Indonesia is a destination that generally conjures images of beautiful Balinese beaches and eating, praying and loving à la Julia Roberts. And don't get me wrong that all sounds pretty fantastic but with over 17,000 islands spread across 3,000 miles, there's a fair bit more to explore in the Indonesian archipelago. Beyond the (admittedly spectacular) beaches is a rugged landscape covered in thick, verdant jungle permeated by vast volcanoes jutting above the tree line. This is a place of exotic wildlife, tribal culture and dragons… yep, you read that correctly, dragons. Here's how to take a walk on the wild side and get truly off the beaten track on an Indonesia holiday:

Komodo Dragons Fighting

There be Dragons here…

While Bali and Lombok steal most of the headlines for travel in Indonesia, Flores and neighbouring Komodo are the places to be for the more discerning traveller. What these two islands lack in luxury they more than make up for in character and charm. Don't expect to find any slick resorts here; you'll likely be staying in a monastery or guesthouse. Flores is best explored on your own two feet; its otherwise inaccessible landscape is positively bursting with exotic flora and fauna and even the odd luminous volcanic lake!

Neighbouring Komodo island is home to that most mythical of creatures, the dragon, all be it in a slightly different guise to the fire-breathing, Game of Thrones variety. Seeing these rather brutish beasties in the wild is pretty hard to beat and an absolute must for anyone heading to Indonesia. If it isn't currently on your bucket list, it's time to make an addition. Your inner beach bum needn't feel left out either because there are some beautifully pristine examples just waiting to be discovered around Komodo too.

orangutan eating a banana in Indonesia

Welcome to the Jungle…

Those looking to inject a little action and adventure into their Indonesia holiday should look no further than the island of Sumatra, which sees hardly any western visitors at all. In fact the locals are so unused to seeing western people you may end up feeling like more of a tourist attraction than the island itself! Once famous for its tigers and cannibals (who have thankfully vacated the island… fingers crossed), Sumatra is a real taste of authentic Indonesia. Head into the jungle to Bukit Lawang to enjoy some great walking (not for the faint hearted, you may find yourself crawling on your hands and knees at some point) and the opportunity to see orangutans in the wild (another bucket list moment). Although the scenery is spectacular, it's the people of Sumatra that make it such a special place and exploring small villages and experiencing local traditions will surely make this a holiday to remember.

Back on Track…

Getting off the beaten track is all well and good but it's fair to say it's always nice coming back to some creature comforts. What better way to end your Indonesia holiday of cultural learnings and adventure than with a dash of luxury? Head to Sumba and the beautiful hotel of Nihiwatu; the only property on the island. With just 13 rooms, a private beach and its own surf break, you'll still feel a world away from anything remotely touristy. Incidentally, for any brides or grooms to be, if you're thinking of a romantic Indonesian honeymoon then Nihiwatu should be at the very top of your list. And if relaxing on the beach becomes too taxing there's plenty to keep you occupied, from tribal village visits to guided tours of the many Stone Age sites near the hotel. Dreamy.

So there you have it, from luminous lakes to orangutans and dragons, there's plenty to discover on an Indonesia holiday.