Southeast Asia has been in the spotlight for everyone from backpackers to luxury travellers in the last few years, and Indonesia is no different. This island range was formed by volcanic activity, leaving staggering mountains, lush canopies of forest and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife in its tracks. Add to that the amazing beaches each island is home to, and you can see why Indonesia is so popular!
Inspired by my recent trip to the region, I share my guide to Indonesia island hopping to help you plan your own. And since I started my adventure in Bali, that’s where we’ll start today, too!
A haven of temples, rice terraces and more blissful beaches than I can count, Bali is one of the most popular Indonesian islands for good reason. I found that out first hand on my recent visit. I recommend Pura Gunung Kawi Sebatu temple, in particular, for a truly calming experience. Keen to embrace your inner zen? Check out these four fabulous Bali yoga retreats.
If you’d rather get active, Bali has plenty to offer you too. From hiking the volcanic landscape of Gunung Batur to waterfall hunting, there are many natural wonders to keep your itineraries full. Get inspiration for your trip with my 10 best things to do in Bali here.
Borneo is a fascinating island, shared between several states. Visit Kalimantan and you can continue your Indonesia island hopping experience, heading somewhere off the beaten track in comparison to Bali.
Here, the jungle you got a flavour for on other Indonesian islands takes over, therefore trekking through the dense vegetation is the perfect way to spend your days. Reconnecting with nature isn’t optional: whether it’s the monkeys or branches and vines, the natural world will make itself known! Keep your eyes peeled for orang- utans, Borneo’s famous orange residents.
Visit Java and enjoy the many dimensions that Indonesia island hopping has to offer. Java is an island that’s very much open for business, and not just for the tourist trade, so you’ll get a flavour for what Indonesian life looks like for many of its residents today.
Take in Jakarta, the island’s biggest city, for activities most often associated with a city, rather than an island, break. There are malls, museums and amusement parks to entertain you, as well as culturally and historically significant buildings to see.
A hit with honeymooners, make your next stop Indonesia island hopping at Lombok. This is the island to visit if you want to load up on laid-back luxury. It’s all about the ocean, so whether you want to hit the surf, spot the sealife snorkelling or enjoy a boat trip to one of the nearby Gili Islands, you’ll be in your element here.
Getting outdoors is a running theme as we’ve been Indonesia island hopping. It’s here to stay for Sumatra too. While the island suffered significant damage in the 2004 tsunami, its majestic volcanic mountains, lush landscapes and surprising beaches remain irresistibly appealing. Not every landscape is within easy access though, so hire a car, pack a map and hit the road to track down your very own hidden gems.
Did you know that you can get from Bali to Singapore’s Kuala Lumpur in just a few hours? It’s a buzzing city that’s well worth a visit, even if you only have a few days. Find out what I packed into our three-day trip here. Plus, find out my tips for cheap ways to travel in Southeast Asia here.
What to pack for a trip to Indonesia
What activities most tempt you to go Indonesia island hopping?
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I’m really sad I didn’t get a chance to visit Lombok and Sumatra when I was there. I’m a big animal lover so would love to see the orangutans there! I can imagine how incredible and green the landscape is here, and in the other islands you mention. I still haven’t been to Borneo either! Another to tick off the list.
Indonesia has more than enough islands to suit any traveler. I think I would skip Bali and head to Sumatra and Borneo instead. I would love to go on nature tours and really see the wild!
I think most people are so focused on Bali that they forget about the other lovely islands and spots that Indonesia has to offer. This is a great list and I hope more and more people start to explore other areas as well. Personally, I would love to visit Sumatra and Java.
WOW, those rice fields in UBud are spectacular. I admit if I visited Bali, I would probably have to do the cliche yoga retreat. LOL. Then hop over to Borno for the wildlife and Java for the volcano. Indonesia really is such a beautiful place, I think it would take repeat visits to enjoy it fully 🙂
Wow, that’s an awesome collection of places to go to in Indonesia! I haven’t been to Bali but I think I would prefer Java, Lombok and Sumatra first! 😊 I think we would need at least a week of vacation for all of these.
Oh my the Orang Utans is so cute! Didn’t realize they were so orange! Have heard of Borneo, indeed not as popular as Bali but definitely worth a visit for another experience! Trekking is something we love so it sounds like a great suggestion. Java as well is so high on our list, can’t wait to go back!
I had no idea that the island range was formed by volcanic activity – that is super interesting, and I think had made me want to visit more! I had the chance to visit Borneo on a youth expedition when I was 17, but alas it never worked out so I really do think now I’m 34 I have to visit. But I have to say Sumatra looks so appealing, so maybe I’ll head there first!
I’ve been only to Bali on this list (also Gili but that’s not on your list 🙂 and I really wanted to make it to Lombok but did not have the time. I will definitely visit Indonesia again, most likely to Borneo and Java this time because I’ve seen so many pictures and heard so much about these places that I really want to go! Thanks for this list 🙂
Indonesia is such a large country. So when I saw the title of your article, I immediately knew this could not be covering a detailed guide on island hopping Indonesia or it could contain thousands of pages. haha. Indonesia is my most visited country, next to Thailand but I’m not done yet and will keep coming back. 🙂
I would love to go Island hopping in Indonesia, those islands look so beautiful. The two that I have been to is Bali for my honeymoon nearly 10years ago and I loved it loads. And Borneo rainforest where I went last year for a few days. Java is definitely high up on my list though of places to visit next time.
How beautiful Indonesia is <3 I have always wanted to visit Indonesia but couldnt get a chance till now. Now that I read your post it makes me plan a visit right away . Thanks for sharing 🙂
Island-hopping in SEA has been on my bucket list for years and I’m getting closer to saving enough! I’d love to check out Sumatra and Bali for the obvious lush green landscape that litters my Pinterest feed and has sparked my interest. I can’t wait to go check it all out for myself!
Keep the good vibes going on the Jiggy Boat Party @ Gili Trawangan, Lombok Source: tripadvisor Source: Bali Intaran Tour What’s a holiday without a little party, right? If you want a different sort of partying experience, you should definitely check out the Jiggy Party Boat at Gili Trawangan, Lombok.
Wow. I only know Bali and the rest cities are new to me. I need to get my South-aasia game straight! I know Bali will be good for island hopping and I’m sure Borneo, Sumatra will be good as well. Looks like you’re enjoying the best of South-Asia, I’m green with envy. I’m adding island hopping to my bucket list now.
Bali is on my bucket list of places to visit and I’m into bikram yoga – any advice on yoga retreats that offer this type of yoga? Thanks for the useful tips