Growing up in the middle of Canada, far away from any ocean, I had never spent much time by the water. In fact, I hadn’t even known that I really enjoyed spending time by the water until last summer when I was trying to explore some of the hidden gems of Toronto and discovered a few nice beaches along the way. However, nothing could have prepared me for the unparalleled beauty of the beaches in Indonesia.
Endless stretches of white sand and black sand and even pink sand beaches, palm trees swaying in the salty ocean breeze, glorious clear warm waters I could spend hours in — welcome to the beautiful beaches of Indonesia. During my two-week trip to Indonesia, a generous portion was spent on the beaches and by the water and, as such, I got to try many fun water activities for the first time. Here are 6 AMAZING water activities you have to try in Indonesia!
I was not used to seeing the giant ocean waves majestically crashing down at the beaches in Indonesia — a stark contrast to the tame ripples I see on the lakes in Toronto. As I saw these waves, images of surfers riding these giant waves popped into mind and I longed to try surfing.
When I was in Bali, I had the amazing opportunity to do just that. I took a two-hour surfing lesson with a friend at Odyssey Surf School in Kuta and wow — surfing for the first time was an exhilarating experience. Our instructor was named Made and he had been surfing and spending time by the ocean ever since he was a young child. He was very patient with us and had a good sense of humour too which was nice.
Though I had never given much thought to how people actually surf, and how they manage to keep their balance and remain standing while surfing through a giant wave, I now have a newfound respect for that talent. Although I didn’t manage to stand up on my board the very first try, I did stand up (and stayed on the board!) many times after.
Surfing was such a fun experience, albeit tiring. Every time we successfully stood up and rode the wave back to shore, we would have to make our way back out again. Shorter lessons over several days would be better — you can then spread out your surfing fun as well!
As the previous person lands, I am rushed into the area by a team of quick-footed boys and hooked onto the parachute by my harness. Moments later the speedboat that the parachute is connected to pulls away and I find myself soaring upwards, 10 or 20 meters in the air, high above the waters. Both nervousness and excitement are coursing through my veins, but as I look around at the breathtaking blue views, a sense of calmness washes over me. I am on cloud nine.
This is parasailing.
Although it may seem a bit daunting being so high up, parasailing is really not all that scary — and this is coming from a person was used terrified of heights as a child. I was simply mesmerized by the beautiful beach views I saw below me.
Landing is a funny little task. There will be a person on the beach holding flags and shouting which side to put your weight so you can safely land on the beach, a bit nerve-wracking but it should be intuitive.
Photo via Sutiknyo.
First of all, be warned — this is a strange one. You sit on an inflatable banana with around four other people, get dragged around by a speedboat, and try to hold on for dear life. Doesn’t sound like the typical idea of fun? But trust me, it is! Be prepared to also fall in the water and fall on each other several times — so much fun!
I was on — or this time, rather, in — another inflatable contraption being pulled by a speedboat. As I lay down with my back flat against this, a young local boy hovers above me. We are being pulled away from shore by the speedboat when it happens — we fly into the air several meters above the water’s surface! This inflatable contraption and my body become almost vertical and I’m looking down at the water below me. Ahh, I guess the local boy was making sure I don’t fall off.
I’d never seen or heard anything like this before so fly fish was a really fun and different experience. Apparently, this water activity is called fly fish because the inflatable boat we lie on looks like a flying fish. In addition to the lying down position I did, you can also sit on it like you’re riding a motorbike.
Photo via Sutiknyo.
If you’ve never snorkelled before, you are missing out — there’s an entire underwater world waiting to be discovered! Exploring the coral reefs of Wakatobi and Komodo National Park was surreal, to say the least. I came face to face with creatures I’d only previously seen in books or documentaries. The reef was teeming with a variety of tropical fish, invertebrates, brightly coloured coral and other marine life.
Wakatobi was where I went snorkelling for the first time and not just once, but three times in three days! On the first day, I was wearing a lifejacket and I probably drank a litre of seawater. On the second, I went without a lifejacket, started taking photos and videos with a waterproof camera, and tried the duck dive multiple times. And on the third day, I became a pro — just kidding. But I have now fallen in love snorkelling!
True to its name, the duck dive emulates the technique ducks use when getting food. After some deep breathing, you take one final deep breath and, just as a duck’s head goes into the water for food, you go into a tuck so that your head faces downwards and then kick your legs so that you go downwards. This skill allows you to come face to face with fish hiding in the crevices of the reef and make the acquaintance of all sorts of marine creatures!
Also, just so you know, Wakatobi is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and has some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving in the world. Second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Wakatobi has such a diverse array of marine life and you definitely need to go see it!
Admittedly, I haven’t dive in Indonesia and have never dived before… yet!
However, during my time in Indonesia, I met some amazing divers from around the world, saw the amazing footage they had captured while swimming with turtles, or exploring shipwrecks, or coming face to face with bizarre creatures straight out of The Twilight Zone — you get the picture.
Anyways, I’m convinced to get my PADI certification in the near future so that I can dive and explore these absolutely breath-taking locations for myself. The next time I’m in Indonesia, you’ll see me scuba diving!
Are you going to Indonesia and looking for more things to do? Check out 4 amazing places you have to visit in Indonesia!
Are there any other water activities in Indonesia I’m missing out on? How do you feel when you’re trying new activities for the first time? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
A special thank you to Odyssey Surf School for helping me check off surfing for the first time and to the Indonesia Tourism Board for inviting me on such an amazing trip to Wonderful Indonesia!