Indonesia Pictures: Bali, Sulawesi

Kecak performance on Padang Padang beach, Bali, Indonesia map

A  Kecak performance on Padang Padang beach to celebrate the opening of an international surfing competition. Bukit Peninsula, Bali, Indonesia Pictures. Bali beaches pictures.

Indonesia Pictures, best places

Seminyak beach, Bali, Indonesia

Seminyak beach, Bali.

Kuta and Legian are the island’s most famous beaches but quite dull with muddy-colored water, though large. We choose the beaches at Sanur in the northeast and those on the Bukit peninsula further south as the best beaches in Bali for swimming as well as surfing.

Ubud main street, Bali, Indonesia

Ubud’s main street at most times of day, Bali, Indonesia

Bali is Indonesia’s most touristic island but the chill-out ambience is  disappearing under a tsunami of uncontrolled concrete, cables and cars, replacing spirituality with greed, temples with mega hotels, festivals with raves and terraced rice fields with car parks.

However, some classic Bali attractions are still in place. Big, warm beaches,  surf and not surf, grumbling volcanoes, decent cuisine at decent prices (apart from wine which is over-priced), art, dance, music  and still friendly people in spite of the endless traffic jams.

For culture vultures the Ubud area still resonates, even if it has been hit hard by concrete and traffic overload. Still, there are things to see and do around there. Ubud Pictures

Monkey Forest, Ubud, Indonesia

Ubud’s Monkey Forest, Bali, Indonesia. Ubud Photos

Visit Java

Borobudur, Java, Indonesia

Java’s main attraction, the spectacular temple, statues and carvings of Borobudur, Indonesia. Photo by Uwe Aranas.

Muslim Java is altogether busier and less beautiful, particularly the unattractive capital of Jakarta, though Borobudur is worth an effort to see, the tea plantations are luscious and calming while Jogjakarta (also known as Yogyakarta, Yogya and Jogja) offers the best displays of Javanese culture, arts and traditions though it suffered badly in an earthquake a few years ago.

Visit Tana Torajah, Sulawesi

A traditional Tana Torajah village, Sulawesi, Indonesia

A traditional Sulawesi village, with menhirs.

For real, off-planet oddity check out Sulawesi island’s pastoral life in Tana Toraja, strange homes, wacky funeral ceremonies and curious burial systems.

The Tana Toraja (Toraja Land) area of Indonesia’s Sulawesi island looks like a picture postcard of nature’s Ideal Home. Terraced rice fields carpet the ground, limestone cliffs form the walls and winged, bamboo-thatched buildings on stilts provide the exotic decor. Each village encompasses one extended family, mostly Christian but with some added and very curious Animistic beliefs that come to life during their  expensive, extended, extraordinary funerals.

Sulawesi Diving

Sulawesi also offers the adventurous tourist volcanoes, waterfalls, caves and a huge bio-diversity on both land and water and some claim this island and its 6,000 km coastline of abyssal trenches and sheer drop-offs near the coast is home to the best diving in the world. 

Strong currents rise from the ocean depths, bringing nutrient-rich water close to shore. This creates one of the most beautiful coral environments in the world which, together with the amazing array of macro-life, are the main draws that prompt many loyal scuba divers to return frequently to dive in Sulawesi year after year.

What’s more, the coral reefs and walls are generally found close to the shoreline of the main island and the shores of the sprinkling of smaller islands that lie in the bays formed by Sulawesi’s protective finger-like peninsulas. This makes the island well suited to resort stays since accommodations have excellent access to the dive sites. The plethora of properties on the tourist market makes finding affordable and great value-for-money places to stay a cinch.

Read more about Sulawesi Diving

Visit Kalimantan

The top of Mount Kinabalu in Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia

The top of Mount Kinabalu in Kalimantan (part on Indonesian Borneo). Kinabalu is a tough but popular climb. Photo by Lotte Mae.

Making up 2/3 of Borneo island (Malaysia and tiny Brunei control 1/3), Kalimantan is a large but little-touristed mass of mountains, wild rivers, primitive cultures, curious beasts and tropical forests, though the last three have been under attack for decades by Indonesia’s illegal logging and mining industries.

When is best to travel Indonesia?

The best time to be in tropical Indonesia is in the dry season April – September. Other months may have rains, wind, rough seas, sea-weedy sand and oppressive humidity.