Komodo National Park #mypacemyway - Padar Island, Komodo Island, Pink Beach, and Bat Sunset
Updated: May 21
Travel Notes by Gita Natalia
Since we spent most of the days diving, we only had a day left to explore while we were in Labuan Bajo. Initially, we didn’t plan to charter our own boat but we wanted to visit different things (aka completely different route) and no tours offer the route we wanted. Hence, we had no other option. We told the captain we wanted to visit Padar Island, Komodo Island, Pink Beach and Kalong Island to watch the bats when the sunsets. Not the ideal route but the captain managed to fit it all.
We had to wake up early, 5.00 am-ish to get ready for pick up at 5.45 am. Then we were transferred to the boat and began the 4-hour journey to Padar Island. We opt for the ‘slow’ boat because it’s cheaper. We didn’t expect much. First, it’s slow and it’s a wooden boat (no facilities whatsoever like the fancy fast boats). However, the trip ended up better than we expected. The boat was spacious! It was designed to fit up to 12 people but there were only 2 of us plus the captain and his son. They also provide us with lots of cushions. We could do whatever we want. There was also free flow of coffee, tea and bananas included on the boat. It’s literally coffee with a view.
The journey to Padar was slow but that’s what we needed. It was so calming watching the waves and islands feeling the wind on my face while the boat moves slowly. We saw a few dolphins hopping off the water too! I’m sure we would’ve missed that if we took the faster option. The 4 hours journey didn’t feel that long. I was lost immersing the beauty of the islands and the tranquil blue sea. You know what, it feels like sailing through the prehistoric islands when dinosaurs and dragons still exist. Well, I was about to see one anyway.
We eventually reached Padar Island, the infamous picturesque view at the top of the viewpoint. We began our morning exercise slowly walking up the trek. It took a while for our sleepy bodies to adjust but we kept on going, slowly but surely.
Our next stop is Komodo Island. If you are planning a visit to see Komodo Dragons, you can either go to Rinca Island (closer to Labuan Bajo) or Komodo Island. Ian, a tour guide at Komodo National Park explains The Differences of Komodo Dragons in Rinca Island and Komodo Island. Anywhere you go, whether it’s Rinca or Komodo Island, it is compulsory to go with local rangers. There are locals who live on both Komodo and Rinca Island but we don’t really see the locals if we opt for the shorter treks at either island.
We decided to take the shorter trek because we still have a long way to go. Our guide explained about the best time to see Komodo is early in the morning when the Komodo Dragons are most active hunting for prey. The afternoon was too hot for the cold-blooded beasts but we’re lucky to find a couple of them relaxing under the shade. In fact, we could see then closer but still at a safe distance. Seeing Komodo Dragons during their laziest state wasn’t so bad after all.
The trek continues to the seaside of the island where we found lots of deer. Because of the topology of Komodo Island, deer, which were brought into the island, survive and multiply and they become the prey for the Dragons.
The next stop is Pink Beach, which located on the other side of Komodo Island. As you see on pictures everywhere on Instagram, the beach can get that pink depending on the time of the day. The pink hue is caused by millions of tiny broken pieces from corals, shells and calcium carbonates left behind by Foraminifera (microorganism that makes corals and shells turn pink). We didn’t take any pictures at Pink Beach. Our boat couldn’t dock closer to the shore so the captain told us to just jump. I was hesitant but did it anyway. My curiosity has overcome my doubt and so I jumped. I remember swimming as fast as I could to prove with my very own eyes of the pink hue. We spent hours laying by the beach, observing the pink particles we could find among the sand.
Our last stop is to Kalong Island, where the thousands of bats hide during the day but come out as the sunset. We were once enjoying ourselves again on the calming journey across the sea. 3 hours later and we reached nearby a mangrove forest of Kalong Island. We were early but I love the time I spent just laying down and watching the blue sky turned pink. Soon after more boats joined us. They tied on each other's boat as we all waited for the sun to set.
As the sun began to set we saw hundreds of bats coming out from Kalong Island towards the direction of Labuan Bajo. The more we watched more bats came out. Suddenly there were thousands of them flying across the island and began to fill the pinkish-orange sky. I reckon there were more than ten thousand bats because we kept seeing the endless stream of bats when we left Kalong Island.
The day was getting darker and we set ourselves back to Labuan Bajo. Watching as the purple sky turned to pitch black. Left with only tiny twinkles from the other boats and resorts from the distance. 2 hours later we started to see a bright horizon, filled with lights. It looked like New York City lights from the distance but I knew we were approaching the place where it all started.
Before I got off, I thank the captain and his son for the trip. I asked him if they are heading home tonight. I was shocked when he said they stay on the boat. It can be a week or a month, depending on how busy the season is. I realized during my travels, I only remember the memories I had with the places, experiences and the people I traveled with. I often forget that there are people who work really hard to make those places and experiences happen
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