Bali, Yogyakarta, the Gili Islands and Lombok, this is Indonesia for most backpackers and you’re guaranteed an awesome time. However, if you want to get really blown away and experience something that few other tourists will ever experience, then you should throw away your guidebook and loose the rest of the backpackers.
These five places may not be easy to get to, but if you’re up for an adventure and want an unforgettable holiday; well, just prepare to be blown away.
Raja Ampat is simply the most amazing place I have ever visited in my life. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is simply incredible. The sea is clean, the coral is pristine, the islands are beautiful and the diving is out of this world. The best thing about it is that Raja Ampat is almost completely empty.
There are 1,500 islands here and a population of just 5,000 (that’s less than three people an island). If you want to visit here, come quickly, because in ten years Raja Ampat will be full of tourists. To make it easy for you I’ve even written a guide to budget travel in Raja Ampat, Papua.
Wakatobi is not one island, but actually four different ones (Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko) located off the South East coast of Sulawesi. This is another world-class dive site and there are almost 400 reefs that you can visit and explore. Although these islands are well known to divers and already famous, the high cost combined with difficulty of getting here means that not many tourists visit the island.
The province of Maluku is one of the most isolated in the whole of Indonesia. There is very little infrastructure connecting this cluster of islands in between Papua and Sulawesi to the rest of the country. With almost no tourists visiting the province, hotel prices are extremely cheap and the unspoilt white sandy beaches are almost deserted.
The further East you go in Indonesia the less tourists you will find, and so it is with Alor. Despite sharing many of the same characteristics as Lombok (read miles of unspoilt golden sun drenched beaches and amazing mountain treks), the island has only a very small number of tourists. This means that while the hotels and resorts are just as good as anything you will find in Lombok, they are significantly cheaper.
Off the coast of East Kalimantan close to the border with Malaysia, is the picturesque resort island of Derawan. Rising little more than two metres out of the ocean and so small that you could walk around it in less than an hour, there is not much to Derawan; this is however part of the appeal for me. With just ten luxury cabins on the island, one endless beach and dozens of coral reefs, Derawan is the perfect place to get away from it all.