Often when people think about Indonesia they think of Bali, and in fact there are even a few people who think Bali is a country! But Bali is just one small island of the many that makes up Indonesia. We’ve explored the surrounding islands to give you an idea of what else is on offer.
Firstly, let’s explore Indonesia as a whole to help you understand why it is such a wonderful holiday destination:
• Indonesia is an archipelago comprising of thousands of volcanic islands
• It’s a culturally diverse country, with many religions and ethnicities. It has an estimated total population of over 255 million people – the world’s fourth-most-populous country
• It has a wonderful mix of idyllic beaches, volcanoes and jungles (sheltering elephants, tigers and komodo dragons to name just a few)
Here’s our pick of three accessible islands, all great for tourists wanting to explore what Indonesia has to offer:
Sumatra is the largest Indonesian island (there is Borneo and New Guinea which are larger but both are part Indonesian, part Malaysian own). This island has many active volcanoes and is largely made up of tropical rainforest and wildlife with a huge network of criss-crossing rivers, many with wonderfully basic villages nestled on their banks.
Its most famous inhabitant, the orangutan, attracts many tourist to Sumatra as it’s one of only two remaining places in the world where you can still see them in the wild (Borneo is the other). Bali is also home to several other critically endangered species such as; the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran Ground-Cuckoo.
The largest city in Sumatra is Medan, a typically bustling Asian city with spicy street food and crazy Becaks! Unique to Medan, they are a motorised rickshaw where the driver sits on right-hand side of the carriage – promising an iconic and hair raising ride!
There are many hotels in Medan, and it is a great base to explore the entire island. Other than jungle trekking to see the wildlife, other popular tourist attractions include:
Lake Toba – an incredible very large natural lake occupying the caldera of a super-volcano, it is about 100 kilometres long, 30 kilometres wide, and up to 505 meters deep! it is often referred to as the Ocean Blue Lake!
Sipisopiso – a plunge waterfall in the highlands. It is formed by a small underground river, and at 120 meters down to lake level, is the highest waterfall in Indonesia.
Java is seen by many as the principal island of Indonesia and the heart of the nation, as it is home to the Capital city of the country, Jakarta. Java is also home to 51 percent of Indonesia’s population (150 million people) and is the most populated island in the world.
Java is known for its fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and amazing shadow puppet shows. Some say this island is the most complex and culturally compelling island in Indonesia. We reckon that if you spend some time here you will gain huge insight into this utterly fascinating nation as a whole.
One of the top places to visit on the island has to be Borobudur, a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in central Java. The best time to visit is sunrise for a magical and spiritual experience. You will feel like you are on top of the world as the sun peaks out from behind the islands volcanoes.
Flores was named ‘flowers’ by 16th-century Portuguese colonists who were astonished by the island’s lush, fragrant forests. White sandy beaches offer excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities set against a backdrop of volcanoes.