Headed to Indonesia and love to go on outdoor adventures? Indonesia has over 17,500 islands and has everything you can ask for to satisfy your adrenaline junkie lifestyle – snorkeling, freediving, sea walking in crystal clear waters, hiking on volcanoes, cycling trails, and even seeing wildlife. With many places to see and unique adventurous things to do in Indonesia, how can you choose what to do? Which islands should you visit?
With the help of travel influencers, we’re sharing 32 amazing adventures in Indonesia that you must add to your bucket list. In addition, we’re including the cost of the adventure to help with your budgeting. We’re off to Bali, Flores, Gili Islands, Java, Komodo National Park, Lombok, Riau, Sulawesi, and Sumatra Islands. Let’s go!
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Adventures in Bali
1. Cycle Around Bali
By Clare from Epic Road Rides
As keen cyclists, my husband and I were never going to have a normal honeymoon. That’s why we decided to swap sun loungers for bicycles and spend our honeymoon cycling around beautiful Bali.
One of the most memorable parts of the trip was riding through the mountainous interior of the island, around Mount Batur. The roads are often pretty steep and poorly surfaced, but the quiet traditional villages and verdant green hillsides are unforgettable. This part of the island sees far fewer tourists than the busy resorts of the south coast. Especially when you’re on a bike, you feel you get to see the real Bali.
One morning, we puffed up a hill and came upon Pura Ulun Danu. We didn’t have much idea of what to expect and were blown away by the graceful, tiered temples set on an island on the lake. Our visit coincided with a religious ceremony, an offering to Dewi Danu, the Balinese water, lake, and river goddess. It was a vibrant, joyful experience as we watched crowds of colorfully dressed locals with musical instruments, vivid parasols, and beautifully presented food offerings. That is the beauty of exploring by bike; you never know what you’re going to come across around the next corner!
Read More: Explore Bali in 4 Days
2. Explore Monkey Forest to See Hundreds of Monkeys
By Claudia from My Adventures Across The World
One of the things Bali is famous for is the monkeys that populate the island. These can be found in many locations, the most famous one being Monkey Forest, in Ubud. It costs 50,000 IDR ($3.40 USD) to get in, and the park is open from 8:30am to 6:00pm daily. It’s a nice place to explore as there are temples and the forest is quite thick. But if you think that seeing the monkeys is a fun, stress-free activity, think twice. These seemingly cute animals can be actually evil, and it can be a real struggle to get out of the park in one piece and with all your personal belongings.
Indeed, monkeys have a special taste for anything that shines, reflects light, hangs out or around. They love glasses, sunglasses, and hats – they tried stealing mine and I had to distract them with a bag of candy so that they would drop the sunglasses. Monkeys steal bottles of water or soda out of your pocket or even out of your bag, not to mention whatever snack you may be carrying.
The best tip for anybody who wants to visit the Monkey Forest is not to wear glasses or sunglasses – opt for contact lenses instead. Make sure to wear the strap of your bag around your chest, or the backpack on both shoulders, and make sure it’s safely closed, nothing left hanging. Do not carry any food as the smell attracts them. More than anything, remember that for as friendly as they look, monkeys may bite and that is not a pleasant experience at all!
3. Hike Mount Batur for Sunrise
By Rhianne from Wanderfully Living
If you find yourself in the Ubud area and you’re up for a challenging adventure, then you have to hike Mount Batur for the beautiful sunrise views. You can book the tours from most guesthouses and hostels in the area for the price of around 350,000 IDR ($24 USD) per person. Drag yourself out of bed at 2:00am before getting picked up by your guide and depart on a 45-minute bus journey to the foot of the mountain.
Did you know that Mount Batur is an active volcano!? You can see volcanic steam rising from the crater and monkeys jumping along the rocks at the summit.
The hike itself isn’t too difficult, but near the top, it’s quite steep and you have to watch your footing on the slippery volcanic rock. People of all ages and abilities scale the mountainside. Every so often, stop, take a breath, and look at the stunning glow rising from behind the formidable Mount Agung, next to Batur. When you reach the summit you’ll receive your reward – the sunrise! You’ll feel on top of the world as you’ve climbed to the summit of a volcano and it’s not even 9:00am yet! It’s a magical way to start another day in paradise.
Read More: Top things to do in East Bali
4. Take a Short Trek to Nungnung Waterfall
By Nadia from Eco Wanderland
Bali has become synonymous with beaches, sun, surfing and all things tropical. In recent years, waterfalls in Bali have started to become more popular, and I’ve always wanted to visit one. On a recent trip, I had one day to explore a waterfall and had to choose wisely. After extensive research, I found a waterfall that wasn’t too far away and was also accessible: Nungnung Waterfall. About an hour and a half away from Canggu, you’ll need a private driver to go here. Throw in a side trip to Ubud and you’ve got your whole day sorted for 700,000 IDR ($47 USD).
A suggestion is to wake up early and get to the entrance of the waterfall at 8:30am. It opens at 9:00am, but they’ll let you in earlier. Pay the 10,000 IDR ($.70 USD) entrance fee and set off down the 509 steps to the waterfall. At 9:00am, there shouldn’t be that many people. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll have the waterfall to yourself for a good half an hour.
It’s incredible at the waterfall. I felt so awestruck swimming in the base of it. The water is gushing, strong, refreshing, and so amazing. You almost feel as though nothing else in the world matters and all your worries melt away. It’s definitely worth the exhausting climb back up the 509 steps.
Read More: 8 Must-See Waterfalls in Bali
5. Dive in Tulamben and See the USS Liberty Shipwreck
By Chris and Monique from MC Adventure Blog
Tulamben is in North of Bali, right by Mount Agung. It’s a popular dive location and is famous for the Liberty Shipwreck. The USS Liberty was torpedoed in 1942 by the Japanese as it was crossing the strait of Lombok. She was eventually abandoned on the beach at Tulamben. In 1963, with the eruption of Gunung Agung, the shipwreck was pushed into deeper water and split in half.
The ship sits between 3 meters (9 feet) and 30 meters (98 feet) making it a great wreck for beginners. It’s also encased in coral and swarming with thousands of fish. As you swim through the water towards the site, the shape of the boat slowly looms out of the blue. Marine life has taken over completely. Apart from the unnatural shapes, it could be a rock formation!
The Liberty Wreck is considered one of the top wreck dives in the world so expect lots of other divers. Most dive centers on Bali will have Tulamben as an option, so be sure to ask about it.
6. Hop on a Motorbike and See Sekumpul Waterfall
By Cat from Walk My World
A trip to Sekumpul isn’t just a visit to a waterfall. It’s an epic journey to what feels like a landscape from Jurassic Park. It’s one of those attractions where the journey there is an adventure in itself. Situated in the northern hills of Bali, you’ll need your own motorbike to even get close to it. The waterfall is an hour from Munduk (the nearest town) and the winding road takes you deep into rural villages, passing emerald rice paddies, and sweeping mountain views along the way. Watch out for monkeys!
After the exhilarating ride, you’ll now start the walk to the waterfall. This weaves through the lush jungle where you begin to hear the sound of the cascades in the distance. After 15 minutes you’ll get your first view of this epic waterfall, it’s a great place to get a photograph of the falls from above. Then you’ll need to hike down to the bottom of the falls where you can swim at the foot of this huge waterfall.
There are plenty of waterfalls to choose from in Bali, but few offer the setting and adventure of a trip to Sekumpul. The cost to enter the falls area is 20,000 IDR ($1.35 USD).
7. Experience Sea Walking at Tanjung Benoa Beach
By Nafisa from My Own Way To Travel
There are many interesting things to do in Bali, Indonesia and why not enjoy some adventures here? I had an excellent experience while sea walking at Tanjung Benoa Beach, located in Southeast Bali. Tanjung Benoa Beach is a perfect destination for adventurers. You’ll love to do many water sports from scuba diving to snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing, and more.
Here, sea walking is known as “Bali Seawalker.” It costs $80-$100 USD for 15-30 minutes of walking under the water. You can book any package directly from here. I appreciated the unlimited fun and felt like I was in a massive aquarium with colorful fish. I loved feeding them and enjoyed the underwater beauty.
Don’t worry about safety as everything is taken care of by the sports center. They’ll take you by boat to the specific location for sea walking. You must carry an extra set of clothes. After the adventure, you can shower and have lunch, which is included with the cost.
8. Go White Water Rafting along the Telaga Waja River
By Kev and Jade from Two Tall Travellers
If you’re looking for an adventure in Indonesia, then get yourself to Bali and go white water rafting down the Telaga Waja River. With the company we went with they had different payment options. You could either pay $30 USD or 300,000 IDR. It’s cheaper if you pay in the local currency. Cost included a pick up from your hotel and a buffet lunch at the end.
The start is around an hour from central Ubud where the river snakes down through the lush Balinese jungle and shows you the true beauty of the Indonesian rainforest. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to do some various small cliff jumps and finish it off by going over the top of a 4 meters (13 feet) weir.
To ensure that you have the most authentic Indonesian experience as possible, the locals have built very low makeshift wooden bridges across the river in various places. When you come across one of these bridges then you better duck quick or end up raftless and wet!
9. Snorkel at Menjangan Island
By Jess from Unearth the Voyage
Off the northwest coast of Bali lies Menjangan Island. Menjangan Island is part of a protected marine reserve in the Bali Barat National Park. Many people enjoy taking a day trip out to the island to snorkel and scuba dive to see the gorgeous and abundant coral reef gardens. The south side drop-offs are a popular place for snorkelers and divers looking to experience a nice variety of coral reef exploration. The island is also home to a population of friendly Barking Deer and is sometimes referred to as “Deer Island.”
To reach Menjangan Island, you need to book a day tour from Pemuteran/ Labuhan Lalang. Day trips cost around $35-$40 USD and include a 30-40 minute motorboat ride to the island, lunch, and a guide who will take you out snorkeling. I would recommend taking a 2-3 day side trip from Ubud to visit Menjangan Island! It’s a great place to experience beautiful marine life and have an awesome adventure.
Adventures in Flores
10. Visit Batu Cermin Cave/Mirror Cave
By Carole from Travels with Carole
Flores Island is about a 1½-hour flight from Bali. Most people come here as a jumping off stop for a visit to see the Komodo dragons. This island’s main attractions are visiting one of the authentic villages to view traditional performances, seeing the market in the fishing village of Labuan Bajo on the west coast, and traipsing through the Batu Cermin Cave, also known as Mirror Cave.
The cave isn’t far from Labuan Bajo. It once was under the ocean, so now features exposed coral and fossils. Stone stairs lead up to the entrance. Inside this limestone cave is pitch dark and it has low openings. Rays of light reflecting off slick mirror-like stone surfaces inside give the cave its name.
The best time to see this phenomenon is between 9:00am and 10:00am. Visitors must carry flashlights. Prepare to do a lot of bending and squat walking. Closed-toe shoes are advised. Admission is free.
Read More: Caves Around the World – Indonesia
11. Hike Around Kelimutu Lakes
By Katalin from Our Life, Our Travel
Flores was our favorite island during our Indonesian backpacking trip. The Kelimutu volcano with 3 colorful lakes is in the middle of Flores. It takes about 2.5 hours to drive to Kelimutu from the closest airport, Ende. You’ll find ‘taxis’ offering rides from the airport. Anything between $40-$50 USD is a good price for a day trip.
After arrival to the volcano, a couple of minutes long trek takes you to the summit where the 3 crater lakes flourish in different colors. If you’re into hiking, you can spend extended time on the volcano and explore the surroundings too.
The colors of the lakes aren’t consistent. The amount of iron and manganese in the water vary, and so do their colors. Anything from blue to red and pink is possible. It’s a bit of lottery. We drove and walked in total darkness and conquered the peak during a sunrise trek. It was a perfect choice. When the first rays of the sun appeared, we impatiently looked for the lakes to admire them. We hoped for pink, but the reality didn’t meet our expectations. During our visit, all lakes showed up in different hues of blue. After the first disappointment, we kept enjoying the trek around these unique lakes.
Adventures in Gili Islands
12. Ride a Horse at Sunset at Gili Trawangan
By Sion and Ben from The Globetrotter Guys
The Gili Islands in Indonesia are idyllic. There are 3 islands suited to different tastes with Gili Trawangan being the most popular one. You can easily access Gili islands from either Bali or Lombok. Given the rise in tourism, there are plenty of ‘fast boats’ operating between the islands. From Bali, you can be here in 3 hours.
Most of the accommodation, restaurants, and activities are concentrated on the east coast of the island. However, if you are looking for the most beautiful sunsets, you need to take a 20-30 minute walk across the island to the west side.
We love our adventure activities so we had to take this one step further and headed to “Sunset Stables.” For about $20 USD, you can hire a horse and ride along the beachfront and into the sunset! This is a beautiful way to end the day and you can even take the horse into the sea to paddle – for those into photography, this is the perfect sunset shot! Take care and make sure to have some experience riding.
13. Snorkel and Island Hop Amid the Gili Islands
By Michelle from Romantic Explorers
Snuggled between Lombok and Bali, lives The Gili Islands – a group of three picturesque islands where you can expect to see white sandy beaches, mint colored water, and the most incredible sunsets of your life.
One of the best experiences you can enjoy there is a full day glass-bottom boat island hopping tour of the islands which includes fantastic snorkeling among a plethora of fishes. Sound expensive? Would you believe my hubby and I enjoyed a private tour for the two of us, and it cost only $100 USD! It’ll cost even less if you’re willing to share the boat with other people. We can’t imagine getting a better value when it comes to amazing experiences that last more than a few hours.
Part of what makes exploring all three of the islands so much fun is that a quirky bar or restaurant is never far away. Two of our favorites included “Saparis Bar” with its beach swing and “Murami Restaurant” which featured cute day beds to relax on while appreciating the incredible views. You’ll find them both while exploring the island Gili Air.
Adventures in Java
14. Hike Merapi Volcano for Sunrise
By Anita from Time Travel Bee
I admit that I was very worried before hiking Merapi Volcano on Java Island. As a solo traveler, I decided to call an agency and book a guide to come on the hike with me. Night trekking was something I have never tried before. Despite all worries, the Merapi sunrise trekking was still in my mind and my adventurous side took over.
Mount Merapi is accessible from Selo, a two hours drive from Yogyakarta. The guided hike will cost around 150,000 IDR ($10 USD) per person. You can do the trek on your own without the tour guide. Even though there aren’t good maps available, there is only one trail which is easy to follow. Hiking Merapi volcano is quite challenging, steep and sometimes dangerous. The path changes from muddy to moving stones or volcanic ash. This requires a lot of concentration and energy, especially during the night.
Despite all the difficulties the view during the sunrise took my breath away. I was astonished by the sunlight cutting the night in the crater full of smoke from the volcano. The crater was full of life, such an incredible power below! Highly recommended for those who enjoy mountain views.
15. Explore the Temples of Borobudur
By Alicia and Joe from Miles Less Traveled
One of the best activities in Indonesia is visiting the temples of Borobudur. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Borobudur was believed to have been constructed in the 8th and 9th century. It’s a set of Buddhist temples located an hour outside of Yogyakarta, a popular backpacker stop in the heart of Java. The cost of getting into the temples is $18 USD. Borobudur is a religious temple, so dress appropriately. Being at the top of the temple, you can see the entire region in all of its beauty. The temples are a stunning display of stone architecture, they take you back to a simpler time on this Indonesian island.
Getting to Borobudur can be done via car or bus. We hired a driver for the day, which cost roughly $40 but it was pick off and drop off from our guesthouse and included a stop at the other famous temple in the area (Prambanan). You can take the local bus (Transjogja) to the Borobudur terminal which is then a 10-minute walk to the temple. This does cost much less, roughly $5, but you need to check bus schedules as they don’t run often.
16. Visit Prambanan Temple
By Greta from Greta’s Travels
Prambanan, on the island of Java, is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. It’s located a short half hour drive away from Yogyakarta, one of Indonesia’s main cultural hubs. Prambanan is a temple compound consisting of 240 temples of varying sizes. Part of the temples have been destroyed by an earthquake in 2006. Being protected by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention only parts of Prambanan can be restructured, so most of the smaller outer temples are still in ruins today.
It’s one of the most visited temples and tourist attractions in Yogyakarta, so it’s best to come early in the morning. You can visit Prambanan either with an organized tour or by driving there yourself with a scooter or car. We paid around $70 USD each for a full day tour that took us to Prambanan but also Borobudur and other temples in the region. I recommend adding Prambanan to your Indonesia travel bucket list since it’s a beautiful architectural feat and an important part of Indonesian culture.
17. Hike to the “Chicken Church”
By Vicki from Vicki Viaja
Some years ago I found this random documentary on TV about a church which is located in the jungle of Java, near Yogyakarta, that looks like a huge chicken. Even though apparently, its architect was meant to build a church that looked like a dove, this church is known today as the “Chicken Church.”
When visiting Yogyakarta, of course, we wanted to see this unique building. Unfortunately, there is no public transport that can bring you there. You can either rent a motorcycle or hire a driver that can help you to get to the beginning of the little jungle track. (Recently, they also build a street, so you can even go by car to the church, but where is the fun in that?)
The track is short but can be quite adventurous if you get there during the rainy season when the ground is all wet and slippery.
When you finally reach the church, you have to pay a small entrance fee (15,000 IDR / $1 USD), which also includes a little delicious snack that you can have while sitting on top of the church (on the back of the chicken) while enjoying the amazing view over the jungle of Java.
18. Hike into Ijen Volcanic Plateau
By Patrick from German Backpacker
One of the coolest experiences on my Indonesia Backpacking trip was a hike into Ijen volcanic plateau on Java island. Here is where the unique sulphur degradation takes place and where you can see the ‘blue fire’ which is used for it. You have to hike down into the plateau in the night in order to witness the degradation and the steep and dusty hike is certainly a little bit tough and you need to wear protective masks due to the gases – however, the experience is worth it. On your way down, you will spot the workers carrying the incredibly heavy sulphur chunks (probably one of the toughest jobs in the world!). Seeing the process of sulphur degradation was super interesting and the views of the crater lake during sunrise are indeed stunning as well. Add a hike into Ijen to your Indonesia bucket list, you won’t regret it!
19. Spend the Day Hiking Kawah Putih/White Crater from Bandung
By Chris from Chris Travel Blog (CTB Global)
Bandung is in the center of the Indonesian island Java and also called, “Paris of the East.” It’s a must include on any Indonesia itinerary as it has a lot to offer. Make sure to get out of the city and hike around the Kawah Putih / White Crater. It looks like you’re on an alien world there! White blueish water, black burned trees, and the sulfur smell contrast big with the surrounding green tea plantations.
Getting there takes between 1-2 hours from Bandung and is best done either by car/taxi or motorbike. Entrance is $4 USD and a shuttle will take you the boring 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) up. It’s recommended to also hike up the crater rim to have a birds-eye view of the whole crater lake. A visit including this hike will take around 3-4 hours.
Before going back to Bandung, stop at Situ Patenggang to recharge with local food and drinks. It’s a beautiful lake where you can take a paddle boat around the lake. If you have time left a 30-minute hike to one of the nearby hot springs is well worth it. Take your swimsuit if you plan to take a dip in the bubbling mud. All these activities make up a great Bandung day trip.
20. Explore the Views from Above at Kalibiru
By Christine from Christine Abroad
Kalibiru is a popular day trip in Yogyakarta, and you can hire a driver for the day to take you there. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and public transport isn’t going there. However, it’s well worth the effort, and hiring a driver is cheap in Indonesia. Kalibiru has some striking views and even better photo opportunities. It’s an Instagrammer’s dream as there are several tree platforms where you could climb and get a photo.
From the parking, it’s a steep walk for about 10 minutes, and then you can walk to the different platforms. Each platform costs about 15,000 IDR / $1 USD. Make sure to bring cash as they don’t accept debit or credit cards.
The viewpoints are cool and you can make it appear as you’ve climbed up in a super tall tree with a long way down and beautiful scenery. I loved it, and if you travel to Yogyakarta, it’s highly recommended getting here as well!
Adventures in Komodo National Park
21. Go Diving with Manta Rays at Komodo National Park
By Teresa from Brogan Abroad
Diving with manta rays has to be one of the most exciting wildlife encounters I’ve had the fortune to experience. It was, in fact, one of the many reasons why I wanted to travel to Flores and the Komodo National Park in Indonesia.
When I arrived in Labuan Bajo, I selected a small diving company, Flores Diving Centre. The cost of all the diving centres in the town was similar. I went with one that I felt offered a sustainable and responsible service for 3,000,000 IDR ($200 USD) for two days of diving with three dives a day.
The diving is incredible in itself whichever dive site you pick. The abundance of marine life is wonderful and the array of colors is mind-blowing, so I was extremely happy after the first two dives on the first day. Then we jumped in for our last dive of the day in Mawan. As soon as we got to the bottom, we were alerted that a manta ray was coming. With excitement, I tried to stay still and control my breathing and buoyancy, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds, when this big manta ray approached us and ‘flew’ right above us, followed by three more. We ended up counting seven on that dive – a sight I will never forget. They looked like they were majestically flying, gliding, and sometimes dancing for us.
22. Hike Padar Island & See Komodo Dragons on Rinca Island
By Jackie and Justin from Life Of Doing
The Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and well known to see Komodo dragons, the carnivorous and cannibalistic lizard. As a part of a tour package to explore Komodo National Park, you’ll visit Padar Island, either Komodo Island or Rinca Island to see the Komodo dragons, and stop at a snorkeling spot.
Padar Island needs to be on everyone’s list when visiting Komodo National Park. It’s a short hike up the hill to see the picturesque views of the turquoise bays and the beaches. It’s perfect for the Instagram shot.
The next stop is to see the Komodo dragons. We visited Rinca Island and loved seeing the huge dragons. It was intimidating to see them walk with their tongues flicking out to smell scents (ie: food cooking). Our guide kept us safe with using his long stick to maneuver the dragons to another direction when they were close. We were lucky to see 8-10 dragons during their mating season as they usually aren’t in the main area.
The admission cost to the National Park varies depending on which day you visit. The base price is 225,000 IDR ($15 USD) + additional fees (ie: snorkeling or weekend fees). The admission fee is separate from your tour package cost.
Adventures in Lombok
23. Learn How to Surf in Grupuk
By Lauren from The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo
What is better than being in Indonesia? How about surfing in Indonesia? I am by no means an avid surfer, but it’s something I have loved learning and have enjoyed doing on trips to the island of Lombok. Specifically, where I surf is in Grupuk, South Lombok, which is a great wave for beginners.
When arriving at Grupuk, our guide found a local surfer who gave us a quick lesson before taking us out on his boat to the break. Out in the middle of the bay is a deep reef break that allows for great waves for not only experienced surfers but also for us beginners. The waves seem to go on forever and even if you haven’t surfed before with a little help from your instructor and a colossal surfboard I have no doubt you’ll be able to stand up. What better way to learn to surf than on a break with great help that gives even the most beginner surfer the opportunity to stand up and adequately surf. If you want to learn how to surf in Indonesia, I recommend Grupuk, South Lombok.
24. Hike Rinjani Volcano
By Maya from Travel with the Smile
How often can you hike to the top of an active volcano? Well, you can in Indonesia! And one of the most popular ones is Rinjani volcano on Lombok Island. Rinjani volcano is the 2nd highest volcano in Indonesia and you can reach the top at 3,726 meters (12,224 feet) in just 2 days.
To start the trek, you need to get to Senaru village. There are many travel agencies where you can book the trek. The most common is a 3-day trek, you get to the crater rim the 1st day, to the top of the volcano for sunrise on the 2nd day, and then down back to the village the 3rd day.
Although the price for the trek starts at around $100 USD for 3 days, you get what you pay for. Choose a responsible company who is packing and carrying out the trash from the volcano so many other people can enjoy it after you.
It was the hardest trek I’ve ever done and very rewarding. The fuming volcanoes, beautiful crater lake and the sunrise from the top from which you can see volcanoes on the neighboring island Bali. Truly a trip to remember!
Adventures in Riau Islands
25. Experience the Authentic Indonesian Lifestyle on Natuna Island
By Josh Shephard from The Lost Passport
I’ve been to some pretty remote locations around the world, however, Natuna Island in Indonesia tops the list. It’s one of those islands you’ll find on Google Earth in the middle of the ocean and wonder if anyone actually lives there. Yes, they do, and it’s a stunning island to visit!
Natuna Island isn’t just a quick weekend trip, it takes almost the entire weekend to get there. First, you’ll need to take a flight to Singapore, then a ferry from Singapore to Batam, Indonesia, where you’ll most likely spend the first night. The next day you hop on an early morning flight on a rough propeller plane from Batam, and after another hour in the air, you’ll arrive at Natuna Island.
Why should you visit Natuna? It is an authentic Indonesian island which is yet to see any tourist development. On the last count, there were four hotels on the entire island, all located around the small town. The main road around the island quickly turns to a dirt trail, and that’s where the electricity also stops.
While getting around can be tough, the stunning beaches and friendly people will leave you speechless. If you want to experience the real Indonesia, this is the place to go.
Adventures in Sulawesi
26. Explore the Lagoons in Muna Island
By Katherine from Tara Lets Anywhere
Most people go to Jakarta or Bali when traveling to Indonesia, so they miss out on other amazing places that this archipelagic country has to offer. Last time, I spent over a week in Southeast Sulawesi and one of my favorite adventures was exploring the lagoons in Muna Island.
There are 23 natural lagoons in Muna Island, so I’d been told by my tour guide. I don’t think there has been an official count done yet because this number is from a drone footage. Anyway, the lagoons in Muna Island have clear water, in either blue or green shade. One of our first stops has salty water and is home to turtles, due to an underground tunnel that connects the lagoon to the sea. The rest that we’d seen had been mostly the same – beautiful, picture perfect – except quieter with usually no visitors.
To explore the lagoons in Muna Island, you only need to rent a motorcycle for cheap. It’s better to get a local guide who knows the locations of the lagoons because some of them are hidden (even from locals) or rarely visited at all. There are no entrance fees to the lagoons. You can visit several lagoons in a day.
27. Bike Around Poso Lake
By Marco and Kit from Monkey Rock World
The region around Poso Lake was a hot-spot for sectarian violence until 2012, and as such, it doesn’t figure in most Indonesian itineraries. A big mistake, as the people are friendly, the scenery stunning, with mountains set next to the sea, and adventure is to be found beyond every curve.
We rode folding bikes from Ampana to Poso covering 200 km (124 miles) in about 5 days. Why? The terrain is punishing (mountains mountains mountains), the villages en route very hospitable, and it’s hard going. Highlights are Tentena, a very nice small town on the northern end of the lake (and possibly the major “tourist” spot here, in terms of facilities and guesthouses) and the village of Bancea, where people are beyond hospitable.
You can keep costs low if you bring a tent and camping gear with you — we used it only once because with a smattering of Indonesian it’s easy to be invited by people along the way. Food is cheap (about 15,000 IDR / $1 USD per meal) and since the region is very off the beaten track, people won’t rip you off like they do in other touristy spots in Indonesia.
Read More: Learn How to Cook Indonesian Cuisine
28. Experience Freediving with the Bajua People on Togean Island
By Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads
We traveled extensively around Indonesia over the last couple of years, diving and surfing at some amazing places. Staying and freedive spearfishing with the Bajua people was my most unique and authentic adventure in Indonesia. These people are known as the “sea gypsies” of Malaysia and Indonesia. They live in houses on stilts built in the ocean and grow up, live, and die in the sea. The Togean Islands is an archipelago of 56 islands and islets off the coast of Central Sulawesi and are known for clear water, white sand, and rainforests.
Diving here we heard about the community of Bajua people living on the ocean not far away. We organized a local boat to take us to the village. On the way, we stopped to snorkel in a ‘jellyfish lake’ where the jellies lost the ability to sting over millions of years of geographic isolation.
In Pulau Papan, the Bajua people go spearfishing in the traditional way; barefoot using goggles made of wood and a homemade speargun. We had our own modern gear but decided to join them on a hunt using the local equipment. The wooden goggles half-flooded, so the fact that we couldn’t equalize wasn’t a big problem, but seeing is very difficult and diving deep without fins or weights was challenging. It was incredible seeing the local champion operate with his primitive gear, collecting enough fish to feed his family for a couple of days.
29. Snorkel on Bunaken Island
By Kayla from Kelana by Kayla
One of the best adventures in Indonesia is most definitely snorkeling or diving around Bunaken Island. Bunaken Island is located in the bay of Manado in northern Sulawesi and can be reached by ferry from the Harbour Marina in around 40 minutes. Its main attraction is the incredible marine life and multicolored coral reefs making the snorkeling and diving here very special. The translucent waters of the Bunaken seas allow for fantastic viewing of the underwater scenery. Look out for turtles, clownfish, angelfish, parrotfish, and trumpetfish.
Be aware of the incredible albeit a tad scary drop off on the edge of the coral reef that plunges down more than 25 meters (82 feet)! Don’t forget to take an underwater camera or GoPro to capture some magical species.
Adventures in Sumatra
30. Snorkel in Pulau Weh Island
By Gábor from Surfing the Planet
The island of Pulau Weh is one of the biggest surprises you can find on your travel to Indonesia. It’s a small island situated at the Western tip of Sumatra, near Banda Aceh, the city that became infamous for the earthquake that caused the large tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004.
Pulau Weh is different from many other paradise islands in Indonesia since it’s not famous for its beaches, but the amazing marine life you can observe if you do some snorkeling or diving there. It’s also one of the most cost-friendly places for such experience since you don’t need to pay for any special snorkeling excursion, but stay in one of the bungalows situated in Iboih. From there you can jump into the water and enjoy swimming with all kinds of colorful fish. We saw large octopus, lionfish, and many other kinds of tropical fish.
Pulau Weh can be accessed from Banda Aceh by ferry. After arriving in the port, you can get a tuk-tuk that will take you to Iboih in half an hour. Most of the accommodations there are relatively basic bungalows, but the food, the kind people, and the amazing natural environment will compensate you for that.
31. Hike Through Lake Toba and Samosir Island
By Jub from Tiki Touring Kiwi
Lake Toba is a large natural lake in Northern Sumatra formed thanks to the eruption of a super volcano. A popular Sumatra tourist destination, the destination most people visit in the area is the island on the lake, Samosir. As a tourist site, Samosir has several shorter hikes to waterfall and lakes scattered throughout the island.
If you’re up for an adventure, you can hike from one side of the island to the other. It’s not a hard, torturous hike. Starting from the tourist hub, Tuk Tuk, you’re on the roads to start before you get to the bottom of the hill. The steep hill that has been looking over you since you’ve arrived is now what you have to scale. It’s the most brutal part of the hike.
The views are worth it though, and once you’re at the top, you have a long slow descent to the other side of the island (catch a bus back to Tuk Tuk at the end). You’ll walk along trails and roads, past some lakes, dodging water buffalo, and through small villages. In total, the walk is a bit over 20+ km (12.4+ miles) and is an epic day with a little bit of everything Toba has to offer. The trail is marked, but not very well, and with the trail all but disappearing at times, I recommend downloading Maps.me to help you.
32. See Wild Orangutans in Bukit Lawang
By Chantal from Alleen Op Reis
Last year when I traveled through Malaysia, I booked a flight to Medan on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. I visited Indonesia before but ran out of time to visit Sumatra. I decided to go back to Indonesia because I really wanted to go to Bukit Lawang, which is one of the places on Sumatra where you can see orangutans in the wild.
I booked a two-day jungle trek with a company called Bukit Lawang Adventure. The night before I was so excited that I almost couldn’t sleep. The next day we left with a small group and our guides Nicco and Chandra. As soon as we entered the park, the first orangutan already appeared with a baby! These used to live in the shelter and therefore usually stayed closer to the village. We continued on and saw several more orangutans that day. It was unbelievable to be so close to these beautiful creatures.
Some of them stayed up in the trees, but others were more curious and came closer. At the end of the afternoon, we arrived at the camp where we enjoyed some delicious Indonesian food and play games at the campfire. The next day we swam in the river, went to a nearby waterfall, and returned to float back to Bukit Lawang on tubes over the river.
We hope you enjoyed seeing this incredible list of outdoor adventures in Indonesia! As you can see, there is an activity for everyone to do and with various budgets. Now that you’re inspired, book a trip to Indonesia!
Which activity would you like to do in Indonesia? What additional adventures would you recommend that we do here? Let us know in the comments!
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