Australians have long held a “holiday romance” with the Indonesian island of Bali but with 18,305 other islands to explore, there are many more slices of paradise on offer.
Here are just three of them to add to your Indonesian travel list.
If you’re looking for the Bali of yesteryear, one sans traffic and crowds, then the volcanic island of Lombok will appeal.
With direct ferries, speedboats and flights daily, Lombok is part of the Lesser Sunda Island chain. While best known for its crowdless beaches and surfing locations, it’s much more than just a surfers’ paradise.
Take a trek to the island’s centre and be rewarded with soaring mountains, lush green forests, waterfalls, tiered rice paddy fields and tobacco plantations; all largely untouched by the modern world.
Embark on a guided tour to Gunung Rinjani, Indonesia’s second-highest volcano, and you’ll be suitably impressed by Lake Segara Anak, a deep blue crater lake measuring 450-square-kilometres. It was formed during the explosive eruption of Mount Samalas in 1257. Several local tour companies operate daily excursions.
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The Gili Islands
Just off the coast of Lombok, coral gardens and turquoise blue seas give the three Gili Islands their unique character.
Gili Trawangan is where you’ll find backpackers frequenting rows of bars and nightclubs until the early hours. If you prefer to be off-the-beaten path, then Gili Air or Gili Meno is where you need to be.
Gili Air is far more low-key, with thatched bungalow-style accommodation often set directly on the beach. With just enough nightlife to satisfy, it’s the laid-back beaches and close-to-shore snorkelling that’s the real attraction here.
The smallest of the islands, Gili Meno with its traditional Indonesian vibe, is most popular among honeymooners and mature travellers.
Its 500 inhabitants rely on the island’s inland coconut plantations, fishing, and of course tourism for income. Smaller resort hotels dot the coastline and the quiet, crystal-clear waters and secluded white beaches are the main drawcards.
It may be just a thirty-minute ferry ride south east of Bali, but Nusa Lembongan is world’s away from the Bali most travellers know.
The laid-back surfer still reigns supreme here, with visitors rarely having to share the waves at the offshore breaks of Playground, Lacerations or Shipwrecks.
While surfing may be the primary attraction, the island has grown into a nature lover’s retreat with Yoga studios and luxury villas opening at a rapid rate.
Nusa Lembongan is also a popular spot for experienced divers, in search of the local giant Manta rays. Intro scuba courses are popular, and can be found around the island.
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