JAKARTA.GESAHKITA.com–Suppose that you are a tourist considering going to Bali to enjoy a quiet beach holiday, just forget it. Bali is ridiculously overcrowded and it is starting to look no different than Jakarta: Clogged with traffic, disorganized and polluted, it is far from the paradise it pretends to be.
The good news is there are 17,000 more islands to explore in Indonesia, with far better beaches and scenery. Sure, they require a bit more effort to visit and you may not find 5-star honeymoon resorts so easily. But once tourism will develop and change the authenticity of these islands, you will probably regret not making the trip earlier.
I selected 11 beautiful secret Indonesian islands that few people know of. They are located off Papua, Maluku, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Sumba or Borneo. Note that some of them are in fact small archipelagoes.
In case you are curious, the cover photo is from the Banyak Islands which are mentioned below
Taka Bonerate Islands
The Taka Bonerate Marine Park has 21 small islands and possesses the third largest atoll in the world. It is a paradise for divers from all over the world who can explore its 500km2 of corals. Sea turtles, cuttlefish, crocodile fish, eels and manta ray can be seen at almost every dive.
Its main island, Tinabo, is less than 2km long. It can be reach on a long day trip from Makassar via Selasar by boat.
Part of the Aceh province, the Banyak Islands consists of several small islands, including Tuangku (the largest), Bangkaru and Palambak (depicted on the photo above). It is an alternative for surfers to the more “crowded” Nias or Mentawai Islands. With endless yellow-sand beaches, they are also great for adventure couples looking for privacy.
Widi Island (or Weda) recently made national headlines after foreign investors from PT Leadership Island Indonesia agreed to disburse IDR 600,000,000,000 for the right to manage it for 35 years.
Located south of Halmahera in Maluku, the island is expected to become a center for ecotourism and diving activities. With crystal clear water and preserved coral, it could become one Indonesia’s best diving destinations.
Menui Island is part of Morowali district in Central Sulawesi. Its name comes from “manu” which means “chicken” in Bugis language. One of its attractions is the Kumapa cave, a sacred place for residents who use it as a place for meditation. The island is still under-developed and most of it is covered with tropical jungle.
The Kei (or Kai) Islands is a small archipelago in Southeast Maluku. Kei Kecil and Kei Besar are its two most famous islands, reputed for their long unspoiled beaches and beautiful sunsets.
A new airport on Kei Kecil is now connecting the islands to Ambon. It is very likely that tourism will grow significantly in the coming years.
A few hundred kilometers away from Malaysia, the U-shaped Pulau Maratua is one of 92 outlying Indonesian islands. Most people visiting it go for diving or snorkeling and sleep in the Maratua Paradise Resort made of cottages and bungalows built on stilts.
An airport is set to be inaugurated within the next few months. It will also serve nearby Islands like Derawan, Kakaban and Sangalaki.
The Wakatobi Islands are part of a Marine National Park which is made of four islands: Wangi Wangi (translated as the Fragrant Island), Kaledupa, Tomea and Binongko. They are part of the larger Tukangbesi Islands group in South Sulawesi.
Most high-end visitors go to the Wakatobi Diving Eco Resort and Spa on the small island of Onemobaa, off Tomea.
Pulau Karimata is the main island of a small archipelago located 60km off the coast of Borneo. It is known for having exceptional biodiversity due to to its mountainous relief. Stretching 18 kilometers from east to west and 13 from south to north, it has a large population of cave swiftlets, an endemic species of bird famous for its nests made out of saliva. The nests are hunted and exported, causing a drop in the bird’s population.
Pulau Banda Besar
Banda Besar is the largest of the Banda Islands, an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in South Maluku. They have interested foreign nations for their spices (nutmeg and cloves) since 1512, when the Portuguese first visited them.
For this reason, Banda Besar has interesting historical and religious monuments. It is also possible to visit nutmeg plantations. Finally, following a short boat trip, you may enjoy a hike to the 666-meter high Gunung Api (volcano).
Noemfoor Island (or Numfor) is part of the Biak Islands, off the coast of Papua. It is actually famous among historians because it was the theater of a military battle between American and Japanese troops in 1944.
Today, Noemfoor has the potential of becoming a tourist hotspot with beautiful reef corals and some great white sand beaches (for instance Pakreki).
Halura or Salura Island
Halura or Salura Island is a stunning island located off the Southern coast of Sumba. I spotted it several years ago and I believe it could become the next Gili Trawongan (Lombok).
The island is not inhabited, yet it is still absolutely virgin from tourism. It took me quite a long time to find an image and based on my research, it seems only two tourists have been there so far.
One of them is the travel blogger/adventurer Jalan Blog that I recommend you to follow if you speak Indonesian.
Salura Island has two smaller sister islands: Pulau Kotak and Pulau Mangkudu.
There are many more famous islands in Indonesia, particularly Nias, Belitung, Lombok, Flores, Komodo, Melawai, Bintan, Batam, Java or even the Raja Ampat, but I tried to focus on the lesser-known and the secret ones.(*)
Rewritten & Repunlished by AS Jaridun