Indonesia is a country rich in culture and with landscapes of the most extraordinary and diverse beauty scattered across an archipelago of 17,000 islands. Millions of people have visited Bali, one of the world’s most popular destinations, but few venture further afield to explore and find adventure in the many other magical places that Indonesia has to offer. Whatever your pleasure is, whether it be outdoor activities or rich history, Indonesia has something for everyone. The options range from amazing tropical beaches, the rugged power of volcanoes, ancient historical sites and amazing diving locations, the list goes on and on. In this edition of Tropical Life, we take a look at five other favourite Indonesian holiday destinations, places outside Bali that can deliver memorable adventures and unforgettable experiences
- RAJA AMPATThis is a slice of paradise located off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua. The area is a diver’s nirvana where, according to Conservation International, the marine diversity is the richest recorded on Earth. Raja Ampat is a living library, an underwater sanctuary that includes 75% of the world’s marine species within its reefs. Blessed with sublime scenery of steep, jungle-covered islands, white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons and luminous turquoise waters, Indonesia’s Raja Ampat is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful island chains in Southeast Asia.
This vast archipelago lies off the coast of Papua and i made up of more than 1,500 islands, cays and shoals which fall into four island groups each named after their main islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. Collectively they go under the title of ‘Raja Ampat’ which translates as ‘The Four Kings.’
- BANGKA BELITUNGBelitung Island in the province of Bangka-Belitung is regarded as one of the best tropical sanctuaries in South East Asia. Pristine white sand beaches look out over a turquoise blue sea. Here
there are great snorkelling sites with a vista of beautiful off shore islands as a backdrop. Belitung has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most sought after holiday destinations in the area.
Two of Belitung’s finest beaches are Tanjung Kelayang and Tanjung Tinggi. Here we find a peaceful, tropical ambience of sun, sand and sea but without the hustle and bustle of other more commercial settings. Most of the hotels and inns are located in Tanjung Pandan city on the Western side of the island. This small city has adequate facilities and several points of interest in its own right, you can potter around the museum, the harbour or the city’s own beach.
- MOUNT BROMOMount Bromo is probably Indonesia’s best-known volcano anda protected nature reserve since 1919. Bromo rises to a height of 2,329 metres above sea level from a vast plain called the “Sea of Sand” or “Segara Wedi” surrounded by a cordillera, the remains of an ancient much larger volcano.
Although thousands of tourists climb its peak every day, Bromo is very active and has erupted three times since 2000. During times of elevated levels of volcanic activity, the Indonesian Centre for Volcanology and Disaster Hazard Mitigation may issue warnings against visiting the mountain. The usual way to get to Bromo is via a village called Cemoro Lawang. Walking to the mountain area takes about 45 minutes, but most visitors take an organised jeep tour for the trip which can be organised in the village. Tours usually leave the village before dawn to take in spectacular views as the sun rises over the sea of sand filled with early morning mists.
- BOROBUDUR AND PRAMBANAN TEMPLESClose to the historic city of Yogyakarta in central Java are two of the world’s most spectacular temples. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and draw huge numbers of visitors from around the world. Both stand in beautiful well maintained parkland.
Thirty minutes drive to the North West of the city, the 9th century Borobudur is the largest Mahayana Buddhist Temple in the world and was built by King Samaratungga of the Wangsa
Dynasty in 824 AD. Constructed in a series of tiers and topped by three circular platforms, this enormous structure contains 2,600 sculptured relief panels which adorn its walls and around 500 statues of the Buddha.
The Prambanan Hindu Temple is about 20 minutes drive to the North East of the city. This ancient temple is characterised by its imposing 47m central building within a large complex of smaller temples. Prambanan is the largest Hindu Temple in Indonesia and a treasure of Hindu culture dating from the 10th century.
- GILI ISLANDThe popularity of Gili islands has skyrocketed over the past few years and they are now one of Indonesia’s most visited destinations for both domestic and international holidaymakers. Located just off the northwest coast of the island of Lombok, visitors travel to these islands for a number of different reasons.
Party people and the young at heart head for Gili Trawangan to enjoy themselves in the island’s host of bars and entertainment venues. Not surprisingly known as “the party island,” the full moon has become a popular monthly party time. From Gili Trawangan visitors can catch a short boat ride to Gili Air, the most populated and the closest of the three islands to Lombok. This island is blessed with great snorkelling and diving sites from its white sandy beaches.
For those looking for a more laid back, relaxing atmosphere Gili Meno manifests tropical island serenity. Sandwiched between the other two better-known islands, Gili Meno it is the smallest of the three