rocky islets amidst the clear blue water in Piaynemo offer some of the most spectacular scenery ever seen. At Wayag Island find amazing rocky islets on a bigger scale.
Where to stay: While there are a few choices when it comes to lodging around Raja Ampat, Misool Eco Resort is the one that can steal your heart. Found on one of the private islands, Misool Eco Resort offers an exclusive adventure holiday that also supports numerous conservation initiatives. Through Misool Foundation, the resort aims to provide enjoyable accommodations while supporting the local people and the beauty of the marine resources.
How to get there: Raja Ampat is easily reached by air from Sorong, with daily flights from Jakarta. From Sorong, a small aircraft will take you to Waisai, which is the capital district of Raja Ampat. Alternatively, you can also take a ferry from the port of Sorong to the islands.
Banyuwangi, East Java
Located not far from the island of Bali, Banyuwangi is now taking up the reigns as one of Indonesia’s must-visit places. Dubbed the gateway to nature, culture and adventure in the east of Java, Banyuwangi is filled with world-class surf spots and beautiful beaches with Ijen volcano as the backdrop. Indulge in diving and snorkeling, go kiteboarding or take a traditional fishing journey, climb the massive volcano Mt. Raung, catch a glimpse of the blue flame at Ijen crater or explore Baluran or Alas Purwo National Parks.
Where to stay: Banyuwangi has a new luxury accommodation, Dialoog, to cater to the new wave of travellers. Fusing design with modern and traditional Javanese culture, the resort offers 116 comfortable rooms and suites built across an area of more than 15,000sqm. One of the main focal points is the infinity swimming pool that overlooks the ocean, while the resort’s dining outlets also serve as beautiful spots to enjoy finely made dishes and beautiful views. The beachfront property is also a great place for working professionals who are looking for a short getaway over the weekend.
How to get there: If you’re travelling from Indonesia, there are many direct flights to Banyuwangi from Jakarta and Surabaya. From Bali, it is about a 4-hour car ride, including the 45-minute ferry ride from Gilimanuk to Ketapang harbour.
Gorontalo, North Sulawesi
The diving mecca of northern Sulawesi, Gorontalo is surrounded by beautiful landscapes punctuated by chains of mountains. Sitting along the equator, the balmy weather and warm, calm seas provide a great combination for dive holidays. Under water, the unspoiled beauty of the marine life is the reason why this is a great spot for a tropical jaunt; enjoy pristine coral walls, gloomy caverns, submerged points and historical wrecks, accessible even to novice divers, as well as whale sharks and dolphins.
Where to stay: With a name that means the island of love, Pulo Cinta Eco Resort is fully dedicated to sparking romance. Nestled among the inhabited islands of Tomini Gulf in North Sulawesi, from above, the resort is seen to be formed in a heart shape. Offering 15 above-water private villas, the resort is surrounded with amazing dive sites in pristine condition. Among the many sites, Salvador City Dive Sites boast various types of the uniquely shaped Salvador Dali corals. At night, lovers get to gaze upon millions of stars that paint the night sky.
How to get there: Daily flights are available from both Jakarta and Manado to Gorontalo. Once you arrive in Gorontalo, the exclusive pickup service will take you from the airport to Boalemo Harbour, where you will continue with a boat ride to the love island.
Located in Riau province, the relatively remote Anambas Islands were named the best tropical island in 2013 by CNN. Offering panoramic views of the blue seas and green islands, the protected site is great for divers, who will be amazed at the colourful underwater life. All the Anambas islands boast fine white sand beaches, innumerable lagoons with corals and schools of fish, and promise a glimpse of the turtles who call this area home.
Where to stay: Bawah Reserve is a private, exclusive luxury resort. Surrounded by clear turquoise waters, blue lagoons and coral reefs, this pristine and previously uninhabited marine conservation area caters to outdoor adventurers with an appetite for indulgence, as well as paradise seekers looking for relaxation.
The resort offers 35 private villas made by hand from natural materials such as bamboo, driftwood and recycled teak, with beautifully made recycled copper sinks and showers in the bathrooms. Limited to only 70 guests over the whole resort, personalised packages are offered even before you set off. The Bawah Package has been carefully curated to ensure that everything is covered, from your journey, to kayaking and snorkelling adventures, treks through the jungle and hands-on cooking classes.
How to get there: If you’re travelling from outside Indonesia, your journey will start in Singapore, where you will be escorted by ferry and car to Batam International Airport in Indonesia. From there, you will board the resort’s very own seaplane for a smooth 80-minute journey before landing on one of Bawah Resort’s magnificent lagoons.
Prana by Atzaro
With such an astounding choice of island paradises to choose from, a truly opulent and indulgent way of visiting some of the more remote, truly beautiful spots in Indonesia is aboard the luxury phinisi superyacht Prana by Atzaro, a favourite among Hollywood’s elite. The longest and largest of its kind, Prana by Atzaro is hand built entirely of ironwood and teak using traditional methods. Created by the founders of the world famous Atzaro Group in Ibiza, the superyacht sails the Indonesian seas all year round.
Aboard the superyacht, guests are treated to sophisticated luxury combined with the comfort and amenities of an opulent five-star hotel. With comfort in mind, Prana by Atzaro boasts nine stunning suites, each with private en-suite bathroom. Outside the rooms, the four spacious decks include massive indoor and outdoor living areas, a water sports deck and a luxury yoga deck that can also turn into an open-air cinema. With a dedicated 18-man crew that includes chefs, dive instructors, stewards and spa therapists, every activity on board is handled very professionally.
How to get there: Depending on the season, the superyacht sails to Komodo from May to October, the Banda Islands in October to November and April to May, while the trip to Raja Ampat runs from December to April.