10 of the best Indonesia kayak destinations

Jul 08, 2014 BY Tez Plavenieks

Indonesia is part of the world’s largest archipelago and offers more quality paddling options than you can shake a paddle at. We have selected 10 of the best Indonesia kayak destinations that are just waiting to be explored, all you have to do is hop on a plane and paradise is a few hours away.

Komodo National Park

See Komodo Dragons in the best Indonesia kayak destinations

If you’re looking for seclusion, fabulous beaches and unique wildlife then it’s definitely worth checking out the Komodo National Park – home of the fearsome looking Komodo Dragon. For sheer beauty it doesn’t get more special than this, with abundant exotic animals and water absolutely teaming with fish and other colourful creatures. No Roads Expeditions have a range of Komodo kayaking adventures suitable for beginner to advanced paddler.

noroads logoTrips can be tailored to suit your ability and fitness level, and there is a support boat if you want a break. With the opportunity to snorkel, scuba dive and explore the islands on foot this is a well recommended Indonesia kayaking holiday. The trip starts and ends in Bali with an optional Flores extension. Accommodation is a combination of hotel, eco-lodge and safari style camping on remote and beautiful beaches. You can find out more by visiting www.noroads.com.au.

Lake Toba

If you’re searching for tranquillity then look no further than Lake Toba. At 100km long and 30km wide it’s an extensive area for paddling – it just so happens to be a super volcano as well (something that only adds to the adventure). Situated in the North Sumatra province Lake Toba makes it into the 10 best Indonesia kayak destinations list for its beauty and sheer vastness. Kayakers who love to cover ground will no doubt be fulfilled by a trip to this part of the world.

Asahan River

White water nuts will be rewarded by putting in on the Asahan River – 150km of high volume H2O kayaking goodness. Noted for its full throttle hour long rapid runs the Asahan is a kayaking destination that’s now seldom visited, and yet should be on every paddlers bucket list. After the Zambesi, in Africa, and the USA’s Colorado River, the Asahan is hailed as the third best white water destination in the world so saddle up and head on over to paddling nirvana.

Mahakam River

Indonesia’s Mahakam River flows 980km from Long Apari in the highlands of Borneo to the mouth of the Makassar Straight. The Mahakam is the most important traffic/trade route in East Kalimantan and offers touring kayakers a wealth of adventurous possibilities for exploring and discovery. There are plenty of tours along this stretch of water but paddling by kayak will give visitors a unique experience of Borneo.

Kayaking in Komodo National ParkSee Komodo Dragons on of the best Indonesia kayak destinations


For the half way point of our whistle stop tour of the 10 best Indonesia kayak destinations it wouldn’t be right to not feature Bali. More commonly associated with surfing than paddling this well known Indo island is great for sea kayaking and partying – if you’re into that kind of thing. There’s also a bit of white water paddling to get involved with if you choose, and don’t forget the surf! Rounding out your days with a few Bintangs – life couldn’t get any better!

Raja Ampat

The islands of Raja Ampat are a little tricky to access but the difficulties in getting there will be well worth it when you’re paddling in paradise. Translated as the Four Kings, Raja Ampat is an archipelago of over 1500 islands, cays and shoals all perfectly placed to be explored at length in a kayak. Dominated by the sea the main occupation of local people is fishing and with such abundant sea life you’ll be in awe. Beautiful and unspoilt, due to its inaccessibility, if you’re the type of paddler who wants to escape from it all then this Indonesia kayak destination is for you.

Thousand Islands

To the north of Jakarta lies the Thousand Islands chain which is made of 110 outcrops of which only 13 are fully developed. 23 are privately owned, 11 have resorts, two are national parks with historic interest while the rest support the fishing trade or are simply uninhabited. For kayakers this means a wealth of opportunities to discover new places and get lost in a network of land masses that are as beautiful as they are diverse. Plenty of wildlife and marine life can be seen while the picture postcard views are simply stunning.

Snorkeling in the best Indonesia kayak destinations

The Gili Islands

Lombok’s Gili Islands serve up gin clear waters and perfect conditions for sea kayaking. Popular with tourists looking to escape, it makes our list of 10 best Indonesia kayak destinations because of its beauty and back to nature feel. Once out on the water you’ll be hard pressed to find another soul as you explore and while away the hours under a blazing tropical sun. It’s worth noting that currents and tides around this part of Indonesia can be brutal so a guide is a must. There are a number of kayaking tour operators in the area so best check with them before you put in.

Mentawi Islands

The Mentawai Islands are synonymous with gaping blue barrels and shredding surfers chucking buckets (of spray that is) – what most don’t realise is that with skill and inclination this Indonesian island chain is also perfect for a spot of surf kayaking. We’ll not lie, some of the breaks in the area offer pretty intense experiences and consequences of getting it wrong will result in unceremonious meetings with Mr Reef. But if you love nothing better than big powerful drops and arcing top turns, the Mentawi Islands offer an amazing surf kayaking experience for high intermediates or advanced paddlers. The best course of action is to hit up one of the many surf camps in the area as this will put you in the best position for accessing some incredible surf. Kayak glamping one of the best Indonesia kayak destinations

Batam Island

Back to the tranquil and less frenetic form of paddling and Batam Island offers the chance to enjoy the tranquillity of abundant mangrove fields while checking out the diverse wildlife. One of the largest islands in the Riau archipelago Batam was declared a free trade zone in 1989 which improved the area’s fortunes – turning it from a poverty stricken outcrop of land into a thriving tourist destination.

Although not as off grid as some locations Batam still delivers a cracking kayaking experience with plenty to discover as you float through the tropics. Whichever location you choose from our 10 best Indonesia kayaking locations you’ll be guaranteed a memorable time. So without further ado it’s time to load up and get kayaking.

For more information on kayaking holidays in Indonesia we recommend you contact No Roads Expeditions. You can get in touch by email: [email protected], telephone: +61 3 9598 8581 or just check out their website: www.noroads.com.au.

Asia, Bali, Gili Islands, Indonesia, Jakarta, Java, Komodo Island, Komodo National Park, Lombok, Mentawai Islands, Raja Ampat, Sumatra, Western New Guinea
Kayaking, Sea Kayaking, Snorkelling, Surfing
Komodo Dragon, Surf Kayaking, Touring
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