Believe it or not, many of the best places to visit in Indonesia are still practically unknown to tourists. There are more than 17,000 beautiful Indonesian islands and most of them are still waiting to be traveled.
Everyone goes to Bali, which is a wonderful island for vacation (don’t get me wrong), but it’s been suffering from overtourism and overdevelopment for years.
If you branch out to the other islands in Indonesia, you can see smoking volcanoes, sulfur lakes, pink sand beaches, tropical rainforests, exotic wildlife, and so much more.
Since Indonesia is my second home (and my wife’s actual home!), we’ve been privileged to do a bunch of exploring in this beautiful country, including some of the most far flung Indonesian islands.
Here’s my complete list of the best places to visit in Indonesia that are not just Bali. If you’ve been to an Indonesian island that’s missing from this guide, you’re also welcome to recommend it in the comments at the bottom of the article!
22 Beautiful Indonesia Islands To Visit
1. Bali Island
Of course, Asia’s favorite vacation island! Before I mention other places in Indonesia, I have to include Bali. It’s heaven for luxury seekers and budget travelers alike. There’s something for everyone here.
Adventure lovers in Bali will have easy access to waterfalls, jungles, cliffs, volcanoes, and more. Or, if you’re the more laid back type, Bali has beaches, temples, and rice terraces for you, along with an endless supply of good restaurants and massages.
If any of that sounds nice, then you’ll fall in love with Bali and its people, just like I did. The only con is that it’s overtraveled. The small island got more than 6 million tourists in 2019.
2. Nusa Penida Island
The wonderful Indonesian island of Nusa Penida lies just 25 kilometers from Bali, and it’s considered part of the Bali province.
It’s a much smaller island than Bali, but it has some of the most exotic and beautiful scenery anywhere in Indonesia. We’ve visited Penida at least a dozen times over the years, but it never gets old.
This island can be visited on a day trip from Bali (same day return), but I think it’s better to spend at least a few days seeing things here.
It’s home to some famous natural sights like the dinosaur-shaped Kelingking Cliff, and the appropriately named Diamond Beach.
3. Nusa Lembongan Island
In addition to the island of Nusa Penida, the province of Bali also includes two smaller islands near it called Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, respectively.
Popular sights on Nusa Lembongan include a white sand beach called Dream Beach, and the Devil’s Tears, a nice little cliff spot where you can watch the waves crashing on the rocks.
It’s easy to get to Nusa Lembongan from Bali, and you can also travel between any of the Nusa islands with a short and cheap boat ride. Some people even base themselves in Nusa Lembongan or Ceningan while touring Penida island.
- Things To See: Dream Beach, Devil’s Tears, & Mangrove Forest
- How To Get There: 1 hour boat trip from Bali
4. Nusa Ceningan Island
Nusa Ceningan is the smallest of the three Nusa islands in Bali, but it still has some nice things to see and do.
The islands of Lembongan and Ceningan are connected to each other by a colorful yellow bridge, and even though they don’t have the epic cliffs and dramatic scenery of Nusa Penida, they’re still worth a visit for the nice hotels, seaside cafes, and laidback atmosphere.
You can get to Nusa Ceningan easily from Lembongan by driving across the iconic yellow bridge or taking a quick boat ride from Penida. From mainland Bali, it’s a 1 hour ride in a speedboat.
5. Lombok Island
Lombok is Bali’s neighbor island. It’s the same size as Bali and way less traveled by tourists, but you could argue it’s just as scenic, and the infrastructure is pretty developed.
The main attraction in Lombok is Mount Rinjani, which towers over the whole island. It’s the second tallest volcano in Indonesia, and you can trek it in a few days with a local guide.
Lombok is also known for some stunning beaches and waterfalls scattered across the island, and unlike in Bali, most of these spots are still hidden and free of crowds.
Even though it’s not as popular as Bali, Lombok is undoubtedly one of the most scenic places in Indonesia, and it’s likely to become the next vacation island for people looking to move on from Bali.
- Things To See: Mount Rinjani, Tiu Kelep Waterfall, Tanjung Aan Beach
- How To Get There: Fly to Lombok International Airport (LOP)
6. Java Island
Java, the most populated island of Indonesia, is home to some of the most incredible volcanic landscapes in the world.
The smoking craters at Mount Bromo and Kawah Ijen have become famous tourist destinations in East Java, and the center of the island has ancient temples that look like something out of The Jungle Book.
Meanwhile, West Java has surreal crater lakes like Kawah Putih, and dozens of big waterfalls to discover. It’s easily one of the best places to visit in Indonesia!
7. Flores Island
Flores is wild and wonderful, and there are a lot of good things to see and do, but it’s a very long island, so a road trip is the best way to take it all in.
The main tourist attraction here would have to be the Kelimutu Lakes, a pair of amazing turquoise colored volcanic lakes in central Flores, and you can see them without doing any hiking.
If you start from Labuan Bajo, you can do an overland tour of Flores from west to east and see sights like the spiderweb rice fields, Wae Rebo traditional village, Mount Inerie volcano, and the turquoise volcanic lakes of Mount Kelimutu.
In spite of the lack of publicity and infrastructure, Flores is definitely one of the best places to visit in Indonesia.
- Things To See: Kelimutu National Park, Koka Beach, Mount Inerie, Labuan Bajo
- How To Get There: Fly to Ende (ENE) or Maumere (MOF) from Bali (DPS)
8. Komodo Island
Komodo Island is famous for being home to the beastly Komodo dragons (the world’s biggest lizard), and it’s full of other ‘bucket list’ travel experiences.
The UNESCO designated Komodo National Park has dozens of islands with white and pink sand beaches, scenic mountains for trekking and coral reefs for diving, and it’s the only place in the world where you can see Komodo dragons up close in the wild!
We’ve visited Komodo a bunch of times over the years and it’s always amazing. One of the great things about its gateway town, Labuan Bajo, is that it’s not far from Bali and it’s easy to reach with a short flight from there.
9. Padar Island
Even though Padar Island is one of the smallest islands in the Komodo National Park, the scenic viewpoint here has become a famous natural landmark of Indonesia, and it’s even been featured on the 50,000 Rupiah cash note.
You can visit this island easily on a boat tour of the Komodo National Park, and the hike up to the viewpoint is relatively quick and straightforward.
At the viewpoint, you can see a magnificent Jurassic Park landscape and three giant bays with a white beach, black beach, and pink beach.
Each of those sand colors is pretty special in itself, but to see all of them in one place is crazy. This is probably the only place in the world where you can witness that!
- How To Get There: Fly to Labuan Bajo (LBJ) from Bali (DPS) or Jakarta (CGK)
- More Info: Padar Island Guide
10. Sulawesi Island
Sulawesi is one of my favorite islands to explore in Indonesia. Many of the strangest things we’ve ever seen have been on this island.
You can see volcanic hot springs and megalithic stone faces, karst mountains, bug-eyed tarsiers, prehistoric cave art, and extreme meat markets.
Sulawesi is also home to one of the most bizarre cultures on Earth (Tana Toraja), where they dig up their dead relatives every year to wash the corpses and change their clothes.
11. Labengki Island
Labengki Island (and its exotic neighbor Sombori) might be Indonesia’s best kept secret. This untouched tropical paradise in Sulawesi is impossibly beautiful. It’s one of the most enchanting places we’ve visited in our travels.
Labengki and Sombori haven’t been spoiled by tourism yet, and English documentation for these places is still almost non-existent on the web. We half expected to see dinosaurs as we explored the lagoons, caves, and jungle covered beaches.
It’s pretty remote, so the process of getting there takes a bit of effort, but this is one of the most fantastic Indonesian islands we’ve seen.
- How To Get There: Fly to Kendari (KDI) from Makassar, then take a 3 hour boat ride to Labengki island
- More Info: Labengki Travel Guide
12. Sombori Island
Sombori Island has to be one of the most wonderful places we’ve seen in Indonesia. The hundreds of paradise islands and lagoons have earned it the nickname of ‘the Raja Ampat of Sulawesi’ because it looks just like the famous islands in West Papua.
This is a very remote island, but getting there is worth the hassle! We discovered several hidden lagoons and beaches that hadn’t even been named yet, and saw wildlife ranging from giant sea clams to hornbill birds.
- How To Get There: Fly to Kendari (KDI), take a 3 hour boat ride to Labengki, then a 2 hour boat ride to Sombori
- More Info: Sombori Travel Guide
13. Bunaken Islands
Bunaken is a small island north of Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi.
The Bunaken Marine Park has some of the most popular Indonesian islands for snorkeling and scuba diving, and there’s even a big sandbar you can walk around on when the tide is low.
We visited Bunaken on a day tour from Manado, but you can also come with a public ferry if you plan to stay longer. The main island has lots of accommodation so you can stay close to the action.
How To Get There: Fly to Manado (MDC) + 1 hour boat ride
14. Siau Island
Siau is a small volcanic island north of Manado, but it’s more remote than Bunaken and not as well known, even though it deserves to be.
The reason I’ve listed it as one of the best places to visit in Indonesia is because of its nature and scenery. It’s outstanding, but still pretty much unknown to international tourists.
Siau island is home to one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes (Mount Karangetang), and the island also has its own unique species of tarsier.
This is definitely one of the more obscure islands to visit in Indonesia, but that means you’ll be the only tourist around!
- Things To See: Siau Island Tarsier, Mount Karangetang, Mahoro Island
- How To Get There: Fly to Siau (NAH) from Manado (MDC), or take the 4 hour fast ferry
- More Info: Siau Island Travel Guide
15. Selayar Island
Selayar is a long, skinny island south of Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi.
This is another good place for snorkeling and island hopping, or you can stay directly on a private white sand beach at Selayar Eco Resort.
Sadly a lot of the beaches in Selayar have been completely ruined by plastic trash (common in many Indonesian islands), but if you look around you can still find some good ones that are cleaned regularly by the resorts.
It’s easy to reach Selayar nowadays. You can get there from Bali by flights with a short transit stop in Makassar, and the last leg of the journey is only 45 minutes.
How To Get There: Fly to Selayar (KSR) from Makassar (UPG)
16. Sumatra Island
Sumatra is the biggest island inside of Indonesian territory, and it has the biggest volcanic lake in the world (Toba). It also has some of Indonesia’s biggest waterfalls.
This is definitely one of the best places to visit in Indonesia. We spent 2 months in North Sumatra and barely scratched the surface of this island.
There are so many amazing things to see and do, but the critically endangered rainforests and wildlife would have to be at the top of the list.
On a short jungle trek you can see orangutans, gibbons, leaf monkeys, rare birds and lizards, and many other animals.
17. Belitung Island
Belitung is a Bali-sized island off the coast of south Sumatra, and just like Bali it has so many amazing things to see and do. It’s even been recognized as a UNESCO Geopark for its unique landscapes.
We spent two weeks here and were blown away by the picture perfect islands and white sand beaches with granite boulders. This is island hopping paradise at its best.
The main thing to do here is the island hopping boat tour in northwest Belitung. You’ll see perfect white sand beaches, turquoise water, rocky granite islands, underwater coral reefs, and even a Dutch lighthouse from the 1800s.
18. Banyak Islands
The Banyak Islands are a group of barely inhabited paradise islands northwest of Sumatra, Indonesia.
For accommodation, you have a basic bungalow on an almost private island, with white sand beaches and crystal clear water in all directions. Infrastructure is very limited, but that’s part of the fun.
This place is pretty remote, but if you’re looking for an Indonesian island where you can live out the Robinson Crusoe lifestyle, it doesn’t get much better than this!
- How To Get There: Fly to Medan (KNO), drive 8-10 hours to Singkil, then ride a boat 1-3 hours to Pulau Banyak
- More Info: Pulau Banyak Travel Guide
19. Ternate Island
This is a small, cone-shaped volcanic island in the North Maluku province of east Indonesia. Ternate isn’t likely to become the next big vacation island in Indonesia, but it has some interesting sights and history.
A long time ago, the island of Ternate was one of the most important kingdoms in the precolonial ‘Spice Islands’ of North Maluku, and it’s still one of the main gateways to the province today.
It only takes an hour to drive around the whole island in a circle, but there are several neat things to see. You can climb the active volcano in the center of the island (Mount Gamalama), or visit the scenic lakes on the banks of the mountain.
- Things To See: Ngade Lake, Mount Gamalama, Tolire Lake
- How To Get There: Fly to Ternate (TTE) from Jakarta, Makassar, Ambon, etc
20. Halmahera Island
This is the biggest island in the Maluku Islands, and it’s loaded with rainforests, volcanoes, and hidden beaches.
The main reason to come to Halmahera, though, is for the spectacular active volcanoes, Mount Dukono and Mount Ibu. You can visit either one on a day hike, but it’s more popular to spend a couple days on each mountain since they’re tough to reach and the views are incredible.
This is the closest you will ever get to an erupting volcano! Think Mount Bromo, except more intense and without the tourist crowds. Halmahera is definitely one of the best places to visit in Indonesia.
- Things To See: Mount Dukono, Mount Ibu, and Kahatola Islands
- How To Get There: Fly to Kao (KAZ) or Galela (GLX) from Manado, or take a speedboat from Ternate
21. Seram Island
This is another uncharted paradise island in Maluku with fantastic mountains and rainforests, including the highest point in the Moluccas (Mount Binaiya).
Seram Island is best known for Ora Beach, a secluded private resort with views like Bora Bora. The island also has Manusela National Park, where you can see lots of unique tropical birds and the deepest cave in Indonesia.
Seram Island is a bit hard to reach, but it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Indonesia!
- Things To See: Ora Beach, Mount Binaiya, Manusela National Park
- How To Get There: Fly to Ambon (AMQ) + 2 hour ferry from Tulehu to Amahai
22. Ambon Island
Ambon is the capital and main gateway of Maluku province, which holds many of the hidden gems in Indonesia.
It’s not the greatest island in and of itself (too rainy, dirty, and noisy), but it does have some nice scenery and you’ll be passing through here anyway if you plan to see some of the best Indonesian islands in Maluku, like Seram Island.
My favorite thing we saw in Ambon was the turquoise colored Telaga Pange Waterfall, which is an easy hike located just 15 minutes from the city.
- Things To See: Telaga Pange Waterfall, Pintu Kota Beach, Liang Beach
- How To Get There: Fly to Ambon (AMQ) from Jakarta, Makassar, Ternate, etc
How To Visit Indonesian Islands (That Are Not Bali)
Now that I’ve listed some of the best places to travel in Indonesia that are not Bali, it’s time to go over some practical information.
If this is your first time traveling to new islands in Indonesia, here are some things you should know:
- Infrastructure. When you’re traveling in remote Indonesia islands, infrastructure may be limited. Oftentimes that means no WiFi or air-conditioning (fan only), and sometimes it means washing yourself with a simple water scoop instead of a shower. On more remote islands (such as the Banyaks), you may have no electricity at all except by generator in the evening. Being without these daily luxuries takes some getting used to, but it’s worth it to see some of the best places in Indonesia that are not just Bali. The infrastructure will catch up over time as tourism continues to grow in new areas. For now, enjoy the wilderness for what it is.
- Religion. Most of the Indonesian islands are Muslim majority, unlike Bali, which is Hindu. Terrorism is not a significant issue in Indonesia and attitudes toward foreigners are generally welcoming, but the culture is much more conservative when you’re not in Bali, so it’s important to dress modestly. You can also expect noisy loudspeakers from the mosques, often at all hours of the day and night, so it’s a good idea to pack ear plugs to help you sleep.
- Safety. In terms of crime, Indonesia is one of the safest countries in the world, with a very low murder rate of 0.5 per 100k inhabitants (92% lower than the global average), according to the United Nations yearly study. I’ve traveled in many Indonesian islands and haven’t really witnessed any crime. Just take normal precautions.
- People. If you travel outside of Bali, especially in remote parts of Java or Sulawesi, you’ll probably get lots of funny photo requests from the locals excited to see a rare ‘bule’ (foreigner).
- Mosquitoes. The Indonesian islands made a lot of progress in getting rid of malaria, but many parts of the country still have at least some of it. Dengue fever is also common all over the islands, including Bali. Malaria is mainly a problem in West Papua and the Mentawai islands, as well as some parts of Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. You can find a helpful map of the main risk areas for malaria in this study from 2018. The malaria risk areas have shrunk quite a bit now, but there are still some places in Indonesia you may want to take anti-malarial pills (certainly not in Bali). Mosquito spray and bed nets are always a good idea wherever you travel, especially in the rainy season and outside of the city.
More Indonesian Islands To See
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this list of the best places to visit in Indonesia that are not Bali!
We’re still missing many places like Sumba, Borneo (Kalimantan), Gili, Sumbawa, Mentawai, Nias, Riau (Natuna), Bangka, Derawan, Banggai, Togean, Wakatobi, West Papua, and the beautiful Raja Ampat islands. I realize those are easily some of the best places to visit in Indonesia, but we haven’t had a chance to visit them yet.
Hopefully we can visit more of those places soon! Check back for updates to this travel guide.
Best Time To Visit The Indonesian Islands
The best time to visit the beautiful Indonesia islands depends on what you’re looking for:
☁ Rainy season runs from November to April. The weather during the day can be hot and humid at 90-95 F (32-35 C), but it’s less crowded during this time, and the rain is mostly at night. Waterfalls come alive, and the landscapes are bright green.
☀ Dry season runs from May to August. The temperatures are milder and cooler, and it’s more breezy and sunny. This is the nicest weather, and it’s perfect for hiking, island hopping, and seeing some of the best places in Indonesia. It’s also the high season, so it’s generally more crowded with tourists, especially in Bali.
Happy travels! Regardless of when you decide to visit Wonderful Indonesia, you’re sure to see some spectacular sights!
Indonesia Drone Video
Here’s a 4K drone video I filmed during our many travels across Indonesia.
This video includes some of the best places to visit in Indonesia, including Bali, Belitung, Flores, Java, Labengki, Maluku, Nusa Penida, Sombori, Sulawesi, Sumatra, and other islands.