The Indonesian island of Bali is known as “the Island of the Gods” for its unique position as the only Hindu-majority island in a Muslim-majority archipelago. But, it just as easily could have been given the title for that more abstract—dare we say spiritual—feeling you get as a visitor, sitting under a teak gazebo surrounded by rice paddies, the sound of gamelan music ringing out from some temple far away.
These days, though, thanks to the Eat, Pray, Love effect and the popularity of its southern beaches as no-holds-barred party destinations, it takes a little more effort than it once did to find those moments of tranquility. Indonesia‘s Ministry of Tourism seems to agree—and wants you to discover what the rest of the country has to offer.
As the Jakarta Post reports, Hiramsyah Sambudi Thaib, head of Indonesia‘s Ministry of Tourism, has ordered travel agencies and airlines to increase offerings to ten spots scattered across the country’s roughly 6,000 inhabited islands, with explicit plans to make them more known and accessible to tourists.
The full list includes: Lake Toba in North Sumatra, already a popular destination for the more outdoors-inclined adventurer; Tanjung Kelayang, a beach on the relatively untouched island of Belitung off the coast of South Sumatra; Tanjung Lesung, a resort area just over 100 miles from Jakarta; the Thousands Islands, a group of islets ideal for a weekend escape from Jakarta; Borobudur, a 9th-century Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site near Yogyakarta; Bromo, Tengger, and Semeru—a chain of volcanoes in East Java; Mandalika, a private resort area currently in development in southern Lombok, an island east of Bali long heralded in its own right as “the new Bali”; Labuan Bajo, on the island of Flores, the ideal launching point for an exploration of the islands that extend east of Bali, including Komodo, home to the eponymous giant lizard; Wakatobi, a luxury diving reserve off the coast of Sulawesi’s main island; and Morotai, one of the country’s northernmost islands.
Among other infrastructure and development work, the government will be looking to make major improvements to regional aviation hubs. Airports in the Central Javanese city of Surakarta, the North Sumatran capital of Medan, and on the island of Lombok are all set for major upgrades in the near future.
Given that almost five million international tourists visited Bali in 2016—and that the number is only likely to rise in 2017—the Indonesian government may be on to something here. Give it another ten to fifteen years, and we may be searching for the “new Morotai.