There was one time when I was shopping in the Grand Bazaar Istanbul with my mom and a middle-aged man, who owned a stall, greeted me and asked where we were from. I said, “We’re from Indonesia!” and I still remember his eyes widening in excitement. He told us without taking a single breath, “Indonesia! I love your country so much! I went traveling for nine months around Indonesia when I was in my 20s and I just can’t stop thinking how blessed your country is.”
And there… My mom and I were like, “…Yes?” At that time I felt nothing but embarrassed. I was born and raised in Indonesia, but I haven’t managed to explore my own country yet. Why? I asked myself. There are so, so many places in Indonesia that are worth visiting without leaving us broke.
With that said, I want to share with you that paradises aren’t only found in Maldives, Hawaii or South America. Here’s 8 for you and these are all in Indonesia. I promise.
1. Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan
You will never find crystal blue water in Kuta Beach. Never ever. That’s why these 2 neighbouring islands which are located just off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali, are quickly becoming one of Bali’s most popular attractions. Also… you’re not coming to Bali for Kuta’s overcrowded beaches, are you?
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Renowned for its snorkelling, diving and surfing spots, we can definitely imagine how beautiful the marine life is down there! If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you should try cliff-jumping at the Blue Lagoon, Nusa Ceningan.
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There are a lot of accommodation options in Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan. Many of which offer magnificent sunset views (Eg. Nusa Lembongan Beach Club Hotel), or you can choose to stay in adorable bungalows and enjoy breathtaking beach views from its mini infinity pool like the one in Le Pirate Beach Club in Nusa Ceningan.
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#HHWT tip: You can take a speedboat from Sanur Beach to Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida for IDR 175.000 (One Way). To reach Nusa Ceningan, you only need to cross a yellow bridge from Nusa Lembongan.
2. Komodo National Park and Beyond
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Breathtaking greenery and jagged mountains meet clear indigo blue ocean – no, this is not in New Zealand. It’s Komodo Island, an exotic and utterly beautiful place full of surprises, just a 40-minute plane ride away from Bali.
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There is so much to do on the many islands around Komodo National Park and most of these islands are uninhabited with exotic beaches. Hiking at Gili Laba? Trekking in the forest to meet the Komodo Dragons? Swimming with the fishes of Flores Sea? All checked!
Credit: Christopher Harriot on Flickr
Apart from exploring this magical national park, another really fun activity you can try is sailing around Flores Sea on a chosen vessel for up to four or five days (it’s called Liveaboard – yes, you will be sleeping and eating onboard as well). What’s better than waking up on a cool boat to the most breathtaking view and just jumping off the boat anytime you want to dive and snorkel?
#HHWT tip: You can fly from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo in around an hour and for Liveaboard experience, there are many guided tours with vessels option you can book online in advance.
3. Belitung Island
Belitung Island, which is located in East Sumatra, is very well-known for its rounded granite rock formations, pearly white sand beaches and calm waters. The island has become one of the most famous destinations in Indonesia after the release of the movie adaptation ‘Laskar Pelangi’ by Andrea Hirata in 2008.
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There’s so much to see in Belitung, just like the movie set of Laskar Pelangi, such as Tanjung Tinggi beach and Museum Kata by Andrea Hirata. Alternatively, if you’re curious to see more, there are plenty of beautiful beaches like Pulau Lengkuas or you can check out Lake Kaolin with its beautiful white sandstone.
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4. Tanjung Bira, Makassar
The beauty of Tanjung Bira beach is uncontested. Located in the south of Sulawesi Island, precisely at the district of Bulukumba, the beach is really clean and well-managed. White sand? Checked! Crystal clear waters? Checked! What’s not to love?
Credit: Randy Tan Travelogue on Flickr
There are various accommodation you can find there, but the most popular one is Amatoa Resort which is built on a cliff. You can enjoy the incredible view from the poolside or you can even jump right into the amazingly clear waters full of beautiful tropical fishes.
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5. Pulo Cinta, Gorontalo, Sulawesi
Located in the gulf of Tomini, Gorontalo, this small heart-shaped island has become the legendary location of a secret meeting between The Prince of Gorontalo and a daughter of a Dutch Merchant during those old trading days. With the breathtaking view of the island from above plus the super sparkling clear waters, it’s no wonder that this resort which only has 12 cottage units, would remind you a lot of Maldives.
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#HHWT tip: You can fly to Gorontalo Jalaluddin Airport, followed by a 2-hours car ride to Bolihutuo beach and once you arrive, you’ll need to take a boat for another 15 minutes to reach Pulo Cinta.
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6. Maratua Island, Derawan Island, East Kalimantan
A piece of heaven exists in East Borneo, a part of Derawan Islands, where white sands stretch along the super clear sea water – Maratua Island. This is indeed paradise, especially for divers because of the amazing diversity of its marine life. But of course, you don’t need to be an expert diver to enjoy this hidden paradise.
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7. Kei Islands, Maluku Province
Another group of islands in the south-eastern part of Maluku Islands in Maluku Provence, is very well-known also for its white sandy beaches too. One of the beaches worth visiting is Pasir Panjang (the long sandy beach). If you enjoy snorkelling, there are a number of sites around the islands which will be perfect for your snorkelling adventure!
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8. Ora Beach, Seram Island, Maluku Province
Ora Beach is another hidden gem located in Maluku Province, but in the north of Seram Island. The beach with its sugary white sand and crystal-clear waters, is surrounded by lush tropical forest. The perfect destination for eco-travelers! Or just any traveller who seeks tranquility while enjoying untouched natural beauty. You’ll love staying at Ora Beach Resort because who says no to floating bungalows over crystal-clear blue waters? 🙂
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[ P.S. Choose from these 11 breathtaking floating resorts in Indonesia for your next island getaway! ]
If you know of any other off the beaten track spots in Indonesia which would be perfect for a getaway, do share with us in a comment below or on Facebook!