Situated directly on the equator between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the nation of Indonesia comprises more than 18,000 islands. Borneo, Sumatra, and Java, Indonesia’s most well-known islands, are quite large. However, the nation’s smaller islands are also well worth a visit. While not all are inhabited, more than 6,000 are home to people.
Home to majestic volcanoes and picture-perfect beaches, Indonesia boasts some of the world’s finest diving. Let us explore some of Indonesia’s most captivating islands.
1. Banka-Belitung Islands
Located just off the Sumatran coast, the Bangka-Belitung Islands are home to some excellent beaches. Featuring immaculate white sand and translucent waters, many beaches stretch for miles, and they are usually sparsely populated. Visitors can also explore some of the many Dutch lighthouses dating back to the 1800s, when the islands formed part of an important trade route. The island’s Dutch colonial architecture also provides a glimpse into the region’s history.
2. Flores Island
Named after the Portuguese word for “flowers,” Flores Island is in East Nusa Tenggara. This tiny island features many natural charms, in particular its mountains and beaches as well as Kelimutu Lake, which actually consists of not just one lake, but three. While Tiwu Ata Polo (the Enchanted Lake) is usually red and Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) is generally green, Tiwu ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) is most often a stunning shade of blue. A dramatic sight, the lakes can change color significantly and unpredictably.
Flores Island is home to many ethnic groups, each with its own customs and culture. Staying with a local family and experiencing their lifestyle firsthand is a popular, horizon-expanding opportunity, particularly in the village of Wae Rebo, which is famous for its quirky traditional houses and stunning mountain views.
3. Komodo Island
The world-famous home of the Komodo dragon, Komodo Island features prominently on the bucket list of many travelers. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Komodo National Park encompasses scores of islands, the region famed for its vivid pink, white, and even black sandy beaches. The colorful coral reefs present some interesting diving opportunities, while Komodo Island’s scenic mountains are popular with hikers and wildlife enthusiasts.
The largest lizard on the planet, the Komodo dragon hunts prey the size of water buffalo, and Komodo Island is the only place in the world where they wander without restriction. Aside from this fascinating reptile, the island’s volcanic slopes, rugged terrain, and beautiful bays have earned Komodo a reputation as one of Indonesia’s most gorgeous islands.
4. Nusa Islands
Consisting of Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Penida, and Nusa Lembongan, this string of three islands is situated off the coast of Bali. Featuring many natural attractions that many people believe outshine the famous mainland, Nusa Islands are gaining traction as an up-and-coming tourist destination. Accessible via a 30-minute fast boat ride from Bali, the Nusa Islands attract adrenaline junkies from near and far.
Dream Beach not only has sports for thrill seekers in the form of cliff jumping, but it also has stunning turquoise waters, golden sands, colorful reefs, and hidden caves. The Manta Point snorkeling tour is a half-day excursion that stops at Mangrove Point, Gamat Bay, Crystal Bay, and Manta Point. The operators provide snorkeling gear and fins, offering participants the opportunity to swim with inquisitive and gentle manta rays, some of which have wingspans in excess of 5 meters.
5. Lombok Island
The island of Lombok is approximately the same size as nearby Bali, yet it attracts just a small portion of the visitors. This hidden gem is blessed with modern infrastructure as well as some remarkable natural elements. Renowned for its 5-star resorts, waterfalls, and beaches, Lombok forms part of the Lesser Sunda Islands located just east of Bali. Despite boasting its own international airport, Lombok is frequently overlooked in favor of the tourism powerhouse next door.
The island’s coastal regions are a mixture of white sands and volcanic black beaches, while inland visitors can experience the dense tropical jungle in addition to numerous extraordinary falls. Lombok Island is home to the indigenous Sasak people, who are renowned for their kindness and hospitality. They are particularly proud of Gunung Rinjani, their sacred mountain, an active volcano featuring hot springs and an unbelievable crater lake. Hiking to Gunung Rinjani is a popular activity among tourists, its rim boasting striking views.
6. Sulawesi Island
One of Indonesia’s largest islands, Sulawesi is an excellent choice for travelers who want to venture away from the beaten path and experience lush jungle, great beaches, and incredible culture and food. Bira is a laid-back, quiet town with excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, while Lake Tempe’s traditional floating village is just a boat ride away for those seeking a unique cultural experience.