Eight Things to Do in Indonesia
Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia, is home to some of the most captivating and pristine attractions the world has ever seen. Innumerable treasures hide within more than 17,500 islands and rich underwater kingdoms, making this the ultimate holiday destination.
Navigating the seas of East Indonesia aboard Aqua Expeditions’ luxury yacht Aqua Blu is nothing short of extraordinary, opening our eyes to its cultural riches and natural wonders. Here are our top eight experiences you should definitely not miss on your Indonesia cruise – many of which you can encounter while voyaging aboard Aqua Blu.
1) Discovering the Underwater World of Raja Ampat
There is no doubt Raja Ampat is one of the world’s prime locations for diving and snorkeling, making it a bucket-list destination for nature and sea loving travelers. Located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, the region with the richest marine biodiversity on earth, it comprises 1,711 species of reef fish, over 600 species of coral (around 75 percent of the world’s total), and 17 species of whales and dolphins.
Be prepared to dive with majestic sea creatures such as Oceanic and Reef manta rays (Raja Ampat is the only known place on earth that is home to both species of manta), the endangered hawksbill turtles, and uncommon species such as the gentle dugong and mysterious pygmy seahorses.
Not to be missed: The astounding marine diversity of Cape Kri in the Dampier Strait, holding the world record of fish species recorded on one 90-minute dive (347 species).
2) Visiting the Borobudur and Prambanan Temples in Java
Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites located on the island of Java, near Yogyakarta. A popular tourist attraction, and center of Buddhist pilgrimage in Indonesia, Borobudur was built in the 8th and 9th century during the Sailendra dynasty. It is an astounding example of Buddhist architecture with the largest collection of Buddha statues on earth (504 statues), with its impressive structure designed in the shape of a pyramid over three levels, portraying the path to enlightenment.
Around 18 kilometres northeast of Yogykarta lies another spectacular structure, the Hindu temple complex of Prambanan. Built less than 100 years after Borobudur, it exemplifies the shifting of Javanese dynasties from Buddhism to Hinduism. Prambanan is dedicated to the Trimurti of Hinduism: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. Its undoubtable highlight is Candi Shiva Mahadeva which is the central and tallest (47 meter) compound dedicated to Shiva.
Not to be missed: The beautiful stone carvings unveiling the Ramayana epic throughout the Shiva temple’s inner walls.
3) Immersing in the Arts and Culture of Ubud
Ubud is regarded as the artistic and cultural heart of Bali. Its many restaurants, cafes, boutique shops, art galleries, spas and yoga studios attract visitors from all over the world in search of experiencing the mystical Balinese lifestyle and zen-like atmosphere. The surrounding rice terraces (Tegallalang being the most famous and touristy, located just 10-kilometres away from Ubud center, although the more rural ones get our vote), with their lush green panoramas, make for a beautiful and calming view, as well as a great spot for dream-worthy Instagram photos.
Among the must-see art displays in Ubud is the Blanco Renaissance Museum, showcasing over 300 works of renowned artist Antonio Blanco, the Puri Lukisan museum covering the many styles of Balinese art, and the Neka Art museum which offers a high-quality collection of classical and contemporary Indonesian paintings as well as art pieces by Bali-influenced foreign artists.
Not to be missed: A visit to the Gaya ceramics showroom for handmade and luxurious pottery that combines Italian design with local artisanal craftmanship.
4) Swimming with Gentle Whale Sharks
Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, and one of the most anticipated animal sightings in the world. Measuring an average of 39 feet (12 m) long, whale sharks are considered the gentle giants of the sea as they are friendly and docile creatures that filter feed off small organisms such as krill, plankton and tiny shrimp, thus posing no threat to humans. Quite the opposite, their tranquil and slow motions make swimming or snorkeling with them a true joy – just make sure you stay a little further off while they are feeding as the suction of their colossal gaping mouths is powerful.
There are selected hotspots where encounters with the endangered whale sharks are possible in Indonesia. In fact, the Indo-Pacific region is home to three-fourths of the global whale shark population.
Not to be missed: Swimming responsibly with whale sharks in Saleh Bay as part of Aqua Blu’s cruise itinerary in Komodo National Park.
5) A Stroll through the History of the Spice Islands
The Maluku Islands in Eastern Indonesia were given the name ‘Spice Islands’ in the 16th century because of their significance as the only source of nutmeg and mace in the world, becoming the holy grail for Old World explorers during their early ventures in Asia. Nutmeg, which was once worth more than its weight in gold, sparked a period of conflict between European forces fighting to retain the monopoly of the islands, thus on the nutmeg trade.
Nowadays, visitors setting foot on the Spice Islands can be transported back in time as they explore centuries-old relics, from Dutch fortifications and colonial homes to ancient cannons scattered around the island.
Not to be missed: A visit to the imposing Fort Belgica on Banda Neira, built-in 1611 by the Dutch East India Company, offering magnificent sunset views from its hilltop location overlooking Neira’s Bay.
6) Observing the Changing Colors of Kelimutu Volcano Lakes
The multi-colored caldera lakes of Kelimutu volcano are the only ones of its kind in the world. Their color variations which can go from white to turquoise, blue, brown, or even black, are caused by the chemical reactions of minerals in the lake and volcanic gases. This is an unpredictable phenomenon, which means visitors will not know what they will find. In 2016, the lakes were reported to have changed colors six times.
Located in Kelimutu National Park in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, it is the second national park on Flores designated to protect endangered species, including endemic creatures such as the Wallacea owl (named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace) and the Floresian Eagle. The twisting road to the summit winds through incredible forests and crisscrosses mountain streams, making the trek up an adventure in itself.
Not to be missed: An exclusive 12-night Aqua Blu expedition from Flores to Spice Islands (Labuan Bajo to Ambon) to see this phenomenon, available in October.
7) Exploring Komodo National Park
Although the famous Komodo Dragon — the world’s largest reptile and strongest predator of its species — is what most appeals to visitors seeking for a Jurassic Park experience, Komodo National Park offers a great number of nature-based attractions across its rugged terrains of dry savannah, hills, bays and beaches. The park comprises 29 islands, with the three largest Komodo, Padar and Rinca, each offering treasures awaiting to be discovered.
Established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, the park is home to a diversity of wildlife, and is especially rich in marine life including rare species such as the dugong, making it an excellent diving location.
Not to be missed: Pink Beach on Komodo Island – one of only seven of its kind in the world. Characterized by its soft pink hue resulting from tiny fragments of red corals blending in with the white sand, this natural beauty is certainly something to write home about.
8) Trekking in Waigeo Island
You have probably seen images of this remote island paradise even if the name may not be familiar. Waigeo is the largest of Raja Ampat’s four main islands (Four Kings), known for its lush tropical rainforest and mangrove-fringed bays rich in biodiversity. Trekking through the island provides countless opportunities for rewarding wildlife encounters with rare species such as the endemic red bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rubra). There are only two places on earth where you can spot this majestic bird: Waigeo and Batanta. Famous for its beautiful colored feathers and peculiar courtship dance, this species is one of the most celebrated examples of the theory of sexual selection developed by Charles Darwin.
At the heart of the island lies Mayalibit, a large bay that almost separates the island in two parts. Named after the Maya tribe, the original inhabitants of Waigeo, it offers beautiful landscapes of limestone hills and hidden waterways.
Not to be missed: A magical swim in the gently flowing cerulean waters of the hidden Kali Biru (Blue River) in Mayalibit.
Aqua Blu itineraries have been crafted by a team of expert explorers to include the best and most authentic off-the-beaten-track experiences in Indonesia. 2021 all-inclusive voyages start from US$ 8, 295 per person. Click here to begin your adventure with us!