Run, don’t walk, to Komodo National Park in Indonesia. It is one of the most extraordinary and beautiful places that I have ever visited and it is virtually untouched. I don’t know if that will last. Where else in the world can you hop on a boat and spend days exploring uninhabited islands with pristine beaches, some of which are pink? You throw on a mask, snorkel and some fins and you find yourself swimming with giant manta rays, turtles and breathtaking fish, coral and plant life. If you need a little bit of danger to spice up your life, hike on Komodo or Rinca Island, the two islands in Komodo National Park where Komodo dragons run free. We did all this and more.
My family of 6 went to Indonesia for 17 days in March. My children were 13, 14, 16 and 20 years old at the time. We went to five unique destinations and had dozens and dozens of mind blowing experiences. We went to Bali, Komodo National Park, Kelimutu on Flores Island (to hike the volcano), Borneo (to see the orang-utans), and Yogyakarta on Java Island (to see Borobudur, the oldest Buddhist temple in the world). In the next two blogs, I am going to discuss our experiences in Komodo National Park. But, stay tuned for future blogs on the other destinations.
Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site located within the Lesser Sunda Islands near the provinces of East and West Nusa Tenggara. The park includes three large islands called Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and 26 smaller ones. The total area of Komodo National Park is 1,733 km2 or 670 mi2. Except for park rangers, the islands are uninhabited.
Komodo National Park is within the Coral Triangle. The region has 76% of all known coral species in the world. It is a habitat for 37% of the world’s reef fish. More than 3000 species of fish live in the Coral Triangle. In addition, it is home to six out of the world’s seven marine turtles species.
Before leaving Flores Island (where our flight landed), we had to purchase daily entrance tickets to Komodo National Park. Police boats cruise the waters making periodic checks that tickets have been purchased. We never came across one during our stay, but it must be a serious matter. Our tour guides always asked for and held onto our tickets before we left for our day.
We flew 1 1/2 hours from Bali to Flores Island. Employees of the resort met us at the airport and drove us 15 minutes to the port. After that, we took a 45 minute speed boat ride to our hotel.
We stayed four days at the luxurious Komodo Resort on the deserted island of Sebayur. It is located just outside of Komodo National Park. From now on, when I think about running away from home to live on a beach with gorgeous accommodation and delicious food and drinks, I will think of this resort.
Komodo Resort had sixteen seafront bungalows with private bathrooms and terraces. They were kept impeccably clean. All meals were included in the cost of accommodation. Breakfast was by buffet, but lunch and dinner were served a la carte. I can attest from watching my 16 year old son eat, that there were no limits to the amount of entrees or desserts that we could order (except self control – obviously lacking by my son). The Chef specialized in Indonesian and Italian food. Incredibly, the resort had a pizza oven and we had a pizza night.
Completing our experience, the resort had a beach-side spa and bar. We loved ending our day with a massage, followed by drinks to watch the sunset. The overall vibe to this resort was beach bum meets tropical cocktails with umbrellas. The staff hangs out at the beach bar in the evening all the while making sure we had everything that we wanted or needed. It was a fantastic blend of excellent service and friendly, down to earth, people.
Excursions into Komodo National Park
Each night, we booked our next days excursion with the Komodo Resort. It offered scuba diving, snorkelling, and land based excursions in Komodo National Park. We do not scuba dive, but based upon the extraordinary sea life that we witnessed while snorkelling, I would definitely consider getting my scuba license and returning.
Each day, we had a boat to ourselves with a staff of 5-6 people. For snorkelling, we had a guide in the water, a spotter on the boat, and one person in a motorized dinghy keeping an eye on us. On board, staff were on hand to offer us a steady flow of water, soft drinks, tea, coffee, beer and snacks through the day.
I won’t lie. I booked our visit to Komodo National Park because I wanted to see the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. How cool was that going to be! I knew that while we were at the resort, we would be able to snorkel and swim, and hopefully visit Padar Island (sometimes currents make it difficult to reach from the resort). But, these things were going to be “add ons”, to basically fill up our time at the resort.
Well, I can not tell you how absolutely and completely wrong my expectations were. Spending time with the Komodo dragons was definitely cool and unnerving, but everything that we did left me awe struck. Komodo National Park is a global centre of marine biodiversity where we witnessed nature at its best. It felt magical every day.
The details of our four day adventure in Komodo National Park can be found in my next blog called Komodo Dragons and Pink Beaches: Just Another Day In Indonesia.
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