Diver and writer for Liveaboard.com.
Protected species: Komodo lizards are seen near a hut in Loh Buaya, Rinca village, Komodo district, West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara. (JP/Markus Makur)
One of the most well-known and diverse locations in Indonesia, Komodo National Park has something for everyone to enjoy. The volcanic islands offer an array of activities, from world-class diving to enjoying a rare pink sand beach, island hopping, hiking and more. As the dry season approaches, now is the perfect time to visit and immerse yourself in one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
Explore one of the New Seven Wonders of the World
After years of deliberation and millions of votes, the New Seven Wonders of Nature were unveiled in 2011. Komodo is one of them and it has earned its place among world-class travel highlights such as the Amazon and Iguazu Falls, offering a blend of striking landscapes, turquoise waters teeming with life and some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world. Plus, of course, this national park is home to the iconic komodo dragon.
There is nowhere like Komodo and the proposed higher tourist fee to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site confirms what we already know: It is simply not-to-miss. The dry season of April to October or November is the best time to visit.
Go on an island-hopping adventure of a lifetime
What better way to inspire your adventurous side than with an island-hopping live-aboard tour around the national park? You’ll be spoiled for choice with the main islands of Komodo, Padar and Rinca, plus 26 smaller islands. You can sail the seas, watch the landscapes change before your eyes and dive in to discover what lies beneath. It won’t be long before you’re choosing the next island to sail to, or watching the sunset turn the horizon orange and gold.
It doesn’t matter if you’re short on time either, as Komodo live-aboard safaris range from three- to 10-night adventures. You can choose from traditional Phinisi sailing boats or motorboats with all the modern conveniences, then let the crew take you to the best hidden gems they know.
Get up close to komodo dragons
A visit to Komodo wouldn’t be complete without meeting the iconic komodo dragons. The largest lizard in the world, these giants can grow to around 3 meters long and you can meet them on Rinca Island. The dragons are protected under Indonesian law and exist nowhere else in the world. Well-trained guides take you through several popular areas of hiking trails to meet these wild dragons, where they’ll mesmerize you with their languid movements, belying their exceptional hunting abilities.
Visit Komodo’s romantic pink beach
If you’re visiting Komodo with romance or a proposal in mind, be sure to visit Pink Beach. It is one of only seven pink sand beaches in the world and the pink hues against bright blue water make for unique photographic opportunities. The beach gets its pink hue from tiny pieces of coral and shell that have broken down over the course of many years.
Domestic and foreign tourists are seen on Pink Beach in the Komodo National Park in West Manggarai, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) on May 10, 2017. The site has become a popular spot for foreign visitors who want to enjoy the natural beach and underwater beauty. (The Jakarta Post/Markus Makur)
Swim with graceful manta rays
If you haven’t been swimming with manta rays yet, now is the time to do so. These huge graceful rays appear to dance in the water as they barrel roll and glide past you at close range. Komodo National Park has numerous manta rays and they can be seen there all year, with higher numbers present from December to February.
Dive pristine reefs with huge schools of fish and turtles
Komodo scuba diving draws tourists from around the world to experience some of the best diving and marine life in the world. This iconic dive destination gives you the chance to explore pristine and colorful coral reefs, surrounded by huge schools of fish. You can see turtles, dolphins, mantas and even the bizarrely-shaped sunfish, also known as mola-mola.
You can try your hand at night diving with octopus, squid and sharks, or search for weird and wonderful critters tucked away in the coral reefs.
This exciting and diverse dive destination is washed by currents, so is best experienced as an advanced diver. The best visibility is from November to January and sunfish can be spotted in August.
Disconnect from everyday life
With the increasingly busy pace of modern life, we all need a chance to disconnect. Komodo is a great place to do that, as you’ll be surrounded by nature and little else. You can enjoy sunrise from the deck of your boat, listen to the sounds of the ocean and truly switch off as you drift along with the current.
Relax like a real castaway on idyllic white-sand beaches
Everyone wants to escape to a remote white-sand island at least once in their life. At Komodo, you can make that dream a reality. With numerous islands to choose from, you’ll have plenty of time to sink your feet into the sand of uninhabited beaches and pretend you’re a real-life castaway.
Witness sparkling bioluminescence light up the ocean at night
When you’re busy admiring Komodo’s night sky and numerous stars, remember to check the ocean for bioluminescence. Tiny ocean creatures emit light at night, covering wave-washed shores and the wake of boats with thousands of sparkling blue lights.
Photograph spectacular views from the top of Padar Island
An aerial view of Padar Island between Komodo and Rinca islands near Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara. (Shutterstock/File)
For the best views of Komodo National Park’s dramatic landscapes, you need to put your boots on and hike to the top of Padar Island. You’ll be rewarded with undulating green island landscapes stretching into the distance, dotted with sandy beaches and views of coral reefs.
Seeing the view from the top of Padar Island is one of Komodo’s must-dos, where you can capture the perfect photograph to take home.
The author is a diver and writer for LiveAboard.com.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.