Stretching more than 5,000 kilometres from tip to tip, and accommodating more than 17,000 islands, a trip to Indonesia defines diversity and adventure.

While many of the destinations in Indonesia are standalone (think Bali, central Java or Komodo & Flores) the great challenge here is setting out to see just how many of the country’s different types of highlights, cultures and landscapes you can tick off in one visit….all the while planning your return trip. There isn’t really any way to define ‘Indonesia’ or put it in a neat little box. There is just so much variety in terms of people, culture, sights and landscapes that you’re better off just trying to work out what you like and making that your ‘Indonesia’.

From volcanoes to incredible beaches, awesome diving locations to some of the most jaw-dropping wildlife experiences on the planet, the natural order of things is at its peak across these islands. And, in all cases, the examples are right up amongst the best the world has to offer: The volcanic landscapes of Bromo are arguably the most sublimely beautiful in the world, while the beaches of the Gilis and the Togean Islands take some beating (and have a fair few competitors just in Indonesia itself); Raja Ampat offers world class diving experiences, while Borneo’s Orangutans and Komodo’s Dragons vie for your attention in the wildlife stakes. Any one of these attractions in a country is a feature, to have them all parcelled up in one is quite incredible.

And, when you look at human-created highlights the selection is similarly impressive. From the world-heritage recognised rice terraces of Bali (and other places as well), to the numerous lake, land and sea temple complexes dotted across the islands, the people of Indonesia have had an incredibly positive impact on the landscape over many centuries. To single out one of these is challenging, but in Borobudur, Indonesia lays claim to the largest buddhist temple in the world, an astonishing structure that soars out of the surrounding plain, drawing visitors and pilgrims alike in vast numbers.

If it was just sights and attractions, Indonesia has you covered, but a trip here simply to experience the culture, people, religion & cuisine is also just as viable an option. With such a rich diversity of influences, again, there is no defining characteristic. The world’s largest Islamic country intermingles wonderfully with centuries-old local traditions and beliefs across the country, while the food similarly ranges broadly, always with some core staples in play, but with local variants to make it noticeably different. The people, as always cap it off – warm and welcoming, wonderfully inventive and creative in coping with the challenges life in this country throws at them, but with a great sense of fun and enjoyment of life.

An Indonesian adventure will sate you briefly, but only leave you wondering about the next 100/1,000 islands and what they have to offer. So, just get cracking and start ticking them off…

Image by Sarinee58, Shutterstock