Like many, my first travel experiences in Indonesia were based in Bali. While I still visit Bali often and even got married on the island, I have been fortunate to have travelled well beyond Bali, discovering that Indonesia has so much more to offer visitors than the one, very busy destination. I hope this photo gallery offers you a glimpse into the people and places you will encounter by travelling a little deeper into Indonesia. Jump on that extra short flight, step out of the resort-life comfort zone and you too will fall in love with these mostly lesser known Indonesian destinations.
While we saw so many of the must-see sights in down town Jakarta, it was the local characters that I loved, in particular. A street vendor sitting on the edge of the famous Fatahillah Square, Kota Tua, the cheeky local girls at the Istiqlal Mosque who stalked us to snap their photos, complete with a trademark head tilt, a family of three generations of women who politely stood for my camera with shy smiles and peace signs in Bogor Botanical Gardens and the lovely groups of complete strangers who walked me across the chaotic streets of the city so I would arrive safely at the other side. Compensation? A simple group selfie, of course. Read our complete Jakarta guide here.
Lombok Island, Indonesia
Lombok Island feels a lot like Bali felt about 15 years ago. While you will find more big resorts popping up around the island, in between you still find small villages with a warung or local restaurant, a small store with a few items, a simple spa offering massages for less than the price of lunch and the occasional herd of goats holding up traffic.
This stretch of sand sat in front of our resort. We spent our mornings running the shoreline as the sun began to heat up, our only company a local dog, trailing us during the first few metres and surfers enjoying the sets, largely to themselves further off shore. Lombok was the perfect place for us to start a year of full-time travel. We caught up on sleep, we ate local seafood and enjoyed the sunset from the pool.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
While in Lombok we had planned to climb Mount Rinjani, but when we found out weather conditions wouldn’t allow it, we sought out another active adventure to take. Snorkelling and exploring the Gili Islands was what we chose. We jumped on a long-boat across to the islands and spent the day between the water, in search of the famous local turtles and walking the sand between the bars and beaches on each of the well-known islands. Read more here.
This sunset on Padar Island is one I won’t soon forget. After hiking to the highest point on the island, we waited as the sun settled, the aqua water shimmered as it kissed the shore in each of the small inlets below, the grass turned golden and swayed with the breeze. As soon as it eventually dropped, purple blanketed the sky in the opposite bay where our boats waited. Climbing Padar Island was one of my most memorable moments spent in Indonesia. Read more about that trip here and here. Watch the video here.
We could never have predicted the path the day would take, the morning we jumped in buses at Labuan Bajo airport to climb the mountain to Melo Village. A welcoming procession, a ritual with a chicken and my first taste of betel nut were just the warm up before we danced with the villagers in the mountains of Flores. Read more here and watch the video here.
Manado was such a sweet surprise on my trip to visit beautiful Sulawesi. As we boarded the boat to head out snorkelling I almost couldn’t contain my excitement, which manifested in a frenzy of photography. With my phone in my pocket, GoPro under my arm and Canon in hand, I was working the boards from one end to the other, trying to capture the beauty before us, on camera. I still don’t think the photos quite do it justice. It was a day where we barely saw another tourist, the snorkelling was some of the best I’ve done anywhere and I left with this powerful image of the broody volcano, watching over us ’til this day. That was just the beginning of our Sulawesi adventure. Read more here and here. Plan your own trip with this guide.
Stepping on to the sand at Tanjung Karang Beach, Donggalla felt strangely surreal. We had arrived in a haze the night before, rushing to Talise Beach for the last of sunset, inundated with crowds of friendly locals, completely unused to seeing a tourist in this part of the country. Instead, at Prince John Dive Resort, we had the sand to ourselves and the incredible crystalline water that beckoned at its toes. Some swam, others went snorkelling and a group rested in the shade, we had found a moment to truly relax in the most unexpected paradise in Palu, Central Sulawesi. Read more here.
It was on this stretch of craggy coastline at Namalatu Beach, Ambon that we were welcomed by a group of very shy local children, eager to impress with a performance of the traditional Saureka-Reka. While I loved the performance, I really loved watching the children themselves gather in groups afterwards, boldly approaching us for selfies on their mobile phones and then running off to explore the rock pools and boats on shore, while still dressed in costume. It was such a lovely scene.
Our other incredible discovery in Ambon was Liang Beach. It was like stepping into another world, arriving to the blues at Liang to immediately brought back memories of the Maldives. We were the only tourists but we were welcomed by locals keen to chat to us and find out more about Australia. Read more here.