You don’t have to head to Europe or the Maldives to get your year-end dose of sun, sand, and sea. These Indonesian islands are just as beautiful, yet cost a fraction of the price!
#6 Wakatobi Islands
Where: Southeast Sulawesi
This beautiful cluster gets its name from the four islands it’s made up of: Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. Home to stunning biodiversity and marine life, Wakatobi has been listed as a tentative UNESCO site, and is a famous diving destination. The most popular island for the sport is Tomia, but some people go from Wangi-Wangi too. The Wakatobi head office is in the city of Bau-Bau, which features intricate 16th Century architecture, pristine beaches, and dramatic caves. From Bau-Bau, you can take a Cantika boat to get to the other islands.
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#5 Mentawai Islands
Where: 150km west of Sumatra
Although reasonably near the mainland, the Mentawai Islands and its population was actually quite isolated from the rest of Indonesia until recently in the 19th Century. A true work of art by Mother Nature, there are strong winds, fearsome currents, and sharp reefs around it. The big waves are also a hit with surfers from all over the world. Out of its 70 islands, The largest island, Siberut, is the most well-known and protected and is the home of most of the Mentawai population. With over 60 percent of it being lush rainforests, Mentawai is also a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
#4 Seram Island
Where: Maluku province
We can’t think of a place with a more surprising name: “Seram” actually means “ugly” in Bahasa Indonesia! You may have read about Seram in the news–just a few months ago, a 50-foot sea creature was washed ashore at Hulung Beach, sparking controversy. It was speculated to be a giant squid of sorts, but it has since been identified as a whale. Situated in a mountainous region, Seram is perfect for trekking and exploring nature. It’s also a lot less commercialized and far away from the city–which is why it’s become a hidden gem for honeymooners on a budget.
#3 Thousand Islands
Where: North Jakarta
No, we don’t mean the salad dressing, and yes, the name is a slight exaggeration (there are 128 islands, not 1,000). But hey! There’s still so much to do and see here. Due to its close proximity to the Indonesian capital, these group of islands are great for weekend and/or day trips from Jakarta. Like the other spots listed here, the sprawling beaches and stunning waters are the main highlights. So if you’re into snorkelling and diving, this water sport heaven is for you!
Where: East of Sumatra
Although slightly more high-profile than the previous listings, Belitung still remains a largely untouched gem. It’s everything that comes to mind when you think of a beach paradise–blue waters, white sand, and swaying palm trees. However, it’s recently slowly growing in popularity, so if you prefer the calm and quiet, better visit it before it turns into a mega tourist resort!
Where: Next to Bali
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Alright… Lombok is not exactly unknown, but it is often overshadowed by its world-famous neighbour. And that’s not fair! In addition to picturesque beaches, Lombok has scenic hiking trails across tobacco and rice fields, and is where the Gunung Rinjani volcano is (the second highest in Indonesia!). Mataram is the largest city on the island, and is also where the Taman Mayura (an 18th Century palace) and Taman Narmada (a beautiful Hindu temple-turned-park) is. Surfing enthusiasts can also head to the idyllic Kuta beach to catch some waves.
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