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Last updated 3 January 2020
Best destinations Indonesia 2018
Ever wondered what it’s like to be on a group trip with a group of travel nuts? I’m not talking about a group of people who love to travel together on a trip every once and a while. Nor am I talking about group tours, where random people travel together for a period of time.
No, the group I’m referring to are those that have made travel their living, their job, their lifestyle! Writers, photographers, Youtubers, Vloggers, radio announcers, travel agents and all-round travel fanatics. Where taking photos of anything and everything is the accepted norm. Phew! It was great to be able to take a photo of my dinner without feeling bad!
This was my first time with such a group and it was amazing. Almost joined at the hip for an eight-day trip that can only be described as EPIC, we met each other at the Jakarta Airport to kick off the Indonesia Famil trip to some far-flung, remote Indonesian islands.
In amongst all of this, we managed to talk work, and do some work, and it was this experience that I valued the most. Spending time with so many travel enthusiasts, from different locations and generations, there was plenty of time to talk, learn and reflect on what I was doing and what I could do better.
We all got different things out of the trip, apart from being in beautiful destinations.
Here’s what some of my travel buddies had to say.
SKYE GILKESON from The Fit Traveller
Liang Beach (also known as Hunimua Beach), Ambon was an unexpected sweet surprise waiting for us on our last day in Maluku. We were captivated by the crystalline waters as we pulled in to park and caught sight of the coastline.
Our stroll quickly turned into a power walk as the trees parted and a sea of brilliant blue hues lapping at a white sandy stretch revealed itself. I was immediately transported back to the Maldives.
Fumbling for our cameras we start snapping quickly before grabbing some tubes to take to the water. The current is quick and carries you down the beach so we found ourselves paddling back and relaxing in the safety of the shallows.
Beware the banana boat, it travels very close to the shoreline.
Escaping the very hot midday sun, we retreated to the shade of the tree line. Seemingly, the only foreigners on the locally owned beach (expect to pay a small entry fee of about $AUD 5-10) families enjoying picnics just back from the sea wall whispered a shy “Hello” and asked us where we were from, as we wandered past. A few bravely came to chat and pose for pictures with us too.
There are a few small stalls selling fresh coconuts and snacks along the stretch, but no resort-style restaurants or bars. So pack your lunch and some water along with your hat, sunscreen, insect repellant and towels during your visit.
Liang Beach is just over an hour’s drive from Ambon town or 30 minutes from Natsepa Beach (where you will find the closest resort accommodation), but it is well worth the visit.
PAULA AND GORDON from Contented Traveller
My ffavouritemoment on the Sulawesi and Maluku Islands trip to Wonderful Indonesia, would have to be just wandering around the markets in the village of Haria, on Saparua Island. Not only was there the vibrancy that we love of a daily market place, there was music, people, smells of food cooking and lots of brightly colored houses, that is typical of the island. Throughout the village were a combination of mosques and churches, showing the happy co-existence of the people, of this incredibly beautiful island.
ANITA HENDRIEKA from Anita Hendrieka
The Prince John Dive Resort in Sulawesi has to be the ultimate location for a beachside resort. It is located on the tip of Palu Bay in Sulawesi, Indonesia and the secluded little beach where this resort lies is absolutely stunning.
Pristine waters, white sand beach and colourful buildings surround this remarkable spot away from the mass tourism in Bali. It’s the perfect place to chill on a sun lounge with a cold Bintang and enjoy the view that is in front of you.
If you get a chance make sure you look around the little village, the buildings are painted colourfully and the locals are really friendly. If you are looking for a creative gift then try and find the man who carves coconuts into peoples faces – they come with glasses, ear piercings and a smile!
SARAH O’FARRELL from Fit Travels
A great part of the trip to Sulawesi was finally meeting other bloggers I’d been following for a long time. Social media has created the wonderful perception of knowing someone without actually meeting them face to face. Conversation came quite easily as you’re already aware of where the bloggers have been or what they’ve been working on. These trips are a fantastic opportunity to meet like minded people, form friendships and share ideas. I knew about six of the bloggers ‘virtually’ on our recent trip to Sulawesi and it really was fantastic to enjoy a few Bintangs with this group!
JUB BRYANT from Tiki Touring Kiwi
When you live just 70km from the equator (as you do in Palu), being drenched in sweat isn’t unusual. Regardless, when the sun starts to set enjoying the outdoors becomes a whole lot easier
Arriving on the promenade our bus dominated the area and with 20 odd Westerners jumping off the bus we were a stand out. The promenade looks out to the inlet with the sun setting over the hills on the far side.
It truly felt like we were just hanging out, a few people came and talked to us, took photos, we talked. It was like we were mingling back home, comfortable.
The solo mangrove down the road captured my eye especially and walking down towards it was awesome. Saying hello to those chilling out on their motorbikes and on the way back dinner time was approaching with street stalls popping up ready to serve their favourite customers.
I think we were there for 40 minutes or so. It was an awesome 40 minutes full of small moments I’ll always remember.
One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Jub travels with a focus on hiking, sporting events and health. He’s also a really cool Snapchatter.
PERLIN EARTH from Perlin’s Adventure Blog
Perlin is a travel vlogger, photographer and youtuber who travels the world searching for freedom, fun and adventure.
TOM NEAL TACKER from Naked Hungry Traveller
Tangkoko National Park is home to two endangered primates that are surprisingly easy to spot when accompanied by an expert guide.
If you want to get up close and personal with one of the world’s smallest monkeys, the Tarsier, or follow a troupe of Crested Black Macaques through jungle to a remote black sand beach, this is the place.
The park is located on the southern side of the peninsula opposite Manado (approximately two hours drive over steep and narrow mountain roads) and represents a good news story about the preservation of two endangered indigenous species.
Tarsiers are small and cute. For that, they are often snared from forests to keep as house pets.
Crested Black Macaques are larger primates with sharp teeth and aggressive body language. Be wary of approaching macaques, don’t touch; they bite and rabies is a problem.
Consequently ,they haven’t gained local acceptance as house pets like Tarsiers but they do occasionally appear on butcher’s blocks in Manado’s central market as ‘bush meat’. The Minahasan have a reputation for eating everything but the table leg and local wildlife suffers for ignorant appetites.
Tangkoko National Park may be small but it’s densely forested and supports a few thriving troupes of Crested Black Macaques. I thought my chance of spotting one in the wild was akin to winning second prize in a beauty contest but was delighted to wander amongst a troupe of at least 30 macaques in the jungle’s gloaming light.
A Tarsier on the other hand is mostly nocturnal (those huge eyes can easily spot moths, small lizards and other insects) and is about as easy to find as a green needle in the rainforest.
Tangkoko also supports a stable population of reptiles, reticulated pythons and green vipers included; something to remember while traipsing around the jungle in dim moonlight. Mosquitoes also thrive in Tangkoko’s humid climate. Remember to bring repellent.
Birdlife is also abundant. Two species of hornbills live in Tangkoko, spectacularly impressive birds whose presence accounts for much of Sulawesi’s inbound tourism; it’s a twitcher’s dream destination.
Contact local guide Noldi Kakauhe for individual tours around Tangkoko and other national parks in Sulawesi. He’s a wildlife expert, experienced naturalist, speaks good English and a nice guy: infoatendemic-tours.com or noldikakauheatgmail.com
Tom is the Executive Editor at Naked Hungry Travellers and shares his stories in an honest, perfectly articulated manner. Look out for him on his Facebook page too.
HELENA KREIS from Through an Aussie’s Eyes
The Waruga Stones are one of the ‘must sees’ in Manado for any history buff. These little stone like houses are a type of sarcophagus that date back to the 9th century. The warugas were even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1995.
Originally the warugas were located all over North Sulawesi but it was feared that they were behind disease outbreaks (such as typhoid and cholera) so they were all collected and assembled in this one area. The Dutch eventually banned the waruga in 1828 and the locals were then forced to start using coffins.
The process for putting the dead in the waruga is quite a simple one. Firstly, the dead were wrapped in woka which is a type of leaf from a palm. The bodies were then placed inside the stone structures facing north in a kneeling position. Unfortunately, like most cemeteries, most of the waruga have been looted for all of their valuable contents. They have little notches in the side of the roof that indicates how many bodies are inside. The warugas really are quite beautiful. In stark contrast to the feeling of the cemetery around you, local children full of life run out to meet you and sit on the wall to watch you.
NINA RAGUSA from Where in the World is Nina?
Exotic tropical fish, vivid and lively coral, and a gorgeous boat ride around the open sea… Who would need convincing to go out for a day like this? Not me! Bunaken Island features exceptional snorkelling just off its sandy coastlines. Likuan Reef is the area I got to play ma ermaid in, and let me say, this is some of the best snorkelling I’ve seen in the last five years I’ve been snorkelling around Southeast Asia! Not to mention the constant beauty you’re surrounded by when you’re lounging on the boat. The breeze whipping through my hair, the memorising schools of colourful fish gathering beneath me and the vastness of the clear blue sea on this day will be etched in my memory forever. You should certainly add this spot to your Sulawesi itinerary!
Nina is an American, currently living in Australia, following her dreams of a nomadic lifestyle. Having just moved to Darwin from Melbourne, there’s plenty more adventures in store for her. Here’s where you can stay in touch – Instagram and Facebook.
What a great bunch of people I got to spend time with! (and these are only some of them!)
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my time in Indonesia. These, and the stories above highlight some of the best (and largely unknown) locations you should consider visiting in Indonesia.
Thinking you should add this to your travel plans? Why not pin this to your travel boards for later!