LIFE on the beach is relaxed, enjoying a drink while waiting for the sunset, indulging in delicious food while basking in the sun, is one form of fun that can be found in Indonesia.

Based on Agoda survey, beaches are the top destinations for Indonesian tourists. In fact, when asked to show off Indonesia’s hidden gems, nearly 40% of Agoda GoLocal Photography Competition participants uploaded beach photos.

Among the beach-themed photos, Bali appears the most, followed by East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara. Indonesians also recommend Sumatra and Sulawesi as tropical vacation destinations.

If you are preparing a list of places to visit for a vacation when the situation is safe, take a peek at hidden paradise in the form of stunning beaches and islands in Indonesia.

Amed Beach
This is a great spot for divers. Spread across seven fishing villages by the sea, Amed Beach in East Bali is famous as a diving spot with beautiful coral reefs and a wealth of marine life, from purple starfish, reef sharks to turtles. You can also dive at night and swim with bioluminescent plankton.

Take a dive at the sinking spot of the USS Liberty in Tulamben (about 30 km north of Amed) and be prepared to be amazed. This place is often regarded as one of the best dive spots in the world emerging from a wreck.

Apart from doing activities in the water, you can also observe local salt farmers harvesting salt traditionally from sea water which is poured into coconut tree trunks in the Purwaketi area.

Blue Lagoon Beach
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the famous Seminyak Beach or Jimbaran Bay and visit the Blue Lagoon, a hidden gem in East Bali, a comfortable place for those who want peace during their vacation. Known as an underwater paradise, the Blue Lagoon has exotic marine life and is a great place for snorkelling and diving.

Ontoloe Island, East Nusa Tenggara
Have you ever seen thousands of bats rushing into the twilight sky? Located in the northeast of Flores, NTT, Ontoloe, known as Bat Island, is home to a large colony of fruit bats that usually fly over mangrove trees.

Ontoloe is also the largest island in the 17 Pulau Riung Marine Park, which actually consists of more than 20 small islands with abundant coral reef ecosystems, which count 27 different species of reefs.

Calm beaches and crystal-clear waters make this the perfect place for swimming, snorkeling and doing underwater photography. The place is off the beaten track, perfect for a quiet getaway.

Natuna Island and Anambas, Riau
The Natuna and Anambas Islands are the outermost islands on the northern border located in the Riau Islands, west side of the South China Sea. Surrounded by white sandy beaches such as Tanjung Sebagul and Setengar, Natuna and Anambas promise adventure in remote places with pristine tropical natural beauty. If you are lucky, you can see turtles coming up to the beach to lay their eggs.

Pulau Weh, Aceh
Located at the westernmost point of Indonesia, Pulau Weh is a small volcanic island that was once connected to Sumatra Island, before being separated by the sea due to volcanic eruptions in the Pleistocene era.

Pulau Weh has two idyllic beaches, Gapang and Iboih, and warm, clear waters with uninterrupted live marine life, perfect for diving and snorkeling.

Bira Beach, South Sulawesi
Located in Tanjung Bira, South Sulawesi, Bira is a white sand beach that is also a must-visit. Feel the soft sand as you walk along the beach admiring the beautiful panoramic views. And if you’re ready for the adventure, charter a boat and visit nearby islands like Liukang Loe.

Togian Island, Central Sulawesi
Togian Island is a true tropical paradise with beautiful fine sand beaches and natural coral reefs in crystal clear waters and is popular with divers.

Don’t forget to interact with the friendly local Bajau people, who are commonly known as Sea Gypsies. They live in villages built on water. For a more adventurous experience, try climbing the Una Una volcano once you’ve had enough of the beach. [photo special]