Nusa Tenggara is a sprinkling of 566 islands trailing 1,300 km eastwards of Bali.

In contrast to Bali's lush profile, these islands have rugged landscapes of either dark, rich volcanic soils and harsh limestone outcrops. Together they account for 4% of Indonesia's total land, with 40 volcanoes, 25 of which are still active.

Largely missed by the historical mainstream changes in Indonesia at least 50 distinct groups of people in Nusa Tenggara still speak their indigenous tongues. Cultural and religious events are fraught with animist rites and ancestral worship. Other fascinations include the indigenous Komodo dragons - monitor lizards over two meters long, and three stark crater lakes of Mt. Keli Mutu which bear stunningly different colors, changing with the light of day.

Flights: Direct from Darwin to Kupang and from Singapore to Lombok. Inter-island flights from Bali and Surabaya.

Sea: Ferries from Bali.

Accommodations: Four star hotels in major resorts to simple quest houses. Dive resort at Maumere

Activities: Trekking, mountain biking, surfing, sailboarding, hang gliding & paragliding, sky diving, cruises & sailing and scuba diving.

Scuba Diving Lombok, Nusa Tenggara - Dragons...volcanoes...and diving to thrill the most jaded divers.

Lombok's three coral-ringed Gili Islands are Nusa Tenggara's most popular dive destination. Its calm, shallow waters are ideal for new divers. Beginners can also have a great time on Flores at Maumere's shallow reefs. Experienced divers can pump up the adrenaline at Maumere's steep walls and off-shore reefs. With more than 20 dive sites and more being pioneered, the problem with Maumere is finding time to do it all.

Further off the beaten track, Labuhanbajo and Komodo are impressive enough for the elite of international underwater photographers to return year after year. At Lembata, you can wangle a dive with pearl shell divers. Kupang promises plenty of wall diving with caves and big fish. Rod is rocky, with plenty of slopes and drop-offs profuse with soft coral.

Another of Nusa Tenggara's diving surprises is the P&O Spice Island Cruises, offering luxury live-aboard cruises with diving as one of many watersports activities. Special dive charters can be arranged to satisfy the most hard-core divers.