The 10 Best Ecotourism Experiences in Indonesia's Islands

Exploitation of the marine ecosystem around the Gili Islands has led to heavy degradation of its coral reef system
Exploitation of the marine ecosystem around the Gili Islands has led to heavy degradation of its coral reef system | © Francesco / Flickr
Photo of Edira Putri
27 June 2018

Breathtaking natural appeal, fascinating culture, and traditional communities are just a few aspects that make ecotourism thrive in Indonesia. For eco-conscious travellers who want to embrace the archipelago in all its natural glory, discover the best ecotourism experiences in Indonesia’s islands.

Trekking through Komodo National Park

Named after Indonesia’s endemic ancient species (that is also the world’s biggest lizard), this national park provides your chance to get up close to the famed Komodo dragon. But there’s more to the island than huge reptiles with deadly bites. Comprising three islands and 26 smaller islets, the Komodo National Park is an all-round carnival for nature lovers, with breathtaking underwater scenery and a beautiful island landscape.

Komodo Island landscape | © Andurinha / Flickr

Diving and more at Raja Ampat

This archipelago off the coast of Papua is a world-famous diving paradise, loved for its rich marine biodiversity and pristine nature. Luckily the whole tourism scene here follows through with an elaborate ecotourism concept, from eco-friendly resorts to conservation centers and cultural excursions. Beyond the vibrant underwater scenery, Raja Ampat has a lot more to give adventurers, photographers, and even lazy staycationers the time of their lives.

Raja Ampat Island, Papua, Indonesia | © nmedia / Shutterstock

Spotting wildlife at West Bali National Park

On the northwestern tip of Bali, far away from the crowded tourist attractions lies a gorgeous jungle untouched by the noxious hand of commercialisation. The West Bali National Park covers a huge area of coastline, rainforest, mangroves and more, bringing together wonderful biodiversity to observe and enjoy. Also a popular birdwatching spot, tourists are presented with a real chance to see the endangered Bali Starling, among others.

The white Bali Starling at West Bali National Park | © Brian Gratwicke / Flickr

Exploring Krakatoa Island

Krakatoa was responsible for one of the biggest geologic catastrophes ever recorded, as more than 35,000 people were killed when its volcano erupted in 1883. The rest of the world watched in awe as the sky went wild and the sun disappeared for weeks. Other than presenting scholars with remarkable opportunities for geological research, the Child of Krakatoa — a tiny part of the volcano left after the eruption — is a beautiful destination for hikes, snorkelling, and sightseeing.

Child of Krakatoa | © buitenzorger / Flickr

Conservation and living sustainably at Gili Islands

Ecotourism may not be the first concept to cross your mind when thinking about this string of three islands off the coast of Lombok. But the Gili Islands offer more than just fun. Tourists can learn so much about sustainable living and conservation by visiting the islands’ conservation centers and supporting local initiatives, such as the Gili Meno Sea Turtle Sanctuary or coral reef rehabilitation centers in Gili Trawangan.

Sunset at Gili Trawangan | © kolibri5 / Pixabay

Exploring Bangka Belitung Islands

From stunning coasts to historic colonial heritage, the Bangka Belitung Islands are a rounded ecotourism destination for every taste. Comprising two big islands and several smaller ones, this archipelago has enough going on to keep you excited for weeks. However, you can also do most of the highlights in just a few days, including visiting the turtle conservations, staying in eco-friendly lodges, diving, and exploring charming local villages.

Clear blue man made lake, Tanjung Pandan, Belitung Island | © Eduard Todikromo/Shutterstock

Appreciating wildlife at Bunaken National Park

The Bunaken National Park is one of the planet’s densest spots for marine biodiversity, with at least 20 diving points with different charms, difficulty levels, and depths. The vast sea gardens have a very rich coral ecosystem, home to hundreds of species of fish, corals, sponges, and mollusks. Beyond the seabed, Bunaken has other ecotourism activities to enjoy such as exploring mangrove conservation, trekking, spotting endemic wildlife, and visiting nearby villages.

Bunaken National Park | ©Matt Kieffer / Flickr

Discovering Sumba Island

This island in East Nusa Tenggara has a magnetic mix of pristine nature and indigenous culture. Despite being dubbed as the island paradise on the rise, or even the ‘next Bali’, Sumba is still one of Indonesia’s best-kept secrets. This beautiful location is filled with new spots to discover and life-changing experiences.

Sumba island traditional house | © Lewaguy / Flickr

Taking part in conservation at Thousand Islands

Just a short journey from the capital Jakarta, this archipelago comprises dozens of tourist islands and dozens more inhabited ones. The development of these islands follow eco-friendly principles, resulting in a rich variety of different conservation centers, eco lodges and resorts. Some of the islands are home to historical landmarks, such as the fortresses in Bidadari and Onrust Islands. Others like Pramuka, Tidung, and Pari Islands host conservation initiatives for sea turtles that tourists can take part in.

Pulau Bidadari | © Jorge Láscar / Flickr

Learning and exploring on Flores Island

In this tropical paradise in East Nusa Tenggara, nature and culture go hand in hand. It is a remarkable destination that has been gaining popularity over the last few years. It’s where traditional houses are as iconic as the blissful coasts and indigenous handicrafts. The local government is now developing the villages here as centers of cultural preservation and education, presenting tourists with an unmissable opportunity to observe and learn about the fascinating culture that inhabits this scenic island.

The lake is surrounded by mesmerizing mountain landscape | Putu Bagus / © Culture Trip

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