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Torben Lonne, Dive Instructor
Exploring Indonesia’s gems above and below the water

Easy Island Living

It could be the sparkling white sands of Gangga Island, the beach breaks at Kuta, a lingering memory of the perfect romantic getaway, or the laid-back living. For some travelers, it’s all these things and more drawing them to Indonesia time and time again.

Whether you’re dipping your toes into Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage and balmy waters for the first time or you’re flying in for your tenth trip, there’s something magical and unique to discover. Easy island living is just the beginning but it’s the perfect backdrop to adventures both above and under the water.

With around 17,000 distinct islands, Indonesia is a nomad’s paradise. A country that begs to be explored island after island, beach by beach. Logistics of modern life and daily demands aside, you’d be tempted to spend the rest of your days doing just that, but duty always beckons, and perhaps the true beauty of a holiday lies in its break from normalcy.

No matter, because with excellent air and sea transport links, Indonesia’s islands are close enough that you can still island-hop, for a few weeks anyway. Choose a few destinations and, holiday duration depending, discover as many of Indonesia’s gems as you can.

Here are four top resort and destination picks to take the stress out of your holiday planning. Visit one or visit them all, either way, you’re guaranteed the holiday of a lifetime.

Papua Paradise Eco Resort – Raja Ampat

Ocean lovers shiver when they think of Raja Ampat, as well they should. Located west of northern West Papua and well off the beaten path, Raja Ampat boasts an explosion of color below the surface and enough marine creatures to keep even the most experienced diver engaged.
Papua Paradise Eco Resort brings travelers the best of both worlds.

Raja Ampat is not just for divers though. Snorkelers and swimmers will delight in the reefs while land lovers can explore the peninsula’s interior where thick jungle foliage and tropical birds rule the roost.

Papua Paradise Eco Resort brings travelers the best of both worlds. Its 26 absolute oceanfront bungalows perch on stilts in the shallow waters. In front is a world-class house reef while behind, paths lead from the beach into the forest.

Guests can choose between superior and deluxe rooms. Unlike in many resorts, there’s no compromise on location here, both room types are right on the water.

Inside the superior rooms, nature rules: natural wood furniture and finishings beautifully complement the traditionally designed bungalows. And at 70 square meters, this isn’t your standard resort hotel room. The feeling of space continues on the roomy balconies, the perfect spot for sunset, sunrise, and an afternoon drink.

Papua Paradise Eco Resort
Oceanfront bungalows perch on stilts in the shallow waters
Deluxe rooms follow the same theme and retain the same charm, albeit with a few extra flourishes. Each is 85 square meters and feels much more like an apartment than a room, a plush interior sofa means escaping the sun is cozy and comfortable, or sprawl on the elegant king four-poster bed. The balconies have been given the extra treatment too with split level styling, chaise lounges, and additional space.

Papua Paradise boasts a breathtaking on-site spa and tour desk. Gangga Divers is located in the resort and offers a range of PADI dive courses and daily dives from its well-equipped fleet of 10 dive boats.

Villa Almarik – Gili Trawangan

A small archipelago in an archipelago, Lombok’s Gili islands are the kind of place that every traveler loves. There’s plenty for party animals, spa junkies, divers, yogis, and those seeking an adrenaline rush.
Villa Almarik is uniquely positioned to help travelers make the most of everything Gili Trawangan has on offer to guests.

Gili Trawangan offers all of these things and a particularly unique selling point: there are no motorized vehicles on the island, so if you’ve always wanted to cycles around a tropical island, this is your chance.

It might be known as the turtle capital of the world, but underwater there is enough top-ten animal sighting to keep all levels of diver happy, think mantas, sharks, rays, and more. Snorkelers are catered to as well, plenty of shallow reefs mean surface-level exploration is just as rewarding.

Villa Almarik is uniquely positioned to help travelers make the most of everything Gili Trawangan has on offer to guests. One of the very first resorts on the island, Villa Almarik is located on the waterfront and just a few minutes’ walk from the bustling cafe scene.

Villa Almarik - Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan known as the turtle capital of the world
Despite offering all the services you would expect from an island resort, it retains a boutique feel with just 24 rooms. Guests can choose between standard, superior, and deluxe rooms. Each is fully airconditioned and surprisingly spacious; even the standard room is 45 square meters.

One of the resort’s most intriguing offerings is a guided trek inland to the Rinjani Volcano. When it’s time top cool off, head to the fully-equipped dive center and get your fins wet.

Lotus Bungalows – Candidasa, Bali

If Bali is the ‘Island of the Gods,’ Candidasa, also known as Segkidu, is certainly a pearl in the island’s crown. Located on the quieter east coast, the township is the perfect distance away from the backpacker crowded areas many equate with Bali. While it retains the same flair, it’s a relaxing, slightly more mature option.
For the ultimate in relaxation, spend some time in the dedicated yoga space then cool off in the waterfront infinity pool.
With plenty of hidden white sand beaches, stunning temples, a freshwater lagoon, and picturesque hinterland to explore, Candidasa offers up interesting activities and cultural immersion. As an added bonus, staying in Candidasa is remarkably affordable, leaving you with extra cash for diving, tours, and lazy dinners and afternoon drinks.

Our top pick here is Lotus Bungalows, with just 20 rooms, the resort offers up a boutique hotel feel with the friendliness of a bed & breakfast. Each bright and airy room is well-appointed and designed tastefully with just the right amount of Balinese influence.

Lotus Bungalows - Candidasa, Bali
The on-site dive center runs a range of PADI dive courses and daily dive trips, including to the famous Liberty wreck.
For the ultimate in relaxation, spend some time in the dedicated yoga space then cool off in the waterfront infinity pool.

Divers and snorkelers won’t be disappointed either, the on-site dive center runs a range of PADI dive courses and daily dive trips, including to the famous Liberty wreck. Looking to get into rebreather diving? Gangga Divers also has rebreather courses available.

Gangga Island Resort and Spa – North Sulawesi

With waterfalls, verdant jungles, virgin beaches, and a thriving local food scene, North Sulawesi seems to combine the very best of Indonesia in one spot. The beauty of North Sulawesi above sea-level is undeniable, as is its attractions under the surface.
The bright and breezy beachfront bungalows are the perfect oasis of calm after a busy day spent exploring

Among the best places to go diving and snorkeling in Indonesia, the waters around this island province are teeming with marine life. Explore the Bunaken National Park or delve into world-class muck diving in the Lembeh Straits, famous for its pygmy seahorses, elusive mantis shrimp, and a dazzling array of nudibranch species.

It’s not all about slug hunting though, non-divers in the family or group will find plenty to keep them occupied on the shore, whether it’s lazing in beach chaise lounges or exploring the forests — or even a volcano — on foot.

Gangga Island Resort and Spa - North Sulawesi
The dazzling array of nudibranch species

Gangga Island Resort and Spa feature all the dive and snorkel facilities you expect from a resort in North Sulawesi. And the bright and breezy 30 beachfront bungalows are the perfect oasis of calm after a busy day spent exploring. Finished to a high standard and featuring native timber, each comes with a spacious verandah to kick back and enjoy the views.

Groups are well catered to here with the option to add additional beds in the spacious bungalows or choose a hut with three twin beds.

Getting Around

Indonesia is well served by international airlines with most flights landing in Jakarta and Densapar’s airports. When it comes to moving between islands in the archipelago, you have a couple of choices.

Domestic air links are extensive and, in some cases, are the only way to get to remote areas. Try www.traveloka.com for flight planning, this flight aggregator does a good job of compiling the myriad Indonesian airlines and routes.

Perhaps the more scenic option is boat travel, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara, and Sulawesi are all connected by passenger and car ferries. Tourist boats run fast trips between popular hotspots, but choose your provider wisely. If you’d like detailed recommendations on travel to any of the resorts above, get in touch.

On the island themselves, you can take local buses, hire cars or mopeds (on some islands), or take the laid-back option and discover the country slowly by foot or bicycle.

Either way, you’re sure to enjoy yourself — one of the joys of Indonesia is that the journey to a particular spot around the archipelago is often as rich and rewarding as the destination itself.