Because it isn’t exactly meant for mass tourism, Komodo National Park remains to be among the country’s most exotic destinations. Costs of a trip going there can be quite steep; hence, so I was beyond thrilled when I was told that spending two days across the park’s islands was included in our itinerary. Our journey there was part of Trip of Wonders, an initiative by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism for bloggers and influencers.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Komodo National Park is composed of three main islands—Komodo, Rinca, and Padar—as well as a number of smaller islands, with its land and water surface area totaling to about 1,817 square kilometers. Its creatio was originally meant to conserve its most prominent inhabitant, the eponymous Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), yet its purpose has been expanded to protect its rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity against anthropogenic threats.
Tourist numbers to the park are kept at bay, thanks largely to the surrounding area’s relative inaccessibility and less developed tourism infrastructure. Costs can be quite prohibitive too compared to other Indonesian destinations. Nevertheless, those who are lucky enough to reach the island are rewarded with pristine beaches, clear waters, diverse wildlife, thriving dive spots, and enchanting views.
It was only fitting that we start our exploration of Komodo National Park in the world-famous Komodo Island. There, we did a fairly easy hike along its terrain, spotting the legendary Komodo dragons along the way. Atop a hill was a vantage point with a stunning view the island below and the waters beyond.
On another side of Komodo Island is Pink Beach, named such because of the pink blush its fine sand radiates. But aside from the novel color of the sand—which is tinted by crushed red corals—its crystal-clear waters are also inviting for a swim and for snorkeling.
Kanawa Island has little to offer visitors by way of infrastructure—electricity is scarce, and only one lodging option and restaurant exist. Being bare bones, however, adds much to the island’s quiet charm, making it a perfect spot for reading a book and for beach bumming, among others.
Aside from its tranquil shores, Kanawa Island is surrounded by a host of living treasures under the sea—from lush coral formations to schools of colorful fishes.
I was a little agitated upon learning that we were going hiking in Padar Island, since I detest most strenuous activities. But our Indonesian friends who’ve been there assured me that what we would be seeing was worth the effort.
As it turned out, the hike going up was harder than I expected with the trail being longer, steeper, and more slippery—though those who’ve been hiking elsewhere thought it was nothing.
The views from above, however, did not fail me—or anyone in our group for that matter—and I thought Padar Island was one of the best highlights of our entire trip.
After savoring a sumptuous spread for lunch, we were guided across the trails of Rinca Island to see more Komodo dragons, and surprisingly, they were more ubiquitous there than in Komodo Island itself. We had an even closer encounter with the mythical creatures, learning about their habitat, as well as their feeding and mating patterns from the park’s knowledgeable guides.
Only about 15-20 minutes by boat from Labuan Bajo in Flores Island is Kelor Island. Since it has no tourism infrastructure, it relies on its unspoiled white sand beach and its limpid waters to lure visitors in. Our group had a grand time exploring the marine flora and fauna underneath the surrounding waters.
How to get there: Labuan Bajo in Flores Island, where most tourists are based, is linked to Jakarta and Bali (Denpasar) by flight. Getting to and around Komodo National Park by boat most certainly needs arrangements with local tour companies, which aren’t hard to find within Labuan Bajo.