Best beaches in Indonesia
Gili Trawangan, Gili Islands
The trek to “Gili T,” as it’s known, is a rite of passage for backpackers who make it as far as the southern hemisphere. A kind of Woodstock-on-the-Sea, its long beach is broken up by stores selling tie-dye, space cakes, and woodfired pizzas. There’s a quiet bar at the southern end where you can watch the sun set into the ocean, and superb snorkeling at the northern tip. Head to Trawangan’s quieter, less-developed neighbors, Gili Meno and Gili Air, for bragging rights and a chance to look back at the crowded party island while shaking your head and complaining that you couldn’t even get a place at yoga this week.
Pulau Tuangku, Banyak Islands
If your dream beach vacation involves spearfishing for your supper in between debates with your surfer buddy commune about how permaculture could work in a tropical climate, this is the island for you. Clustered off the western side of Sumatra, the Banyaks are a hard-to-reach archipelago -- try to find a ride in Padang -- but offer a genuinely off-grid tropical paradise. There is some basic accommodation on the beach, but don’t expect much in the way of electricity or nightlife -- this is a conservative Muslim region, so no booze allowed.