There are over seventeen-thousand islands in Indonesia providing a wonderful mix of dramatic volcanoes, stunning white sand beaches, translucent azure seas, exotic culture and fascinating wildlife. Picking which islands to visit is a task in itself, so working out what you want to do on your holidays is important. For wildlife you will want to go to Kalimentan or Sumatra for orangutans, or Flores to visit nearby Komodo island with its ferocious dragons. For walking there are great hikes up volcanoes on Lombok, Bali and Java as well as more gentle walks in the countryside. Nearly all the islands have stunning beaches but the beaches on the Gili Islands are pretty special. Ubud on Bali provides a hub for activities and wellness, although can get quite congested. There are temples and traditional villages on most islands but the temple complex at Borobudur on Java is particularly striking. Read on to find out more about the individual islands and for inspiration for a holiday to Indonesia.
Bali is probably the most popular and well known of the Indonesian islands and for good reason. It has an attractive combination of stunning beaches, top quality boutique hotels, an array of watersports as well as activities such as cycling and white water rafting. There are temples and stunning Balinese architecture, arts and crafts villages and great wellness resorts. All set in a countryside of emerald green paddy fields. Whilst parts of the island can get pretty congested, we can help you find the quieter side of Bali. As well as walking trails threading through villages and rice terraces, Gunung Batur makes for an accessible clim. The peak takes two or three hours to reach for great views. For a longer trek, ideally overnighting below the peak so you can summit at dawn, Gunung Agung, Bali’s highest mountain, takes four to seven hours to climb.
Sumatra is the largest purely Indonesian island stretching almost 1000 km north to south. Visitors come here largely for its rare Sumatran endangered species: the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, Asian elephant and orangutan. Sadly chances of seeing the first three of these are slim. But you stand a very good chance of seeing orangutan as the rehabilitation centre in Bukit Lawang was so successful these days it is more a general conservation centre and the orangutans live in the wild. Elsewhere on Sumatra a visit to Samosir island, an isthmus in Lake Toba, is a must to see for the traditional Batak houses, gentle cycling, walking through rice fields and forests and wild swimming in the lake.
While the nation’s capital, Jakarta, lies on the north coast of Java, visitors tend to start their Java journeys in Yogyakarta, the island’s cultural hub for its traditional Javanese music, dance, shadow puppetry and arts and crafts. Other unmissable experiences on Java include the great temple complex at Borobudur, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Prambanan with its jaw dropping 47 m high centrepiece tower. Smouldering in the background are active volcanoes. There is a road all the way to the top of Mount Bromo for easy access and a climb predawn. Gaze over the rim of giant craters for the sunrise view of a lifetime. For the more active a 90 minute hike up Gunung Ijen to see its stunning blue green secret lake cradled in the summit is a must.
Lombok is Bali’s quieter neighbour and makes a great companion to Bali for a multi-island trip. It is much quieter with only one real resort. Many stay here to visit the Gili islands an hour or so off shore by speedboat. But Lombok has its own attractions including local markets, stunning white beaches, some gorgeous accommodation and lovely walking to waterfalls. It also has Gunung Rinjani, the second highest volcano in Indonesia. Trekking to the summit takes six to seven hours but overnighting and summiting just before sunrise gives you the most stunning panoramas. For experienced trekkers there is a longer three day trek to the top with two nights under canvas. We can organise for a guide, porters and all equipment hire.
The long rugged island of Flores is a destination in its own right. Many people go here in order to take a day trip to Komodo and Rinca islands, home to the infamous Komodo dragon. But linger a little longer on the island and you can get a taste of a traditional way of life. A three to four hour hike through fragrant rainforest takes you to Wae Rebo with its conical, palm-thatched houses set amid the peaks. For walkers another popular trip is the hike up Kelimutu, a dormant volcano whose three summit lakes change colour constantly. Start early to see the sunrise.
from £6995 per person
Java volcanoes and Bali tour
from £3945 per person
On foot in Java and Bali (small group)
From £1490 (excl flights)
Travelling on a British passport you do not need a visa to enter Indonesia for visits of up to 30 days, calculated to include your date of arrival and date of departure. For more information visit the FCO website.
You should ensure your usual vaccinations are up to date and visit the NHS Fit for Travel website to see what other precautions you should take. Additional vaccinations are recommended and parts of Indonesia do have malaria although at the time of writing anti-malarial are not recommended for Bali, Lombok, Sumatra or Java. Always check latest information on Malaria
You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. Ensure that you wear appropriate clothing while visiting religious areas or sites.