Beyond Bali

The Indonesian archipelago is home to thousands of islands, 922 of which are permanently inhabited. In spite of this, when someone says Indonesia, the first thought that pops into your head is . Home to some of the most luxurious hotels and private villas, this perennial beach destination boasts great dining and shopping options besides offering tons of activities for water sports enthusiasts. But there is much more to Indonesia’s island beaches than Bali. We’ve put together a list of five other tropical havens that we think should be on your itinerary the next time you visit the country.

Bangka & Belitung The Bangka Strait divides the two islands of Bangka and Belitung, which together make up a single province east of Sumatra. About 12,000sq km in size, Bangka is all small hills, white pepper fields and of course, beaches. Belitung on the other hand is smaller at around 7,800sq km and more rugged and mountainous. The waters around these islands are calm and clear, offering travellers some superb snorkelling, sailing and swimming opportunities. Some of this island province’s most spectacular beaches are Tanjung Kelayang and the white sand beaches of Matras and Romodong, at whose entrance stand two giant and welcoming granite rocks.  Make it a point to visit the Pemali Hot Springs located in the town of Sungailiat where you can relax and enjoy the supposed healing properties of the natural spring water. Also stop by Tanjung Kelian Old Lighthouse. Built in 1826, once you manage to get up its 199 steps, the view from it is breathtaking. Where to stay: The 222-room Hotel Novotel Bangka Golf & Convention Centre with four dining and entertainment venues, hammam, sauna, fitness centre, swimming pool, facilities for outdoor sports and a putting green. Hotel Novotel Bangka Golf & Convention Centre, Jl Soekarno Hatta, Pangkalpinang, Kep Bangka Belitung, Pangkalpinang, Indonesia (+62 717 436888; ) Doubles from Rs 3,201

Moyo Island Located in Indonesia’s West Nusa Tenggara province off the north coast of Sumbawa Island is the 349sq km Moyo Island. The island is home to the Marine Nature Park and the Moyo Island Hunting Park, which houses wild boars and endangered bird species such as the yellow-crested cockatoo and the Sumbawan parrot. The island itself is famous not only for these parks and a beautiful waterfall called Mata Jitu, but also for its amazing diving and snorkelling as well.  The two beaches of Tanjung Pasir and Ai Manis are gorgeous gently sloping white sand beaches with turquoise water and gentle currents. Where to stay: Located in a secluded cove is Amanwana, a luxury tented resort whose 20 tents measuring 624sq ft are fitted with all the comforts of modern life including air conditioning, hardwood flooring, king size beds and large bathrooms. The resort also has a spa—the open-air Jungle Cove Spa— besides a 104ft wooden cruising vessel called Amanikan that takes guests island hopping around the Indonesian archipelago. Amanwana, Moyo Island, West Sumbawa Regency, Indonesia (+62 371 22233; ) Doubles from Rs 44,407

Bunaken Island Made up of just eight square kilometres, this tiny island—off the coast of the much larger Sulawesi—is home to the Bunaken National Marine Park where scuba diving enthusiasts will be met with a rich and diverse population of corals, fish and sponges. The marine park is also home to an astounding seven of the world’s eight giant clam species and more than 70 percent of the known fish species in the Indo-Western Pacific. -combing is a popular activity here during low tide as the sea recedes and plenty of coral is exposed. Be careful as coral can be very delicate yet sharp. There are also plenty of secluded coves and inlets, perfect for a quiet swim and plenty of opportunities for dolphin and whale watching. Where to stay: Kima Bajo Resort & Spa on Sulawesi is minutes away from Bunaken. It has 18 luxury Bunga villas and 12 longhouse rooms, two restaurants, a pool, a dive centre, an organic fruit garden and the Mayana Spa with private massage rooms and a hydrotherapy villa. Kima Bajo Resort & Spa, Desa Kima Bajo, Kecamatan Wori, Kabupaten Minahasa Utara, North Sulawesi, Indonesia (+62 431 330 8085; ) Doubles from Rs 8,883

Ambon Island Spread out over 775sq km, Ambon Island is part of the larger Maluku Island chain and is home to dense hot springs and plenty of local wildlife like the crimson brush-tongued parrot and the racquet-tailed kingfisher. The town of Ambon itself was once a Dutch stronghold and its wide streets, colonial buildings and churches stand as testament to the time the controlled the ancient Spice Route and its trade. While here, visit Pintu Kota—a great spot to see some beautiful live coral—and The Fort Amsterdam that was built by the conquering Dutch in the seventh century. Climb up its ramparts for a stunning view of the twinkling ocean. Ambon Island’s Waii kampong or village is also home to the giant Waii Eel. Where to stay: The centrally located Swiss-Bellhotel Ambon. With over 100 guestrooms, a lounge, restaurant and café, a spa and business facilities. Doubles from xxx Swiss-Belhotel Ambon, Jl. Benteng Kapaha no. 88, Ambon 97124, Indonesia (+62 911 322 888; ) Doubles from Rs 5,552

Gili Trawangan Largest of the three Islands—the other two being Gili Air and Gili Meno—Gili Trawangan sees the most tourist footfalls. All three islands do not allow motorised vehicles though, so make sure you can make your way around on a bicycle or hire a cidomo, a small horse drawn carriage. Gili Trawangan’s beaches are powder soft, the cafes serve good food and the locals are warm and friendly. The island’s most famous bar is undoubtedly the Sunset Paradise Bar, which as the name suggests is one of the best spots on the island to catch the setting sun. Where to stay: Luce d'Alma Resort & Spa’s 16 large rooms are airy and comfortable and come with views of the pool or the sea. It also has a sauna, spa and a stretch of private beachfront. Luce d'Alma Resort & Spa, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia (+62 370 621 777;  ) Doubles from Rs 12,542.

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Neville Bhandara


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