Indonesia is a destination that ticks all of the boxes. For many it is all about beach relaxation, and for others it is the perfect place for adventure. Komodo National Park delivers both in equal measure and spending a few days cruising through this extraordinary archipelago is bound to be a highlight of any trip. Asia specialist, Chloe, joins the dots between Komodo’s islands.
During my adventures in Indonesia, I travelled to one of the planet’s most remarkable destinations, Komodo National Park. This is a place that defies belief. The Komodo dragons are the obvious star attraction, yet the natural spectacle in Komodo National Park goes beyond those primordial lizards. The scenery is stunning; greens and blues go on for ever. And of course, on an island where the wildlife has no fear of humans, conservation is a vital consideration. After finally being able to visit this area myself, I can tell you that these islands are definitely something special. Every day was filled with ‘bucket list’ moments.
There are two ways to tour the Komodo National Park. One is to embark on a private cruise, which gets you out in the open ocean. The other is to stay in Plataran Komodo Beach Resort and go on day trips around the islands. I can safely say, neither option disappoints. This being said, I do recommend opting for a cruise to really immerse yourself in the ‘island lifestyle’. Three nights aboard a private boat is the perfect way to enjoy this incredible experience and there are plenty of options that we love to talk through with our guests.
We were lucky enough to try out one of the boats and were excited to arrive at Labuan Bajo airport to begin our cruise. Here we met our friendly ground team, transferred to the harbour and boarded our vessel. After a tour of the ship’s facilities we settled into our cabins and were soon relaxing on the deck enjoying the stunning surrounding scenery as the boat began cruising into the Komodo archipelago.
We had a four-day programme planned which included many of the main highlights of Komodo. The weather and sea conditions are always keeping things interesting, so it is important to remember that daily schedules are always subject to change. The boat crew sat us down every morning to go through the sightseeing possibilities of that particular day and we continued to be impressed by the crew’s profound knowledge about all aspects of Komodo. If anything, the slight spontaneity of the trip made things even more exciting, this really was an adventure! Each day we would anchor and set off onto land in the morning and then, once the temperature began to rise with the midday sun, we would spend the afternoon snorkelling. The waters were always a great relief and felt invigorating. The changing landscapes, scenery and sunsets were wonderful yet knowing you had a boat and your cosy cabin to go back to each evening also made it exciting, even when the day’s activities came to an end.
Whilst the whole experience was mind-blowing, I want to share some of my highlights…
Rinca Island. Rinca Island is the second largest island in the Komodo National Park and is home to the second biggest population of Komodo dragons. Our guide led us through a long circuit trek around the island, which took us approximately two hours (shorter walks are available) and we were lucky enough to spot seven Komodo dragons during our walk, including a two and a half metre giant!
Kalong Island. Our boat cruised to the Pulau Kalong island around sunset, where we anchored in the middle of the sea. As the sun disappeared into the ocean, hundreds of flying foxes soared over us as they headed to a neighbouring island in search of fruit.
Padar Island. You will need your hiking shoes as the trek to the top is quite steep! The hour’s walk is worth it though and witnessing the view from the top was a really special moment. The vista from the peaks of Padar Island is the arguably the most beautiful sight in Indonesia, and one of the prettiest I have ever seen.
Komodo Island. Komodo Island is the biggest island in the National Park and has the largest population of Komodo dragons. We were lucky to stumble upon a few giant lizards during our late afternoon walk with our private park ranger. Nothing can prepare you for the sight of these reptiles in the flesh. A definite high point of the cruise!
Manta Point. Some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in Indonesia are at Manta Point. They offer a truly magical experience and we were lucky enough to spot three magnificent mantra rays as well as turtles and a shark. The snorkelling in this area was by far the best we had seen during the whole trip. I was completely awestruck by the sheer numbers of colours under the sea.
Pink Beach. The world-famous Pink Beach is a must-see for any visitor to Komodo National Park. The name is due to its pink sandy beaches, made from a mix of white sand and pieces of red coral brought by the tide. We were advised to head out right after lunch as the beach is relatively quiet in the afternoon. This proved to be a great tip and it felt far more authentic with fewer visitors around. If you prefer to avoid tourists all together, please mention this to your cruise captain as Komodo has several pink beaches, so they can do their best to take you to a totally deserted stretch.
Kelor Island. Before heading back to the airport, our captain insisted we stopped at Kelor Island for some snorkelling and relaxation on the beach. This proved to be a great suggestion! We had a lovely final experience in Komodo and managed to hike to a viewpoint – the perfect end to a wonderful trip.