A lot of people consider Indonesia to be one of those countries where you can find a little bit of everything. The diversity is just stunning, and there are plenty of things to visit. However, one of the most popular facts about it is that it is home to over 18,000 islands, around 8,000 of which are actually inhabited. The archipelago is just enormous, and this means that if you want to visit, you’ll have a lot of options.
That being said, if you’re only there for a short time, you’ll want to narrow down the list to a few easily accessible places that still offer plenty of things to enjoy. And to make things a bit easier, we’ve done that for you. So, without further ado, here’s a guide to Indonesia’s most beautiful islands.
The Spice Islands
Arguably the most popular islands in Indonesia to visit, the Spice Islands are a place that has an incredible amount of historical significance. They were named after the fact that they were the only source of nutmeg, a spice that at one point, was worth more than gold by weight. This wealth is what encouraged the Dutch to take control of the nutmeg trade from the 16th until the 18th century. They established stunning architectures, many of which are untouched until this day.
The Spice Islands have a lot to offer even if you aren’t crazy about spices and architecture – you’ll find some of the most stunning coral and marine life there. It has a lot of opportunities for both diving and snorkeling, and you will probably get to see dolphins and whales, too.
Bali is currently one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, and when it comes to Indonesia, it’s also the most popular island on the entire archipelago. This also makes it the place where you’ll find the most tourists, but for many, that won’t be a problem. There’s a lot to see and enjoy, such as beaches with palm trees, terraces of green rice, and even a few volcanoes that you can visit.
That’s not all Bali has, though, because it is also one of the most popular places for people who appreciate the Hindu culture. It is home to Balinese Hinduism, which is a distinct form of Hindu worship. This is why you will find some stunning temples in Bali, such as the Pura Besakih, and the Tanah Lot temples, both of which are incredibly significant to the Hindu culture.
If you’re in Bali, we would suggest that you rent yourself a scooter. Sure, you can always get in a cab or hire a driver, but with plenty of tight roads and traffic jams, two wheels are much easier to get around on than four.
Found in Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province, Moyo is an island that’s off the north coast of Sumbawa Island. Contrary to Bali, for example, most of the island is uninhabited and also unknown to most of the tourists. There’s a total population of about 1,000 inhabitants in the six villages on the island, and all of them rely on fishing and farming to survive.
What’s great about Moyo Island is that it is home to the Moyo Island Hunting Park, a nature reserve which covers a massive part of the island, and is home to a variety of wildlife. Not only will you find wild cattle, barking deer, and long-tail macaques, but there are also over 86 species of birds. Two of them, the yellow-headed parrot, and the Tanimbar Megapode are endangered, and the Tanimbar Megapode is also endemic to Indonesia.
You’ll come across a variety of names tourists have come up with for the Gili Islands, but our favourite is probably “the turtle capital of the world”. There are three islands in total, Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan, and they have a host of exotic beaches, marine species that roam the waters, and an atmosphere that just begs you to grab a cocktail and sip it out of a coconut. Try imagining a tropical island with hot beaches and plenty of activities – that’s the Gili Islands in Indonesia.
Which one should you visit? Well, if you’re after authentic villages and traditional huts, as well as attractions like SUP yoga, sub winging, and kitesurfing, Gili Air is your best bet. Gili Meno is the smallest, least developed of the three, which is why it’s perfect for honeymoons, or wildlife spotting. And last but not least, Gili Trawangan is the most developed of the three, which is why you’ll find most tourists there. It is, however, a great mix of laid-back beaches and vibrant parties, so there is certainly something for everyone’s taste.