Indonesia: Her best islands
An archipelagic state is recognized by the UN as a unified, national territory that includes both land and water areas. As an archipelagic nation, the waters that surround and connect all the islands of the nation are designated as the internal waterways of the particular country. This recognition gives countries the right to have autonomous control over its waters.
Which are the best islands of Indonesia?
Beyond the island resort paradise of Bali, there are many gems in Indonesia that are far more pristine and, arguably, superior in natural beauty. Sailing eastwards from Bali is akin to leaving civilisations last frontier, with nature taking over starting with the Komodo Islands and Moyo Island.
Here, as you enter the heart of the Earth’s Coral Triangle, creatures of the sea, such as manta rays and whale sharks begin to thrive in ever greater numbers as they greet divers and snorkelers. Komodo National Park, in particular, boasts arguably the most spectacular volcanic-sculpted coastal scenery in the world, along the terrific beaches, diving and snorkeling.
Continue Eastwards past the islands of Komodo National Park and you’ll sail the length of Flores, an island home to the striking multicolored volcanic lakes of Kelimutu, which the Aqua Blu explores twice yearly on its limited cross-destination itineraries. Flores is the gateway to the aptly-named Forgotten Islands, a chain of remote islands where hammerhead sharks are more frequently sighted than humans and home to amazingly soulful and welcoming Abui tribe.
As we reach the last of the Forgotten Islands, the land and sea take on a mysteriously geometrical curvature northwards, as if tracing an archer’s bow. Called the Banda arc, this curvature is the result of the collision between a Ring of Fire volcanic arc and the Australian continental margin. This is the explorer’s natural waypoint to the legendary Banda Islands, also called the Spice Islands.
Appearing to be completely suspended in time, stepping onto the Banda Islands is a feeling unlike any other. This was the epicenter of the global spice trade in the 16th and 17th century, and relics of yesteryear, such as the imposing Dutch fortification Fort Belgica, still guard the island along with an active volcano.
Covered in mostly intact rainforest, the explorer begins to witness an immense proliferation of wildlife both on land and underwater. Little surprise because, above land, is where species from Asia and Australasia have intermingled for millennia, creating truly unique species that was the subject of fascination for the famed naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.
Finally, as we approach the northwestern corner of Indonesia, the visual splendor of Raja Ampat islands comes into full view. Sitting at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, this region boasts the world’s largest collection of marine life, as well as unique species of birds of paradise.
Undecided on the best islands in Indonesia? Explore our destinations: Komodo National Park, Ambon & Spice Islands, and Raja Ampat