A Beach Bum’s Guide to Indonesia

©istockphoto/shannonstent

Indone­sia stands as one of the world’s lead­ing surf des­ti­na­tions, not just for its killer breaks, but also for its laid-back lifestyle. The region is a major des­ti­na­tion for West­ern beach bums to catch some waves, chill sea­side, and enjoy the pic­turesque trop­i­cal views. With the excep­tion of the cost of a flight, vaca­tion­ing in Indone­sia is also way cheap, with the Indone­sian Rupi­ah exchang­ing at a rate of less than 1 per­cent of the dol­lar. If you are think­ing about ven­tur­ing to this water sport friend­ly island chain, you may want to check out a few of the fol­low­ing spots while you’re there:

Bali
From Balan­gan to Uluwatu, Bali’s south shore boasts some of the world’s most beau­ti­ful reef breaks, but the tiny island also offers unique snor­kel­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties with sea life rich­er than the Caribbean. Vis­i­tors can also check out the var­i­ous tem­ples and wildlife, like at the Ubud Mon­key For­est. You may have to watch for sharp-toothed pick­pock­ets that are hard to rea­son with. Climbers and spe­lunk­ers can also enjoy the island’s canyon­ing scene.

Sum­bawa
Sum­bawa is great for water­fall enthu­si­asts, with a num­ber of hik­ing trails for vis­i­tors that pre­fer to trav­el by foot in for­eign lands. Plus, there are a ton of sur­round­ing islands, and you can explore history’s most destruc­tive vol­cano (that should help you sleep at night). You can get to Sum­bawa via fer­ry from the Island of Lom­bok, which hous­es a local and inter­na­tion­al airport.

Lom­bok
Sit­u­at­ed between Bali and Sum­bawa, Lom­bok stands as a major trans­porta­tion hub in the island chain. It also offers prime reef action in Kuta and Banko, and Mount Rin­jani pro­vides an ide­al spot for vol­cano hik­ing and climb­ing. The island also offers bik­ing and snor­kel­ing, but for the more relaxed trav­el­er, the serene water­side views are a major draw.

Java
Offer­ing both beach and reef breaks, Java is packed with locals, boast­ing a rich cul­tur­al scene. But don’t wor­ry, most peo­ple know Eng­lish so it shouldn’t be hard to maneu­ver here. Thrill seek­ers can climb Java’s vol­ca­noes, and in Jan­u­ary and Decem­ber, the paraglid­ing scene is huge.

Suma­tra
South of Malaysia, Suma­tra offers a num­ber of breaks that have been estab­lished by West­ern­ers, with spots named after Jen­ny, Jim­my, and Richard, who­ev­er they may be. When not catch­ing the waves, surf bums can explore the music scene on Indonesia’s west­ern­most island, which pri­mar­i­ly involves the rabab or dan­but styles. Those feel­ing a bit riski­er can also seek out the infa­mous Suma­tran tiger or the world-class raft­ing on the Kuan­tan River.

Whether you’re surf­ing, raft­ing, climb­ing, or just hang­ing on the beach, Indone­sia offers an array of pos­si­bil­i­ties on the cheap. From the rich cul­ture and wildlife to the land and copi­ous water activ­i­ties, this trop­i­cal island chain is the per­fect explorer’s getaway.