You'd think that the most populous island on the planet (135 million souls - and counting - on an island half the size of Great Britain) would be somewhere to avoid like the plague while on holiday. You'd be wrong. Sure, the capital Jakarta is probably worth a miss, but if you want to discover what makes Indonesia tick, then Java, the capital island, should feature on any holiday itinerary.
Java's history - through centuries of Hindu and Buddhist imperial rule to the arrival of Islam and the later commercial exploitation of the Dutch East Indies - perfectly mirrors that of this nation comprising 17,000 islands in total. History alone makes Java a fantastic luxury holiday destination but there's more, so much more...
On arrival into Jakarta, and after you have adjusted to being surrounded by the capital's sheer volume of humanity, head as soon as possible to the surprisingly sparsely populated countryside. The scenery is wonderfully picturesque, with lush and extremely fertile (the main reason for the population explosion) green terraces taking advantage of all possible space. It's at this moment you'll notice what else populates Java in huge numbers - volcanoes. There are over 50 on the island, with 20 or so proving in recent years that they are far from dormant. As a backdrop to almost every view on the island, the summits can prove quite a menacing sight on the horizon but at sunset they are stunning with a wisp of smoke rising from the craters.
At least one volcano visit while holidaying on Java is a must, and touristy thought it may be, Mount Bromo is still worth exploration. Watching the sunrise over the caldera is hugely memorable, with dawn clouds spilling over the crater edge and the light changing across the four different peaks. After watching the sunrise from the crater rim, you can then head into the crater itself and then ride across to Small Bromo, the only active summit.
Away from the sheer natural beauty of the island, there are several cultural highlights including the stunning ten-tiered Buddhist temple of Borobodur, which has miraculously survived some 1,200 years of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Less fortunate but still worth a visit is the Hindu temple at Prambanan, which sustained a great deal of damage in a recent earthquake. The main temple is currently off limits, but the serene gardens surrounding the temple are still lovely.