Though large islands such as Bali and Lombok are better known tourist destinations, there are many small islands off the beaten track that have thrills for nature lovers.
Tanjung Putus Island, Lampung
Lampung has long been known as one of Sumatra’s surfer paradises along with Nias and Mentawai. Still, only a few people realize that Lampung also has gorgeous small islands only two hours from Bandar Lampung city. One of them is Tanjung Putus Island.
Although it seems quite easy to get to Tanjung Putus, the journey can be quite an adventure.
First, you have to take an hour-long drive to Ketapang harbor south of Bandar Lampung. From there, rent a boat and sail across Ratai Bay to reach the island – approximately 30 minutes.
As suggested by its name, Tanjung Putus (separated peninsula in Bahasa Indonesia) used to be a part of Sumatra. Erosion caused it to break off into its own island.
The water surrounding the island is shallow, calm and turquoise to light-blue in color, perfect for laid-back snorkeling. Popular snorkeling spots include the water around the harbor and beneath a wooden shipwreck. Colorful soft corals as well as clown fish, trigger fish and parrot fish can be spotted.
Two modest cottages are available for rent if you are planning to spend the night on the island. But most people only visit Tanjung Putus on a day trip and still prefer to stay in Bandar Lampung.
Kakara Island, North Maluku
Kakara is the unpolished diamond of the Tobelo Islands in North Maluku.
Though currently maintained by the North Halmahera government, the island still has very little tourist facilities despite of its breathtaking panoramic ocean view. There are no toilets or food stalls on the island, though there are several wooden bungalows available for rent if you plan to spend the night.
To reach Kakara, visitors must first fly to Ternate from Jakarta or other cities. Then take a ferry to North Halmahera, followed by a two-and-a-half hour drive to reach the town of Tobelo. After that, rent a small boat from Tanjung Pilawang or Dufa Dufa port to get to Kakara in a 20-minute trip.
The stunning beauty of the island's coarse white-sand beach and clear blue water is definitely worth the journey. With its shallow water, Kakara is very suitable for snorkeling, especially the sea off the east coast of the island. A large mangrove-fringed inlet lies just in front of a modest fishing village. Starfish and beautiful coral are visible during low tide.
On a clear day, visitors can savor the sight of the Dukono volcano on the Halmahera mainland in the distance. Sunsets on Kakara are surreal and spectacular.
Menyawakan Island, Karimun Jawa, Central Java
This island may not seem so secluded given that it lies due north of Central Java's capital Semarang, but this island in the Karimun Jawa chain offers an idyllic atmosphere and a real sense of isolation.
It is also home of the PADI five-star Kura Kura Resort, which offers ten two-room deluxe bungalows and five VIP bungalows as well as attractive diving packages. You can find an exquisite underwater ecosystem for diving and snorkeling as well as stretches of white sandy beach with coconut trees and lush rainforest.
Menyawakan Island can be reached from Semarang or Jepara by ferry or speed boat. Alternatively, you can fly on the resort's private Cessna Grand Caravan in only 45 minutes from Semarang. Ahmad Yani International Airport in Semarang has daily flights to and from Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Panambungan Island, South Sulawesi
Panambungan is a small island in the Spermonde chain in Pangkajene, South Sulawesi. The island's area is only about 4 hectares and it will take you less than 10 minutes to circle the island.
Despite its small size, Panambungan Island has both beautiful beaches and lush pine forests thriving in the tropical environment.
The underwater scenery around Panambungan isn't disappointing either. There are several interesting snorkeling spots here, including the area around the dock, which has calm and shallow light-blue water. You can also easily find starfish while strolling along the beach. Scuba diving can be done by renting a boat and heading north toward Kapoposang National Marine Park.
These last few years, Panambungan Island has been managed by Aryaduta Hotel Makassar under the Bosowa Group. The hotel runs several romantic cottages that are indeed intended to target honeymooners.
But, if you stay in Aryaduta Hotel Makassar, the hotel staff will be more than happy to arrange a special day trip to Panambungan Island.