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Our favourite beaches and islands in Indonesia

Published on: 7th October, 2013

We spend a lot of time “researching” beaches and islands. Not just in Indonesia of course — we recently bagged our 30th Thai island (and another dozen beaches), for instance — but when it comes to beaches, Indonesia is often difficult to beat. We still have a lot of ground to cover (Hello Sumatra, Sumbawa and everything east of Flores!) so this is far from a definitive list, but perhaps it will give you a few ideas. Without further ado, here are some of the Travelfish.org team’s favourites beaches and islands in Indonesia.

Batu Karas, Java

Coconut meets Batu Karas.

Coconut meets Batu Karas.

While Batu Karas is best known as a surfing locale, it’s not the surfing that captured our imagination so much as the overall laidback vibe that encourages swimming, eating, sleeping and not a whole lot else.

Cimaja, Java

Can you hear the pebbles rolling?

Can you hear the pebbles rolling?

While we are most certainly not great fans of Pelabuhan Ratu, just five kilometres away you’ll find another surfer hangout — Cimaja. It’s a pebble beach, so a bit more work for a walk by the water than your more typical sand offering, but it delivers in the rugged beauty department.

Pangandaran, Java

Peace at Pangandaran

Peace at Pangandaran.

Considerably more popular than Batu Karas, though still with some good waves, Pangandaran gets busy during the day, but come the evening there is plenty of fodder for long slow walks with a setting sun.

Ujung Genteng, Java

The stuff dreams are made of.

Another day, another beach.

A sleepy seaside village located more than 100 kilometres from the nearest city, remote Ujung Genteng is the stuff dreams are made of.

Karimunjawa Islands

Needs a few tailor shops and a karaoke bar obviously.

Needs a few tailor shops and a karaoke bar obviously.

Jump over to Java’s north coast and you’ve got the glorious Karimunjawa Islands. The main hassle here is the boat timetable, which means you’ll often need to stay longer than planned. Oh the horror.

Balangan, Bali

Our Bali favourite: Balangan Beach

Our Bali favourite: Balangan beach.

When it comes to Bali, it’s hard to pick just one… we could write a post like this just for the island (hmm, there’s an idea!) but today we’re going to exercise a little self control and limit ourselves to our single overall favourite, Balangan Beach on the Bukit Peninsula.

Jungutbatu, Nusa Lembongan

A penjor, some boats and a volcano.

A penjor, some boats and a volcano.

Nusa Lembongan’s main beach, Jungutbatu is a working rather than a lazing beach, but in the late afternoon, with a sinking sun and a distant volcano it has has its own special beauty.

Gili Air

Giddy going Gili Air.

Giddy going Gili Air.

The Gili Islands have more than their fair share of delightful (and not so delightful) beaches, but this, the back beach on Gili Air, pretty much sums up our thoughts on the place.

Southern Lombok

A rather nice spot somewhere in Southern Lombok

A rather nice spot somewhere in southern Lombok.

Southern Lombok has some fabulous beaches. This is one of the better ones. No, we’re not going to tell you where it is.

Kanawa Island, Flores

Sometimes having a room with no walls is a good thing.

Sometimes having a room with no walls is a good thing.

Jumping over Sumbawa as we’re yet to visit there, next stop is Kanawa Island midway between Flores and Komodo. It’s rather nice, with some of the best off-the-beach snorkelling we’ve ever seen.

Waecicu, Flores

Worth the effort? Absolutely.

Worth the effort? Absolutely.

This mystery beach is actually a 30-minute walk south of Waecicu (which itself is a 20-minute boat ride from Labuan Bajo) followed by bushwhacking down the slope to reach the sand. Is it worth the effort? Yes.

Riung, Flores

Ruing missing Riung?

Just add yourself.

You can’t really have a collection of Indonesian beach photos without mentioning Riung on the north coast of Flores. You agree?

Bira, Sulawesi

Beautiful Bira.

Beautiful Bira.

While Bira does have its flaws, there is no denying that some parts of the beach and the surrounding area are beautiful. Neighbouring Liukang Loe Island is also pretty good.

Togean Islands

Does it still count if there is no sand?

Does it still count if there is no sand?

We’re written about the Togean Islands at length already, so we’ll finish with this one.

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

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