Neptunian Island Play Ground
By Stephanie Bowman
It takes those in the Western Hemisphere over 20 hours to travel here, yet its popularity continues to rise. Known for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiverse hotspots, if you ever make the trek here, you will have undoubtedly visited the most special place on earth.
Indonesia combines the promise of wild adventure with the opportunity to restore inner peace, allowing visitors to experience a well-balanced vacation. Here’s what you have to do if you ever find yourself in the best part of the East Indies.
Snorkel in Gili
The Gili islands’ beaches definitely rival those of the Maldives and Fiji in their beauty and abundant sea life. The archipelago of three tiny islands—Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air—can be found near the Coast of Lombok Island, fringed by palm trees and white, sandy beaches. Each island has its own uniqueness, but all three restrict the use of motorized vehicles. Bikes and horses are the only means of transportation, though it’s not unusual to see locals walk. The largest island of the three, Gili T, measures only 3 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide. Activities include snorkeling, diving, sunbathing and drinking, and accommodations range from tiny beach shacks to 5 star resorts and private villas.
With a reputation of being the “turtle capital of the world,” the Gilis live up to their repute lodging an array of marine life and colorful reefs beneath its turquoise waters. Not into diving? Bask in the sun while swinging above the sea on one of the eight iconic swings erected in the middle of the ocean.
Swim in Bali
Bali, the most popular of the 17,500 islands that make up Indonesia, is a lush islet known for its surf and rich culture. Referred to as the “Island of the Gods,” magnificent temples and ornate flower-petal offerings are sprinkled throughout the island. Though speeding scooters and heavy traffic occasionally become a nuisance, its sites and friendly inhabitants more than make up for it.
At its beaches, a horizon full of waves summons surfers of every level; while endless miles of sand are reserved for yogis doing downward dog poses. The rich scent of Balinese cuisine tantalizes foodies, while coffee addicts flock to hip cafes in hopes of consuming the infamous kopi luwak coffee—native to Indonesia and ranked the most expensive java in the world.
Promise yourself you’ll wake up in Bali one day.
Monkey Around in Ubud
Escape to Ubud, also known as the heart of Bali. Featured in Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling manifesto “Eat, Pray, Love,” this cosmopolitan community is more laid back than Bali. Because of its slower pace, expats and hippies have migrated here, making Ubud their permanent home. More surprisingly, monkeys make up a considerable part of the city’s population thanks to Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest, a sanctuary for the Balinese long-tailed monkeys. Hundreds of tourists visit the popular attraction daily, feeding monkeys while exploring ancient temples found within the nature reserve.
Besides monkeys, Ubud is also recognized for its iconic rice paddies and stunning backdrops. Be sure to rent a bike and explore the lush rice fields. For dinner, get swept away by the famous 100-candlelight spread, a six-course dining experience. Diners eat alongside the Ayung River surrounded by candles and thousands of flower petals. You can enjoy the most romantic dinner you’ll ever have at Swept Way restaurant located at The Samaya Resort. Manifest your inner Elizabeth Gilbert and go find yourself in Ubud.
Hang with Dragons
Indonesia is home to Komodo National Park. Another one on UNESCO’s list, it’s one of the only places in the world where you can see these magnificent creatures. If the fear of getting attacked by a poisonous reptile overwhelms you, hop on a boat to Padar Island to see the tri-colored beaches. Despite the challenging hike, the highest point of the island offers unrestricted views of a white, a black and a pink sand beach.
Just like the long flight to travel to Indonesia, the journey to this magical spot is definitely worthwhile.
Pray in Borobudur
The Borobudur temple, located in Central Java, is the largest Buddhist temple in the world. It’s no surprise that it’s listed on UNESCO World Heritage site. The ancient temple was built in the 8th century, erected in the shape of a traditional Buddhist mandala.
The best time to visit the temple is right before sunrise, hiking up numerous steps with a flashlight just in time to watch the sun bathe the temple’s breathtaking compound.
Achieve nirvana at this iconic temple.
Experience what it means to live in a postcard in this tropical paradise.