KOMODO NATIONAL PARK: OUR TOP PICKS
Home to the largest, unique and rare lizard species on the planet called the Komodo Dragons, the Komodo National Park is located off shore an hour away from The Seraya and include three major islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar islands, as well as numerous islets which together cover 603 square kms area. There are at least 2,500 Komodo dragons across Komodo Island and Rinca Island that they share with horses, wild buffalo, deer, wild boars, snakes, monkeys, various types of birds, and other wildlife.
Aside from dragons, the national park also features outstanding natural landscapes. Here you can find exceptional pink sand beaches, a rare occurrence in the natural world. Aside from its striking colour, the beach offers a stunning reef for snorkelling backdropped by dramatic rock cliff faces. Away from the shores, the seas around the islands in this National Park offer vibrant colours of coral reefs and exotic marine life. Snorkelers and divers will be enthralled as endless schools of fish ride the waterways rushing up from deep sea vents, below them is the seabed covered with a thick carpet of fluorescent corals and marine invertebrate, a true paradise for macro-photographers.
The coral reefs in the Komodo National Park are pristine, alive with Mantas, sharks, giant turtles, dolphins, dugongs, many pelagics, to the tiny pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, frog fish, you name it. The sites vary from gentle easy coral slopes to heart pounding adrenalin rides, from the warm waters of the Flores Sea in the north to the chillier waters down south in the Indian Ocean, the underwater terrains are also varied with sheer cliff walls, pinnacles, sandy flat bottoms, underwater plateaus, slopes, caves, swim-throughs, channels, all with varying colours, sizes and types of both hard and soft corals that together make the Komodo National Park a beautiful experience not easily forgotten.
The Seraya is located 9km north of Labuan Bajo, the port town and gateway to Komodo National Park. Removed from the hustle and bustle of the town but a stones throw from the incredible wonders of Komodo. We have put together a list of our top picks and the hot spots you really don't want to miss!
Manta Point is not a point, but a huge area covering around 400 meters in width and 2 kms in length. This stretch of underwater terrain hosts a number of cleaning stations, which is where special cleaning fish and critters live. The manta rays hover over and circle these cleaning stations while their little friends pick off bacteria, parasites and dead skin from the skin.
Most of the manta rays here are reef manta, with wingspans between 3 to 5m. They are completely harmless and are actually quite inquisitive, making encounters with them extra special. Manta rays eat mainly plankton, gliding around with their wide open mouths filtering all the goodness of their microscopic prey. They are more commonly spotted towards the end of a rising tide when all the nutrient rich cooler waters from the south are pushed up through Komodo National Park. If you are lucky enough, there is possibility to encounter the ninja manta ray, which is also called melanistic, featured by black belly. Another spectacular encounter to hope for is witnessing a mating train which is a mating ritual whereby the males majestically sail and swirl through the water following the female in an attempt to impress her.
Stunning crescent shaped sand bar islands in the middle of the ocean, located not too far from Manta Point. With pink hues in the sand and crystal blue waters, this has to be one of the most idyllic places in the world. Not only does it offer the spectacular photo opportunity above the water, it also offers a stunning reef which is home to many turtles.
Komodo National Park is famously known for its strong currents and radical sea topography. Taka Makassar provides a sanctuary, especially for families with young kids, to enjoy the shallows and take in Komodo's captivating scenery.
The lesser known pink sand beach, is located on the south west side of Padar Island. We prefer to go to Longbeach as it has seen far less tourist activity than the Pink Beach on Komodo Island. You will experience the awe inspiring phenomenon of the pink sand and stunning snorkelling opportunities. The water is much cooler as Longbeach is located further south than all of the other attractions of Komodo National Park. This cooler water brought up from the nutrient rich vents of the Indian ocean promotes a vibrant coral reef which you can experience right off the shoreline. The Seraya takes guests to Longbeach on our speedboat, Wahoo, as it is able to day trip to these outer reaches of Komodo National Park.
Mauan is a small island boasting a beautiful beach with pink hues as well as a stunning reef to snorkel and dive. Located near to Siaba Besar, Mauan is a popular dive site for people of all skill level. Providing visitors with both the intricate coral garden to the sandy slope where you will likely spot a Manta Ray enjoying a cleanse at one of the cleaning stations.
Padar is small, but is the third largest island of Komodo National Park, and was once a stomping ground for the immense dragons that gave the reserve its name. Padar is mostly savannah-covered, staggering cliff faces and peaks which are vibrantly green in rainy season or crisply golden through the dry season. The major attraction to Padar is its panoramic views of the Komodo National Park. With Rinca island to the East, Komodo Island to the west and the speckled islets which disappear into the horizon. The trek to the top is around 45minutes at a leisurely pace with a number of lookout spots to snap photos along the way. A specific quirk to this island which wows its visitors is the three different coloured sand beaches: pearly white, charcoal black and the rare baby pink. These turquoise bays' pop with colour and provide unbelievable views you will not quickly forget.
Turtle City! Siaba Besar is a popular dive site, for all skill levels, however it is also a great snorkel stop offering a chance to see the most incredible array of turtles. Huge green turtles, cuter hawksbill turtles as well as the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. Tt has two quite different parts: a sandy bottom and a large staghorn and coral reef. It is no surprise that our guests at The Seraya have named Siaba Besar as one of the most dynamic dive sites they have ever experienced. Everything from large green turtles and the occasional manta ray to the frogfish, and smaller again to the macro critters living in the enormous sea fans of the coral garden. Variety is the name of the game at Siaba Besar and you are will not be disappointed.
Komodo National Park's main attraction - Komodo Dragons - are found on both Komodo Island and Rinca Island. Although you are able to see these prehistoric wonders on both islands, we prefer Rinca Island as it provides our guests with a little bit more variety on their trek. As you disembark on to the jetty you will be picked up by a guide, wander through the mangroves dotted along the shoreline and across a savannah-like plain to the main rangers station. Along this walk it is not uncommon to spot monkeys, water buffalo, boars, deer and of course the dragons! Rinca offers short, medium or long treks either through the woodlands and undergrowth where the dragon nests can be seen, or up to another panoramic lookout over the bay. Our tip is to ask the guides if any dragons have been spotted on the medium or long trek (but typically the long trek is too long for our itinerary). Full disclosure, you will see the dragons around the main rangers station regardless of your trek. They are most commonly relaxing and keeping cool under the trees and buildings particularly during the hottest part of the day.
There you have it! Our top picks for Komodo National Park! The Seraya has an exclusive dive centre, Seraya Divers, which will take you on a trip of a lifetime to Komodo National Park. Full day, half day, diving, snorkelling, trekking, you name it!
We are so lucky to call this part of the world home and share all of its wonders' with our guests. If you would like any more information on visiting us at The Seraya, contact us [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Photography: Oleg Breslavtsev [@beslavtsev] & Anastasiia Kryvenok [@nastyakryvenok]