indonesia beautiful islands

A guide to Indonesia’s Most Beautiful Islands

Indonesia is the gem of Southeast Asia: it’s giant in size with a total of 17,000 islands and 240 million citizens!

With plenty of stunning islands to explore and each with its own personality, it can be the dreamy vacation destination you’ve always wanted. No wonder, Indonesia is a gem of a country. I happened to visit Indonesia, the first time, during a media trip with Indonesia Tourism (where we were introduced to Jakarta and a few islands Including Pulau Macan) and since then I have revisited Indonesia more times than I can remember.

From sunbathing at the exotic Spice Islands in Indonesia to swimming with endangered sea turtles on Gili Islands, Indonesian Islands have the offer to meet everyone’s imagination for the perfect trip. Tourists love it for its diversity and nature. You’ll see impressive tropical forests and pristine beaches where you can dive and surf, but also explore wildlife and see volcanoes.

If you want Indonesia to be your next adventure, check out this guide on Indonesia’s most beautiful islands!

Most Beautiful Islands In Indonesia

Spice Islands

Also known as the Malaku or the Moluccas, this small group of islands is located in the northeast of Indonesia, between New Guinea and Celebes. It includes Halmahera, Buru, Seram, Ternate, Tidore, Ambon, and the Aru and Kai. The interesting name is inspired by the fact that they were once the largest producers of cloves, nutmeg, mace, and pepper globally.

If you book a trip to any of these splendid islands, you’ll witness magical, remote, and unspoiled nature and a place with a long and fascinating history.

You can also see amazing volcanoes and relax at pristine white sand beaches with no tourists in sight. You’ll also spot unique birds, and giant butterflies, visit colorful villages on the islands, and dive around biodiverse coral reefs.

Of course, your trip won’t be complete if you don’t buy some of their popular spices before heading home!

indonesia islands

Lesser Sunda Islands

Real travelers aren’t afraid of pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and embracing the extraordinary.

If you have an adventurous spirit that’s hungry for the remote, the Lesser Sunda Islands are ideal for you. Visiting them will be a life-changing voyage where you’ll discover amazing nature and learn impressive history. These islands include the Alor, Flores, and the Komodo National Park. Technically, this part also includes Bali, Lombok, and Sumbawa.

If you choose Bali and you’re into yoga, doing yoga with horses is an increasingly popular experience.

Flores is a great choice if you love scenic lakes and high peaks. Interestingly, you can also see the Sano Nggoang Lake-one of the deepest with a plunge to around 500 meters. Their warm waters are actually praised for their healing powers.

The Komodo National Park is the home of the infamous Komodo dragon and one of the most spectacular places in the world. Savannahs, gorgeous and transparent turquoise oceans, and amazing marine life is something that will transform you after a trip to these islands.

Picturesque and unforgettable, this archipelago can also be explored on a cruise.


Gili Islands

Located off the coast of Lombok island, the Gili Islands guarantee a laid-back adventure full of relaxation on their endless white sand beaches or hikes to witness their impressive panoramic views.

Island-hopping offers a chill break from daily life; you can also organize a scuba diving tour where you can truly get away from it all. You’ll witness vibrant coral reefs and impressive marine life. You can even schedule a dive with sharks and manta rays if seeing a whale shark or two has been on your bucket list.

If you’re more of a fan of sea turtles, you can check out their conservation initiatives and even swim with these turtles at various locations. The islands are caring well for the Green Sea turtles that are endangered species at the fascinating Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary.

Since the islands only have motorized vehicles for public services like collecting trash or for construction, you can explore it mostly by bike or scooter, just like the locals do. Probably this is what also makes the islands so appealing!

Derawan Islands

Located away from the mainland of the East Kalimantan in Berau district, the Derawan archipelago has 31 islands, with the most popular ones being the Derawan, Maratua, Kakaban, and Sangalaki.

If you choose some of these islands as your next destination, you’ll be visiting the largest nesting site of the endangered green turtles and hawksbill turtles. You can even watch them lay their eggs in the sand or swim with them in the sea.

This perfect tropical paradise has warm and isolated islands, soft white sand, waving palm trees, and pristine seas that will change color from green to deep blue. The underwater life of the Derawan Islands is no less stunning: you can see giant turtles, manta rays, dolphins, jellyfish, barracudas, and even whales. No wonder, they are one of Indonesia’s most beautiful islands.

Since only two of their 31 islands offer accommodation, you’ll need to pick between Pulau Derawan or the Maratua. The former is closer to the mainland and more developed whereas the latter is pristine and roomier. Regardless of where you’ll be staying, you can always take speedboats for the most memorable adventures in your life!


The dream destination of newlyweds, but also of people looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Bali is deservingly on the list of the most beautiful Indonesian islands. It is also, hands down, one of Indonesia’s most popular islands.

From snorkelling, diving, and surfing to just relaxing the whole day under a palm tree, and sipping cocktails, Bali has something for everyone.

Bali is also famous for its excursions around the coastline where visitors can explore the island’s hidden treasures like rice paddies or iconic temples. Whether it’s diving by yourself or jumping from cliffs, Bali has it. Your trip there will be made memorable by the glorious mountain areas filled with lush greenery, scenic lakes, flower gardens, and secret canyons.

Accommodation is also top-notch: from affordable hostels to luxurious resorts, your stay will be outstanding. If you’re a foodie, you’ll love Bali’s fascinating, distinctive cuisine. You can check out their traditional meals as fine dining or as street food. No matter your type of diet (raw, vegan, vegetarian, etc.), Bali has a restaurant for it!

Selayar Island

On the south end of South Sulawesi, Selayar is a quiet and isolated island with plenty of pristine white sand beaches, rainforests, and crystal-clear tropical waters. It offers exquisite nature and holds an impressive history.

Its largest town Benteng is a bustling place of trishaws and motorbikes. Their town square is a central point of celebratory events happening on the island. 80 kilometers long, this island is a gateway to the impressive Taka Bonerate National Park which is full of giant sponges, coral reefs, and numerous fish species. Their 3 km-long Baloy Beach will give you the opportunity to spot wild boars and tarsiers among the forest’s dense foliage.

The Selayar Dive Resort is a perfect choice for divers looking to have an unforgettable holiday!


Described often as a tiny Indonesian island paradise, Belitung is part of the Bangka-Belitung island province. It’s praised for its dreamy white sand beaches and unforgettable views. It’s the place to go to cleanse your body and mind. Although smaller in size than some other Indonesian islands, it’s not stripped of fun and enjoyment. In fact, it offers plenty of good stuff for every visitor.

Make sure to visit the Danau Kaolin or the Blue Lake. It was created when water started gathering in a kaolin mine. It’s so white it’s unreal: the soothing contrast of the blue waters from the lakes with the pure white surroundings is perfect.

In the drier season when the lake reduces, you can even spot white mounds reminiscing of floating icebergs.

Don’t forget to visit the popular snorkeling destination Pulau Lengkuas where you can enjoy crystal clear waters, granite rocks, and white sandy beaches. Sailing Rock Island is also a must. There you can have an unforgettable beach day and take photos with starfish or float on the pristine waters.


Increasingly popular for its breathtaking landscapes, amazing volcanoes, and stunning temples, Java is an island that has it all. It’s the ideal place for everyone, especially people on a budget as it’s quite affordable. Sometimes, you can sleep, eat, and go sightseeing for $20 per day.

The Javanese are some of the friendliest people ever and a fantastic vacation is guaranteed when the locals assist you. Schedule a trip during the dry season from June to October. And, even in peak tourist periods in August, this island isn’t overfilled, so you’ll rarely spot crowds at the main sights.

If you choose this island to be your next adventure, don’t forget to take a photo at the Tumpak Sewu Waterfall-one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the whole of Indonesia.

Conclusion: Indonesia’s Most Beautiful Island

Indonesia is a dreamy destination for travelers searching for blissful beaches and tropical island adventures. Fascinating in every aspect, particularly if you’re the adventurous type of traveler, exploring its islands is the experience of a lifetime. And, they offer something for everyone: from swimming with sea turtles to seeing majestic volcanos, it’s a trip you’ll never forget!

That’s all in this blog on the most popular and beautiful islands in Indonesia. If you have anything to add to the list, please leave a comment below. Also, let’s connect on Instagram.

Categories Indonesia


I am Dev, and I've been travelling full-time since 2016. I was a journalism student & started my corporate career as a documentary film-maker in England, before moving to India & becoming a full-time nomad. 25+countries. 50+ Brand Partnerships. And the adventure continues...

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