Cruise the Orchid Isles | TravelManagers Australia 0 The tropical waters of the Java Sea are bounded by the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi, which are sometimes known as the Orchid Isles. Its waters are teeming with marine life and shipwrecks, while its islands are home to a diversity of cultures and landscapes, from active volcanoes and ancient Buddhist temples to vibrant cities and great food. The tiny Indonesian island of Pulau Weh sits just off the northern tip of Sumatra, and its main city, Sabang, was once an important port in the region. Explore the local markets and pick up some fresh tropical fruit before spending the day relaxing and snorkelling at one of the island’s beautiful beaches. Coffee-lovers must try the locally-produced Acehnese coffee. In Central Java, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Borobudur is one of the world’s largest Buddhist temples, and is considered one of the three great archaeological sites of South East Asia, along with Angkor Wat and Bagan. It was built in the eight or ninth century and consists of nine stacked platforms, topped by a central dome and decorated with relief panels and hundreds of Buddha statues. Its park-like setting in central Java, with the active volcano Mt Merapi steaming in the background, makes it well worth the visit. Surabaya is Java’s second-largest city. As well as extensive shopping centres and boutiques, it’s a great place to get a taste of Javanese culture: visit the Mpu Tantular Museum of Javanese culture and the Grand Mosque or soak up the grand colonial atmosphere of the Majapihit Hotel over high tea. In East Java, you can take a one-hour drive from the port town of Probolinggo, followed by a twenty-minute walk through lush rainforest, to reach the magnificent 600-foot Madakaripura waterfall, which falls in a cascade of mist-like rain to create an unforgettable sight that’s sometimes known as the eternal waterfall. Probolinggo is also gateway to Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, where you’ll find two of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes. A luxury cruise is an ideal way to experience this region, allowing you ashore to explore during the day before returning to the comfort of your ship, where you can enjoy a cocktail as the sun sinks below the horizon.