Island by Island

These are the destinations where most visitors to Indonesia go - leaving another 13,000 or so islands for you to discover.


Considered the main island of Indonesia, Java is in fact only the fifth largest, but it possesses the nation's capital, Jakarta, and is the most crowded and economically developed. The main tourist attractions are the historic city of Yogyakarta (also spelled Jogjakarta), the spectacular ancient monuments of Borobudur and Prambanan, and the extraordinary volcanic region around Mount Bromo.


The large island of Sumatra is noted for its rainforests and national parks, home to orang-utans. The Minangkabau people of western Sumatra build traditional houses with dramatic, curving, pointed roofs; they also have the world's largest matrilineal culture (with inheritance running through the female line), although they are Muslims. In northern Sumatra, Lake Toba, and its large island, mark the site of possibly the largest volcanic eruption in history, which occurred about 70,000 years ago.

Nias Island

The largest in a chain of islands off western Sumatra, Nias is famous as a surfing destination.


Indonesia's premier tourist destination, Bali offers a magical mix of sand beaches and a rich and poetic Hindu culture. See the separate article on Bali.


The island that has long been promoted as a quieter version of Bali, lying just to its east. The inhabitants are ethnically related to the Balinese, but predominantly Muslim.


Formerly called the Celebes, Sulawesi is a large, ragged-shaped island. The highlands of South Sulawesi are home to the Toraja people, who live in spectacular wooden houses with soaring, curved roofs, and practise famously elaborate funeral rites. Bunaken, in North Sulawesi, is one of the world's most celebrated diving sites.

Kalimantan (Borneo)

Indonesia controls well over half of the vast island of Borneo, home of the Dayak people, many of whom still live in traditional longhouses in remote villages. The rainforests and rivers offer unique opportunities for adventure holidays. Banjarmasin, in South Kalimantan, has a network of canals and a picturesque floating market. Pangkalanbun is the gateway for the Tanjung Puting National Park.


One of the Lesser Sunda Islands, Komodo has given its name to its most famous inhabitants, the Komodo dragons, the world's largest species of lizard. It is also a noted diving destination.

Irian Jaya

The Indonesian half of New Guinea (sharing this huge island with independent Papua New Guinea) is a similarly wild land of mountainous rainforests, and home to remote and isolated tribes. It plays hosts the kind of rugged adventure holidays that might also be called expeditions.

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