After only two trips to Indonesia, I know it is one of those countries I will keep coming back to again and again. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world with 13,466 islands. Of the main islands, I have visited Bali, Lombok, Flores and Komodo but I dream of exploring Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi and Papua. I love the fact that you can navigate between the islands without flying all the time; you can hop on ferries, buses, sailboats, or even drive by yourself, if driving on the left is not a problem for you.
The beauty of Indonesia lies in the thousands of cultural nuances you will find on each island. While Indonesia is mostly Muslim, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Flores have large Christian communities, and Bali is well-known for its Hindu traditions. Things are even more intricate, as, on Java, you will be able to visit Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, the largest in South-East Asia, but you can also visit the Borobudur near Yogyakarta, the world largest Buddhist temple! The national motto “Many, yet one” describes to perfection what Indonesia is; a united nation with thousands of faces.
Due to more than 100 years of Dutch ruling, Indonesian is a mix of Malay and Dutch written in Latin characters. This tiny detail enables you to learn the language faster and works perfectly to get closer to locals who are always curious about foreigners, and often willing to teach their language.
Walk in a warung (traditional restaurant), and sample some of the best homemade food guided by the locals. My favourite so far was in Bali with the “Nasi Campur”, a kind of Indonesian tapas dish which is different from place to place.
So have a try learning a few words of “Bahasa Indonesia”, make new friends at the nearest “warung”, and you will find yourself often saying “bagus” (awesome) or “enak”(delicious) in no time!
Can you believe there are more than 500 protected areas in Indonesia? 50 of them are National Parks, and 10 of these National Parks include marine areas.
The most famous are Komodo, Wakatobi and Bunaken in Sulawesi, and Cenderawasih Bay in Papua. However, if you are looking for something off-the-beaten-track, have you heard about the Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu) off the coast of Java or the West Bali (Bali Barat)? Surprisingly, the famous Raja Ampat in West Papua is not yet a national park but a marine protected area. If you are into wildlife on land too, don’t forget to say hello to Orangutans in Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra, or the Dragons of the Komodo National Park.
I had the opportunity to scuba dive in Menjangan Island, in West Bali National Park, where I saw a fabulous diversity of coral species, and in Komodo National Park, where I was surrounded by manta rays for hours. I wish I could go on an island-hopping journey linking all its marine parks the next time I go!
To find out more about diving throughout Indonesia check out PADI’s scuba guide.
Florine is a PADI AmbassaDiver, PADI Divemaster and a Dive Travel blogger at World Adventure Divers. She dives in tropical to extreme cold waters, selecting her destinations when both adventure diving and cultural discoveries are part of the journey, and showing you how to do it without breaking the bank.