The Circumnavigation of Australia voyage includes a few stops to Indonesia, a fascinating country comprised of history, culture, beauty and natural wonders.
One of your stops will be Komodo Island that makes up one of the 17,000 plus islands in the Republic of Indonesia. Immediately recognized as the habitat of the legendary Komodo Dragon (it’s the world’s largest living lizard), the island is also known for its incredible underwater vistas (credit the crystal clear waters) that make it one of the top diving spots in the world. Seasoned divers share the waters with turtles, sharks, rays and a variety of schools of fish.
Komodo is also home to the Komodo National Park in the island of Flores and another favorite spot for diving. Above land visitors will spot Timor deer, wild horses, monkeys, water buffalo, wild boar (just be sure to steer clear of the venomous cobras and pit vipers!) Add the Lakes of Kelimutu to your itinerary that is actually three crater lakes inside a volcano and great for hiking atsunrise. And speaking of views, don your hiking boots and scale Love Hill for the picturesque sunsets. Notable for its archeological wonders, The Hobbit Cave (“Liang Bua”) is said to house some 18,000-year-old skeletons and fossils in its limestone surroundings.
Every traveler’s bucket list has Bali in the top ten and for good reason as peace, tranquility and scenic beauty can be found in abundance. For a spiritual respite, visit the Tanah Lot Temple, a rock formation off of Bali and home to the Sacred Hindu Pilgrimage Temple, one of the seven sea temples along the Balinese coast. Against a backdrop of the sea and beautifully landscaped gardens, the temple is a popular tourist spot. And speaking of shrines, the Besakih Temple (aka the “Mother of all temples”) is the largest and holiest of all Balinese religious structures and considered one of the most sacred of pilgrimages.
Bali is known for its animals, so be sure to pay a visit the 700 Balinese grey-tailed inhabitants (known as Macaques) at the Ubed Monkey Forest. The Bali Safari and Marine Park offers an up close and personal look at everything from elephants and orangutans to Himalayan bears and the rare and legendary Indian white tigers. Or check out the creative side of rescued Sumatran elephants painting portraits at the Elephant Safari Park.
Before your departure, be sure to take a bit of Bali home. Exotic silks sand handmade baskets and hats, masks, carved jewelry and wood and stone carvings can be purchased at the Ubud Art Market (moviegoers will recognize the setting from the Julia Roberts 2010 film Eat Pray Love). And if it’s original art you are after, tourists and residents flock to the Sukawati Art Market for local paintings, wooden figures and handmade crafts.
Located on the southern portion of the island of Bali, the small fishing village of Benoa is another intriguing stop on your journey. The coconut tree lined sandy white beaches and a rather interesting array or watersports (including underwater sea walks and underwater scooters) make it a popular holiday destination. If activities out of the water are more to your liking, visit the Caow Eng Bio. One of the Bali’s oldest Chinese temples, the bright red structure with its green tiled roof is filled with statues and ornaments and offers a unique historical look at the Chinese culture.