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Published on July 23, 2014

One needs a glossary to describe the richness of that vast Archipelago called Indonesia, ranging from immense, lush and impressive to stunning, secluded and extraordinary. It has an abundance of natural and cultural resources to which the country attaches great importance. Hence, Indonesia’s tourism development, based on the Tourism Act, specifies that it should be sustainable and mindful of the environment and social-cultural and economic aspects of the local populations, while supporting the conservation of wildlife, nature and culture.

One of the biggest advantages of this policy and the enormous landmass – equalling that of all other ASEAN countries, save Myanmar – is that huge swathes of the country are sparsely visited. Most of the around 9 million tourists flock to the well known destinations of Java and Bali (Indonesia’s tourism heart), but out of the ordinary islands like Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Kalimantan are much lesser known and visited; let alone Maluka and Papua. Thus, despite a significant number of close to 10 million tourists annually, the country offers numerous opportunities for the uninitiated and old hands alike to experience encounters with unique natural and cultural attractions in little known locations.

Moreover, those remote attractions, made accessible by domestic airlines, allows for partnering with mundane soft adventure activities, such as cycling, snorkelling and elephant trekking. Although it’s easy to tick off the whole gamut of soft adventures (like white water rafting, caving, wild life safari, diving and surfing, next to the aforementioned) on one Indonesia’s main island Java, in this article a few appetizing off the beaten track prospects are unveiled as well.

Map of Indonesia’s Archipelago. Source:

Take snorkelling for example. It certainly would be a highlight for many to do so in the translucent waters of the laid-back ‘Tropical Islands Getaways’ of Lombok (Gili Terawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air),

Snorkelling at Gili Meno Island, Lombok Source:

but a dream come true when done on the relatively isolated Banda Islands (Maluku), in pristine azure waters among colourful untouched coral gardens. ‘Sublime’ would be a fitting description.

A view of the Banda Islands, Maluka Source http://media-cache/

How about trekking? Any distant places to go? Surely, even on Java. Indonesia’s first National Park (Ujung Kalon) is also the island’s most out-of-the-way places. It’s not often visited by tourists, despite housing the endangered one-horn Javan Rhino.

The Java Rhino. Source:

Not far enough? Sumatra then; either on stunning Samosir Island (in the north) or at Haruau Valley (in the West). Samosir is situated in the huge crater lake of Toba, one of the world’s awesome natural wonders (45km x 20km). The island, together with its surrounding areas is the heart of the Toba Batak culture. Once a backpackers’ paradise, nowadays it is visited by a handful of tourists only. A trek to the many traditional villages along its shoreline is recommended. It is also geared towards swimming, biking and motorcycling.

Biking in Indonesia Source:

Danau Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia


Mountain trekking to witness the fascinating sunrise can be accomplished on Mt. Bromo, while the active Merapi volcano lends itself to a rewarding trek as well (East Java).

Diving could be undertaken on many islands, but would be a refreshing experience around Komodo, home to the famous Komodo Dragons.

A caving adventure is waiting at Yogya; the name for it, ‘The Deep Jomblang Vertical’ speaks for itself and is not for the faint-hearted.

Cave diving at Jomblang, East Java Source:

Tubing takes place down the Elo river of Central Java; white water rafting a/o down the Pekalen River (East Java) and at Sukabumi (West Java), which offers opportunities for caving, camping, trekking and surfing.

Finally, an interesting variant of white-water rafting can be found on Kalimantan. At Tanjung Puting National Park, you can indulge in bamboo rafting at the end of your Orang-utans tour across the Park, renowned for its primates the world over; canoeing  is another option.

For exotically packaged Soft Adventure, go to Indonesia, where dreams come true on a daily basis[1]

For elaborated information on soft and extreme adventures, see:, Indonesia’s official tourism website; special thanks to Ms Tuti Sunario, its website editor, for her valuable contributions to this article, including the following links:

Trekking and Cycling


Mountain Climbing

White water rafting and Caving

Wildlife on Land and in the sea

Snorkelling and Diving