Top 10 Islands in Indonesia

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Papua, Indonesia one of the Papua, top 10 islands in Indonesia
Papua, Indonesia

Top 10 Islands in Indonesia is not easy to choose; they are after all 17,000 of them. The archipelago of Indonesia is nothing short of extraordinary. These are island paradises at their very best. Think of your idea of a tropical island paradise and you’ll find it in Indonesia, many many times over. The people are warm and friendly, the climate is impeccable, the seas are crystal clear and the sky is blue. As a holiday destination it is hard to beat. Compiling a list of the top 10 Islands in Indonesia is difficult to say the least. This is a list of what most holiday makers choose as their top ten. This is an astonishingly beautiful part of the world and rivals anything that can be found on the islands of other countries in the region.

1. Bali, Still One Of the  Top 10 Islands in Indonesia

This is the most well known and certainly the most visited of all Indonesian islands. Bali sits just off the tip of eastern Java, slightly north of and about a thousand miles west of Darwin Australia. This is probably what most people would consider a stereotypical Indonesian island, and for that reason it is the busiest of them all, seeing more tourists than any other. It is though for much of it, completely unspoilt. Known as the Island of the Gods, it has a varied landscape of hills and mountains, sandy beaches and rugged coastlines, lush rice terraces and also barren volcanic hillsides. A rich cultural history and fantastic surfing, combine to provide just about everything for a terrific holiday. For all its issues it remains one of the Top 10 Islands in Indonesia.

Bali, Indonesia
Beautiful Bali, the Ricefield Valley, Penebel – Photo by Nick Burgoyne

2. Java

The very name conjures up the mystique and mystery of the region. Immortalised in the 1969 movie Krakatoa East of Java; Java is in fact East of Krakatoa. This is a large island that is home to 130 million of Indonesia’s population. This is the economic and political centre of the country and has everything. The massively overpopulated capital, Jakarta, is on Java. It has 121 active volcanoes, rice paddies, tiny villages, rivers, canals and dreamy fishing villages. A prime candidate for one of the Top 10 Islands in Indonesia.

Java, Indonesia
The island paradise of Java, Indonesia

3. Sumatra

This is the largest of Indonesia’s 170 islands and in fact the 6th largest island in the world. Possessor of some of the Mother Nature’s best natural beauty; it is also prone to some of her worst natural disasters. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami, and landslides are common here. Natural disasters have hit the headlines many times. It is one of the world’s richest ecosystems. It is home of course to ‘the old man of the forest’ the Sumatran Orangutan. Sumatra offers pretty much everything, top diving, great surfing, wonderful forests, amazing cuisine, granite beaches and dolphin spotting. The island has a staggering array of flora and fauna. It would be impossible not to tag this as one of Indonesia’s premier islands. One of the Top 10 Islands in Indonesia for wildlife fans, it is not to be missed.

Orantutan,Sumatra, Indonesia
The  Orangutan, the most well known symbol of Sumatra

4. Komodo

Home of the Komodo Dragons, the stuff of nightmares, but a fascinating island with much to offer. The island of Komodo has been identified by both the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area. It is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, and sits between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. For years it was thought that the Dragons merely had so much bacteria in their mouths that their prey died of infection, but it is now accepted that they are in fact the world’s only venomous lizards. There are many more species to see here apart from the dragons, the island is also home to: the Timor deer, wild horses, water buffalo, wild boar, long-tailed macaques, palm civets, the endemic Rinca rats, and fruit bats. The cobra and Russel’s pit viper, both of which are extremely dangerous, also live here. Komodo is a naturalist’s paradise, another one of the Top 10 Islands in Indonesia for wildlife.

Komodo Dragon, Komodo, Indonesia
The infamous Komodo Dragon, can grow to more than 10 feet in length.

5. Lombok

This is one of Indonesia’s almost hidden gems. Home to the second highest volcano in the country, Mount Rinjani, and beaches that beat even Bali, somehow Lombok has managed to keep a low profile. This islands tells the story of how Bali used to be, and it is not without good reason that it is marketed as “an unspoiled Bali”. The island and the traditional way of life for its inhabitants have remained unchanged for centuries. Most businesses are run by local families, who sell home-made items to tourists. It really is a superb location.

Lombok, Indonesia,
The beautiful waters surrounding Lombok, Indonesia,

6. Sulawesi

The strange four peninsula, spidery shape of the island of Sulawesi is immediately recognised. The 11th largest island in the world, it has much to offer the visitor; from completely unique cultures, to an under-explored mountainous hinterland, and many truly world class dive sites. Humans have lived here for 30,000 years and the island has much to explore regarding its ancient history. 18 million people live here, the largest city being Makassar. Though most Sulawesi people identify themselves as Muslims or Christians, they often follow local beliefs and deities as well. It is quite common for Christians to make offerings to local deities and spirits.

Sulawesi, Indonesia
A solitary fisherman’s boat lies on the unspoiled sand of Sulawesi, Indonesia

7. Papua

Papua is also known as Western New Guinea and was formerly called Irian Jaya. It is the largest and furthest east part of the Indonesian archipelago. It comprises the western half of the island of New Guinea. This is the world’s largest and highest tropical island; the eastern part of which is, of course, the independent country of Papua New Guinea. The interior provides some of the world’s most impenetrable jungle, as well as beautiful snow-capped mountains and gorgeous glacial lakes. A highlight of any trip here is meeting the local indigenous tribes people. This incredible island would make it onto any list of the Top 10 Islands in Indonesia.

Papua, Indonesia
The incredible beauty of Papua, Indonesia

8. Flores

This island is unique in many ways; Flores is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands. This island arc has an estimated land area of over 5,000 square miles extending east from Java. The population is around 2 million. Flores means flowers in Portuguese, who named it, and the islands largest town is Maumere. The amazing crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu change colour depending on the levels of mineral deposits. Cream, brown, red, blue and green are common colours for the water here. The sea life around Flores is stunning and it certainly qualifies as one of the Top 10 Islands in Indonesia.

Flores, Indonesia
The amazing colour changing waters of the lakes at Mount Kelimutu

9. Bunaken

This tiny, coral-fringed island is one of the world’s best dive and snorkelling sites. Top divers from all over the world visit this amazing marine national park. 20,000 local inhabitants make a sustainable living from the waters that surround this banana shaped island. Whilst practices in the past were not so ecologically sound, co-operation between locals and the government have led to Bunaken now being held up as an example for the rest of Indonesia to follow. The marine park was established in 1991 and the water is so clear that visibility in the dry season is over 100 feet. Bunaken Timor off the east coast of the island is rated as the best dive site in all of Indonesia, the water here is some 5000 feet deep.

Bunaken, Idonesia
The wonderful marine park area around Bunaken, Idonesia

10. Wakatobi

Another one of the world’s best dive sites. The name is an acronym of the four component islands: Wangiwangi, Kaledupa, Tomea, and Binongko. It is one of the Regencies of Indonesia and part of a larger group called the Tukangbesi Islands. This is also part of the Wakatobi National Park. It is home of the UK based Operation Wallaces a conservation group looking into methods of sustainable development for fisheries and coral reef research. So far something of a secret; only about 12,000 tourists per year arrive at its shores. Although there’s four of them, it’s still classed as one of the Top 10 Islands in Indonesia

Wakatobi, Indonesia
Sheer paradise and one of the world’s best dive sites as well, Wakatobi, Indonesia
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Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, he moved to Cambodia and then relocated to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2013. Keith has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. He has written for the BBC and has appeared on TV and radio in many different countries. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.
  • Denise Roberts

    It’s all good a revisit is needed

    • Keith Hancock

      I want to spend so much more time here

      • Denise Roberts

        When we go Philippines I want to go back there so much to see