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  >  Destinations  >  Indonesia  >  Komodo Dragons & More!

Flores was colonized by the Portugese in the 16th century, and is home to lush rice fields, smoking volcanos, indigenous tribes and hidden beaches.  Although we didn’t manage to scratch the surface of the island, we thoroughly enjoyed the marvels around Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park.

There isn’t much to see in Labuan Bajo itself, but this town has become a backpacker haven as it is the gateway to Komodo National Park.  The park has three major islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar as well as numerous smaller islands making up 603 sq kilometers.  It is also home to at least 2,500 dragons, mostly on Rinca and Komodo, and is the only place in the world that you can see this creature.

The diving here is known to be some of the best in the world, with the diverse marine life and over 385 species of corals, mangroves and seaweeds. The locals themselves are great about taking care of their underwater garden and trying to preserve it.  We spent a day out on a boat enjoying three amazing dives — Siaba Besar, Manta Point & Batu Balong.  Batu Balong is rated as one of the top spots in the world, and it’s no surprise as it is literally like an aquarium along the reef, and then you turn your head into the deep blue ocean, you see reef sharks swimming by.  And Manta Point is of course, where you see Mantas!

Komodo Island is of course home to the famous Komodo Dragon, as well as some fisherman.  While they can’t guarantee seeing the dragons, we saw two immediately upon arrival, one of which was just hanging out next to a deer – quite the picture.  We then did a trek around the island and encountered another five dragons, the largest being about 6 meters!

Padar Island may get overshadowed by the famous Komodo, but the views as you climb up are breathtaking. Between the terrain and the views, it is like something out of a movie set.

Pink Beach is one of seven pink beaches on the planet.  The sand has a pink hue from the microscopic animals called Foraminifera which produce a red pigment on the reef, and the sand being made up of thousands of broken coral pieces.

Taka Makassar was not even on my radar, but I am so glad we ended up visiting this tiny beach.  It’s hard to explain, but it is literally a crescent shape plot of white sand in the middle of the ocean, with absolutely nothing on it, not even a hut.  Even at high tide, it doesn’t get completely flooded over.  The water around it is a perfect clear blue, and it feels like being in a swimming pool.

Kanawa Island is a little idyllic island surrounded by a spectacular reef, making it a perfect snorkeling spot.  It does have a restaurant on it, so it’s also a nice stop for a drink with a spectacular view.