Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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Komodo Dragons and Pink Beaches: Just Another Day in Indonesia.

White, black and pink beaches on Padar Island.

Spending time with Komodo Dragons, giant Manta Rays, Flying Foxes, and swimming turtles


****This article was featured on Lonely Planet’s Best Family Travel Blogs: Best In Travel 2019

A couple of weeks ago, we came back from Indonesia. Our family of 6 (13, 14, 16 and 20 year old children) spent 17 days exploring many islands all over Indonesia.  One of our highlights was the four days we spent in Komodo National Park where we hiked surrounded by Komodo dragons.

But, seeing the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat was merely one extraordinary experience that we had in Komodo National Park. We swam with turtles and manta rays, and snorkelled in some of the most beautiful and biodiverse waters in the world. We watched spectacular sunsets that left us speechless and discovered deserted pink beaches.


Komodo dragon
An enormous Komodo dragon lurking around the Park Ranger buildings in Komodo National Park.


Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is made up of 29 uninhabited islands and the waters surrounding them. In my previous blog The Unbelievable Wonders of Komodo National Park in Indoensia, I discuss in detail what makes Komodo National Park a destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Also, I describe how to get there and where we stayed.

In this blog, I am going to write about our day to day activities while we were there.  Without question, we were mesmerized and astonished by some of the animal encounters that we had, and by the natural beauty that surrounded us. It was truly some of the best days that I have ever had on a holiday.


Day 1


Komodo Dragons 

We arrived at our hotel, the Komodo Resort, had lunch and left a couple hours later on our private boat for our first excursion. We headed to Rinca Island to visit the Komodo dragons. Komodo dragons are the largest lizard in the world. They can grow up to 3 m or 10ft long, and weigh up to 70 kg or 150 lb. Their bite is venomous and deadly to humans. To make matters worst, they are extremely fast. Months before, when I booked this part of our trip, I thought it would be an amazing experience to hike on an island where these animals were wild and run free. However, as we approached Rinca island, I looked at my children and wondered whether I had made a huge mistake.

The boat ride, like every boat ride we had during our stay, was beautiful and serene. We lounged on bean bag pillows on the top deck, mostly under the roof to protect us from the very hot sun.  We watched islands go by and spotted birds and fish, barely coming across another boat or person.


Going to see the Komodo dragons in Indonesia
Mike and I hanging out on the bean bags on top of the boat.


Rinca Island

Upon arrival, we were met by two park rangers. While we walked, one led us in front and the other walked behind. They each carried a long stick with a “V” at the end, our only weapon to defend ourselves in the event a Komodo dragon attacked. Let’s just say we were unimpressed by this show of force! My oldest son thought this was a good time to remind us that we didn’t have to outrun a Komodo dragon, we only had to make sure we weren’t last. As I sheepishly looked around at my competition – my children, husband and two park rangers who were small but I figured very fast – I felt like I had just become a contestant in the Hunger Games.


Stick for Komodo dragons


We went on a one hour hike. We saw lots of Komodo dragons near the start of the hike and the park ranger buildings, but thankfully, none were lurking around any trees or rocks during our hike. I was thrilled to spend time with the Komodo dragons. However, I was equally thrilled when we left. I found being near these fierce and deadly creatures to be a little stressful.

We saw a family leaving the park when we first arrived. A man was carrying a child that looked to be around 2 years old and a woman held the hand of a 5 year old. I would NOT recommend bringing young children onto Rinca Island and being near the Komodo dragons. These animals are deadly and unpredictable. Children should be mature and alert. However, it looks like there are no age restrictions. They leave the decision to the parents.


hiking around Komodo dragons
Hiking in Komodo dragons’ natural habitat.


Komodo dragons
This photo seemed like a good idea at the time! Not so sure right now!


Flying Foxes

From Rinca Island, we boated around an hour away to a humongous mangrove forest near Pimpe and Flores Islands to watch the sunset and see the flying foxes.

All we knew before we arrived was we were going to see bats, which happened to be called “flying foxes“. That’s it. We considered the possibilities: perhaps, we would be getting off the boat and hiking to a cave to see them; or maybe, taking the boat into a cave and watching them from there. Suffice it to say, we were absolutely unprepared for what happened.

Once we arrived, we remained on the boat and floated around waiting for some instruction. As the sun slowly set, we spotted a group of birds in the distance that we initially thought might be the bats. There were around 30-40 of them and I thought, that’s nice but not sure this is all that big of a deal. Then, all hell broke loose.

Suddenly, these enormous creatures began to emerge from deep within the mangroves and fly over our heads. They were only 15 m or 50 ft above us. After a moment or two of stunned silence, we realized these were the bats. Flying foxes are the largest bat in the world. They have a wing span of 1.5 m (or 4 ft 11 in) wide. Every night around 6:00 pm, thousands and thousands of these bats leave the mangroves and head to nearby Flores Island to eat fruit.


Flying foxes in Indonesia near Komodo dragons


flying foxes after Komodo dragons


For 30 minutes, we sat on our boat and watched these animals in their nightly migration while the sky turned orange, pink, purple and finally red.  It was such a mesmerizing scene that I kept asking myself whether this was really happening – that somewhere on this earth this nightly ritual occurs and somehow, we got a front row seat to watch it.

Sunset near Komodo dragons






sunset after Komodo dragons


sunset after Komodo dragons

And that was day one!


Day 2 


Snorkelling and Swimming with Turtles

We spent the day swimming and snorkelling in multiple spots in Komodo National Park. I don’t think that I have ever seen more beautiful underwater coral, reefs, and plant life. I felt that I had been dropped into a world that Dr. Seuss had drawn – fantastical colours and shapes were everywhere just below the surface of the water. We saw fish, of course – lots and lots of spectacular and exotic fish. But, it was the coral and plant life that had me spellbound. I simply floated and stared. It was insane.


Sea life around Komodo dragons in Indonesia
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash


We went to four different snorkelling spots in the park. They were Makaser Reef, Batu Bolong, and near the islands of Mauan and Siaba BS. We swam with enormous turtles near Siaba BS. It was magnificent.

Everywhere we went, the water was warm and we felt very safe. We had a guide in the water with us, a spotter on the boat, and another crew person in a motorized dinghy following us from behind. With life jackets and similar supervision, young children comfortable in sea water should be able to participate in this activity.


Swimming with turtles after seeing Komodo dragons
Photo by Tanguy Sauvin on Unsplash


Day 3


Padar Island

In the morning, we headed to Padar Island where we hiked up to the top of a mountain. The hike took about 30 minutes. Overall, it wasn’t a difficult hike but it was very hot, steep in certain places and a little slippery on small loose pebbles in certain spots along the way. Young children should hold hands with their parents and stay in the centre of the path. There wasn’t any fencing until we reached the top.

From there, we had breathtaking panoramic views of nearby islands and deserted beaches. Incredibly, this included seeing three different coloured beaches at the same time – black, white and even pink. It was an absolutely stunning view.


Padar Island near the komodo dragons in Indonesia
Three different coloured beaches – white, black and pink!


After, we boated to Sara Island and hung out on our own pink beach. We swam, snorkelled and explored this tiny piece of paradise. There wasn’t another boat or person in sight.


beach time near the Komodo dragons


Swimming with Manta Rays

Notwithstanding the incredible experiences that we already had in Komodo National Park, swimming with the manta rays was one of the most breathtaking things that I have ever done.

We headed back to Makaser Reef where the manta rays liked to swim. This was one of my favourite spots from the day before. We had not found any manta rays, but the coral and plant life was stunning. Once we arrived, we started to put our snorkelling gear on when one of our guides yelled and pointed “manta, manta”! I ran over to where the guide was and looked into the water where he was pointing, but I couldn’t see the ray.  All I could see was an enormous black shadow under the water that looked like a rock. Determined not to miss this experience, I jumped into the water as fast as I could.

I immediately looked down with my goggles and spotted the manta ray. It was ASTONISHING. First of all, it was GINORMOUS! Manta rays reach between 5.5 m – 7 m wide (or 16 feet – 23 feet). I had no idea! The day before, I was looking for cute little things, maybe slightly bigger than a standard seat cushion in a couch, maybe hiding on the bottom of the ocean or tucked behind some coral. Well, there was no way this creature was ever going to hide from anything.

Manta rays near Komodo dragons in Indonesia
Photo by Julia Wimmerlin on Unsplash


We spent about an hour swimming with 4 manta rays. In that hour, my whole family could not believe that we were swimming with these majestic creatures. They are completely harmless and gentle. They swim with their enormous mouths wide open, eating tiny plankton by filtering what gets scooped into their mouth. I still think back to our time in the water and shake my head at the beauty and wonder of these creatures.




Every day that we spent in Komodo National Park felt like we had won the lottery. We basked on our own boat gliding though remarkably beautiful and untouched islands and beaches. At our pleasure, we snorkelled and saw extraordinary reef and plant life, unlike most any place in the world. We survived a hike in the natural habitat of Komodo dragons, and for a moment in time, we swam with some of the largest, most magnificent creatures in the seas. Komodo National Park is an untouched jewel that is waiting for you to explore!


If you are interested in reading more about our adventures during our three week trip to Indonesia, here is a list of all the articles that I have written:

The Unbelievable Wonders of Komodo National Park In Indonesia;

Komodo Dragons and Pink Beaches: Just Another Day in Indonesia;

Kelimutu: A Breathtaking Indonesia Volcano and Its People;

Exploring the Untouched Beauty of Kelimutu Indonesia

A Stunning Borneo Ecotour With Teens

Trekking For Orangutans in Indonesia

Indonesia: The Magic of Lightning Bugs In the Rainforest

Indonesia: The Phoenix Hotel Yogyakarta, Food and Fashion

A Mind Blowing 17 Day Indonesian Adventure With Teens


If you would like to save one of these articles for future use, then please click on the “Save” button on the photo below. If you think someone else might find this article interesting, please feel free to share this article on your social media channels. Have a great day!

I am thrilled that Lonely Planet chose this article to celebrate Best in Travel. Our four day trip to Komodo National Park in Indonesia was extraordinary. We hiked with Komodo dragons, swam with giant manta rays and turtles, hung out on deserted pink beaches, and witnessed thousands of flying foxes on their nightly migration. What are you waiting for? #travel #familytravel #bestintravel #lonelyplanet #worldunesco |Asia, Flores, Komodo Resort, Makaser, mangrove, Padar Island, Pimpe, Rinca,

Komodo National Park in Indonesia is filled with beauty and nature. We spent four days hiking with Komodo dragons, swimming with manta rays and turtles, and discovering deserted pink beaches. It was extraordinary.| bats, teen, child, Flores, flying foxes, Komodo, Komodo Resort, Makaser Reef, mangrove, migration, Padar, park rangers, Pimpe, reefs, Rinca, Sara Island, UNESCO World Heritage Site


  • Wow wow wow what an incredible trip! Komodo dragons, amazing underwater pictures, stunning views – I’m definitely a little jealous! Thanks for the wanderlust-inspiring post!

  • I love wildlife so much. I knew about the Komodo Dragons, but I didn’t realize there was such a broad range of other wildlife to see. Thanks for sharing. Your turtle pic is great! #weekendwanderlust

  • It looks like you had a great time there. Komodo dragons, manta rays and all. I will check out all your pther posts about thos trip. My favourite island in Indonesia is Sumatra, I wrote about it on my blog.

    • Thanks. I read your post about Sumatra. I really wanted to go there, but I couldn’t squeeze that into the time we had. I laughed when I read about how you couldn’t look at noodles for a long time. My oldest son became like that!

  • We saw komodo dragons in Bangkok and they were SO SCARY!!! Love the pictures of all the other animals plus the pink beaches though! #WeekendWanderlust

    • I was very unnerved by the Komodo dragons. They were not cute and looked like they wanted to eat us as soon as possible. I loved spending time with them, but I don’t need to do it again!

  • What a wonderful experience! I would love to explore these islands but I wish the dragons were not around. I am not that fond of reptiles and these look scary. I once saw one at a zoo and it was huge! I have the hunch they are bigger in the wild. Other than that the islands look beautiful!

    • I don’t blame you. The Komodo dragons are very dangerous and scary looking. But, they only reside on two of the islands and you must have Park Rangers assigned to you when you visit. The rest of the islands are beautiful and uninhabited and waiting for exploration.

  • Pink Beach, or Pantai Merah, as it is aptly named, is one of seven pink beaches on the planet, and is just one of the many amazing features of Komodo Island

    • Wow! I knew that pink beaches were rare but I had no idea that there were only seven of them in the world. Thank you for sharing.

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