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With over 17,000 islands making up the country, Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago! Heavenly landscapes, gorgeous beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a highly developed tourism infrastructure makes Indonesia such an attractive travel destination. Covering a good part of Indonesia can take months and travelers usually stick to the most popular places to visit in Indonesia.
But the beautiful island nation is full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. The promise of breathtakingly serene beaches, interesting new experiences, cuisines, traditions, and stories is what’s driving travelers to offbeat places in Indonesia. And we have compiled some of the most offbeat, yet best tourist attractions in Indonesia.
Unknown to the majority of tourists is a hidden paradise just off the coast of Bali. Moyo island is a largely uninhabited island that is home to the Moyo Island Hunting park and inhabited by animals like macaques, deer, wild pigs, flying foxes, and a large number of birds. And one of the most scenic offbeat places in Indonesia!
The island’s claim to fame is a luxury resort, the only accommodation option on the island that is frequent by a select group of high-end travelers. The coastline has beautiful beaches, clear waters, and stunning coral reefs. The best activities to engage in are snorkeling and scuba diving with the southern end of the island the best spot for these activities. For the best deals to such amazing locations across Indonesia, click HERE.
Located towards the East of Bali, the beautiful Sumba Islands also called Pulau Sumba, don’t see many visitors! Most of the people who come here are surfers who are in constant search of pounding waves, pristine azure waters, and white sands. And this is just the beginning of what Sumba has to offer. A trip to the islands will get you close to the local culture, help you experience the fascinating megalithic tombs and the traditionally built houses.
Southwest Sumba is home to a dreamy lake, the Weekuri Lake which is a saltwater lagoon fed by the neighboring sea. The sparkling emerald waters are perfect for a dip; though the water is very shallow, it’s a great spot for kids to have some outdoor fun. On the Eastern side of the island, you must visit Tarimbang Beach which should definitely feature in the top tourist attractions in Indonesia. But sadly doesn’t. Tempting clear blue waters, clean white sandy shoreline flanked by some towering cliffs make this beach a must-visit site. You can also check out Kodi beach located in West Sumba. The turquoise waters, greenery, and serenity of this place make it feel like paradise islands!
Nglanggeleran Tourism Village
This tourism village doesn’t feature in the top places to visit in Indonesia and that’s because most people don’t even know about it. Located in the Patuk district, the village is about 25 kms from Yogyakarta City. From the city, travelers can make use of public or private transportation to get to Nglanggeleran. The Nglanggeleran Tourism Village has 3 main attractions – Gunung Api Purba Nglanggeleran, Nglanggeleran Pond, and the Kedung Kandang Waterfall.
Apart from numerous interesting places to visit, you will also get the opportunity to experience the rich Javanese culture, traditions, rituals, and their way of life. Travelers get a chance to stay and interact with the locals, learn Batik mask making, coconut handicrafts, fishing, planting paddy in the rice fields, preparing local food, and the traditional Reog and Jathilan dances. If cultural experiences pique your interest, then this is one of the top offbeat tourist attractions in Indonesia.
It is said that surfers usually find the best tropical spots around the world and the Mentawai Islands are one such destination. Located in West Sumatra, the chain of islands are dotted with palm trees, stunning turquoise waters and are a perfect spot for surfing activities. The small, relatively undeveloped islands are still not in the top places to visit in Indonesia and are frequented mostly by surfers.
But there is no reason you shouldn’t go there. With a variety of lodging options like Bungalows, resorts, hotels, and private homes, you can easily spend a relaxing vacation in this slice of paradise. The islands are home to tropical rainforests where the Mentawai people still live and you can spend time hiking around the jungles and meeting with the locals. You will be amazed to see their body ink – elaborate tattoos covering their bodies and done with perfection.
To get to the Mentawai Islands, you will first have to take a flight to Minangkabau Airport from Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. From there you will need to take a boat and sail across the beautiful seas to the Mentawai Islands.
Tana Toraja Regency
The South Sulawesi region is said to have a very rich tradition, a mystical atmosphere, and some of the best places to visit in Indonesia. Home to the ethnic Toraja people, the region is home to Tongkonan and ancient burial sites, which are now part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list. Walking through the place, you will be amazed by the architecture of the Tongkonans. These traditional ancestral houses contain a unique boat-shaped rooftop. In a line formation, you will be able to see several of these structures; some of them varying in size and shape but the underlying principle will remain the same.
And close to these Tongkonans are the ancient burial sites. It is said that the locals often bury the dead in trees, walls, and other surprising locations. In Tana Toraja Regency, immerse in the traditional ceremonies, local dance forms, and numerous other cultural lures. You can also explore other sites like Lemo, Kete Kesu, Ollon, and Tampang Allo that are located nearby. Legend has it that the ancestors came down from heaven through stairs! Interesting right? This and many more interesting stories can be part of your travel experience at Tana Toraja Regency.
One of the most interesting places to visit in Indonesia is the Pentingsari tourist village which was developed on similar lines as the Nglanggeleran Tourism Village. This is located 23 kms from Yogyakarta city towards the Northern direction. Situated at the foothills of Mount Merapi, the Pentingsari tourist village experiences pleasant weather during the day.
Since 2008, the Indonesian government has taken the initiative to develop Pentingsari into a tourist village aimed at attracting both local and international travelers. The main attraction of the village is its natural, social, and cultural experiences that are truly authentic and set to enthrall tourists. The village is also quite unique as its shape resembles that of a peninsula. In the South, there is the valley of Ponteng and Gondoran, in the west there is a steep valley, Kali Kuning, in the east is the Kali Pawon valley and in the North, there are residential areas along with wide expansive views of Mount Merapi. To make the most of your trip to Pentingsari, book your stay at one of the many homestays run by the hospitable locals.
If you are looking for offbeat places to visit in Indonesia, then look no further than Kawah Ijen, which is a group of volcanoes. So what’s so amazing about a volcano? Well, from far this looks like any other volcano in the night. But the fun begins when you start your hike to the top – at night! From the base of the volcano, you will ascend just after midnight, walking for at least 4 hours to get to the crater on top, at an altitude of almost 10,000 feet. Once you are at the pinnacle, the gas masks need to come on. Toxic sulfur fumes emit from the gaping hole impacting visibility and your ability to breathe.
The walk into the crater is something out of a sci-fi movie! A strange landscape that is engulfed in vibrant blue flames makes you feel as if you are in an alien land. Carry a good camera if you want to capture the azure beauty that is only visible at night. Tours to Kawah Ijen are offered by many Indonesian tour operators and you should only visit the volcano with an experienced guide. Banyuwangi is the nearest city where you will have to book your accommodation and you should be able to get transportation to the volcano from there.
Finding a place in our list of the most offbeat places to visit in Indonesia is Gunung Semeru, an active volcano located in East Java. Also known as Mahameru (Great Mountain), it is the highest peak in Java and is said to erupt on occasion. Gunung Semeru is slowly becoming one of the top tourist attractions in Indonesia and the only way to get there is by hiking up the mountain.
The village of Ranupane is the starting point for the hike and to get here you will have to set up base in Malang city 48 kms away. From Malang city, you can hire a private cab to transport you to Ranupane village. Or else you can take a mini-bus till Tumpang and then travel via 4 wheel vehicle to Ranupane. The hike is divided into 3 sections – Ranupane to Lake Kumbolo, Lake Kumbolo to Kalimati Base Camp, and Kalimati to the summit. The trek isn’t very difficult and you can do without a guide if you are an experienced hiker.
Along the way, you can enjoy camping as well at Lake Kumbolo, Kalimati, Arcopodo, and Killik on the way to the summit. The views from the top of Gunung Semeru are nothing short of a dream come true. Panoramic views of the stunning landscapes below, other volcanoes, meandering clouds, and the sea at a distance are absolutely breath-taking!
Off the coast of West Papua is a group of small islands known as the Kei Islands. The islands are part of the Maluku Islands that were known to be home to many spice plants. The islands don’t seem to feature in the top tourist attractions in Indonesia and are relatively untouched by mass tourism. Kei Kecil and Kei Besar are the two main islands here and most of the locals live in these parts. These paradisiacal islands have some of the best beaches in South East Asia with awe-inspiring sunsets and the serenity we all look for in a vacation destination.
To get to the Kei Islands, you will need to fly to Ambon, Maluku. From there, you can take a flight to Langgur which is located in Kei Cecil. There is an alternative route as well. From Ambon, there are a few boat services plying to the Kei Islands. But these are time-consuming as the ride takes about 6-7 hours. Once you are on the islands, you can walk around the town or enjoy diving activities. The clear waters, the large corals and the reef fish make diving a memorable experience. Under the water, you should be able to spot Bull Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Eagle Rays, Sponges, Giant Trevallies, etc. Other interesting species include the Denise Pygmy Seahorse, the Olive Sea snake, and the White Banded Sea snake!
Indonesia never ceases to amaze when it comes to discovering new islands. The world’s largest archipelago is home to thousands of islands and Widi Islands are one of the best ones here. The chain is made up of 99 islands and is called the ‘Maldives of Indonesia’. Your search for offbeat destinations in Indonesia should end here – the Widi Islands have everything you need! From the top diving spots to the best places to enjoy seafood, Widi has it all. And this is what makes Widi Islands one of the best places to visit in Indonesia.
The best way to enjoy the place is by indulging in island hopping. Most of these untouched islands can be explored by boat and a few of these can be covered over a couple of days. Travelers can also enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, boating, swimming, diving, bird watching, etc.
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I didn’t know Indonesia has 17,000 islands. Wow! Have visited only Bali and that too for just 3 days. Must plan a second visit, this time for much longer. Thanks so much for this wonderful post.