Sure, Bali is the ultimate paradise destination, with its breathtaking beaches, luxurious villas, vibrant culture and awesome nightlife, but Indonesia has so much more to offer aside from this popular destination. It’s the world’s largest archipelago, after all, which means it’s home to thousands of islands (17,000, to be exact) worth exploring, especially if you love beaches and nature. That said, here are seven Indonesian alternatives to consider beyond Bali. It can be hard to choose just one, but, lucky for you, you can search for flights to all of them on Cheapflights.com.ph.
People have started to refer to Lombok as “the new Bali.” And, deservedly so. Located east of Bali, this West Nusa Tenggara island shares many similarities with Bali, such as breathtaking beaches, wide-ranging accommodations (including some very cool ones such as the Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp and La Cocoteraie Eco Lodge), pulsating nightlife and great surf spots, including Kuta in the southern part of Lombok. But, given Bali’s popularity as a tourist destination, this up-and-coming neighbor is comparably less populated, which is great for wanderlusters looking to escape the tourist crowd.
As the focal point of Javanese culture, Yogyakarta (pronounced as “Jogjakarta”) is your best bet if you want to discover Java at its most intimate and authentic. Numerous art galleries, museums, heritage structures and street art dot this friendly city. It is also home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Hindu temple of Prambanan and and the Buddhist complex of Borobudur. While nearby beaches are not very suitable for swimming because of the strong current, nature lovers can still enjoy other activities such exploring Jomblang Cave, hiking at the Merapi Volcano and exploring the Kilibiru National Park.
This island may be a little out of the way (it can reached via flights from Bali or Lombok to Labuan Bajo and by boat, but the trip is worth it, especially if you love nature and adventure). The island is known as the jumping-off point to the islands of Komodo and Rinca, which are homes to komodo dragons — the largest lizard species in the world. Also be sure to head to Kelimitu National Park, which boasts awe-inspiring multi-colored crater lakes, and popular snorkeling spot, the Pink Beach.
If diving is more your thing (and budget is on your side), we suggest the islands of Raja Ampat, which can be reached via flights to Sorong (with layovers at Makassar or Manado). With its location in the Coral Triangle, the islands are seats of unique marine biodiversity and have often been included in lists of the best diving spots on earth. Though it is more of a diving destination, it also offers bird watching, island hopping, kayaking, and snorkeling.
What Bandung lacks in beaches, it makes up for in other natural attractions. Once known as the “Paris of Java” during the colonial era, the city offers cooler temperatures year-around, which makes it a popular weekend getaway for people who wants to escape the heat and explore nature. Nature-seeking visitors shouldn’t miss the Patenggang Lake, crater lake Kawah Putih and campground Ranca Upas. It also houses 70 percent of Indonesia’s textile industry, making it a popular shopping destinations where bargains are easy to find.
Also known as Pulau Seribu, Thousand Islands is a string of islands located north of Jakarta. It is accessible from the Indonesian capital by a boat ride from Marina Ancol that takes between one and two hours depending on which island you wish to visit. At the moment, there are about 45 islands available to tourists; the most popular include Pulau Macan, Kotok, Pari and Sepa. Accommodations are limited on the island, but as a popular getaway for people in the city, you can easily find tour packages to help you plan your holiday.
Only an hour flight from Jakarta, Belitung is a little-known destination on the east of Sumatra. It is known for its crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and rich underwater life. Given its low-key charm, it’s perfect for wanderlusters looking for a laid-back holiday amidst breathtaking views of the seas, capped by a beautiful sunset at the end of the day. Finding great accommodations is easy, especially in Pantai Tanjung Tinggi and Pantai Tanjung Kelayang, and so is finding interesting places to see and visit. Take photos at the colorful Museum Kata Andrea Hirata, drive to Danau Kaolin, or take a short boat ride to a 130-year-old lighthouse on Lengkuas Island.
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Main image: iStockphoto/joakimbkk