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Hidden Wonders of the Asian Pacific: Exploring Indonesia and Beyond by Sea

From the picturesque beaches of Bali to Java’s iconic Borobudur Temple, bucket-list sites abound in Indonesia and the neighboring island nations. But for every landmark in the Asian Pacific, there is an equally captivating treasure kept secret on a remote coastline or distant isle.

Exploring by ship allows you to make the most of your time in this vast and varied region, home to a trove of wonders most travelers will never know—like unusual species that evolved on isolated isles, or captivating Pacific shipwrecks, each with its own war story.

Embark on one of the small ships in the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fleet in a familiar port like Singapore or Denpasar, and you’ll soon find yourself sailing to distant shores that shine outside the limelight. A curated team of explorers joins each voyage to help you discover the region’s trove of treasures—from idyllic atolls to fire-forged archipelagos—in a way that only seafarers can.

This year is the last time our Indonesia expeditions will run for the foreseeable future. Don't miss your chance to explore this vibrant archipelago with us in 2024.

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Go Farther and See More Islands

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Guests explore Lingsar Temple, a sacred worship place for Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists in Lombok, Indonesia. Photo: David Vargas

Traveling by ship is the most efficient way to hop between Indonesian islands and other remote shorelines in the Asian Pacific. Avoid the hassles of airports and onerous ground transportation—unpack just once, sail effortlessly from one destination to another, and prepare for your next adventure in comfort.

During the day, take in the stunning scenery of tropical beaches, lush rainforests, and towering volcanoes. Overnight, rest easy as we travel swiftly across expanses of water, allowing you to start your day refreshed and energized in a new destination full of unique treasures. 

In a region that comprises tens of thousands of islands, a Lindblad-National Geographic expedition affords curious travelers the opportunity to go further and explore places off the tourist track.

Bounce between major metropolises like Singapore, Penang, and Phuket—or leave glittering skylines behind and sail to uninhabited tropical isles in the Natuna and Anambas archipelagos or to tiny villages in the Asmat region of New Guinea. Aboard our specialized vessels, even the furthest reaches of this sprawling maritime region are open for discovery.

Marvel at the Planet’s Richest Undersea Worlds

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A snorkeler explores a shallow coral reef in the heart of the Coral Triangle in Raja Ampat.

Manta rays and whale sharks, dolphins and octopi, massive schools of reef fish representing an incredible 3,000 species—welcome to the thriving Coral Triangle. Stretching from Malaysia to the Solomon Islands, this critical coral reef system is known as the “Amazon of the Seas” for its outstanding biodiversity. 

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic sails directly into the heart of this epicenter of sea life—through legendary archipelagos like Raja Ampat and the Banda Islands—so guests can explore incredible marine worlds while snorkeling or diving with our Undersea Specialists.

Jump into pristine turquoise waters that reveal a window onto oceans of the past, discovering reefs carpeted in tapestries of coral that harbor thousands of different types of fish, several sea turtle species, and much more. 

Our expedition ships are fully equipped with all the tools needed for underwater exploration, including dedicated snorkeling gear for each traveler and diving equipment for pre-qualified guests. For discovery above the surface, there are also kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and glass-bottom boats (aboard National Geographic Orion) that allow you to view marine life without getting wet.

Spot Rare Jungle Wildlife

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Komodo dragons roam the beaches and forests of Komodo Island National Park, the only place on Earth where you can spot this mysterious species.

Many of the species living in Indonesia and its neighboring nations can’t be seen in nature anywhere else in the world. Experience the thrill of spotting colossal Komodo dragons on the beaches and in the forests of Komodo National Park—the only place they roam in the wild.

Or be on the lookout for acrobatic orangutans in one of the few places you can see them in their natural habitat, the lush rainforest of Sumatra's Gunung Leuser National Park.

The region is also home to an array of fantastical creatures like raucous ‘barking’ deer, ‘walking’ fish that amble about on land, and the flying fox—actually one of the world’s largest bat species.

If that weren't enough, Indonesia is also a birder’s dream, with islands that harbor exotic avians such as red birds of paradise, cockatoos, Asian Fairy bluebirds, red-breasted parakeets, and Sulawesi hanging parrots.

Traveling between the remote island habitats that host each of these rare creatures is all but impossible without the capabilities of a small expedition ship.

Encounter an Array of Island Cultures

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Local Asmat people demonstrate the Spirit Pole Ceremony in Syuru Village, Papua. Photo: Brett Monroe Garner

Few travelers will ever have the chance to meet the incredible locals who make their homes on remote shores and tiny islands scattered throughout Indonesia and beyond. But thanks to our far-reaching expeditions and longstanding relationships in the region, guests have the unique opportunity to experience an authentic Indonesia that can only be accessed via ship.

Depending on the itinerary, you might enter the weaving village of Watublapi on Flores Island to chat with artisans making traditional ikat textiles, explore the fascinating skull caves and rock art of the Macassan culture, or witness the intricate ceremonies and rituals of the Asmat people from the province of Southern Papua, the Torajan people in Palopo, and the Madurese in Java to name just a few.

Locals are eager to welcome in guests aboard our ships with canoe escorts to their villages and jubilant celebrations of music and dance. Accept the invitation to be a part of village life for a time: perhaps to witness a wedding, cheer at a pole-climbing competition, or learn about the significance of exquisite artworks. All soul-stirring moments that will stay with you long after you've bid these communities good-bye.

Go Deeper with Onboard Expert Guides

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A National Geographic Photography Expert offers a guest tips to capture images on the island of Menjangan in Bali. Photo: David Vargas.

Traveling on a ship filled with Cultural Experts, Naturalists, Undersea Specialists, and Historians ensures deep insight into the remote places we visit, with no question left unanswered.

The experienced expedition teams aboard the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fleet enrich each voyage with presentations and accompany you every step of the way to provide valuable background and insight. 

They can facilitate our understanding of remote tribes and their unique customs, explain the meaning behind the architecture of the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and lead forays into the known habitats of unique wildlife.

Some of our expeditions visit important World War II Pacific Theater battle sites—from Guadalcanal and Red Beach to Kennedy and Peleliu Islands—and our Historians will be on hand to recount the battles and provide context to deepen our appreciation of the sacrifices made on these distant shores.

Experience Unsurpassed Camaraderie Aboard Our Small Ships

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The ship National Geographic Orion anchors off the coast of the Badas Islands. Photo: David Vargas

Our small expedition ships, with spaces purpose-built for relaxation and discussion, encourage interaction among our guests and expedition teams. Share exhilarating experiences in the field with like-minded explorers, and bond over the day’s adventures back on board. 

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic is committed to green business operations. Approaching the awe-inspiring islands of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and adjacent archipelagos by ship incurs the lowest human impact, eliminating the need for extensive built infrastructure or vehicular travel that contributes to carbon footprints and environmental degradation.

There are gems waiting to be uncovered in every corner of the Asian Pacific—and we design our itineraries to help curious voyagers experience the rarified encounters that define the region’s many facets. In a pocket of the Pacific known for its rich seafaring traditions, there’s no more authentic way to discover its secrets than by sailing the open waters and letting nature be your guide.