Cruising and archipelagos. They go together like wine and cheese, fish and chips, cake and birthdays (you get the idea). And as an archipelago made up of more than 17,000 exceptionally diverse islands, there’s no better way to see all of Indonesia’s dazzling treasures than on a cruise.
For many, their knowledge of Indonesia begins and ends with Bali, but this gorgeous island chain is so much more than just beach parties, yoga retreats, surf spots and jungle views (though that in itself is pretty fantastic). Indonesia is also volcanoes and stunning waterfalls, Komodo dragons and sea turtles; it’s a fascinating variety of languages, cultures, people and (delicious) foods. Not to mention, it’s an adventure-lover’s paradise.
With so many treasures strewn between the Indian and Pacific Ocean, the best way to experience it is by boat. Here’s what else you’ll get on an adventure cruise of Indonesia:
1. You’ll have secluded islands and beaches all to yourself
It’s no secret the beaches in Bali are stunning. But with nearly five million visitors descending on their palm-fringed shores each year, they can also get pretty crowded. With so many other islands in the archipelago, there’s no shortage of alternative beaches to choose from – you just need to know where to go. We can’t go past Keramat and Saringi, two tiny adjacent islands east of Lombok that will take your breath away. With their white sand beaches and turquoise waters brimming with coral reefs and vibrant marine life, the views are truly spectacular – both above and below water.
2. You can swim in a crater lake…
Satonda is another breathtaking island that not many venture to, but will leave you in awe (expect that to happen a lot in Indonesia). A large crater lake covers most of the island (formed by a flooded volcano), with verdant hills surrounding it. Few can resist taking a dip in its salty waters. If you’re feeling more active, a walking trail takes you to a lookout for picture-worthy panoramic views.
Rumour has it the trees surrounding the lake have the power to grant wishes, but there’s a catch – you have to come back and thank the island if your wish comes true. After spending some time on this island paradise, we doubt you’ll have a hard time with that.
3. … and beneath a waterfall
Another hard-to-reach-gem (notice a trend here) is Moyo Island, known for its serene natural beauty and gorgeous waterfalls. Unspoiled and covered in forest, Moyo is home to an incredible array of animals and birds, including deer, wild pigs and macaques. If you’re in the mood for a pretty magical experience, enjoy a swim in the pool beneath the spectacular Diwe Mbai waterfall.
4. Drop anchor and snorkel wherever you like
Indonesia just happens to be one of the best dive and snorkel destinations in the world, home to clear waters, more than 20% of the world’s coral reefs, colourful fish and marine life, and some fascinating shipwrecks. One of the perks of getting around on an adventure cruise is that the schedule is flexible – meaning if we stumble upon a good snorkel spot while cruising between destinations, there’s nothing stopping us from dropping anchor for a quick dip (weather permitting, of course). All Intrepid’s adventure cruising ships are kitted out with snorkel equipment, so you don’t need to worry packing your own. Whether you’ve been exploring underwater terrains for years or it’s your first time slapping on a mask, you’ll be amazed by Indonesia’s underwater treasures.
5. There are plenty of opportunities to get active
Indonesia’s diverse landscape is tailor-made for adventure. You can cycle through rice paddies and lush countryside in Lombok. Climb volcanic mountains etched with hiking trails at sunrise. Catch a wave at one of Bali’s many surf beaches, go white water rafting in Ubud, or explore jungles and caves.
Another perk of travelling on an adventure cruise – in addition to snorkel equipment, all ships also have stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, fishing equipment and a knowledgeable crew who can help you use the gear and ensure you make the most of your time in this memorable archipelago.
6. Here be dragons
The closest you’ll get to seeing a dragon in the flesh, Komodo dragons are in fact the world’s largest lizard. And they’re only found in a handful of islands in Indonesia. While most tourists go dragon-spotting on Komodo Island, we prefer Rinca, which is less touristy, less staged and more natural. Spend a day searching for these surprisingly playful creatures with a local guide, who can also help calm any nerves and dispel any myths (no, they don’t breathe fire).
7. Experience local culture…
Unlike most cruises (which tend to be all about life on the ship), adventure cruising is more focussed on the destination. That means we make a point of getting to know local communities and cultures as we hop between islands. On Intrepid’s 8-day adventure cruise, your stop at Moyo Island includes a guided tour of a local village. You’ll also meet a sarong weaver in Bangsal, who’ll teach you the age-old techniques still used to make this traditional Indonesian garment. You’ll also hike through rice paddies to get a sense of rural life, and visit the oceanside Hindu temple, Pura Batu Bolong, in Lombok for a small taste of Indonesia’s extraordinary diversity.
8. … and amazing food
Bali, or more specifically Ubud, has long been a mecca for vegetarians and vegans, due to their abundance of fresh, healthy and delicious food. Dishes are so colourful and flavourful, even the most steadfast carnivore will be satisfied. From satay to sambal, fiery curries and countless variations of rice and noodle dishes, food across the archipelago is varied, usually served at room temperature and will have you restlessly waiting for the next appropriate time to eat. Since we firmly believe food is an important part of travel, meals on board your ship are tailored to reflect Indonesian flavours. And for a classic island experience, Intrepid’s Indonesian cruise includes a tasty barbeque feast on a secluded beach! What could be better than that?
Ready to discover Indonesia’s incredible islands? Book your spot on Intrepid’s 8-day Indonesian Island Adventure Cruise now!
Feature image by aleskolodej, Shutterstock.