Photo Credit: Stephan Klage
More than 15 flights make the journey from Singapore to Bali everyday. The island paradise, which is a dream destination for some, has seen its share of development and foreign visitors. However, the onslaught of tourists, American fast food chains and high-rise resorts can make you feel like you haven't left North America at all.
Fortunately, Indonesia is home to more than 17,500 islands, littered with destinations that have barely been touched by tourists or developers. The following four Indonesian islands offer the exotic beaches, extraordinary adventures and authentic culture that will make your getaway unforgettable.
The island of Flores (meaning flowers), with its powder-white beaches and lively green hills, is as picturesque as it sounds. Visitors can spend days sipping frozen drinks at tropical bars and dining on the cheap beachside warungs or engage in activities as adventurous as diving or exploring Komodo National Park.
Komodo National Park includes three islands, Flores, Padar and Komodo, and is famous for its population of Komodo dragons. However, the crystal clear, bathtub-warm waters off the coast are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Volcanoes, lakes, rice paddies and postcard-worthy beaches are just a few of the natural landscapes that can be visited in a single trip to Flores.
Photo Credit: Kerinci
Sumatra has made headlines for its volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes, but rare natural disasters shouldn't deter you from visiting one of Indonesia's wildest islands. Tigers and elephants roam the jungles, volcanoes tower over pristine lakes and surfers glide along picture perfect waves.
Hike Kerinci Seblat National Park, the island's largest national park, or experience the less traveled and even more rewarding Gunung Leuser National Park for a truly unhindered jungle experience. After days of volcano and jungle exploration, it's time to jump in the water at West Sumatra's Air Manis Beach or venture even farther to Pulau Weh (Weh Island), for a tropical setting and some of the world's best snorkeling, diving and surfing.
Sulawesi is a nature lover's dream come true. Simply seeing the island on a map could inspire you to book a plane ticket immediately. The island's coastline features multiple offshoots reaching out like tropical arms begging you to come snorkel, dive or lay under a palm tree. The exterior of the island boasts picturesque beaches and rainbow-colored coral reefs, while the interior offers wildlife-filled jungles and mountains.
Sulawesi is home to unique cultures that have been mainly unaffected by the modern world. Visit with the seafaring Bugis people along the coast, the Toraja in the highlands and dine with the Minahasans in the north (but beware of spicy dishes and unconventional meats). Sulawesi's unique tribal cutlures are a reason to visit alone.
Photo Credit: Pulau Kembang
Borneo is the world's third-largest island, and Indonesia's portion of it is known as Kalimantan. Kalimantan's protection from tsunamis allows trees to grow strikingly tall, creating ancient forests that are ripe for wandering. Hikers can spot families of orangutans while exploring Tanjung Puting National Park and beach lovers can basque in the relentless sun on the tropical islands of the Derawan Archipelago. There are 31 islands in the Derawan Archipelago, and visitors can choose to engage in the party atmosphere of Derawan or venture beyond to the rarely visited paradises of Maratua, Kakaban and Sangalaki for an unforgettable treat.
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