“That beach can’t really be as pink as that.” I told W, as I was browsing through Komodo Island’s Pink Beach on his Instagram account. A few days later, we docked on that same beach. And I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was bowled over. Its sand was even more pink as the photo I was shown.
|ABOVE AND BELOW INDONESIA’S KOMODO NATIONAL PARK|
Besides komodo dragons, the largest lizard on the planet and a living Jurassic creature at that, the Komodo National Park also boasts of beautiful beaches and extensive underwater gardens fit for snorkeling and diving. The three we visited, much as I wouldn’t want to admit it, can go head to head with the best that the Philippines has to offer when it comes to beaches.
|THE PINK BEACH IN KOMODO ISLAND|
Pantai Merah or Red Beach in Bahasa Indonesia, Komodo Island’s Pink Beach, well, has a really pink beach. Its sand, infused with crushed foraminifera corals, tints its shore with a pink hue, especially the parts that meet the sea. There are only a handful of pink beaches in the world (about eleven, I think), two of them—Subic Beach and Sta. Cruz Island—are located in the Philippines, and one of them, here in Indonesia.
|WHAT MAKES IT PINK? CRUSHED RED CORALS.|
We visited the beach right after a tour looking for komodo dragons on another part of the island. The question that was running on my mind then as I was swimming along its clear aquamarine waters was, could komodo dragons swim?
|AMAZINGLY CLEAR WATER|
And indeed, after conferring with our Indonesian friends, she confirmed that they can. Why there were no komodos on this part of the island, I have no idea. But still, I’m only too glad there are no dragons here, this beach is too gorgeous to be off limits for swimming.
|THE HIGHER VIEWING DECK AS SEEN FROM THE LOWER ONE|
|MORE COVES AND BEACHES AT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND|
There are two viewpoints set along the western and eastern end of the cove, the former higher and steeper for trekking than the latter. Hiking towards its peak looks quite manageable (definitely easier than at Padar Island) even for a non-hiker like me, but the heat of the midday sun was simply too much. I opted for the easier hike of the two, which still cost me a gallon of sweat right after. From the apex, I could see a few more beach coves farther off, albeit with rockier shorelines.
|LUSH UNDERWATER LIFE|
We had our lunch on an elevated wooden hut just a few steps away from the beach. I went straight to the water right after, ignoring the age-old warning from my grandma that one should never swim right after eating a full meal. Well, with an abundant underwater life as those at the Pink Beach, I would break that warning over and over again.
|DOCKING AT KANAWA ISLAND|
We were looking for manta rays along the Flores Sea but they’re off busy somewhere else. With no mantas in sight, our speedboat sped somewhere else. And that somewhere else is Kanawa Island.
Our boat slowed as we approached its wooden jetty and everyone took a peek at the waters below. It was invitingly crystal clear, so much so, that one of our companions couldn’t resist but dive down even before we docked. A few more followed suit. I was about to follow too, but then, our boat finally docked; might as well don a pair of fins before jumping on the water, haha.
|THE WOODEN JETTY TO THE ISLAND|
While everyone else proceeded towards the island where a café was set by the beach—Kanawa Beach Bungalows Resort’s Starfish Café—we passed on their Italian fares and stayed right at the docking hut several meters from the shore.
|LOVELY PLACE FOR AN AFTERNOON TEA, OR BEER|
Kanawa Island looked very promising. And as snorkeling addicts, we wasted no time diving down its warm blue-green waters. Our hunch proved to be correct. The world below the island was teeming with lush corals and multitudes of colorful fishes.
|THE UNDERWATER DROP AT KANAWA ISLAND|
|SNORKELING AT KANAWA|
I followed a drop on the northwestern side of the reef, slowly gliding above the abyss, enjoying the sights. When I thought I’d gone too far, I went a few meters towards the shore before heading back the way I came. The water was expectedly shallower on the way back, about a meter and even less on some parts, everything carpeted in thick healthy corals teeming with fishes. Kanawa Island, hands down, definitely has the most beautiful snorkeling site of those we visited during our Indonesian trip.
|KELOR ISLAND NEAR LABUAN BAJO|
The heavens brooded with rain as we docked on Kelor Island. Located a few kilometers away from Labuan Bajo and not really part of the Komodo National Park, it was our last stop of the day. It is a convenient beach destination in Flores if ever you have an hour or so to spare before going back to town.
|THERE’S A TRAIL TO THE TOP OF THE HILL|
Similar to the Pink Beach, the small island has a view deck atop its hill. The trail, however, was very steep, crumbly and from my estimate, even higher than the one at Komodo Island. Still, a few of our companions braved the trek. But with our limited time, and the heavens about to lash out, I decided that snorkeling would be a better option.
|STONY SHORELINE AT THE BACK OF THE ISLAND|
|N, PREPARING TO SNORKEL|
Most of my friends spread their beach blankets the back of the island. I found its water to be too choppy and with poor clarity though, so I went back to the frontside where the sea was calmer.
|A SCHOOL OF YELLOW FISHES ALONG A GROUP OF SPIKY SEA URCHINS|
|FOUND THIS BELOW KELOR ISLAND|
I dove down and small fishes started biting me. What the heck?! The bites weren’t really that painful, but they were very disconcerting! You needn’t go far to find the corals at Kelor Island, while that would’ve been convenient, it was a bit of a problem here, with me trying to minimize my movements to avoid the spikes of black sea urchins on the shallow coral bed and the fishes making me jerk in surprise from their bites.
|MAY I PASS, MA’AM?|
One particular fish confronted me on my way back to the shore, seemingly intent on challenging me for swimming on her domain. I ignored her challenge and swam gracefully away after taking her portrait. And just as I was about to clear her area, she bit me on my calf! Take it easy, sister! I’m already going back to dry land!
~ THE INDONESIA MINISTRY OF TOURISM INVITED ME AS A PART OF THE TRIP OF WONDERS TOUR. VIEWS, OPINIONS & BIASES, ALL MINE.
Komodo National Park
Address: West Manggarai Regency,
East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Pink Beach GPS Map: -8.601176, 119.520077
Kanawa Island GPS Map: -8.497182, 119.758554
Kelor Island GPS Map: -8.549381, 119.815058