The next Bali or the next Lombok is listed below.
If you are a tourist considering going to Bali to enjoy a quiet beach holiday, just forget it. Bali is ridiculously overcrowded and it is starting to look no different than Jakarta: Clogged with traffic, disorganized and polluted, it is far from the paradise it pretends to be.

The good news is there are 17,000 more islands to explore in Indonesia, with far better beaches and scenery. Sure, they require a bit more effort to visit and you may not find 5-star honeymoon resorts so easily. But once tourism will develop and change the authenticity of these islands, you will probably regret not making the trip earlier.

I selected 11 beautiful secret Indonesian islands that few people know of. They are located off Papua, Maluku, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Sumba or Borneo. Note that some of them are in fact small archipelagoes.

In case you are curious, the cover photo is from the Banyak Islands which are mentioned below (Photo Source: Vagabundinnen).

Taka Bonerate Islands
Photo Source: Ramadian Bachtiar
The Taka Bonerate Marine Park has 21 small islands and possesses the third largest atoll in the world. It is a paradise for divers from all over the world who can explore its 500km2 of corals. Sea turtles, cuttlefish, crocodile fish, eels and manta ray can be seen at almost every dive.

Its main island, Tinabo, is less than 2km long. It can be reach on a long day trip from Makassar via Selasar by boat.

Banyak Islands
Photo Source: Vagabundinnen
Part of the Aceh province, the Banyak Islands consists of several small islands, including Tuangku (the largest), Bangkaru and Palambak (depicted on the photo above). It is an alternative for surfers to the more "crowded" Nias or Mentawai Islands. With endless yellow-sand beaches, they are also great for adventure couples looking for privacy.

Widi Island 
Photo Source: Henry Wicaksono
Widi Island (or Weda) recently made national headlines after foreign investors from PT Leadership Island Indonesia agreed to disburse IDR 600,000,000,000 for the right to manage it for 35 years.

Located south of Halmahera in Maluku, the island is expected to become a center for ecotourism and diving activities. With crystal clear water and preserved coral, it could become one Indonesia's best diving destinations.

Menui Island
Photo Source: Itsarbolo
Menui Island is part of Morowali district in Central Sulawesi. Its name comes from "manu" which means "chicken" in Bugis language. One of its attractions is the Kumapa cave, a sacred place for residents who use it as a place for meditation. The island is still under-developed and most of it is covered with tropical jungle.

Kei Islands
Photo Source: Dagmarita
The Kei (or Kai) Islands is a small archipelago in Southeast Maluk. Kei Kecil and Kei Besar are its two most famous islands, reputed for their long unspoiled beaches and beautiful sunsets.

A new airport on Kei Kecil is now connecting the islands to Ambon. It is very likely that tourism will grow significantly in the coming years.

Pulau Maratua
Photo Source: fajaradiartha
A few hundred kilometers away from Malaysia, the U-shaped Pulau Maratua is one of 92 outlying Indonesian islands. Most people visiting it go for diving or snorkeling and sleep in the Maratua Paradise Resort made of cottages and bungalows built on stilts.

An airport is set to be inaugurated within the next few months. It will also serve nearby Islands like Derawan, Kakaban and Sangalaki.

Wakatobi Islands
Photo Source: Kristanto Adibuyung
The Wakatobi Islands are part of a Marine National Park which is made of four islands: Wangi Wangi (translated as the Fragrant Island), Kaledupa, Tomea and Binongko. They are part of the larger Tukangbesi Islands group in South Sulawesi.

Most high-end visitors go to the Wakatobi Diving Eco Resort and Spa on the small island of Onemobaa, off Tomea.

Pulau Karimata
Photo from Beingindonesian.com
Pulau Karimata is the main island of a small archipelago located 60km off the coast of Borneo. It is known for having exceptional biodiversity due to to its mountainous relief. Stretching 18 kilometers from east to west and 13 from south to north, it has a large population of cave swiftlets, an endemic species of bird famous for its nests made out of saliva. The nests are hunted and exported, causing a drop in the bird's population.

Pulau Banda Besar
Photo Source: Vagabundinnen
Banda Besar is the largest of the Banda Islands, an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in South Maluku. They have interested foreign nations for their spices (nutmeg and cloves) since 1512, when the Portuguese first visited them.

For this reason, Banda Besar has interesting historical and religious monuments. It is also possible to visit nutmeg plantations. Finally, following a short boat trip, you may enjoy a hike to the 666-meter high Gunung Api (volcano).

Numfor Island
Photo Source: Bowo MW
Noemfoor Island (or Numfor) is part of the Biak Islands, off the coast of Papua. It is actually famous among historians because it was the theater of a military battle between American and Japanese troops in 1944.

Today, Noemfoor has the potential of becoming a tourist hotspot with beautiful reef corals and some great white sand beaches (for instance Pakreki).

Halura or Salura Island


Photo Source: Ferdinand
Halura or Salura Island is a stunning island located off the Southern coast of Sumba. I spotted it several years ago and I believe it could become the next Gili Trawongan (Lombok).

The island is not inhabited, yet it is still absolutely virgin from tourism. It took me quite a long time to find an image and based on my research, it seems only two tourists have been there so far.

One of them is the travel blogger/adventurer Jalan Blog that I recommend you to follow if you speak Indonesian.

Salura Island has two smaller sister islands: Pulau Kotak and Pulau Mangkudu.

Conclusion
There are many more famous islands in Indonesia, particularly Nias, Belitung, Lombok, Flores, Komodo, Melawai, Bintan, Batam, Java or even the Raja Ampat, but I tried to focus on the lesser-known and the secret ones. 

Please share with me by commenting below if you think I should add a 12th island to this list.

14 comments to '' 11 Indonesian Islands You've Never Heard Of "

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  1. Nice list, but calling Batam a gorgeous island? Really? GTFO! Have you ever been there? Please don't inspire people to go there; there is nothing to do there and it is certainly not gorgeous in any way.

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    1. Haha good point, I made a small edit... Thanks!

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  2. very nice info. . . beautiful indonesia #proudtobeindonesian

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  3. Hi Thibaud, would it be possible to have a similar listing for getaway easily accessible from jakarta?

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    1. Hi it's a good idea but I'll need some time to write it as I would need to do some research first...

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  4. Hi Thibaud, you should include Belitung Island as the 12th. Located right side of South Sumatera, part of Bangka Belitung province. It's famous for island hopping trip, meteor stone beaches, and the shooting location of Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troops).

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    1. Hi Putri, Belitung is a beautiful island but it is already quite famous... I tried to put only the ones that are not famous or secret...

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  5. Have a look Una Una volcano TOGIAN ISLAND

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    1. Sumbawa Good Island To Visit?January 22, 2016 at 2:41 AM

      Is Sumbawa Island a great destination? Is the Island easy to access? I am kind of a volcano geek and I have seen that the Mount Tambora is located on this Island. Is the volcano by himself interesting to see or would you guys recommend other venues?

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  6. teluk kiluan (kiluan bay) in Lampung,Sumatera so wonderful too as dolphin route imigration on october-november

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  7. Replies
    1. I didn't know about those islands but I just had a look on Google... Wonderful!

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  8. Best secret island in Indonesia is Siau in North Sulawesi... You should check before it becomes crowded :-)

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  9. Wakatobi islands are not located in south sulawesi, Wakatobi is an archipelago in southeast sulawesi

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