The Banda Islands are an archipelago of eight islands, some of which are volcanic. These islands were known as the 'Spice Islands' in the 1400s, because of the valuable spices grown here. Today the islands are popular for diving and snorkeling, with the waters of the coral reefs teeming with underwater life. Fishing is also a popular activity.
The western half of the island of new Guinea was once known for its villages in the Baliem Valley, whose inhabitants were unknown to the outside world only in the 19th century. Once a popular tourist destination, today this island is the scene of secessionist warfare, and is many areas are restricted to tourists.
Lombok, about 50 kilometers east of Bali, is another popular island to visit, although it has none of Bali's natural beauty. There are plenty of temples around the island, and local handicrafts such as rattan baskets and woven fabrics are the best known. Tourist spots are located around Senggigi Beach. The Gunung Rinjani has hot springs and an active volcano. Surfing is popular at Desert Point, and for those who want to go off the beaten tract, the Gili Islands of the northwestern coast has quiet beaches, spectacular coral reefs, with no cars or motorbikes to disturb the peace.
Sumatra in western Indonesia, with volcanoes, lakes and dense rainforests, is second only to Bali in scenic beauty. Lake Toba, a volcanic lake set amidst beautiful mountains is one of the best known destinations. The towns of Medan and Bukittinggi are also on every tourist's map, the latter being well known for its fiery Padang cuisine.
Yogakarta is Java's capital, and a hub of educational, cultural and economic activity. Indonesia's premier university, the Gajah Mada University is in the old city. There are various arts centers, markets, galleries, craft shops and bazaars. The art of 'wayang kulit', Indonesia's famous leather puppetry shows, have been best developed in Yogakarta. Borobudor is 1000-year-old Buddhist temple filled with historic art