Indonesia's Best Secret Islands and Beaches

Photo of Edira Putri
1 April 2021

With a whopping 17,000-plus islands, Indonesia is always presenting new destinations on the tourism map. Discover the archipelago’s secret islands and beaches not yet in the spotlight.

Islands and beaches are naturally the main highlights of Indonesia, the planet’s largest archipelago. And while Indonesia’s coveted geography has bestowed the world with island paradises like Bali, there are countless more islands promising equal beauty, minus the crowds and jam-packed attractions. From exotic far-flung islands to Bali’s own hidden bit, discover the best secret islands and beaches in Indonesia.

Kanawa Island

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Kanawa Island Flores Sea, Nusa Tenggara, Labuan Bajo Indonesia
Kanawa Island Flores Sea, Nusa Tenggara, Labuan Bajo Indonesia | © Tanutkij / Shutterstock

While the bigger islands like Komodo, Padar, and Rinca are now welcoming more tourists than ever, this exotic island keeps a low profile. Some parts remain untouched, in order to preserve the wildlife and natural ecosystem. In a more touristy part of the island, though, visitors can find ample restaurants, cafés, even resorts.

Kai Islands

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Ohoidertawun beach, Kei Kecil island, Maluku, Indonesia.
Ohoidertawun beach, Kei Kecil island, Maluku, Indonesia | © Stephane Bidouze / Shutterstock

Big Kai and Little Kei are part of the Kai Islands family in the Moluccas, Indonesia. The two brothers are rather quiet and a bit shy, but they are gorgeous; glowing with translucent blues and braced by soft whites, and they don’t mind that visitors call them virgins. The two Kais are good friends with a myriad of wildlife and the neighbouring coral reefs. The islands are home to migrating pelicans and an indigenous tribe of fishermen, and they will welcome you with open arms, too.

Widi Islands

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Activities on Widi Islands | © Kanenori / Pixabay

You’d think that a string of 99 exotic islands and three glorious atolls at the heart of the planet’s Coral Triangle would be swarmed with tourists. But we predict it will be another decade before the Widi Islands show up in travel magazines and social media feeds. This gives a rare window of opportunity to find yourself in the middle of raw, pristine nature, both underwater and in-shore. Daga Island hosts most of the local village and waterfront huts you can stay in while getting lost in paradise.

Ngitun Beach

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Ngitun beach, Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Ngitun beach, Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia | © Galih Yoga Wicaksono / Shutterstock

Yogyakarta’s southern coast is famous for hosting some of Java’s most exotic beaches. The extensive shoreline promises idyllic spots and nooks with every turn, as new beach points are being unearthed all the time. Whoever discovered Ngitun Beach must have been a real daring adventurer. The beach is flanked by lush hills on all sides, except for the gorgeous opening that gives way to the opulent sea. Other than swimming or enjoying the clear white sand beach, the panoramic natural feature can also be enjoyed from up the hills while camping.

Weh Island

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Weh Island in Sumatra, Indonesia | © Stefanie Weijsters / Flickr

Constituting Indonesia’s westernmost point, the remote geography has protected this beautiful island from too many tourists. But with idyllic white sand beaches and translucent water, the journey is still very much worth taking. The island has splendid diving and snorkelling spots, with thriving, undisturbed wildlife. The unspoilt condition doesn’t mean this island is underdeveloped – tourists will be welcomed by exotic cottages and beachside restaurants to enjoy sunsets while feasting on fresh seafood.

Pink Beach

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Pink sand adding a pop of colour to the beach | © The Trip Guru /

Located on the uppermost southeastern tip of Lombok, this beach is very remote and approximately three hours’ drive from the main tourist area of Senggigi. Its name comes from the coral that gives the sand a pinkish hue. There is a climbable hill at one end of the bay which gives stunning views over the crystal-clear water. This area is known for its colourful underwater life and there is the option of hiring a guide and boat to take you snorkelling.

Kakaban Island

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Swimming with stingless jellyfish in Kakaban Island, Indonesia
Swimming with stingless jellyfish in Kakaban Island, Indonesia | © Riza Nugraha / Flickr

This peculiar isle belongs to the Derawan Islands, an exotic destination for diving, snorkelling, and other adventures. And even among the far-flung string of islands with unique natural features and wildlife, Kakaban is still distinctive. For starters, this island ‘hugs’ a marine lake in the middle, making it look like a slightly bent bottle opener from above. What follows the quirky geography are stingless jellyfish that have undergone atypical evolutions that have also led them to show odd behaviour unseen by many. And that’s not to mention other lively ecosystems across the island, such as coral-covered underwater walls and dense pristine jungles.

Morotai Island

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Corral Garden
Corral Garden | © JManachim / Shutterstock

Located in eastern Indonesia, not many eyes have seen the raw natural prowess of Morotai Island. But those who have had the privilege would’ve sworn they’d been in paradise. Hidden virgin beaches, remote small islands, and countless diving spots add up nicely in this tropical heaven. But perhaps a more defining aspect of this island is its history as a strategic base during World War II. That episode of Morotai’s story leaves behind numerous historical sites that now double as charming tourist attractions. From a sunken aircraft wreck and old jeeps and warships, to fortresses and bunkers, various war relics educate tourists about the paradise’s past as a decisive battleground.

Koka Beach

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The two beaches which make up the Koka Beach area in Paga, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
The two beaches which make up the Koka Beach area in Paga, East Nusa Tenggara | © Danaan / Shutterstock

Most people (if there happen to be any) you’d encounter on this serene beach would be locals. Otherwise, this beach remains unknown by the majority of tourists travelling to the city of Maumere in Ende – even the city itself is a rather offbeat destination. The beach area consists of not one, but two magnificent gulfs separated by a small cliff in the middle. So if you make your way to the top of the green carpeted cliff, you’ll witness a mighty ocean vista on one side, and glorious bay view on the other. The relatively calm water is also perfect for swimming or just lazing around by the smooth sand – which bay is up to you.

Bukit Asah

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Bukit Asah hill cliff in Bali Indonesia.
Bukit Asah hill cliff in Bali Indonesia | © Yusnizam Yusof / Shutterstock
Just because Bali’s such a world-famous destination, doesn’t mean we’ve got it all figured out. This cape/beach/island on the less-travelled east side of the island remains rather obscure despite its natural magnetism. This area is separated from the rather crowded part of the island by hills and highlands, hidden from the typical Bali tourists. The view of ocean and shores are already breathtaking from up the cliffs, but you can always take it up a notch by sailing to the small island just off the cape and setting up a hammock for the day.
These recommendations were updated on April 1, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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