Looking for an island escape but feel that Bali is not your thing anymore? Well, no problem, Indonesia, has over 17,000 islands, on sixty archipelagos in seas so azure, so unbelievably vibrant they are almost too beautiful to look at. Let’s explore just a few of them.
Nusa Lembongan One of the closest islands to Bali’s shores, this little gem is only a 40 – minute boat ride away. Aquamarine waters, fringed by pristine white sands and lush green mangrove forests, Nusa Lembongan has a lot to love. Over the last five years or so tourism has replaced seaweed farming as the main source of income and now the beaches are festooned with restaurants and boutique hotels to rival the best that Bali has to offer. Its coral reefs beg to be explored whether it be gentle snorkelling or diving where, beneath the waves giant schools of tropical fish cohabit with the mighty mantas and sea turtles. When it comes to accommodation and dining its hard to ignore BatuKarang Resort & Spa and Ohanas Beach Lounge and Dining.
Sumba is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands on the southern archipelago easily accessible by air from either Jakarta or Bali. There is something truly enchanting about Sumba with its rugged, undulating plains, so different from the traditional northern volcanic islands. Travelling across Sumba one encounters small, hilltop villages replete with tall, symbolic grass roofs clustered around megalithic tombs. The snow-white beaches surrounding the islands are the stuff of dreams, as are the majestic waterfalls which tumble down the slopes of higher mountains that dominate the interior. The mainly protestant inhabitants are renowned for their stunning adat ( traditional weaving ) much prized throughout Indonesia. If it is September, the Pasola Festival is not to be missed. Sumba is home to the spectacular Nihi Resort. Perhaps THE place to stay as it is consistently voted one of the world’s top hotels and with good reason. Its fabulous.
Flores Heading eastwards along the archipelago is the elongated Island of Flores where early explorers labelled their maps with the chilling words, “Here there be dragons”. Spectacular landscapes, dotted with majestic mountains, terraced with rice paddies, the Island is peppered with over 30 volcanoes whose sole purpose seems to be to try and reach up and touch the sky, delicious with stars. On the westernmost tip of the Island is the charming town of Labuan Bajo. Once a small fishing village, it has recently flourished to become the gateway to Komodo National Park and Rica Island – home to the prehistoric dragons that roam wild across the landscape. An overnight stay on one of the numerous liveaboards is highly recommended.
Sumbawa A short ferry trip from Lombok is one of Indonesia’s least populated islands, the slightly forgotten Sumbawa. Famous for its now extinct volcano, Mt Tambora which erupted in 1815 and, so violent was the eruption that it changed the climate in Europe and the Mid-West of America for over two years! If deserted, snow-white surf beaches are your passion then this is undoubtedly the Island for you. A few days at the Scar Reef Resort is, to coin a well- worn cliché, simply heaven on earth.
Indonesia; it truly is an amazing place! Paul Walters ◼