Zia Suarez is always on the move. Surfer, model, content creator, tour guide, & Nomadix ambassador are only a few of her titles. She recently took a trip, sailing around Komodo National Park in Flores, Indonesia.
Nestled in the picturesque island of Flores, Indonesia, Komodo National Park is most widely known as the home of the legendary Komodo dragons, but this UNESCO World Heritage site offers any visitor jaw-dropping landscapes filled with lush emerald green foliage that dramatically plunge into crystalline waters filled with a kaleidoscope of marine life. Coral gardens, teaming with graceful manta rays, make way for deeper depths where whale sharks play.
Zia sat down with us to spell out how to get there, how long she recommends staying, and offered up a few of her favorite things to do in Flores.
Everything you need to know:
How to get there?
Only way to get here is by boat! We traveled from Denpasar domestic airport in Bali, local airlines such as Bathik Air and Air Asia have daily flights to Labuan Bajo by small planes. Labuan Bajo is the gateway to the Komodo islands.
Once in Labuan Bajo, you can proceed to Komodo by speedboat for a day trip or you can do what we did and do a full 3 day tour experience with @familylabuanbajotourandtravel which took us to all the best spots in Komodo.
The port in Labuan Bajo is about a 10-minute drive from the Labuan bajo airport where you can catch the boat.
I recommend arriving the day before your tour starts - a great place to stay the night is a hostel @seaestakomodo with an amazing rooftop restaurant with good food.
The tour also includes pick-up and drop-offs in Labuan Bajo, a private or shared room with a bathroom onboard the boat, all meals and drinking water, snorkeling equipment, towels, and a tour guide.
Length of trip?
Day trips are possible but I definitely recommend going for at least 3 days and 2 nights so you can visit all the iconic spots.
Most boat tour companies will take you to Kalong Island, Padar Island, Komodo National Park, Pink Beach, Punya Island, Kanawa Island, Kelor Island, Manta Point, and many other snorkel spots to swim with sea turtles and manta rays.
There is a huge range of prices for this trip based on your budget. We spent 2.5 million IDR total ($166 USD) per person with @familylabuanbajotourandtravel for a shared bedroom, 3 basic meals per day, water, and excursions plus 500K IDR ($33 USD) for the national park entrance fee. You definitely get what you pay for, so if you want a more luxury experience, costs can go up to 7+ million IDR ($500+ USD) per person.
I do recommend the company we went with for budget travelers - it felt like a home stay experience with very kind and accommodating staff, but very basic amenities. The cost is really up to you and your preferences!
There is so much to do in the area, but here are a few places we stopped.
Pink Beach, Komodo Island, Indonesia
This is one of seven pink beaches on the planet, and is just one of the many amazing features of the Komodo Islands that make it truly a Natural Wonder of Nature! The sand gets its “pink” color from microscopic animals called Foraminifera, which produces a red pigment on the coral reefs. The water is also exceptionally turquoise and crystal clear.
Kelor Island, Flores, Indonesia
A short hike of 15 minutes will lead you to a panoramic view on Flores, Rinca Island and many other small islands. The perfect spot to be a typical tourist and take pictures and selfies.
Two white sandy beaches are perfect to relax and snorkel around to see an abundance of marine life and grab a fresh coconut from the local restaurants on the beach.
An uninhabited island that makes for an awesome adventure when visiting Labuan Bajo in Flores. As there is no accommodation on the island, you can’t stay here overnight, but there are plenty of activities to do when stopping in for the day.
Simply enjoy the peaceful vibes Kelor Island has to offer, chill at the beach, or if you’re fancying some more fun-fueled activities, swimming and snorkeling are great options too.
Padar Island, Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Very popular spot, so waking up at 5am to start the hike and catch the sunrise at the top of what is arguably the most famous island in Indonesia would be the best time to go!
Padar Island Indonesia is one of the only places in the world where you can find pink, black, and white sand beaches all on one island.
Komodo Island, Flores, Indonesia
The only place in the world where you can see free roaming Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat.
Some Komodo Dragon facts:
Adult Komodo dragons can be 3 meters long (10 feet) and weigh more than 140 kilos (300 pounds).
Komodo dragons can smell blood from almost 10 kilometers (6 miles) and they can run in bursts of speed up to 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph). Truly dinosaurs!
They eat a mix of deer, boars, monkeys, birds, goats, wild horses, and water buffaloes. Their favorite food is the deer (Javan Rusa). They can also be cannibals sometimes and eat other dragons.
Kanawa Island, Flores, Indonesia
A tiny little Island fringed island with a bed of coral reefs abundant with colorful fish all around. Its turquoise water is exceptionally calm and clear. Nothing else to do besides relax, swimming and snorkeling.
Taka Makasar, Flores, Indonesia
Is a tiny sandbank that lies within Komodo National Park in Flores, Indonesia. Also known as the ‘Maldives of Indonesia’ or the ‘emerged land’, this island is smaller than a football field. The crescent-shaped pinkish sandbar is surrounded by shallow turquoise waters that look too good to be true!
We spent the sunset here, next to a hut made out of driftwood and watched the reflections of the low tide water turn into all the different colors of the sunset.
Siaba, Flores, Indonesia
Siaba Island is famous for its extraordinary underwater biota. This tourist spot is known as the home for turtles or what is called the “City of Turtle”. Growing colorful corals are a gathering place for turtles, jellyfish, cuttlefish, seahorses, mandarinfish, jaranseafish, cowboyshark, staghorn coral, anemone are can be found here. The clear sea water makes it easier for us to see life underwater.
It is the best place for scuba diving and snorkeling, the calm currents allow anyone to freely dive or snorkel here. You can do snorkeling or dive to a depth of 16-18 meters and can take photos with turtles, as long as you don’t disturb them. This was truly an unforgettable life experience for us all!
Follow along with Zia's adventures :
IG : @zia_suarez
Check Out her other blog about traveling in Scotland: