Traditional villages and stunning volcanic lakes pepper the landscape of Flores, making it an intriguing prospect to explore before setting sail for Rinca’s enigmatic shores. Rinca is a conveniently accessible island, covered in dramatic volcanic scenery and skirted by pink sand beaches, offering enticing glimpses of Komodo dragons when explored in the company of a National Park ranger. Further afield, beyond the dragon-free, emerald green hills of Padar, Komodo Island is much less busy. Shoreline resorts and live-aboard sailing boats offer access to all areas, both above and below the waves.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Your guide beckons you to follow along an arid, rocky footpath. The sun beats down, there hasn't been rain for weeks, and the occasional sea breeze provides scant respite from the dry, volcanic conditions. Your knowledgeable guide tells you that Komodo Dragons were nearby just the day before, and has high hopes for a sighting. These creatures are large and fierce looking, although actually fairly docile, and when they move, boy can they move quickly! Rinca is one of three locations in Komodo National Park inhabited by the dragons. As the closest island to Flores, it’s especially popular with day trippers. Komodo Island is wilder and less busy, and well worth going the extra miles for if you've got time to spare.
It feels like you've been underwater for hours but, in reality, it has only been a few minutes. The sunlight catches the crystal clear ocean waves as you stare across the surface towards Padar Island’s emerald hills in the distance. You'd heard Manta Point was good for snorkelling but this exceeds all expectations; the diversity and sheer volume of coral and colourful fish is incredible. Take a deep breath and dive under the surface again...A seahorse bobs by, and another, and then you spot something larger. Is it a ray? A turtle? A reef shark? Coming up for air again, you see white sails juxtaposed against a cobalt blue sky and wonder what other delights the waters have in store.
Waking up to the sound of waves lapping against the bows of a converted wooden phinisi (traditional Indonesian sailing barge) is just one reason among many why live-aboard sailing boats in Komodo National Park work so well. There's nothing to beat enjoying nasi goreng for breakfast on deck, as the tempting smells from the galley entice you out of your cabin. Days spent paddle boarding, snorkelling or kayaking in otherwise inaccessible volcanic lakes are absolutely unforgettable, although explorations on dry land, before the day trippers arrive, are equally as exciting for dragon hunters. Live-aboard boats allow you to sail to parts of Komodo National Park that the day trippers and cruise ships simply can't reach.
From cruising the jungle waterways of Kalimantan’s rainforest and spotting orangutans, to soaking in the culture in Java to a few days relaxing on Bali and Komodo island - this is a trip full of beautiful contrasts in Java, Kalimantan, Bali and Komodo.