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Whether you’re dipping your toes into Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage and balmy waters for the first time or you’re flying in for your tenth trip, there’s something magical and unique to discover. Easy island living is just the beginning but it’s the perfect backdrop to adventures both above and under the water.
No matter, because with excellent air and sea transport links, Indonesia’s islands are close enough that you can still island-hop, for a few weeks anyway. Choose a few destinations and, holiday duration depending, discover as many of Indonesia’s gems as you can.
Here are four top resort and destination picks to take the stress out of your holiday planning. Visit one or visit them all, either way, you’re guaranteed the holiday of a lifetime.
Papua Paradise Eco Resort – Raja Ampat
Raja Ampat is not just for divers though. Snorkelers and swimmers will delight in the reefs while land lovers can explore the peninsula’s interior where thick jungle foliage and tropical birds rule the roost.
Papua Paradise Eco Resort brings travelers the best of both worlds. Its 26 absolute oceanfront bungalows perch on stilts in the shallow waters. In front is a world-class house reef while behind, paths lead from the beach into the forest.
Guests can choose between superior and deluxe rooms. Unlike in many resorts, there’s no compromise on location here, both room types are right on the water.
Inside the superior rooms, nature rules: natural wood furniture and finishings beautifully complement the traditionally designed bungalows. And at 70 square meters, this isn’t your standard resort hotel room. The feeling of space continues on the roomy balconies, the perfect spot for sunset, sunrise, and an afternoon drink.
Papua Paradise boasts a breathtaking on-site spa and tour desk. Gangga Divers is located in the resort and offers a range of PADI dive courses and daily dives from its well-equipped fleet of 10 dive boats.
Villa Almarik – Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan offers all of these things and a particularly unique selling point: there are no motorized vehicles on the island, so if you’ve always wanted to cycles around a tropical island, this is your chance.
It might be known as the turtle capital of the world, but underwater there is enough top-ten animal sighting to keep all levels of diver happy, think mantas, sharks, rays, and more. Snorkelers are catered to as well, plenty of shallow reefs mean surface-level exploration is just as rewarding.
Villa Almarik is uniquely positioned to help travelers make the most of everything Gili Trawangan has on offer to guests. One of the very first resorts on the island, Villa Almarik is located on the waterfront and just a few minutes’ walk from the bustling cafe scene.
One of the resort’s most intriguing offerings is a guided trek inland to the Rinjani Volcano. When it’s time top cool off, head to the fully-equipped dive center and get your fins wet.
Lotus Bungalows – Candidasa, Bali
Our top pick here is Lotus Bungalows, with just 20 rooms, the resort offers up a boutique hotel feel with the friendliness of a bed & breakfast. Each bright and airy room is well-appointed and designed tastefully with just the right amount of Balinese influence.
Divers and snorkelers won’t be disappointed either, the on-site dive center runs a range of PADI dive courses and daily dive trips, including to the famous Liberty wreck. Looking to get into rebreather diving? Gangga Divers also has rebreather courses available.
Gangga Island Resort and Spa – North Sulawesi
Among the best places to go diving and snorkeling in Indonesia, the waters around this island province are teeming with marine life. Explore the Bunaken National Park or delve into world-class muck diving in the Lembeh Straits, famous for its pygmy seahorses, elusive mantis shrimp, and a dazzling array of nudibranch species.
It’s not all about slug hunting though, non-divers in the family or group will find plenty to keep them occupied on the shore, whether it’s lazing in beach chaise lounges or exploring the forests — or even a volcano — on foot.
Gangga Island Resort and Spa feature all the dive and snorkel facilities you expect from a resort in North Sulawesi. And the bright and breezy 30 beachfront bungalows are the perfect oasis of calm after a busy day spent exploring. Finished to a high standard and featuring native timber, each comes with a spacious verandah to kick back and enjoy the views.
Groups are well catered to here with the option to add additional beds in the spacious bungalows or choose a hut with three twin beds.
Domestic air links are extensive and, in some cases, are the only way to get to remote areas. Try www.traveloka.com for flight planning, this flight aggregator does a good job of compiling the myriad Indonesian airlines and routes.
Perhaps the more scenic option is boat travel, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara, and Sulawesi are all connected by passenger and car ferries. Tourist boats run fast trips between popular hotspots, but choose your provider wisely. If you’d like detailed recommendations on travel to any of the resorts above, get in touch.
On the island themselves, you can take local buses, hire cars or mopeds (on some islands), or take the laid-back option and discover the country slowly by foot or bicycle.
Either way, you’re sure to enjoy yourself — one of the joys of Indonesia is that the journey to a particular spot around the archipelago is often as rich and rewarding as the destination itself.