A Guide to Indonesia’s Most Beautiful Islands

Even though it might not seem like it at first, Indonesia is home to no less than 18,000 islands. Almost half of them are populated, and with the immense ethnic variety, they’re all different from each other. This makes them perfect for a vacation that’s, well, different than the typical, cliché vacations you’re used to.

So, if you’ve made up your mind and you’re looking into Indonesia as your next vacation spot, what are some of the islands you absolutely must visit? Let’s take a look at a few options and find out.

Spice Islands

If you were to head out on a Spice Islands cruise, an area that’s got quite a bit of history behind you’ll get to experience a quite remarkable place. At one point, the Spice Islands were the only source of nutmeg in the world, which led to wars being fought, wars where the Dutch emerged conquerors. This allowed them to control the nutmeg trade for over 100 years which is no small feat. These islands are remote and not the typical tourist hub, which is why the best way to visit them is by taking a cruise.

Once you step foot on these small islands you’ll get to experience all that history, thanks to buildings and architectural creations that are, for the most part, intact. This is all Dutch architecture that was built in the period when the Dutch had control over the trade, as they were pretty well established in the area.

But the Spice Islands have one more thing that you’ll experience best if you head out on a cruise – the coral life. Not only is it stunning to look at, but if you’re a fan of diving and snorkeling, you’ll be able to do that in one of the world’s most beautiful spots. Oh, did we mention you might get to swim with dolphins and whales? Yeah, that too.

explore, travel, a guide to indonesia’s most beautiful islands

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There’s no denying that the opinions about Bali are pretty divided, to say the least. While some absolutely adore this island that offers you everything Indonesia has to offer in one place, others shrug at the thought of you sharing that with thousands of tourists at any point in time. And there is no denying that while Bali is a stunning place, it is far too crowded nowadays, and not everyone is a fan of that.

The first thing you’ll notice about Bali is the fact that it might all seem a bit too much. You can sip a cocktail on one of those beaches with fine white sand and crystal blue water, but you can also head out to a party that’s wilder than anything you’ve ever seen – all within a few hundred meters of each other. And then there’s the variety of temples scattered throughout the city – there’s no denying that Balinese Hinduism is a big thing there. This is why Bali gets you everything Indonesia has to offer.

If you decide to head to Bali, here’s a pro tip – getting around the island is best done in a tuk-tuk, or on a scooter. Tuk-tuks are all around the island, and you can rent your own scooter if you’d rather get around on your own. It’s not all that safe, but it is fast.


Lombok is an interesting one because it’s right off the coast of Bali, but it’s a much calmer, more intimate environment. Not only do you not get the massive number of tourists, but you don’t get anything that could be considered “crazy” or “wild”. Yes, you get a relaxing place where you can enjoy cocktails in peace, and yes, you get as much privacy as you need (honeymoons, anyone?), but there are no parties or anything similar.

What you do get in Lombok, aside from privacy, is some of the nicest surfing spots and beaches in all of Indonesia. The waves are just insane, and if that’s your thing, Lombok is definitely the place to head to. Diving and snorkeling are also excellent ideas thanks to the beautiful coral life, so there is certainly something for everyone.

explore, travel, a guide to indonesia’s most beautiful islands

Copyright: Unsplash | CC0 Public Domain

Raja Ampat

Many will say that we’ve saved the best for last, but Raja Ampat is, quite frankly, heaven on earth. The place is home to over 600 small islands, of which four (Misool, Waigeo, Salawati, and Bantanta) are the reason for the name, which translates into “Four Kings”.

The prime reason to visit Raja Ampat is the beauty of coral life. There is no shortage of places for diving and snorkeling, and the islands are home to some of the finest sandy beaches you’ll ever get to experience in your life. It’s one of those places where you can’t wait to wake up, grab your snorkeling gear, and get in the water.

Once you’re done enjoying the water, though, you can go to the Papua Paradise Eco Resort, which is a place where you’ll be able to experience over 800 bird species. Or head to one of those lagoon-sheltered beaches and sip a cocktail. Your call.