Imagine warm sand between your toes, the sun on your skin and the sound of waves crashing on the shore. You might even have a cold beer or cocktail in your hand, it’s your dream so you can make it what you want! Being a country that is made up of five islands, and then surrounded by thousands of smaller islands, Indonesia is not short of pristine beaches and is the perfect spot to make your idyllic paradise beach dream a reality. Perfect for relaxing or catching some of the best waves in the world, the main problem is choosing what beaches to hit!
While there are a few beaches in Bali worth visiting, in our opinion a few of the best beaches in Indonesia are those far-flung islands where hardly anyone goes to. While the journey there may be tough, if you do decide to venture out, you will be rewarded with vast open oceans, uninhabited islands, and the clearest waters you will ever find. Here’s a list of our top picks of the best beaches in Indonesia.
Derawan Beach, East Kalimantan
Kicking off the list is the beautiful Derawan Beach, located in Berau, East Kalimantan. Considered as a candidate for a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2015, the beach had the stunning nature for the title but was coined a tourism village instead to boost its development. Since then, marine tourism has been slowly developing and the beach has become a popular place where world-class divers converge. Derawan Beach is one of the best snorkeling and diving locations, boasting a stunning coastal ecosystem from coral reefs and seagrass beds to mangrove forests. You can also expect to see a lot of protected species here, including turtles, whales, dolphins, giant clams, coconut crabs, and many other species!
What we love: Derawan Beach is home to endangered green and hawksbill turtles! Who doesn’t love these incredible creatures?
How to Get Here: Fly to Sepinggan airport at Balikpapan, and from here fly to Tarakan or Berau. You can then get to Derawan by land transport and boat.
Gili Meno Island, West Nusa Tenggara
In complete contrast to Kuta Beach in Bali are the Gili Islands, with the quietest being Gili Meno. Many people doubt this spot, but what it may lack in crowds, it more than makes up for in beauty. Here you will find white beaches along with some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in Indonesia. This place is so great that the entire island has no cars at all! The warm welcoming locals also make this island what it is, so don’t be surprised to be offered a hammock for the night or to join in with someone’s family meal.
What we love: Fewer crowds and beach vibes are what we love! A super laid back atmosphere is perfect to make an island getaway special, and it will make you not want to leave. What is great about this island, is that it does offer adventure as well as seclusion. So you can grab your snorkel gear and go marvel at fish and turtles all by yourselves!
How to Get Here: From Bali, you can reach the Gili Islands via fast boat from either Amed or Padang Bai. For those on a tight budget, there is also a public ferry from Padang Bai to Lombok where you can catch another boat. This takes 8 hours but is fairly cheap and affordable.
Love a good wave? At Banyak Islands, you can catch the perfect uncrowded barrel! One of the last surf frontiers of Indonesia, the Banyak Islands offer left and right-handers, long deep barrels and perfect peaks to long cruising walls. Trust and when we say, this is a surfers paradise! As well as its world-class waves, you can also try your hand at snorkeling, fishing, exploring the jungle or spearfishing if you’re feeling brave enough. The only thing that is guaranteed, is that your surroundings will be stunning and you’ll have them all to yourself. Made up of 98 islands and islets in only a 25km radius, the Banyak Islands are the perfect place to be if you want unlimited sea, beach, coral, and sun! If you want to go a bit further up, you can also opt to visit Lhonka Beach located near Banda Aceh.
What we love: The Banyak Islands are still wild and inhabited islands, so expect lots of chilled vibes! The golden sands and refreshing waters are perfect for relaxing, yet you still have the option to hit those amazing waves. There’s nothing better than a surf vacation and to go off-grid for a few days!
How to Get Here: You can the ferry that starts in Singkil every Tuesday and Saturday. It departs at about 11 AM. Alternatively, you can take speedboats to get to the islands faster.
Kanawa Beach, Flores
If you’re looking for a secluded place, Kanawa Island in Flores is paradise both above and below the surface. This little island in Komodo National Park is a sight to behold, with a stunning white-sand winding beach. With simply stunning landscapes, Kanawa is also armed with some of the best off-the-beach snorkeling in Indonesia. Even without diving, you can see schools of barracuda, sea turtles and reef sharks! In the shallows, bright corals will steal your attention away from the many lionfish and bat fish. The incredible variety here will seriously drag you into an underwater paradise!
What we love: We love to snorkel! While we are sold on Kanawa being one of the best beaches in Indonesia for snorkeling, we also love the seclusion of this place. You can swim around to the other side of the island to get that intimate castaway feel.
How to Get Here: Daily flights from Denpasar or Bali go to Labuan Bajo. From the airport, you can then take a 5-10 minute taxi or scooter taxi to the Kanawa Office. Boats only leave to Kanawa Island at 12 PM every day so get there early!
Resources: How to get from Lombok to Flores
Canggu Beach, Bali Island
Although not winning any awards for the most beautiful beach, Canggu Beach definitely scores some points for most interesting. To start with, it has black sand! Yep, you heard me right. Once you get used to that surprising landscape (which you most likely won’t), you can then appreciate the chilled surfer’s atmosphere. Canggu Beach is a perfect surf spot for every type of surfer, offering easy waves to serious breaks. Canggu is the perfect mix of island life. It has good surf, fantastic restaurants, fun bars and nightlife! Definitely worth checking out!
What we love: Although a pretty busy beach, you do meet some interesting people. We obviously loved the surf here, but we also loved the village itself. If you’re a foodie, there are plenty of awesome brunch places overlooking ricefields to give you that unique Balinese vibe.
How to Get Here: From the airport, you can just hop on an airport taxi which will take you straight to Canggu Beach. Alternatively, you can also rent a motorbike and drive yourself there.
Nusa Penida Beach, Bali Island
Often referred to as Bali’s hidden paradise, Nusa Penida had to make our best beaches in Indonesia list! Other people must agree, as this beach has been moving up the ranks for being the best destination for scuba diving. If diving is your thing, here you will see manta ray’s and if you’re lucky, whale sharks! All that is left to do is hire a motorbike and go exploring as Nusa Penida has some of the most beautiful views imaginable! Make sure to hit up the villages and the seaweed farms on some of the beaches to get a glimpse of what Bali was like before modernization took over.
What we love: the beach itself is incredibly beautiful giving you a mix of both beach and cliffside coastal views. As it has long been overlooked by tourists, much to the pleasure of the locals and travelers like us, it is the perfect retreat for a true island getaway.
How to Get Here: There are public boats from Sanur, Kusamba or Padang Bai in East Bali.
The Raja Ampat Islands
The Raja Ampat Islands are a truly beautiful and untouched paradise. Literally translated as “the Four Kings,” the stunning archipelago is made up of over 1,500 small islands and four daddy islands! Located in the Coral Triangle, one thing is for sure, these are all first-class diving spots! As well as containing many species that you won’t find anywhere else, Raja Ampat also scores points for its sheer pristine landscapes. This one location contains so many relatively unexplored areas that you could be the first to stumble onto a new beach that no one has ever gone before!
What we love: We absolutely love lesser known areas and Raja Ampat is no exception! Travelers never used to come here as there was nowhere to stay, so many explored the waters on liveaboard boats. Now, you will find a few homestays on the island, but it still retains its original castaway charm.
How to Get Here: Take a flight or ship to Sorong, a taxi to Sorong ferry harbor, and then a ferry to Waisai.
Karimunjawa Beach, Java Island
Another beauty to behold is the most beautiful beach in Java Island! Seriously, you can compare this beach to some contenders in Thailand. With silky white sands and stunning waters that reflect a green to turquoise and deep blue gradient, Karimunjawa Beach is a gift to the senses. What’s really unique about this beach, is that you can watch the sunrise and sunset in the same place! Spend the whole day watching the sun go around, waking up and going to bed with a warm orange glow around you. If you fancy something different, check out the wicked marine life in the top snorkel spots, visit a shark farm, and have amazing fish barbecues!
What we love: we love beaches that are an adventure to get to! It’s fun and often less crowded which is completely worth it.
How to Get Here: You can take a 12 seater plane from Semarang or Surabaya to the Dewandaru Airport in Kemujan island. Many rent a motorbike to get around.
Belitung Island, East Sumatra
Belitung Island is simply stunning, offering a range of beaches from white sand fringed with coconut trees to elaborate granite rock formations. Let’s just say, when you come across these world-class beaches, you’ll know exactly why they are on our best beaches in Indonesia list. The beaches themselves are gorgeous, but they really come alive when you mix them with activities. Conquer the granite rocks or explore the underwater world beneath the waves. After a jam-packed day, really take in the stunning scenery with a walk on the beach watching the sunset. With amazing offshore snorkeling, powdery white sand and colorful fishing boats, do you need any more reasons to want to go here?
What we love: We love us some adventure! This beauty will not remain a sleepy paradise for long, so get there quick to enjoy the blissful isolation.
How to Get Here: Take a flight from Tanjung Pandan to Jakarta and Pangkal Pinang. From here you can then take a bus or street taxi (book in advance to avoid illegal taxis!) to Belitung.
Pink Beach, East Nusa Tenggara
Last on our best beaches in Indonesia list, but not the least, is Pink Beach. This gem can be found in Komodo National Park, so expect stunning scenery, amazing underwater life, and pink sand! The sand’s color is due to the coral and is a unique sight to behold when the sunlight hits. There are only seven beaches that are pink around the world so it is a natural wonder! The coral is surely the highlight of the beach. Not just for the color of the sand, but for the underwater landscape that it creates for snorkeling. With the incredibly clear waters, you can spend hours here exploring this new world beneath the surface.
What we love: Snorkeling and diving in Komodo National Park are amazing, so the variety of species under the water will be a unique sight to see.
How to Get Here: You can fly from Bali to Labuan Bajo located on Flores Island. Then take the ferry over to Komodo Island.
Best Time to Visit the Beaches of Indonesia
Indonesia generally has a tropical climate with the dry season running from April to October and monsoon season from November to March. Although the country has hot and humid temperatures all year, the best time to visit is during the dry season. This makes perfect weather for island hopping, snorkeling, and general beach bumming!
There you have it guys! Hopefully, this list will come in handy when planning which beaches to visit in Indonesia. In case you haven’t checked out our other articles on Indonesia, you definitely should as there are loads of useful tips and information.