Hidden Islands of Indonesia

Large, diverse, and enchanting, hidden gems abound in Indonesia, and many are overlooked in favor of the usual Ubud, Lombok, and Komodo.

The magical islands of Indonesia – found between the bounties of the Indian Ocean and South Pacific – has been a major destination for many different types of travelers. Large, diverse, and enchanting, hidden gems abound in Indonesia, and many are overlooked in favor of the usual Ubud, Lombok, and Komodo.

A few spots hidden away from the normal tourist whirlwind will feed your soul and get your heart pumping: places where the wild meets the restless; where the jungle is so green it becomes a maze; where the water is so crystal blue schools of fish are seen from the beach. These islands aren’t yet the done thing in tourist circles, and now’s the time to see them.

Slide KEI KECIL: Head to the far east of Indonesia’s collections of islands and you’ll find the picture-perfect paradise of Kei Kecil. Stepping on this island is like going back in time, when beaches were perfectly white, water was perfectly clear and wifi was just four letters put together. It’s not about the luxury resorts or fancy restaurants, it’s just you, the beach and the sea. Visitors looking for a bit more excitement can explore the Goa Hawang caves, swim in the freshwater springs in the village of Evu or charter a boat to visit the smaller islands in the surrounding waters. Slide RAJA AMPHAT: For divers Raja Ampat is hardly a secret: a collection of small, sparsely-populated islands just off the northwest coast of Papua, Indonesia. The strangely blue water, surreal landscapes, and diverse underwater life make Raja Ampat one the the best places to bed down at a homestay to soak in the local culture. There's also liveaboard options and one lush diving resort, for a fully-immersive diving experience. These islands boast an array of jungles, lagoons, caves, and islets, for incredible, never-ending exploration both underwater and on land. Slide SUMBA ISLAND: A neighbor to Bali, Sumba is very slowly becoming more of a tourist destination within Indonesia, known for its unique landscape; think a dry savannah and rolling limestone hills surrounded by Indonesia’s staple crystal blue waters. Though the island is beginning to feel the encroachment of luxury resorts, for the most part it offers basic accommodation and a simple, laid-back attitude based on surf, sun, and sand. One must-see aspect of the island are the mysterious stone megaliths that dot the island. Slide NUSA PENIDA: Just a stone’s throw from Bali, the large island of Nusa Penida could not be more removed from the Balinese opulence: simple homestays, bungalows, and little tourist infrastructure. So why visit Nusa Penida? Simple: its untouched beauty is unparalleled, from the rugged, undeveloped beaches to blooming coral reefs. The island is also a designated bird sanctuary, home to rare and endangered species including the Java Sparrow. Cliffs, caves, and waterfalls dot the island, and all it takes to get there is a boat from Bali. Slide LAKE TOBA: Okay, so it’s not exactly an island, but there is a beach and Lake Toba is one of the least-known, most underrated gems of Indonesia, located inland on North Sumatra. Originally created by a caldera of a supervolcano, this massive natural lake is 62 miles long and 18 miles wide, making it the largest lake in Southeast Asia and the largest volcanic lake in the world. The areas in between the villages that dot the shores of the lake remain, for the most part, full of undisturbed beauty — a perfect place to get lost. 1 / 4

The charms of Indonesia seem endless. At this point in history, there are a few places where the intrepid can take to the wilds or the beaches and expect quiet.

The opportunities in Indonesia to be wrapped in a combination of luxury, culture, and nature are growing every day, but so too are the tourists. Trekking to the lesser known islands can be a trying prospect, but it’s worth it to experience the charms of Indonesia in quiet contemplation.