Indonesia Beyond Bali

 

EXPLORING INDONESIA BEYOND BALI

Like most Indonesians and millions of foreigners, we love Bali. We love its beautiful people, the breathtaking sunsets, the enchanting culture, the scrumptious cuisine, the fun adventures, the early morning bike ride through the rice paddies and the late night parties and the fact that all of the things we just listed can happen in one tiny island. It’s amazing!

But yes, Bali is just one island, a very special island of course, but it is just one of the 17,508 islands in Indonesia, to be exact (according to the CIA Factbook that is). Indonesia has so much more to offer outside of Bali. That’s why our government’s putting in a lot of effort to introduce more people to the rest of Indonesia, and we are starting with introducing everyone to the “Ten New Bali’s”.

We’ve compiled information about these amazing places so that you can visit them next time you’re coming to Bali – most are accessible by a short flight from Denpasar. In no particular order, here is the 10 places you should visit when you come to Indonesia, apart from Bali:

 

 

1. LABUAN BAJO/KOMODO NATIONAL PARK, EAST NUSA TENGGARA
Distance from Denpasar: 1.5 hours flight, direct flights available

If you want to experience something quite different to Bali, consider visiting Labuan Bajo, a fishing village in Flores. There’s not much to do in Labuan Bajo itself, as it serve mainly as the gateway to Komodo National Park. Visitors usually spend an extra night before or after their Komodo trip in Bajo to catch a flight, and in that time we recommend visiting Plataran Komodo’s Atlantis on The Rock, a beautifully set beach side restaurant that is perfect to catch a sunset. Be aware that there’s no uber or taxi or public transport in Labuan Bajo, but some places are reachable by foot, unless your hotel is located far away from the marina or airport.

 

Gili Lawa – one of the furthest islands in Komodo National Park from Labuan Bajo

 

Labuan Bajo is by far the most improved destination in the last 5 years. From a humble little fishing town, now it has a new airport, a new marina coming up in 2018, a few luxury 5 star hotels, and a brand new hospital. It is all thanks to the continuous tourism spotlight on Komodo National Park.

Many people mistook Komodo as just one island. In fact, it is a National Park with many islands, some of the most visited included Komodo Island, Rinca Island, Padar Island, Gili Lawa, Kanawa Island, Kalong Island, Bidadari Island, Kelor Island, and many more. The Komodo dragon itself can be visited in Rinca and Komodo only. To travel to these islands you would need to book a spot on a daytrip or hop on a phinisi boat to stay onboard, as there are many boats to choose from ranging from budget to a top of the line boats that would make you think you’re staying at a 5 star hotel!

 

This is the interior of Tiare Phinisi, one the vessels we work with in Komodo, looks more like a 5 star hotel than a boat!

 

Stunning sunset at Labuan Bajo’s Plataran Komodo Atlantis on The Rock Restaurant

 

Lastly, Komodo is famous for its superb underwater views. For divers, it is the pinnacle of their diving experience in Indonesia, although it is reserved to those who are a certified Advanced diver due to its challenging currents. If you’re not a diver, don’t worry, snorkeling in Komodo easily put other diving sites to shame, because it offers great visibility and colorful sea life and occasionally you’ll meet some Manta Rays.

To visit Labuan Bajo from Bali, you can take a short 1,5 hours flight to Komodo Airport. The Marina is 15 minutes away from the airport, and from there you can hop on a boat to visit Komodo. However you need to make sure you have made prior arrangements for land and boat transfer because unlike Bali, it can get confusing to book a boat on the spot and there’s not a lot provider that provide daily trips.

Click here to learn more about this destination, or here to book a trip.

 

2. BOROBUDUR TEMPLE, CENTRAL JAVA
Distance from Denpasar: 75 mins flight, direct flights available to Jogjakarta

Once one of the world’s 9 Wonders of The World, the Temple of Borobudur is probably one of the most visited landmarks in Indonesia. What attracts most tourists are its historical and cultural significance. Many claim that this is the largest and most complete ensemble of Buddhist reliefs in the world, unsurpassed in artistic merit.

 

 

Apart from visiting Borobudur, you can spend another 1-2 days in Yogyakarta (or some call it Jogja), as it is known to be one of the centers of the Javanese culture. It still is governed by a Sultan and you can visit its Palace which houses many beautiful relics.

To visit Borobudur, you’ll need to take a flight to Yogyakarta. Upon arrival at Adisucipto International Airport, you can go to Borobudur by land transport which will take approximately 1 hour.

Click here to learn more about this destination, or here to book a trip.

 

3. MOUNT BROMO, EAST JAVA
Distance from Denpasar: 1 hour flight, direct flights available to Surabaya

Mount Bromo is one of the best places in East Java where you can experience beautiful sunset or sunrise. Like Merapi in Central Java, Bromo is a magnificent volcano that has a lot of visitors every year. Not only locals adore it, folks from overseas Indonesia also put it on their holiday go-to list.

 

 

So, how to get to Bromo? You just need to take a short flight to Surabaya and upon arrival at Juanda International Airport, you can proceed to Bromo area via land transfer which usually take a few hours. At the site, you can explore the mountain with local jeep and horse that are provided by the locals. Since it has very cold temperature, don’t forget to wear your winter attire the entire time you’re here.

Click here to book a trip.

 

4. THOUSAND ISLANDS, JAKARTA
Distance from Denpasar: 1.5 hours flight, direct flights available to Jakarta

The Thousand Islands (or Pulau Seribu) is in Jakarta’s backyard, perfect for those who want a peaceful escape but don’t want to spend too long in transit. Accessible by speedboat just less than 90 minutes north of the city, it is a popular short trip destination for many people “stuck” in Jakarta for the weekend. It’s so easy and quick, you could depart in the morning and be back for dinner in Jakarta.

Another good news is, it has almost literally a thousand islands to choose from. The most popular & recommended islands would be: Macan Island, Sepa Island, and Pelangi Island that almost visited by tourists, both local or foreign. All of these islands offer pristine blue waters, white sands & beautiful sunsets. You have to try it to believe that you are still in Jakarta.

Click here to book a trip.

 

5. WAKATOBI, SOUTH SULAWESI
Distance from Denpasar: approx. 2 hours flight, no direct flights available, transit in Makassar & Kendari

Wakatobi is widely recognized as having the highest number of reef and fish species in the world. The islands are also famous as the largest barrier reef in Indonesia. So, this is the perfect paradise for those who dive, not to mention people that want to escape big city’s bustling. Wakatobi is home to large and small fish species, the playground of dolphins, turtles or even whales.
Due to its magnificent underwater life, Wakatobi is gaining worldwide attention and deserves to be put on the new-Bali list.

Aside from its diving attraction, Wakatobi also offers superb beaches, when you just want to sit and relax, enjoying the panorama.
To get there, you must take flight from Jakarta on Denpasar. From Denpasar there’s a flight to Wakatobi via Makassar and Kendari on Lion Air or Wings Air. There’s an Xpress Air flight from Jakarta to Bau-Bau, in Southeast Sulawesi, and continues to Wakatobi’s Matohara Airport on Wangi-Wangi. From Wangi-Wangi you need to take a boat to Tomia to get to the best dive sites.

Click here to learn more about this destination, or here to book a trip.

 

6. LAKE TOBA, NORTH SUMATRA
Distance from Denpasar: approx. 4 hours fly time but with transit in Jakarta

Lake Toba is famous for its beautiful sunset landscape and because of the tiny island located in the middle of the Lake, the Samosir Island. Toba is a volcanic Lake, with 100 km length and 30 km width, and still the only best attraction to visit in North Sumatra. If you want to sit back, relax, and chill while enjoying pristine scenery, this is the right place. Don’t worry though, Toba has cooler climate and breezy wind compared to most places in North Sumatra.

So, how to get to Lake Toba? If you want to visit from outside Indonesia, you need to take a flight to Medan (biggest city in North Sumatra, also an international gateway). Upon arrival at Kualanamu Airport, you can start heading to Toba, exactly at Parapat (the town by the lake), via land transfer.

It is 176 km from Medan and can be reached in under 6 hours by public bus which has two routes: Medan-Parapat or via Medan-Berastagi. From Parapat, you can catch the ferry to Samosir Island, which goes every hour and a half.

Click here to book a trip.

 

7. TANJUNG LESUNG, BANTEN
Distance from Denpasar: approx. 1.5 hours to Jakarta and then 4 hours on land

Tanjung Lesung Beach is one of West Java’s main attraction. The beach has white sand and peaceful atmosphere, it’s a perfect escape from those who are bored of the city’s chaos. This place is also perfect for taking awesome pictures. But, what makes it very nice destination is not just about that. It has underwater beauties, for those who like to dive or snorkel. For those who not, it still offers various exciting water sport.

Click here to book a trip.

 

8. TANJUNG KELAYANG, BANGKA BELITUNG
Distance from Denpasar: approx. 4 hours fly time but with transit in Jakarta

Another beach destination which located in Bangka Belitung. It has flour-like white sand and exotic panorama. On its beach, there are clear milestones where fishermen moor their boats before going to the sea. It also surrounded by small islands, which creates beautiful color blend of blue water and green islands.

If you want to swim and snorkel, it is very safe because the waves are fairly calm. To get to this beach, you can use a taxi, rent a bike or a car. It takes about 45-90 minutes to get there from nearby city.

 

Click here to book a trip.

 

9. MANDALIKA, WEST NUSA TENGGARA
Distance from Denpasar: approx. 30 mins, direct flights available

Developed for the past 29 years, Mandalika finally is an official destination that has Bali-like credibility. Mandalika is one the special economic zone which are planned by Mr. Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia. Its distance from nearby airport is estimated 30 minutes.

This is another beach destination in Indonesia that has white sand, clear sky, and beautiful panorama. Mandalika is also perfect for snorkeling, since its underwater beauty attracts a lot of tourist. If you want to spend some retreat time, surrounded by nature and clear sky, Mandalika can provide you those things.

Click here to book a trip.

 

10. MOROTAI ISLAND, NORT MALUKU
Distance from Denpasar: approx. 5 hours fly time, with transit in Jakarta

Morotai is located in North Maluku. The island of Morotai has a number of great beaches and interesting diving spots. The largest town here is Daruba in the south. The clear water makes it possible for you to see what’s underneath. It is also perfect for those who like to surf.

 

 

Not only its beaches, the town Daruba also offers various world war wreckage which act as its attraction. It used to be Japanese soldier’s hive back in World War II. To get to Morotai, you can take flight to Ternate Airport and then fly to Morotai Airport.

Click here to book a trip.

 

There’s also another destination closeby from Bali but not yet included in the Government’s initiative:

SUMBA, EAST NUSA TENGGARA
Distance from Denpasar: approx. 1.5 hours fly time, direct flight available

Sumba is located in Eastern Indonesia. It looks nothing like volcanic islands to the north. With its rugged undulating savannah and low limestone hills growing more maize and cassava than rice, Sumba offers a unique experience for tourists, both locals or overseas. It’s beautiful savannah is home for wild horses and cows, you can see them wandering around, makes it more perfect for exotic journey. Not to mention, Sumba’s beach and waterfalls are second to none. It is still untouched and you’d be the only people there if you’re lucky, because this place is still less known compared to Bali or Lombok.

 


Walakiri Beach in Sumba

 

Bukit Persaudaraan in East Sumba

 

Sumba’s megalithic culture is still very much apparent in their day to day. If you are pursuing a cultural experience, then this is the perfect place for that. Most inhabitants are animists, and they still practice traditional burial rites and to this day they still have a Queen who resides in Kampung Rende. You will also be amazed to see their traditional tenun fabric, with its beautiful symbolic patterns and traditional materials.

 

To get to Sumba from Bali, you can take a domestic flight to Umbu Mehang Kunda Airport in Waingapu or Tambolaka Airport in Tambolaka. The flight takes about 1,5 to 2 hours duration.

Click here to learn more about this destination, or here to book a trip.

 

 

Information compiled from various sources.

Photo Credits
Main Photo
Javier Allegue Barros