There are over 18,000 islands in Indonesia yet over 1 million Aussies each year flock to just one of them. That’s you, Bali.
So for travellers who like to get off the beaten-path, I’ve selected 3 islands that offer a mix of blissful beaches, world-class diving and something a little extra special in terms of culture or geography.
Read on to learn about Raja Ampat, Yogyakarta and Flores, plus the luxury abodes I’ve sniffed out for you stay in when you visit!
Discover the beautiful islands of Indonesia beyond Bali
One glimpse at a photo of the jungle-clad mounds and royal blue waters of the Raja Ampat Islands and I’ll guarantee you’ll want to visit.
The 1500-odd UNESCO protected islands of Raja Ampat are tucked away off the northwest tip of Indonesian Papua – an archipelago so little-known I’ve just spent most of the morning trying to read up on it! (Travel blogger Wanderlust Chloe has an excellent travel guide to Raja Ampat.)
Aside from the beauty found above water, one of the major attractions in this area is the diving – the marine life is so abundant and varied Raja Ampat has been described as a biological hotspot.
The majority of visitors to this region tend to stay in simple beach huts or dive centres but I’ve sniffed out a luxury option for the stylish traveller. At Misool Eco Resort you can stay in a rustic yet luxurious overwater villa with steps that lead directly into the teeming lagoon. The resort operates as a conservation centre, which your stay directly supports, and also runs a sustainable beach front restaurant and spa with spectacular views of the surrounding islands.
Transiting through Jakarta? Check out this Jakarta travel guide
If you thought Ubud had culture you won’t believe how much soul there is in Yogyakarta. Known as the cradle of civilisation on Java, Yogyakarta (pronounced ‘Jogjakarta’ or Jogja for short) is one of the foremost cultural centres of Indonesia.
The most significant archaeological sites include the magnificent Borobudur temple (the world’s biggest Buddhist monument) and The Sultan’s Palace, a historic walled city from the 18th century which houses a museum, market, batik makers and mosques.
Yogyakarta also offers many temptations for shopaholics – from the jewellery at Kotagede to arts, crafts and batiks on Malioboro Road – and the prices are far cheaper than what you’d find in Bali.
Stylish accommodation is more reasonable too. For luxurious lodgings close to the monuments and markets check into the 5-star Hotel Tentrem Yogyakarta. From the dazzling gold lobby to the chic poolside bar, the interiors of this independent hotel have been thoughtfully and artfully appointed. Why not indulge yourself with a suite?
You may be familiar with Flores as the spring board for visits to the fascinatingly scary (if you ask me!) Komodo National Park – home to approx. 2500 Komodo Dragons.
But there is much to see and do in Flores if you decide to explore further. Like Raja Ampat, Flores has empty stretches of pure white sand beaches and incredible diving but it also adds to the mix the magical colour-changing lakes found in the Kelimutu crater.
Ecolodges Indonesia run a couple of different stylish yet eco-conscious properties on Flores. Options include the Bajo Komodo Ecolodge, a beachfront abode with views of the Komodo Islands, or Kelimutu Crater Lakes Ecolodge, a solar-powered resort situated near the traditional village of Moni in Eastern Flores.
Do any of these lesser-known Indonesian destinations tickle your fancy?
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