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Archipelago Hopping

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For those of you who didn’t know already, this country consists of more than 17,000 islands, spreading all over 33 provinces and stretching as far as 8,500 kilometres. We are also part of the only six nations in the world graced with (and bestowed to conserve) the Coral Triangle — where most of that are around the northern and eastern side of Indonesia. So if you think Bali is the only paradise here, you may have to be introduce to others. We list six of them here for you. 


Located about three hours trip by speedboat from Berau Regency, East Kalimantan, Derawan is a small fishing island that has been developed into a world-class diver’s paradise. It is said that time feels slightly different here that, in some (fortunate) case, a four-days vacation plan can turn into a full-week holiday. This charming isle is surrounded by powder-fine sandy shores, and an even more superior underwater wonders filled with smorgasbord of marine biota; from cuttlefish to majestic giant green turtles, gliding happily in the midst of its crystal clear blue water. Lured by the extraordinarily rich ocean biota, savvy divers from around the world flocks into this island in regular basis. For a newbie who wish to hone their skills, though, Derawan Dive School offers their service all around the isle, as well as diving and snorkelling forays to the nearby islands of Maratua, Sangalaki and Kakaban. Accomodation will not be a problem, as there are many type of guesthouse to choose in Derawan; both for budget and well-to-do travelers alike. 


In its glorious past time, Selayar is well-known as a main trading hub for merchants from the Philipines, Thailand to China. Nowadays, the remote island off the Southern Sulawesi coast is a fascinating getaway destination filled with swathes of pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear tropical waters. This secluded tropical paradise offers plethora of splendid, soft white-sandy beaches; such as the Baloiya Beach which stretches some 3 km along the coast. Amongst the dense foliage of the forest, you can see endangered species of tarsiers live peacefully among some wild boars – definitely not a sight you would see everyday, but you can freely cherish here. Other recommended shorelines to visit in Selayar including Pinang Beach and Je’neiya Beach which located approximately 60-80 minutes from the town of Benteng. 


For some decades now, the tiny Pulo (Island) of Weh has been drawing wanderlust travelers from around the globe who seeks for another level of ‘tranquil getaway’. Seriously, even journeying to this little floating gem of Malacca Strait is already an adventure for itself; ferrying slowly across the (relatively) calm deep ocean from Banda Aceh mainland, Northwest Sumatra. Exploring the pristine jungle and forest of the island is another great story altogether, as they offer an immaculate scenic vistas far beyond its overall size. Offshore, snorkelers and dive enthusiasts can bubble their way through natural underwater kingdom made from great walls of swaying sea fans, deep canyons and formations of rock pinnacles. Not to mention the mesmerizing kaleidoscope of marine life; including manta rays and whale sharks. Accomplish those activities, or just simply enjoy the brief serene moment on a hammock in your staycation bungalow, soaking in the island’s tropical bliss entirely; either way, it will definitely worth your while. 


A recent primadona on marine tourism, the cluster of islands that is Raja Ampat is located on the northwestern part of West Papua, just right off the Bird’s Head peninsula of the main New Guinea island. The name translates as the Four Kings, representing the four main island in this micro archipelago: Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waiego. But saying them tiny is an understatement, since the small constellation has more than 1,500 islands. What makes them gaining spotlight is simply because of two things; on the surface, the islands itself appear like it popped out of a fantasy story book – countless lush green hills appearing from a spread of spotless azure beneath them. Yet, what goes under that blue would take your breath away even further. Being part of the Coral Triangle that are practically untouched from human disruption, the underwater biodiversity here is just simply enthralling. This area is so rich with critters and reefs, you only need to jump from your dock huts straight to the water, then swim for a few minutes to the populous waters – from there, all you have to do to enjoy the view that surrounds you. 


It had some exposure recently thanks to a film that showed its beauty to the fullest — while still telling a much celebrated crime story. Compared to the other two single islands in this list, Sumba is the largest, expanding more than 11,000 square-kilometres. This makes exploring the whole island takes much more than just one or two days, especially when travelling from East to West spends around five hours on the road. And the advantage of a vast land is there are countless spots to explore. From the lands there are the phone-or-desktop wallpaper worthy shot of Wairinding green hills, to a staggering contrast view of the endless Puru Kambera savana meets the Savu sea on the background. You should also visit the Prai Ijing traditional village to embrace another strand in Indonesia’s diverse ethnic lineage. Then of course, the waters. The hidden and nearly untouched Waimarang waterfall is simply an astonishing surprise because you will be led to believe you’re following the stream of a river until you find this spectacular treasure. Then there’s the breathtaking Weekuri Lagoon with its glassy water surrounded by a naturally shaped wall — it truly (and literally) will take your breath away. 


Once an important military base circa World War II era which enables the Allies to repel Japanese invasion in South East Asia, Morotai is now known as an adventurous port-of-call for hardcore tranquil seekers. This smallish island off northern Halmahera in Maluku is packed with some prominent getaway elements that makes it one of the top place to visit in every wanderlust bucket list. Morotai hold a number of great beaches and interesting diving spots to be explored. Its underwater contains lots of fascinating battleship wrecks. At nearby Kao Bay of Halmahera, a half submerged Japanese ship named ‘Tosimaru’ can still be observed from shore. There are also various interesting spots to visit on Morotai, including a lone statue of the legendary Allies General Douglas MacArthur and a shack filled with memorabilia of war collected by a private citizen currently dubbed as ‘Morotai Museum’. These places serves as a reminder for visitors of those terrible bloodshed days, which hopefully would never occur on this beautiful planet ever again. 


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