Be a surf bum on Bali
The epic reef breaks of Uluwatu, Padang Padang and Bingin have lured surfers from all corners of the globe to Bali since the 1970s. Back then, the island was largely untouched by tourism. These days, with an international airport within coo-ee of the waves, the most popular breaks are always packed with a small army of Australian, Brazilian, American and local surfers. Still, with warm water and perfect coral-reef barrels, Bali remains a surfer’s paradise.
Dive into the capital
At first glance the Indonesian capital of Jakarta can seem like a smog-choked concrete jungle, but spend a little time here and you’ll fast come to recognise its charms. A wild array of restaurants offering the best of Indonesia’s varied cuisine from around the archipelago combine with a fascinating dock district that is well worth exploring and markets that rival those of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
Drop off the radar on Lombok
Lombok is a low-key island situated east of Bali that remains a sleepy, peaceful getaway from the chaos of its western neighbour. Rice paddies line the roads and farmers still plough the land, while the hardest decision a visitor has to make is whether to have banana pancakes or fresh fruit salad for breakfast, and which beach to take a dip at to cool off from the ever-present equatorial sunshine.
Visit prehistoric Sumatra
The island of Nias, off northern Sumatra, was home to head hunting tribes as recently as the 1980s. While lopping off skulls is discouraged now, the island remains a treasure trove for intrepid travellers keen to check out this ancient culture, while exploring the island’s verdant rainforests, surfing the world-class waves or diving on brilliant coral reefs.