Gili Trawangan
See & Do

Isles of Wonder: Indonesia’s most enchanting retreats

With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is one of the world’s largest archipelagos. Millions of people visit these alluring islands every year, each one imbued with their own unique identity.

Many of these islands are home to fascinating myths and folklore. It might sound fanciful, but when locals share such stories, I listen with rapt attention, letting my imagination run wild.

If you’ll notice, most of these legends involve love. Here are some of my favorites:

Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands)

Pulau Seribu
Sunset on one of Pulau Seribu’s islands.

These charming islands are a popular getaway for Jakartans looking for a quick escape from the crowded capital. Located around 45 kilometers north of Jakarta, the chain of islands consists of 108 gorgeous isles and islets. However, you can only visit less than a third of them.

The closest island off the coast is Pulau Bidadari (Angel Island), dotted with cottages you can rent and laze around in, surrounded by crystal blue waters. According to locals, the island has a tree known as “Pohon Jodoh”, or “Soulmate Tree”. It’s believed that couples who have their picture taken underneath the tree will stay together forever.

Pulau Tidung is home to the Love Bridge or Jembatan Cinta. The 800-meter metal bridge connects the large Tidung Island to the small Tidung Island. Legend has it that you may just bump into your true love on this bridge.


Tanah Lot
The famous Tanah Lot Temple in Bali, where many visit around sunset.

This famous Indonesian island goes by many names, such as “The Island of a Thousand Temples” and “The Island of Gods”. Known for its beautiful beaches and historical temples, there’s a certain magic in the air, which some would say propelled them to fall in love.

While it’s a top honeymoon destination for many newlyweds, one of the most well-known myths linked to the island is that couples who visit Bali before getting married are doomed to break up. However, some myths specify that the curse only affects those who go to Tanah Lot, one of the isle’s most iconic temples.

If you’re not the superstitious sort, you shouldn’t let a myth like this stop you from visiting Bali or Tanah Lot! (I know several couples who have been to Bali before marriage, but are still together and happily married.)


Gili Trawangan
Swings and hammocks like these can be found along the west coast of Gili Trawangan.

If you’d rather not risk going to Bali, then you should definitely check out Lombok, a well-loved alternative.

Just off the northwest coast of Lombok Island are the stunning Gili Islands, comprising Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan.

The west coast of Gili Trawangan in particular has several swings in the sea where you can dip your feet in the water as you watch a riot of reds, pinks, and purples spread across the sky during sunset.

If that doesn’t help you fall in love, I don’t know what will!

Pulau Cinta (Love Island)

Patenggang Lake
Pulau Cinta stands in the middle of Patenggang Lake, near Bandung.

Set among smoldering volcanoes and emerald green forests, Bandung is a breath of fresh air, thanks to its cooler climate.

About a 2-hour drive south of the city is Patenggang Lake (also known as Situ Patengan), which offers scenic panoramas of the placid lake and surrounding tea plantations.

In the middle of the lake is what’s known as Pulau Cinta (or “Love Island”). The legend goes that Prince Putra Prabu of 15th Century West Java and Putri Titisan Dewi met on the heart-shaped island after being separated for years due to the difference in their beliefs.

Does their love story end well? You’ll have to go there and find out yourself! Check out today. 

A storyteller with an insatiable sense of curiosity. Travel junkie. Card-carrying member of many fandoms. Heavily dependent on caffeine. Loyal cat servant. Former journalist at the New Straits Times and Hybrid News.