Indonesia officially the Republic of Indonesia is a country located mainly in Southeast Asia with some territories in Oceania. Situated between the Indian and Pacific oceans, it is the world's largest island country, with more than thirteen thousand islands. It has an estimated population of over 258 million people and is the world's fourth most populous country.
The first contact with Europeans began in 1512, when Portuguese traders led by Francisco Serrao, sought to monopolize the sources of nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper in Maluku. Dutch and British traders followed. In 1602, the Dutch established the Dutch East India Company, and in following decades, the Dutch had gained a foothold in Batavia and Amboina. Throughout 17th and 18th centuries, the company became the dominant European power in the archipelago.
Japanese occupation during World War II ended Dutch rule and encouraged the previously suppressed Indonesian independence movement. Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno, an influential nationalist leader, declared independence and was appointed the president. The Netherlands tried to re-establish their rule, and an armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognized Indonesian independence.
Sukarno moved Indonesia from democracy towards authoritarianism and maintained his power base by balancing the opposing forces of the military and the Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia, PKI). General Suharto, from the military, succeeded Sukarno in 1968 and ruled until 1998. Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the late 1990s Asian financial crisis. This increased popular discontent with the New Order and led to popular protest across the country. Since Suharto's resignation, a strengthening of democratic processes has included a regional autonomy program, and the first direct presidential election in 2004, which was won by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who went on to win a second term in 2009. Since then, a wider power to the people has emerged.
The best time to dive in Indonesia is between May and September; however, Indonesia’s diving season really is year around. Monsoon season usually hits in December and lasts through to June.
No doubt there are many reasons for Bali’s popularity, not only is it one of the best places to surf in Indonesia, but it is also one of the best places to dive. Many divers find this place excellent with shore-based diving surrounded with a view of magnificent volcanoes and lush rice paddy terraces. Scuba diving in Bali gives you deep drop-offs, steep banks, coral ridges and famous wrecks from the world war, volcanic outcrops and seagrass beds. Choices of dive sites here including Nusa Penida, Lembongan islands, Tulamben and Candi Dasa.
Manado is among the highlights of diving in Indonesia and has earned plaudits throughout the world. When you're scuba diving in Bunaken National Marine Park you'll witness some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, with outstanding fish variety and world-class walls. The clear, warm waters contain astonishingly high numbers of species, whether corals, sponges or fish.
The park is located just out of Manado Bay in the Sulawesi Sea, off the northern tip of Sulawesi, and features some 2 dozen diving sites spread across an area of 75,000 hectares and the 5 islands of Bunaken, Siladen, Manado Tua, Montehage, and Nain.
Explore the deep waters of Bunaken from your choice of dive resort and you can see 7 times more genera of coral than Hawaii, 33 species of butterflyfish and over 70% of all fish species known to the Indo-western Pacific.
Oceanic currents sweep past Bunaken Island bringing a steady supply of nutrients. It's a sure certainty that where there is plenty of food in the sea, there will be an abundance of marine life, and you can be here to witness this rich harvest too. From the smallest commensal shrimp to black tip reef sharks and eagle rays, there is something for everyone in this very special dive destination.
Manado is very popular with fun divers and marine biologists both of whom can take great pleasure from the diversity of coral and fish found here. You will surely encounter marine life here that you have not come across elsewhere.
Komodo National Park, Flores.
Diving Komodo islands are also known to many world-class divers due to the Komodo National Park’s reserve that offers what every tropical diving paradise does – calm and colorful shallow reefs, mountains of marine life from reef fishes to sharks, and deep walls and pinnacles. Komodo Islands is the epicenter of scuba diving for its rich marine life and coral reefs. Besides, on land, it houses the famous Komodo dragon which is the largest lizard in the world.
Raja Ampat, Papua.
Located just off the northwest tip of Papua (Irian Jaya), it is the most well-known dive site in Indonesia. Diving in Raja Ampat is one of the most talked about activity in Indonesia travel. It is an archipelago of 1,500 small islands. The marine life diversity here is staggering with 1200 fish species where a world record of 284 on a single dive in Kofiau Island was noted, Raja Ampat set itself apart from the rest of the world’s dive site. It is even coined the term Frontier Diving, where diving will take you over crystal clear seas, inhabited islands with the horizon stretch out beyond into infinity. If you are lucky and in the season, you can even catch whale sharks while diving!
Dotted in the Banda Sea, the islands of Wakatobi – Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomea, and Binongki is another Indonesia’s answer to world-class diving. Rich with reefs along barriers, corals, and fishes, this national park is well protected thus brimming with healthy marine lives. Diving here will also contribute towards local community and the support for the marine park. Relatively new in the diving scene of Indonesia, the place is still practically untouched.
Pulau Weh, Sumatra.
Diving in Pulau Weh is well known for its rich ecosystem and off the beaten track in oppose to its famous distant sister Bali of Indonesia. A part of this island had been declared as wildlife protection is by the Indonesian government because it is the home to many rare species on land wild the coral reefs are bursting with a large and diverse variety of Indo-Pacific marine life. The remoteness of this Island makes the open Banda Sea all the more fascinating to dive in as the place is still bursting with vibrant and natural reef system and a large variety of marine life that are not exploited.
Gili Islands, Lombok.
Just neighbor to the famous Bali, this sister island Lombok keeps its own secrets to spectacular diving with untouched coral reefs and pinnacles. You may even find Hammerhead sharks here and other wild marine life. Besides being a peaceful holiday getaway, it features many adventurous dive to balance it with drop-offs, plateaus, and slopes among fascinating corals and diverse marine life.
The best time to dive in Indonesia is between May and September; however, Indonesia’s diving season really is year around. Visibility ranges between 6 to 50 meters (20 to 160 feet) or better with depths going up to 40 meters (140 feet). Currents are generally mild but can be strong in some areas.
Indonesia is a tropical country and the climate is fairly even all year round being roughly divided into two distinct seasons; 'wet' and 'dry'. The east monsoon, from June to September brings dry weather while the west monsoon, from December to March, brings rain. The transitional period between these two seasons alternates between gorgeous sun-filled days and occasional thunderstorms. Even in the midst of the wet season temperatures range from 21°C (70°F) to 33°C (90°F), except at higher altitudes, where it can be much cooler.
The heaviest rainfalls generally occur during the months of December and January. Average humidity is usually between 75% and 100%.
Water temperatures in Indonesia range between 20 and 28 degrees Celsius (71 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit) depending on what time of year and location.
The climate of Indonesia is almost entirely tropical. The uniformly warm waters that make-up 81% of Indonesia's area ensure that temperatures on land remain fairly constant, with the coastal plains averaging 28 °C, the inland and mountain areas averaging 26 °C, and the higher mountain regions, 23 °C. Temperature varies little from season to season. May is the hottest month in Bali with an average temperature of 28°C (82°F) and the coldest is January at 26°C (79°F).
The extreme variations in rainfall are linked with the monsoons. Generally speaking, there is a wet season is from November to March, the dry season from April to October. Rainfall in lowland areas averages 180–320 cm (70–125 in) annually, increasing with elevation to an average of 610 cm (240 in) in some mountain areas. In the lowlands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the rainfall range is 305–370 cm (120–145 in); the amount diminishes southward, closer to the northwest Australian desert. Average humidity is 82%.
All major airlines fly into both Jakarta and Bali. Garuda Indonesia is the national airline and it is the only one which offers direct flights to Jakarta from the United Kingdom. To get around Indonesia it is best to fly. There are some 18 local airlines available apart from Garuda. The largest low-cost carrier airlines include Lion Air, Indonesia AirAsia and Citilink a subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia. All operate from both Jakarta and Bali.
Nationals holding passports from most countries in the world are eligible to enter and remain in Indonesia without a visa for 30 days for tourism purpose only. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival and have a valid return ticket. The immigration officer at the port of entry may ask the passenger to produce any necessary documents (such as hotel reservation and proof of finance).The visa free facility does not allow the change into other permits or visa extension. Passport holders from all visa exempt countries can enter Indonesia through one of the 124 designated border crossings. In addition nationals of some countries may apply for a Visa on arrival for a length of stay of 30 days at designated entry points by paying US$35. Such visa may then be extended once for another 30 days. Check here
The currency of Indonesia is the Rupiah. (IDR). At the time of writing one US dollar was about 13,000 IDR.
Food – Local food is extremely cheap, starting at 6,700 IDR for street food and 13,500 IDR for a full local meal. On average, you’ll spend 26,800-40,500 IDR for a solid meal. Western food is more expensive but is still affordable at around 121,000 IDR for a meal and drink.
Transportation – For traveling between islands, ferries cost around 6,500 IDR (and up) for a ticket from East Java to West Bali, and the rates go up from there for other routes. An eight-hour journey on a bus costs around 67,000 IDR. Overnight bus will start at around 128,000 IDR.
Activities: Attractions are not hugely expensive. You’ll pay around 87,500 IDR for entrance in to Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and the same for Bunaken. Borobudur costs 270,000 IDR. The famous Mt. Batur hike is between 405,000-805,000 IDR.
Money Saving Tips
Eat on the street – You can pick up tasty local fare for around 6,700 IDR cents! Street side snacks, soups, and noodles will keep your wallet fat! Markets are your best bet for finding seriously cheap food.
Bargain hard – Nothing is ever at face value in Indonesia. Bargain with sellers as most of the time, the price they’ve quoted will not be the price you’ll pay if you bargain!