In 1883, one of the most violent volcanic eruptions ever known occurred in the Sunda Straits, off the west coast of Java, ripping apart the island of Krakatau and causing an immense cloud of scorching dust and a tsunami that left tens of thousands dead. Waves the height of 7-storey buildings sped at over 400mph across the ocean, eventually reaching South Africa and New Zealand.
Today, the island lies deserted and barren, but makes a compelling side trip from Jakarta. More interesting than the remnants of the defunct volcano is its more active offspring, Anak Krakatau, which rose from the depths in the 1930s and still periodically spews rivulets of molten lava. Volcanic activity permitting, you can climb to the rim of the caldera for a superb panoramic view of the surrounding archipelago.