BEST ATTRACTIONS from 6 MAJOR INDONESIAN ISLANDS.

As soon as I landed in Indonesia I knew it was a place I would have to return to over and over again.
There were just too many attractions in Indonesia for me to see in one visit.
I went to Indonesia 5 different times in a 12 month period.

With each return I visited another major island to see what it had to offer.
I saw a variety of great sites throughout the country.
But this list is my all-time favorites from each island.

Below is a list of the best attraction on each island.
As well as the Runner-Up.

Starting from the West and working my way East is…

SUMATRA.

Bukit Lawang:

Bukit Lawang is one of my favorite places in Indonesia.
It’s a small village that mostly survives on tourism.
But it’s still very rural and not overrun with tourists.
The village is deep in the Sumatran jungle.
Much of the community still relies on the river for cleaning, bathing, and fun.
Bukit Lawang is also home to Orangutans.
Only the 2nd place in the world that still has wild Orangutans.
The other is in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Large Orangutan staring into the camera.

The Orangutans was the main reason I went to Bukit Lawang.
But I could have stayed longer just to hang out in the jungle, lounge around the village, or go tubing down the river.
Bukit Lawang is a great place to be adventurous or as lazy as possible.

Runner-Up: Lake Toba.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Green mountains surrounding Lake Toba as a storm looms overhead.

Lake Toba was another place where you can be adventurous or absolutely lazy.
You can rent water toys and spend your days on the lake.
Or rent motorbikes and cruise around Samosir Island to see the surrounding waterfalls.

I could have stayed at both of these destinations for weeks and been completely content.

JAVA.

Mount Bromo:

All I knew about Mt. Bromo before arriving was that it’s an active volcano that you can hike.
But once I arrived in Cemoro Lawang I knew I’d enjoy it for more than just Mt. Bromo.
Cemoro Lawang is a small village above the clouds.
The surrounding scenery of that place made me think I was back in Switzerland again.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Sunrise over mountains and volcanoes with volcanic smoke covering the ground below.

Hiking up King Kong Hill to see the sunrise over Mt. Bromo was one of the best visuals I saw the whole time I was in Indonesia.
I thought I was looking at the landscape of another planet.

Hiking is what people spend most of their time doing at Mt. Bromo.
And I could have stayed there for days hiking and never get bored.

Plus the photo opportunities around there are plentiful.

Runner-Up: Borobudur.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. View from the top of Borobudur Temple with jungle and a storm looming in the background.

I know a lot of people get “templed-out” when they travel through Southeast Asia.
But if you only want to see the best temples I recommend Borobudur to be on that list.
It’s the biggest Buddhist Temple in the world.
From a distance it might not look like much.
But once you start to walk up the temple you see the true beauty of it.
The carvings and statues all throughout the temple are incredible.
And once you reach the top the views are some of the best.

BALI.

Nusa Penida:

If you’ve read THIS POST you might realize that Bali and I aren’t on the best terms with each other.
But it’s really not all that bad.
In fact, I consider Nusa Penida one of the best spots in Indonesia.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Stretch of land protruding into the ocean. Kelingking Beach.

Nusa Penida is a great place to get on a motorbike and disappear until dinner time.
The natural beauty of the island is some of the best I saw in Indonesia.
There’s many places to play in the water and the scenery of each place is breathtaking.

There’s also very few tourists there.
Which is surprising, considering how easy it is to reach from the tourism cesspool of Kuta, Bali.

Runner-Up: Uluwatu.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Cliff protruding into ocean. Uluwatu Temple.

Uluwatu was great because it had a perfect mixture.
Plenty of tourists, but plenty of locals.
Western food right next to warungs.
Crowded beaches and empty beaches.
Shit beaches and nice beaches.
Tourist hot spots and nice areas you could have all to yourself.

Uluwatu was much nicer than areas like Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur, and Canguu.
It’s the Bali I wish I saw first.

LOMBOK.

Mount Rinjani:

Mount Rinjani is a tough son-of-a-bitch.
But it’s completely worth every second.

Mt. Rinjani was one of the best hikes I have ever done.
Even though everything I had got drenched on the first day of a 3 day hike.
It was still Worth It!

Rinjani also has so much different scenery on each day.
Fields, forests, rocky mountainsides, lakes, hot springs, and jungles.
There’s so many great photo opportunities along the entire hike.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Mount Lombok in the distance towering over the surrounding jungle. Morning fog drifting between the trees.

The views above the clouds and all the surrounding scenery is impressive.
But you’ll be most impressed by the porters that are carrying everything… in FLIP FLOPS!!
They’re not lagging behind either.
They’re usually ahead of your guide.
These guys are beasts!

Runner-Up: Gili Air.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Orange sunset over the ocean near Gili Air.

Gili Air is a fun, relaxing island full of good beaches, nice accommodation, and great food.
It’s also not a complete garbage dump like Gili Trawangan.
Gili Air is a great place to relax for a few days if you recently finished a hike up Mt. Rinjani.
There’s nice snorkeling areas around the island to spot sea turtles.
And if you stay at Begadang Hostel you can relax in their swimming pool all day.
I know I did.

SUMBAWA.

Moyo Island.

Moyo Island is the place everyone is looking for but never finds.
People want a secluded beach all to themselves, but that is sometimes hard to find.
Moyo Island has empty beaches all around.

People go to Gili T and wait 15-30 minutes in a line to take a photo of themselves on a swing in the ocean.
Moyo has a swing too and there isn’t a single person around it.

People want waterfalls and swimming holes deep in the jungle, but then they arrive and it’s full of people.
Moyo has both right next to each other and you’re the only person there.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Mata Jitu Waterfall and small turquoise pools deep in the jungle.

I’m giving away ALL the secrets.
And I’m not sure if I should.

Moyo Island is a perfect place for enjoying nature undisturbed.
Moyo Island is still a developing island.
So don’t expect strong Wifi.
There is no electricity from 6 am – 6 pm.
Most of the accommodation is homestays.
And the shops and restaurants are people’s homes.

If you want a bare bones place to escape the world, Moyo is the place to be.

Runner-Up: Kenawa Island.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Grassy field leading to a large hill during the sunset. On Kenawa Island.

Kenawa Island is a little island that some tourist cruises visit right around sunset.
Other than that the island is usually pretty empty.

Kenawa Island is mostly a place to visit for overnight camping on the beach.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Some friends and I were able to find a boat driver that took us there with our food and tents.
He dropped us off, and the next morning he came back to pick us up.

The island is mostly a grassy field with a large hill at one end and a (trash covered) shoreline at the other end.
There was no one else on the island once the sun set.
We were our own entertainment.
If we arrived earlier in the day it would’ve been fun to snorkel around the island.
But our overnight camping trip on the beach was just as nice.

FLORES.

Komodo Island:

Komodo Island is the main reason I wanted to go to Indonesia.
Seeing Komodo Dragons in the wild has been a dream of mine for years.
So naturally this island would have to be on the list.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Large Komodo Dragon drinking from a puddle as saliva hangs from its mouth.

When I arrived at Komodo Island I didn’t know it was during mating season(July).
Which meant my chances of seeing Dragons were much less.
In fact, I only saw ONE Dragon on the island.
But it was bigger than me, so that made me incredibly happy.

Even though I only saw 1 Dragon on Komodo it was OK, because I saw at least 10 on Rinca earlier in the day.
I liked Komodo more than Rinca because of the snorkeling and the nearby pink beach.
Also the island is much larger and more dense than Rinca.
So the suspense of walking through the trails is a little higher.
Because you never know where the dragons might be.

Runner-Up: Rinca Island.

Best attraction on Indonesian Islands. Small Komodo Dragon walking through a grassy field during the middle of the day.

Rinca doesn’t have Komodo in it’s name but IT IS an island that’s home to Komodo Dragons.
This island is where I saw a majority of the dragons.
I could only imagine what it’s like when it’s not mating season.

You never hike too far from the main meeting point.
Because most of the dragons hang around the stilt houses that the rangers stay in.
Rinca is smaller and more open than Komodo.
So you can see dragons from quite a distance away.

Even though I saw more dragons on Rinca I still liked Komodo more because it had a more authentic feeling to it.

17,508 Indonesian Islands.

There are 17,508 Indonesian islands and I have been to 18 of them.
I still have a lot more to see.
I hope to return someday so I can see the best things they have to offer.

What are your favorite Indonesian islands?
What’s your favorite attraction on each one?
Let me know in the comments below.

Jeremiah Cooper

Welcome to Live Life Extreme, a travel blog about thrill-seeking travel through some of the largest cities to off the beaten path getaways.

My name is Jeremiah and I'm a photographer from Arizona.
I'm always in search of picturesque landscapes and adrenaline pumping adventure.
Follow me as I show you What and What Not to do when visiting new places in search of Cheap Travel and Cheap Thrills.
Jeremiah Cooper

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