21 Best Indonesia Hidden Gems to add to your itinerary

Are you looking for beautiful Indonesia hidden gems to get off the beaten path in Bali and beyond?

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Putting together an Indonesian itinerary can be difficult for such a large and varied country. Whether you’re looking to get off the beaten track in Bali or to discover Indonesia hidden gems far further away from the well-known holiday spots, I’ve received various recommendations to help you find beautiful and unique places you may not have thought about.

Many hot spots are still worth a visit – I adored my Borobudur at sunrise experience, although it’s the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia – so I don’t doubt they’re worth a spot on your itinerary. But sometimes, it’s nice to learn about the lesser-known gems that hide between the attractions you already know of. Whether you’re looking for an underrated spot in Bali or Java, or prefer a magical island getaway that’s rarely a sight on Indonesia itineraries, hopefully, this post has what you’re looking for!

The following destinations are listed loosely, from the direction of West to East Indonesia.

With that said, let’s continue with the best hidden gems in Indonesia!

Best Indonesia hidden gems


by Annalisa of Travel Connect Experience

You can reach Weh Island with an hour’s ferry ride from Aceh, the northernmost city in Sumatra. Also known as Pulau Sabang, looking at the map, this island seems to be escaping Indonesia, projected into the Andaman Sea. Weh is one of the most unique places in Indonesia, inhabited by mixed culture natives and observant Muslims, but very friendly to visitors. Part of the island was damaged by the Tsunami of 2004, a tragedy that the locals still remember as hundreds of thousands lost their lives.

Weh Island is home to some of the world’s most famous diving spots, such as Batee Tokong, which is right in front of the bay where Steffen Sea Sports is located, the best diving centre on the island.

To get the most out of a trip to Pulau Weh, give yourself at least a week to explore it, and rent a motorbike from one of the stores at Iboih Beach, where you’ll also find small cafes and cheap resorts with bungalows right on the sea, facing the tiny, picturesque Rubiah Island. For total relaxation and privacy, rent a bungalow at Stone Park or Bixio Cafe instead, the latter offering excellent Italian cuisine.

There are so many spots to visit in Pulau Weh, starting with the 3 main beaches (Iboih Beach, Long Beach, and Gapang Beach), the breathtaking coastal views driving to the Kilometer Zero Point or opposite, to the Sabang market and to the waterfalls. Beware of monkeys, greedy for fruit and not always friendly.

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2. BUKIT LAWANG, Sumatra

by Hannah from All About The Aprés 

Located in North Sumatra, Bukit Lawang is the stepping stone to the Gunung Leuser National Park. This area is unique because it’s one of the few places in the world where you can see wild orangutans!

The forest is also home to gibbons, Thomas Leaf monkeys, elephants, and even rhinos and tigers. Whilst the chances of seeing those last two are slim, the park is an absolute treasure for wildlife-loving travellers. 

You’ll need to book a guide to take you orangutan-spotting – this can be a day hike or an immersive multi-day camping trek. Almost all of the guesthouses in the village organise tours but do read reviews closely so that you know you’re choosing a responsible provider. Personally, I’d recommend the Fun Family Guesthouse. The owner, Putra, is a great guy and has so much respect for the wildlife. 

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Image of this Indonesia hidden gem by De Wet from Museum of Wander

Whilst jungle trekking is the main draw of this Indonesia hidden gem, the village is worth lingering in for a few days. It’s the perfect place to loll around in a hammock or even take a dip in the Bohorok River. 

The closest airport to Bukit Lawang is Medan’s Kualanamu International Airport. From there, you can take the public bus (via Binjai). Otherwise, you can organise a shared car through your accommodation.

My final tip is to ride the ‘tube’ back down the river. No, it’s nothing to do with the grimy underground trains in London – it’s a giant raft that drops you back in Bukit Lawang with a smile!

Indonesia itinerary
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Image by DeWet from Museum of Wander

3. TANGKAHAN, Sumatra

by Agung and Carly from We Are Sumatra

This tiny village lies around a four-hour drive by car from the city of Medan (or a 5-6 hour bumpy bus ride!) It’s perched on the end of a pristine river and borders the breathtaking Gunung Leuser National Park – full of orangutans, tigers, elephants, hornbills and countless other epic yet endangered species.

This village is the true definition of jungle adventures. The handful of accommodations range from dirt cheap but comfy to budget-friendly yet classy, and all of them feature the biggest smiles and warmest welcomes you’ll find anywhere in Sumatra (if not Indonesia!)

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There are secluded waterfalls to bathe in, hot springs to soak in, rivers to tube down, caves to explore, and jungles to trek through – followed by plenty of time to lie back and listen to the sounds of the jungle in your hammock. It’s truly a paradise for nature lovers.

This place is exceptional because although it’s an ecotourism destination, it’s still relatively unknown and retains its laid-back local authenticity. The people who once logged the jungle now protect it, and it’s well worth visiting for at least three or four days to soak up the chill vibes and drool over the most stunning scenery you’re likely to see in your lifetime.

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| Tip

🛣️ For a more convenient transportation, consider taking a private transfer. The road from Airport or Medan to Tangkahan Region will be stressless and smooth.


by Emma from Chasing Wow Moments

The Green Canyon in Western Java, Indonesia, is a place you need to add to your bucket list. Why should you go? Two reasons. Number one – the incredible beauty of this place. The emerald-green river surrounded by vines and moss-covered cliffs alone make the trip worth it. Number two – the way you explore it: body rafting. It’s basically like rafting but without the boat. If body-rafting is too adventurous for you, you can also see the wider part of the canyon by boat.

The goal is to go down the river by floating or swimming, climbing on the cliffs, and occasionally jumping in the water or sliding down a waterfall (you’re obviously wearing a helmet, a life jacket, and water shoes). These two make for an unforgettable adventure! Oh – and there are practically no tourists.

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The easiest and cheapest way to reach the Green Canyon is to take the train to Banjar station (you can book train tickets here) and continue from there on the bus going to Cijulang. In Cijulang, motorcycle taxis should be willing to take you wherever you’re staying.

Some additional tips for visiting the Green Canyon in Java:

– Go during the dry season. The river tends to be more brown than green during the rainy season (although I went during the rainy season and was very lucky as it didn’t rain the evening before).
– You need to book with an agency because you’ll need a guide and the necessary equipment. No need to book in advance.
– The cost may vary but it’s roughly 300 000 rupees per person.

🔥 Looking for a thrilling experience?

See more of pristine and wild places and panoramic views while listening to the stories told by a local guide. This trip includes lots of activities as well: pick hiking, tracking, tubing or canyoning.

Click to book
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5. BANDUNG, Java

by Marya from The BeauTraveler 

Bandung, Indonesia’s third-largest city, is a favourite getaway for people living in Jakarta’s capital city. There are many reasons to love this city: a cool climate, beautiful scenery surrounded by volcanic mountains, affordable shopping, delicious Sundanese food, music, and many more.

During the Dutch-colonial days, Bandung was a famous holiday destination for the wealthy Dutch at the time, they even nicknamed it “Paris van Java.” You can feel the Dutch colonial influence around the city by spotting Dutch colonial heritage architecture, such as the governor’s office building called Gedung Sate, Grand Preanger Hotel, Savoy Homann Bidakara Hotel, and Gedung Merdeka. The latter is also currently known as the Museum of the Asian-African Conference, the conference that had a vital role in creating the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War.

You can do many activities in Bandung, depending on your purpose here. For those who prefer relaxing while enjoying nature, you can visit Lembang, the resort area in the North of Bandung with many tourist attractions nearby, or you can go to Ciwidey in the southern part, where you can relish the magnificent crater Kawah Putih, then try glamorous camping at Rancabali Lakeside Glamping.

If taking pictures is more like your jam, Bandung offers you hidden gems that you can’t miss. From the breathtaking cliff at Tebing Keraton to the 27-million-year-old ancient seamount at Stone Garden Geopark. There’s a place for everyone in the capital city of West Java province in Indonesia.

museum of the asian african conference
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by me

I’m always telling people that Karimunjawa is THE most beautiful island I’ve ever visited, and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Indonesia hidden gems.

Although getting to Karimunjawa is a little tricky, it’s worth it once you arrive for the relatively small tourist scene and pristine beaches. From the serene Eastern beaches, such as Barakuda Beach and Pokemon Beach, which make for the perfect place to spend the afternoon, to the must-see sunset spot of Pantai Ulung Gelam. You could also rent a scooter and visit the stunning North beaches, on which I was the only tourist on my visit to Batu Lawang Beach.

There are plenty of things to do in Karimunjawa besides beaches! From snorkelling, diving and island-hopping tours to jungle trekking, I definitely recommend asking your hostel for the best way to explore this scenic paradise. Bukit Love Hill viewpoint is also a fun spot to enjoy the sunset. Look out for opportunities for sustainable travel, such as eco-tour companies and beach cleans, so we can keep this island a beautiful setting for the locals who live there.

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by Vicki from Vicki Viaja

While most visitors to the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta usually only look at the tourist attractions in the city, many are unaware that there are also some great places to experience in the surrounding area. One of these extraordinary places is the Chicken Church. This unique place is considered a real Indonesian backpacker tip.

The church is not only unique from the outside with its unusual chicken design. Also, the inside of the Chicken Church surprises its visitors with colourful wall paintings and winding corridors. Each floor looks a bit different, so it is worth looking at the whole church.

The small entrance fee also includes a snack, which you can enjoy in the outer part of the church. From here, you also have a spectacular view of the surrounding jungle. You can also look down from the beak and crown of the chicken.

Even though the church was supposed to represent a dove, it is now known today as Chicken Church. To reach the church, you can either hike a bit through the surrounding jungle – beware, it can get muddy and slippery during the rainy season – or park in the adjacent parking lot.

borobudur Yogya 2
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by me

Not only is Malang a great place to situate yourself on an East Java holiday – from here, you can arrange trips to the otherworldly Mount Bromo Volcano and the phenomenal Mt Ijen Volcano sunrise hike – but it’s a fascinating city in its own right.

While the night street food market and friendly locals are a great memory, Malang’s ‘rainbow villages’ are undoubtedly the most memorable thing here.

The villages here were apparently coloured in these vibrant shades in a scheme dreamt up by my local students, who paired with a paint company to bring tourism to the city’s poorer areas. There are three adjoined villages to visit – Kampung Biru (the ‘blue village’, painted in the colours of the local football team!), and ‘Kampung Warna Warni Jodipan’ and ‘Kampung Tridi’ (the rainbow villages).

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The rainbow village is a fun addition to any Java Itinerary

Malang is the most accessible place to arrange a day trip to Tumpak Sewu Waterfall. While the trek down to the falls was admittedly a little scary (find out why here!), this excursion couldn’t have been more worth it. I credit this waterfall as being the best I have ever visited, and I even got to see the beautiful Kipas Biru Falls on the same day!

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Tumpak Sewu Falls – one of the most beautiful places in Indonesia


by Nina from Plantiful Travels

The Banyu Wana Amertha is a stunning waterfall in Bedugul, Bali. If you’re looking for the best hidden places in Bali, this is one of the most untouched waterfalls and one of the best places to visit in Bali. Although very few people have even heard of Banyu Wana Amertha and it, therefore, is not famous (yet), it is advised to go there early to make the most of the visit and to catch the magical morning light.

There is an IDR 20,000 per person entrance fee and an additional parking fee of IDR 5,000/ car or IDR 2,000/ motorbike. The waterfalls are only a short 15-minute walk from the car park.

Another reason this dramatic waterfall should be on any Indonesian bucket list is that there are three waterfalls there. Bhunanasari is a breathtaking waterfall with multiple water streams cascading down a boulder. Spray Waterfall can be accessed after a 5-minute walk from Bhunanasari and is about 40 meters tall. After walking another 5 minutes, the least impressive waterfall of all three, the Twin Waterfalls, can be reached.

Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfalls are located close to Bedugul, 2 hours north of Ubud. The easiest way to travel there is by scooter from Bedugul. Several buses operate from Ubud or Sanur to Bedugul, and the waterfalls can be easily located using Google Maps. It is only a few minutes down the road from Banyumala Twin Waterfall. The area is especially popular thanks to the Bali Gates (Handara Gate), the Pure Bratan (Floating Temple) and the famous Jatiluwih Rice Terrace.

Banyu Wana Amertha Waterfalls Bali
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by Sean from Living Out Lau

If you are looking for hidden gems in Indonesia, your first instinct might be to overlook the touristy island of Bali. While Bali does receive its fair share of international and national tourists, there are many off-the-beaten-path attractions on the island, such as the Nungnung Waterfall.

Located about 75 minutes away from the city of Ubud, Nungnung Waterfall remains one of the least-visited waterfalls in Bali. Visitors daring to go this far out of Ubud will be rewarded appropriately. Sitting at approximately 165ft (50m) high, the Nungnung Waterfall is one of the highest waterfalls in Bali.

However, that isn’t even the most impressive part. To reach the Nungnung Waterfall, adventurers must embark on a ~500-step path down to the bottom of the falls. You can experience the lush Balinese jungle firsthand as you make your way down. The noise of the jungle and the fresh breath of air will take your breath away if the journey hasn’t already.

Once you have arrived at the bottom of the waterfall, you will be immediately met by constant waves of mist, soaking you and everything you own. Course the makeshift bridge to get onto the other side, and you’ll encounter the powerful Nungnung Waterfall face-to-face. Though the pool is deep enough for swimming, it is not recommended. The power of the stream caused by the waterfall is simply too strong!

If you visit Nungnung Waterfall in the early morning, you will probably have the entire waterfall to yourself! Just be aware that tours are usually unavailable for the Nungnung Waterfall, as there is simply insufficient demand. So if you want to reach this off the beaten track Indonesia spot, your only option is to rent a driver or a scooter!

Nungnung Waterfall
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11. SEBATU, Bali

by Lotte from Phenomenal Globe 

Sebatu is a lovely little village in Bali, a village that is virtually undiscovered even though it’s only 20 km from Ubud (which is overflowing with tourists). Sebatu should feature on any Bali itinerary as this is where you can see Bali life as it used to be before Bali became everyone’s favourite holiday island.  

In the so-called Banjar, people in Sebatu live as they have for generations. Banjar are small communities where people from several families live together and care for each other. It’s a great system and the reason why there are no homeless people in Bali.  

Local compound in Sebatu
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A local compound in Sebatu

The area around Sebatu is beautiful and best explored with a scooter. North of town, you can check out the volcanoes Mount Batur and Mount Agung. The site also has many beautiful waterfalls (such as the Kanto Lampo and the Tibumana Waterfall).  

Sebatu is surrounded by green rice terraces and coffee farms where you can try a cup of the famous Luwak coffee. However, the best thing to do in Sebatu is to stay with a local family and learn about their way of living. As an added bonus, you will probably get to try some of the best and most authentic Balinese cooking.  

Mount Batur Bali
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Mount Batur in Bali

12. SIDEMEN, Bali

by Cecilie from Worldwide Walkers

Sidemen village is a true hidden gem because of its beautiful landscapes and local vibe. It’s also one of Bali’s most beautiful places to visit, yet there are no tourists around.

In Sidemen, you can visit the many rice terraces and waterfalls, but the best part about the village is the view of the majestic Agung Volcano, which is only a stone’s throw away.

Compared to the popular cities in Bali, where the locals work in the tourism industry, the people living in Sidemen often work in rice fields or with traditional weaving. One of the best things to do in Sidemen is to go on a local tour around the area and learn about the different ways of life in Bali.

You can easily take a taxi to Sidemen from the airport or ask your accommodation to fix transportation for you. Sidemen is also conveniently located next to Padang Bai, where boats to Nusa Penida and the Gili islands depart. So, after you’ve explored the rice fields and the authentic side of Bali, you can hop on a boat and go straight to relax on the smaller islands.

Many places in Bali are so touristic that they’ve lost their magical touch, yet Sidemen is proof that you can still find authentic and off-the-beaten-track places in Indonesia’s amazing Bali.

| Tip

🌴 Immerse yourself in vibrant Bali culture – visit a selection of beautiful, tourist-free locations including Taman Ujung Water Palace, Candidasa, and Sidemen Village.

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by Victoria from Guide Your Travel

Taman Festival is an abandoned theme park in Bali that has become a not-so-secret tourist attraction. It is open to the public, and anyone can visit it for an entrance fee of 1,50$. The park lies 2-hours north of Sanur, the chilled-out beach location that doubles as the point to catch a boat to Nusa Penida.

It is not entirely clear why the park was abandoned. It was constructed in the 90s and never opened officially. The most likely reason why Taman Festival was an unsuccessful project was a lack of funding and issues with legal rights for land ownership. Most of the park is still in good condition today, making for a great photo opportunity.

Graffiti artists have taken over the buildings, and you can see some pretty impressive art by renowned artists. The park is famous for its ghost stories and supernatural happenings. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you could visit it at night and see for yourself if the rumours are true.

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While there aren’t any actual rides at Taman Festival anymore, you can still see many structures abandoned in the jungle. The area is large and overgrown so make sure you wear proper shoes.

This park is an incredible location for taking photos and should be on your list of must-do things in Bali if you love urban exploring and seeing lost places. Click here to read more about seeing Taman Festival and what you need to know before you go.

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14. SEKOTONG, Lombok

by Fuad Omar from A Walk in the World

If you are flying from Bali, after a 30-minute flight to Lombok and a 2-hour car journey, you will arrive in Sekotong, a truly off-the-beaten-track destination.

In Sekotong, you will find one of the most beautiful but desolate beaches in Indonesia named, Mekaki beach. Once you have enough of the beautiful Mekaki beach, take a bike and ride along the coastal roads towards Mekaki hill. It’s a challenging ride through winding roads, yet jaw-dropping with the mesmerizing panoramic views of the ocean and hills.

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You can also kayak directly from Sekotong to the Secret Gilis or arrange snorkelling, diving and boat trips. Elak Elak beach is a great option if you are looking for family-friendly activities. If you can’t ride a bike, you can book a tour to Mekaki, Elak Elak And Sekotong Beaches. I would suggest you stay in the Central Sekotong region to get the most out of your trip. For more information and photos, see my travel guide to Sekotong.

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15. SECRET GILIS, Lombok

by Ilse from Digital Nomad Couple

Located on Lombok’s Southwest coast, the Secret Gili Islands are a collection of 15 beautiful tiny islands. In contrast to the famous party island Gili Trawangan, the Secret Gilis are still somewhat untouched. With lots of marine life, colourful coral and beautiful deserted paradise beaches, a snorkel trip to the Secret Gilis is a fun day adventure.

You can book a snorkel tour to the Secret Gilis at many tour agencies in Kuta, Lombok. The price is about 1,100 000 IDR for 2 people, depending if you include lunch or not. Pick-up service from your hotel in Kuta, Lombok, to the docking place of the boat and snorkel gear is included when you book a snorkel tour to the Secret Gilis.

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On this tour, you’ll visit three Secret Gili Islands, including Gili Nanggu, Gili Kedis and Gili Sudak. Gili Nanggu is an excellent snorkel area where you can see many tropical fishes, sea stars and more marine life. On the uninhabited island of Gili Sudak, you can enjoy an Indonesian lunch at the only Warung on this island. From here, the views on the surrounding tiny islands and the bigger island Lombok are just incredible.

Gili Kedis is another very tiny island, more-less a sandbank, where you’ll spend some time. Here you can enjoy the beautiful soft white sand or the crystal clear waters.

There are many sea stars around in the water, but be aware that you should not pick up these beautiful sea creatures. They can die from the oils and bacteria humans have on their skin. So even if you see tour guides doing this, don’t participate in this as it’s very bad for the sea stars. 

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16. KUTA, Lombok

by Maria from World of Destinations

Kuta is a beach town located on Bali’s neighbouring island Lombok. The island is often referred to as “Bali’s less touristy neighbour”, and people say that Lombok is like Bali used to be 10-20 years ago. Besides that, Lombok is also considerably cheaper than Bali but definitely not less beautiful.

Around Kuta, you’ll find numerous stunning white sand beaches with crystal clear waters, such as Tanjung Aan or Selong Blank. Those are still relatively remote and free from hotel resorts. Surfers especially love Kuta, as it’s known for its excellent waves. There are plenty of surf camps all around town for those who want to learn it.

If you’re not into surfing, you might want to do yoga classes or explore the nature and local areas near Kuta. Some of Kuta’s best traditional Indonesian restaurants are Warung Flora and Warung Bule. Check out Kenza Café or Milk Espresso if you’re craving western cuisine.

The easiest way to get to Kuta is to take a ferry or a 30-minute flight from Bali to Lombok. From there, you can either take shared transport or rent a scooter to get to Kuta. Transportation services like Grab or GoJek are minimal on Lombok and don’t work everywhere on the island. The best way to get around Lombok is to rent a scooter.

Lombok itinerary
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Kuta Lombok itinerary
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17. LABUAN BAJO, Flores

by Jessie and Jamie from HeTravelsSheTravels

Labuan Bajo is a little town where most people base their adventures, ready to dive some of the best diving in Indonesia, see those massive dragons, and check out uninhabited islands and beaches. After spending 10 days in this little remote town, we think this is a great place to visit and highly underrated for 3 main reasons.

First, the sunsets are not to be missed. Labuan Bajo is built on a hillside and offers sweeping views of hilly mountains rising out of the ocean. It provides a bit of a Ha Long Bay vibe, and each night you can catch a beautiful sunset from various vantage points around the little town.

Labuan Bajo Indonesia bucketlist
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Secondly, the food is fantastic! This is something we were not expecting at all, but we found multiple different restaurants that offered some of the best dining we found in Indonesia. Check out the Mediterraneo Italian Restaurant for amazing pasta and fresh tuna tataki, the Happy Banana for delicious poke bowls and sushi, or the Baja Tacos and Tequila for a Mexican fix.

Lastly, the vibe of this place is chilled out, relaxed, and unintrusive. We were rarely bothered in this slow-paced and quiet village. But if you are looking for a night out, you can find that too at Le Pirate, among others. 

Labuan Bajo Flores Indonesia bucketlist
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18. MAUMERE, Flores

by me

Maumere, with its sandy beaches – such as Maumere Bay and Kajuwulu Beach – and sparkling waters, has a special place in my heart. I stayed further down the coast from the city, which felt far from tourists and genuinely idyllic.

Diving can often be a disappointing experience these days since our polluted oceans have dyed so many of the once-vibrant corals white. However… in Maumere, the corals still dazzled. The sea life was full of life, and the water was completely clear. Although I couldn’t dive here due to rules about altitude (I visited the fantastic Kelimutu Crater Lakes the next day as part of my 10-day route through Flores), the snorkelling is undoubtedly the most impressive I have done.

Inspired to see the new coral growing here (a tsunami tragically hit this area in 1992), I later made a donation to the fantastic charity Marine Megafauna Foundation (from whom I also bought my rash guard). It’s definitely worth considering how we can conserve such stunning areas, for example, by wearing reef-safe sunscreen.

In the greater area around Maumere, you can take on the Mount Egon Volcano Trek or visit the tranquil Koka beach; this beautiful sandy bay is possible to do on a day trip, including the Fisherman’s Village or Sikka Village. Sikka Old Church is very unique, and there is also an opportunity to see traditional sarongs being made here. In the Fisherman’s village, you can see the decorated wooden houses on stilts, which are very unique.


by Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads

The Togian Islands are one of the best-kept secrets of Indonesia. An ‘off the beaten track’ tropical paradise with crystal clear water and white beaches surrounded by lush jungle.

Indonesia is an island country made up of about 17 000 islands of all shapes and sizes. The Togians are an archipelago of 56 islands located in the Gulf of Tomini, off the coast of Central Sulawesi, in Indonesia. Getting here is not easy and can take about two days from Sulawesi by a combination of ferries and speed boat taxis.

Kadidiri is a popular spot for diving; this fantastic ‘off the beaten track’ little island has a couple of friendly little hotels and dive centres and is a beautiful place to chill out in a hammock, dive on untouched reefs or explore nearby islands.

Diving from the Togean Islands is fantastic, with pristine coral reefs in crystal clear water and warm water temperatures up to 31C! The beautiful reef is home to clownfish, lionfish, moray eels, turtles and many more wonderful creatures. A B24 Bomber plane that crash landed during WWII is a unique and exciting dive; you can even penetrate the plane wreck.

Visiting the Bajo people living in their floating houses on the little island Pulau Papan is truly a memorable experience. These people are known as the sea gypsies of Malaysia and Indonesia; they grow up, live and die in the sea. For a unique nature experience, visit one of the world’s rare jellyfish lakes, jellyfish lost the ability to sting over millions of years of geographic isolation in this lake, and you can swim with millions of these beautiful creatures safely!

Jukung Boat Togian Islands Stingy Nomads
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exploring the Togian Islands with a local Jukung boat (Indonesian outrigger canoe)


By De Wet and Jin from Museum of Wander

If you want to get off the beaten track in Indonesia, the Kei islands should be on the top of your list.

Located in Maluku province in far eastern Indonesia, the Kei islands are a true paradise of crystal clear water, powdery white sands, swaying palm trees, and solitude. Except for the local fishermen, you’ll have all of this to yourself.

The best place to stay in the Kei islands is the wonderful Coaster Cottages near the village of Ohoililir. There are a few en suite rooms to choose from, or even a whole house if you want to come with family or a group of friends. There is only a small tuck shop in Ohoililir, so Coaster Cottages is also a great place to indulge in Kei Island home-cooked food.

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A wonderful place to get off the beaten track in Indonesia

The Kei islands are all about tranquil and deserted beaches, which are stunning! Kei Islands will not disappoint if you want entertainment, water sports or nightlife. However, few places can compete with the spectacular beaches of the Kei islands. Rent a scooter for the day and beach hop from one dazzling beach to the next.

Evu spring in the centre is also worth a stop for a dip in the calm, crystal-clear spring waters. Or ask a fisherman to take you island hopping to the nearby islands.

The twin city of Tual/Langgur is the biggest city on the Kei islands and has an airport with daily flights to Ambon and Makassar. The Kei islands are also on the same ferry route as the spectacular Banda Islands, which you can combine on the same trip.  

Kei Islands Indonesia hidden gem
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by Kez from K In Motion

Just a one-hour flight from Bali is an Indonesian destination most have never heard of; West Timor. One thing you notice about the place straight away is that there are no tourists around. That means that the locals will be infinitely fascinated with you, but not because they want to sell you something. Most locals won’t speak English, but they will want to interact with you anyway. This definitely sets the scene for a much more local experience.

Aside from the friendly and curious locals, West Timor is full of natural wonders. As an island, it has thousands of kilometres of quiet coastlines. You’ll find misty mountains, quaint little waterfalls, underwater caves, and underground lakes when you head inland. 

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Vibrant waters and getting off the beaten path in Indonesia

As if all those vibrant sights weren’t enough, fewer crowds make them even more appealing.  The plus side of West Timor not being on the tourist radar is that you can visit all the sights without paying an entrance fee!

There’s a very high chance that one of the friendly locals will be willing to guide you to some of the harder-to-find attractions. Then after you’ve seen the attraction, they may even climb a nearby tree to shake down a coconut for you! Nothing like a fresh coconut straight from the tree, right? A trip to West Timor is sure to be a totally different experience from any other part of Indonesia!

West Timor Indonesia
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Which Indonesian hidden gem is top on your bucket list? And if you’ve got any more awesome suggestions for beautiful places to visit in Indonesia, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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  1. Thanks the fantastic recommendations! The Mount Ijen hike is definitely a magical experience – I did it as part of my Java itinerary (separate blog) and couldn’t agree more!

  2. Thanks for this great round up.

    I’d add Labuhan Jambu on Sumbawa island to go snorkeling or diving with the huge, peaceful whale sharks. So amazing. The Transit Hotel is a clean local hotel.

    Hike Anak Krakatoa – when it’s not erupting.

    See blue “lava” during a night hike up mount Ijen and stay in Banyuwangi for hiking, waterfalls, beach.

  3. Lots of good suggestions there and there are a lot more I’ve seen such as…Tana Toraja, Sulawesi; Sumba (one of the Lesser Sunda Islands in the province of East Nusa Tenggara); Mount Ciremai near the city of Cirebon; and the Baliem Valley in Papua…to name just a few…

  4. Wow these are all such lovely locations to visit! I love finding hidden gems when I travel to new countries, I sometimes prefer them to the main tourist attractions.

  5. What an awesome collab post of things to do in Bali off the beaten path. This is my kind of itinerary and adventure. I have wanted to visit Bali to “Eat, Pray, Love” my heart out for many years. I hope to visit one day. Thanks for sharing all the hidden gems and beautiful photos. Saving your post for later.

  6. Wooowza. What a fantastic post with soooo many good ideas for mini adventures in Indonesia! I am really drawn to the stunning waterfalls and beaches, but I think Tangkahan in Sumatra sound like a mini slice of eco tourism heaven. The abandoned theme park sounds really fun too!

  7. Wow, Indonesia looks so beautiful. I’ve yet to make it there but you’ve given me some great ideas. I want to go orangutan spotting, and the rainbow village looks so pretty

  8. This is such an awesome round-up and makes me want to jump on a plane right now!!! I also laughed out loud at the Chicken Church! Your shots from the falls in Java look so incredible – we were considering a trip here last year (before pandemic changed those plans!)

  9. Wow there are so many different types of places to see in Indonesia. I will have to revisit this post when we can travel again! The Kei Islands look amazing!

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