Must see attractions in Nusa Tenggara

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kelimutu

    Kelimutu National Park

    Kelimutu National Park is a Nusa Tenggara must. Its centrepiece is Gunung Kelimutu, crowned by three startling lakes that shift colour thanks to dissolving minerals. Try to swallow your outrage at locals paying only 10,000Rp entry and lap up the ethereal beauty instead. Alert local guides if you dream about the sacred lakes – apparently siren-like spirits have lured people to their demise, which can be avoided if the right prayers and offerings are made.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Komodo & Rinca Islands

    Komodo National Park

    Established in 1980, this national park is one of Indonesia's – if not the world's – greatest natural treasures. Within its 1817 sq km area are Komodo, Rinca and Padar Islands, as well as smaller islands and a rich marine ecosystem that affords divers unforgettable underwater adventures. Those who spot ora, snorkel or climb to Padar's peak are equally spoilt.

  • Sights in North & Central Lombok

    Gunung Rinjani

    Lording it over the northern half of Lombok, Gunung Rinjani (3726m) is Indonesia's second-tallest volcano. It's an astonishing peak, and sacred to Hindus and Sasaks who make pilgrimages to the summit and lake to leave offerings for the gods and spirits. To the Balinese, Rinjani is one of three sacred mountains, along with Bali's Agung and Java's Bromo. Sasaks ascend throughout the year around the full moon.

  • Top ChoiceSights in West Sumba

    Weekuri Lagoon

    Almost as far west as you can get on Sumba is one of the island's most magical spots, Weekuri Lagoon. On one side, locals and tourists rent black rubber rings for 10,000Rp and float in the cool, crystal water; on the other, the Indian Ocean rages against rocks and bursts through cracks and blowholes, best viewed from the bisecting bridge. Allow at least half a day to enjoy it, a bargain at 20,000Rp per person. It's about 45km from Tambolaka.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kuta

    Pantai Mawan

    This beach is reason enough to venture down Kuta way. Some 8km west of Kuta and 600m off the main road, this half-moon cove is framed by soaring headlands with azure water and a swath of sand that's empty save for a fishing village of a few thatched houses. The beach is terrific for swimming. It has paved parking, some modest cafes and large trees for shade. Sun lounger rentals are 50,000Rp.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Paga

    Pantai Koka

    About 5km west of Pantai Paga, look for a small, partially paved road that runs for 2km through a cocoa plantation to a stunning double bay. Facing a promontory are two perfect crescents of sand; one protected and another with views out to sea. Eat grilled fish (50,000Rp) at Blasius Homestay, or stay in the basic bamboo accommodation (rooms 200,000Rp).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Ruteng

    Spider Web Rice Fields

    The greatest local site is actually 20km west of Ruteng near Cara kampung. The legendary Spider Web Rice Fields are vast creations shaped as implied, which is also the shape of Manggarai roofs that fairly divide property between families. For the best view, stop at the small pavilion, pay 25,000Rp and ascend a dirt path to the main viewing ridge.

  • Sights in Riung

    Seventeen Islands Marine Park

    These uninhabited islands are as diverse as they are beautiful. The mangrove isle of Pulau Ontoloe hosts a massive colony of flying foxes and a few Komodo dragons, while Pulau Rutong and Pulau Temba boast picture-perfect white sand and turquoise waters. There's great snorkelling near Pulau Tiga, Pulau Laingjawa and Pulau Bakau, but wherever you visit, you won't be disappointed.

  • Sights in Rote

    Pulau Ndao

    Pulau Ndao, which has more powdery white-sand beaches, limestone bluffs and a tidy, charming ikat-weaving, lontar -tapping (collecting nirah (sap) from lontar palm tree flowers) fishing village that's home to nearly 600 people who speak their own indigenous dialect, Bahasa Ndao. There are some fantastic swimming beaches up the west and east coasts, and good though inconsistent surf off the southern point. Ndao is 10km west of Nemberala.

  • Sights in Kuta

    Tanjung Aan

    Some 5km east of Kuta, Tanjung Aan (aka A'an, Ann) is a spectacular sight: a giant horseshoe bay with two sweeping arcs of fine sand with the ends punctuated by waves crashing on the rocks. Swimming is good here and there are trees and shelters for shade, plus safe parking (for a small charge). Warung Turtle, at the east end of the beach, has cheery service and cheap beer, while the western headland Bukit Merese is worth climbing for spectacular sunsets.

  • Sights in Waingapu

    Air Terjun Tanggedu

    Northwest of Waingapu is arguably Sumba's best waterfall. Expect to spend two hours or more making the 60-or-so-km journey along roads that leave a lot to be desired, followed by a 40-minute trek through savannah or grasslands, depending on the time of year. What awaits will blow you away: two rivers run between time-layered limestone cliffs and converge into waterfall terraces that feed into multiple pools.

  • Sights in Selong Blanak

    Pantai Selong Blanak

    Behold the wide, sugar-white beach with water streaked a thousand shades of blue, ideal for swimming. You can rent surfboards (per day 50,000Rp) and arrange for a boat out to area breaks (from 100,000Rp). The parking lot is just 400m off the main drag on a good road, the turn is 18km west of Kuta. The beach is popular with locals, loungers rent for 50,000Rp per day and there are lots of bamboo warungs.

  • Sights in Senaru

    Air Terjun Sindang Gila

    This spectacular set of falls is a 20-minute walk from Senaru via a lovely forest and hillside trail. The hardy make for the creek, edge close and then get pounded by the hard, foaming cascade that explodes over black volcanic stone 40m above.

  • Sights in Selong Blanak

    Pantai Mawi

    This is a surf paradise: a stunning scene, with legendary barrels and several more beaches scattered around the great bay. Watch out for the strong rip tide. There's parking and vendors; surfboard rental is 50,000Rp for two hours. The turn for the beach is 16km west of Kuta; it's then a 3km drive down a rough road to the beach.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mataram

    Pura Lingsar

    Just 6km east of Mataram, in the village of Lingsar, this large temple compound is the holiest in Lombok. It was built in 1714 by King Anak Agung Ngurah and is nestled beautifully in lush rice fields. It is multi-denominational, with a temple for Balinese Hindus (Pura Gaduh) and one for followers of Lombok’s mystical take on Islam, the Wektu Telu religion.

  • Sights in Bajawa

    Bena

    Resting on Inerie's flank, Bena is one of the most traditional Ngada villages. It's home to nine clans and its stone monuments are the region’s best. Houses with high, thatched roofs line up in two rows on a ridge. They're interspersed with ancestral totems including megalithic tombs, ngadhu, (thatched parasol-like structures) and bhaga (miniature thatched-roof houses). Most houses have male or female figurines on their roofs, while doorways are decorated with buffalo horns and jawbones – a sign of family prosperity.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Soe

    Air Terjun Oehala

    Look for a road going north off the main highway, drive 6km and turn east at a sign for 'Oehala'. After 3km is a parking area, from which it's a short walk down steep steps to gushing water diffusing over huge boulders in a silvery sheen. The jungle setting hasn't seen any maintenance for years, but on the plus side it makes the whole thing feel very Jurassic Park . Crowds leave rubbish behind on weekends.

  • Sights in Kalabahi

    Desa Takpala

    About 13km east of central Kalabahi is the majestically preserved, mountain-top village of the Abui people, Alor's largest ethnic group. It's one of the more accessible and tourist-friendly villages, with locals happy to show you their multi-level houses with pyramid-shaped grass roofs designed to store food. A 50,000Rp donation is appropriate when signing the guestbook.

  • Sights in Manggarai Country

    Liang Bua

    The limestone Liang Bua cave, where the remains of the Flores ‘hobbit’ were famously found in 2003, is about 14km north of Ruteng. Archaeologists believe that the lip along the entrance permitted sediment to build up as water flowed through the cave over the millennia, sealing in human and animal remains. Listen out for rumours of more recent, sacred sightings.

  • Sights in Bajawa

    Wawo Muda

    Wawo Muda (1753m) is the latest volcano to emerge in Flores, exploding in 2001 and leaving behind a mini-Kelimutu, complete with several small crater lakes coloured variously burnt orange, yellow and green. Pine trees charred by the eruption stand in isolated patches, and there are spectacular views of Gunung Inerie. The area is best visited in the wet season from December to March, if the trails are not too muddy. The lakes usually evaporate in the dry season.