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Made up of an incredible 17,504 islands spread across over 700,000 square miles, Indonesia is a hugely diverse country, a place of many contrasts. If there’s one thing that defines the islands, it’s the beauty of natural landscape, from white sand, practically deserted beaches, to lush forests and orderly rice paddies. From the USA, it’s one of the farthest places in the world to travel - with an average flight time of over 20 hours from the East Coast. Most flights land in Denpasar, on the island of Bali - and while direct flights do exist you should be prepared to change at least once, with a possible overnight layover. From there you can head to your final destination, be it Bali, Lombok, Java, or elsewhere. The journey may be long, but the reward of exploring a truly unique destination awaits you.
With miles of golden beaches and pristine water, Bali has been attracting serious surfers since the early 1970s, after the release of the iconic surf movie Morning of the Earth. Uluwatu beach, in the south west of the island, is perhaps the most famous of all Bali’s surf beaches, and if definitely one of the most popular. The waves here are big and suited to people with some experience. For beginners, Seminyak or Kuta beaches make a great choice (the two are close to each other) - the waves are smaller and there are lifeguards on duty.
On Lombok, the waves may be a little smaller, but the beaches are quieter, which makes it a great destination for novices looking to improve with plenty of room to do it. The most popular spots are Kuta and Mawi - Kuta works for beginners and intermediates and Mawi is best suited to experienced riders. If you’re lucky you’ll get to surf Desert Point while you’re on the island. The wave, once voted the best in the world, only appears a few times a year under certain weather conditions and has big-name surfers flocking across the world to ride whenever it appears. Remember, Luxury Retreats can organize gear rental and surf lessons across the islands!
Once at the center of the worldwide spice trade, the islands of Indonesia are world-famous for their unique spices (nutmeg was first discovered on Indonesia’s Banda Islands) and delicious cuisine. One of the best ways to learn more about the country is through its food - especially its street food. Whether you’re visiting Bali, Lombok or Sumba foodies should seek head straight for one of the many warungs on the islands - street-side cafes specializing in local dishes. Different regions have different specialties, so ask for recommendations before you order. If you can, try sate lilit - pork or fish served on a lemongrass skewer, flavored with coconut milk, lemon, and chili, or nasi campur, which can be any number of filings, from tuna to tofu to beef, served over rice and wrapped in a banana leaf. Often you won't know what the filling is until you open the parcel, so vegetarians should check before tucking in.
While many Indonesian islands are Muslim in heritage, Bali’s cultural heritage has been handed down through the Hindu tradition, while yet other islands have Christian and Buddhist practices. This makes for a beguiling mix of cultures, which can be seen across the islands in their art and temples.
Beautiful temples abound on Bali, and you’ll come across them in every part of the island. One of the most famous, and on many traveler’s bucket lists, is Pura Tanah Lot (Pura means temple), which is perched on a picturesque rock just off the coast near Denpasar. The temple is built in the honor of the sea god and is one of seven temples dotted around the coastline. It’s very popular with tourists so almost certain to be busy, but that does not take away from its beauty, especially at sunset.
Another must visit for many tourists is Ubud monkey forest, where hundreds of monkeys roam around the grounds of the three temples within the complex. While it’s a very cute sight to see so many monkeys at once, be aware they are very used to people and can become a nuisance if you have food on you. If you do visit, avoid carrying food, keep your wits about you and enjoy the unique spectacle!
Perhaps the most well known of Indonesia’s islands, Bali is the starting point for many visitors heading to the archipelago, and of course an extraordinary destination in its own right.
Our Bali villas are in some of the island’s most sought-after locations - including Canggu, Seminyak, and Ubud. Many homes are built in the traditional style, with separate sleeping and living pavilions dotted across the property. All have swimming pools and many also offer beach access. If you want to try your hand and Indonesian cooking, we can organize cooking classes in your villa, or if you want to come home to dinner on the table, your chef will be happy to whip up a feast for you.
Quiet and relaxed with beautiful scenery - from rugged mountains to wide beaches, Lombok invites you to truly get away from it all, but still enjoy the bustle of island life.
With private chefs, infinity pools, and beach access, our Lombok villas will have you in vacation mode in no time. Sleeping up to 12 people, if you’re planning a group getaway, we have some great options on the island.
Sparsely populated, with thatched villages dotted across a pristine landscape of swaying palms and papaya trees, Sumba feels like going back to a simpler time. If you’re dreaming of getting off the beaten path, you’ll be happy here.
Our luxury Sumba accommodation options include houses built in the traditional Indonesian style, with thatched roofs and separate sleeping pavilions, and even homes built on stilts. With infinity pools and beautiful views of the ocean or the lush interior landscape, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the island.