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Sunset on Gili Air. Terry Chapman / Creative Commons

The Lesser Sunda Islands lie strung out like pearls along the eastern Indian Ocean. The islands’ most valuable possessions, the islands of Bali, Lombok and Flores, serve as stops along a marine road connecting the Sundas’ stunning natural wonders.

The island of Bali is Indonesia’s gateway to the Lesser Sunda Islands, and serves as the launch point of a seagoing cruise to Lombok and Flores. Ferries along Amed Beach on the eastern coast of Bali cross the deep Lombok strait to venture to various points east, among them:

The Gili Islands: located off the northwest coast of Lombok, the islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air represent a throwback to a simpler time, with no motorized transportation and unspoiled white-sand beaches fringing bucolic villages and verdant jungles. Diving, snorkeling, kayaking and partying after dark at Gili Trawangan are the Gili Islands’ most popular activities; go with the flow.

Senaru, North Lombok: a traditional village housing the indigenous Sasak also serves as the starting point to a scenic trek up to the crater of Gunung Rinjani, the second-highest mountain in Indonesia and the dominant peak on Lombok. The Segara Anak lake is the highlight of the trek, a crescent-shaped crater lake with a surprising bright-blue color.

Senggigi, West Lombok: Lombok’s main tourist stop is well-known for its scenic beaches.
Mataram: the largest city and cultural heart of Lombok provides a glimpse into the history and culture of the Sasak and Balinese peoples of the island.

Sumbawa. This island east of Lombok dominates a series of less explored islets awaiting adventurers venturing off the beaten maritime path. When you’re done surfing, diving, or taking the two-day trek up Mount Tambora, visit Pulau Satonda for its rare saltwater lake, or follow in Princess Diana’s footsteps by retreating to Moyo Island.

Komodo National Park. Home to the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo National Park can be reached  by boat from the Flores port of Labuan Bajo. Hike through Rinca and Komodo Islands to meet the Komodo dragons on their own turf, then retreat to the Komodo Island’s pink-sand beach to get some sun. The diving around the Komodo Islands is, to put it simply, divine.


Senggigi Beach. Image courtesy of the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism.


Senggigi Beach. Image courtesy of the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism.


Gunung Rinjani from the sea. Image courtesy of the Indonesia Ministry of Tourism.

Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
For other beach-based adventures in Southeast Asia, take your pick from these amazing sand-and-sea adventures: Langkawi in Malaysia; El Nido in the Philippines; Ngapali Beach in Myanmar; and Thailand’s Phuket and Koh Samui.