Things to Do in East Nusa Tenggara
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Komodo National Park covers 669 square miles (1,733 square kilometers) of islands and pristine ocean. Its attractions are twofold: Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizard, and lush reefs. Besides the dragons, wildlife includes boar, bats, deer, wild horses, and monkeys.
Located just off the western tip of Flores in Indonesia, Rinca Island offers some of the best and most unique wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. It’s one of the few spots on Earth where you can see Komodo dragons in the wild (and it’s often overlooked in lieu of neighboring Komodo Island), and the convergence of nutrient-rich currents in the waters just off the coast create conditions for some of the best diving in the world.
The Komodo dragon, the island’s most popular resident, can weigh in at over 300 pounds (136 kilograms), and they’re easier to spot in the wild on Rinca, as tourism has had less of an impact than on Komodo Island.
The 76-square-mile (198-square-kilometer) island sits within Komodo National Park, and as such, visitors to the island must be accompanied by a guide, as the large lizards can be dangerous—and even deadly—when they (rarely) attack.
Besides the giant lizards who give the park its name, Komodo National Park is also well known for its beautiful and undeveloped beaches. One of the most unique is Pink Beach (Pantai Merah), named for the rosy sand that gets its color from eroded bits of red coral from the nearby reef.
Clear, calm waters make the beach an excellent site for snorkeling, especially since the coral reefs just beneath the surface are home to hundreds of species of marine plants and animals. Located about 15 minutes by boat from the Loh Liang boat jetty, Pink Beach makes for a convenient place to relax in the sun or cool off in the water after a day of trekking in the national park.
Located on the outskirts of Komodo National Park near Rinca, Kalong Island isn’t famous for Komodo dragons like other nearby islands—it's famous for the colony of giant fruit bats, nicknamed "flying foxes,"who live in the island’s mangrove forests.
At dusk each day, tens of thousands of bats emerge from the trees and take to the skies in what is one of the most stunning natural displays in the park. For nearly 30 minutes, wave after wave of bats pass over the anchored boats on their way to forage for fruit on the surrounding islands.
Kalong Island sits about 5 miles (8 km) from Labuan Bajo, and the boat journey takes just less than an hour. Consequently, many tours to Flying Fox Island include a stop at Rinca Island for snorkeling in the afternoon before anchoring for sunset at Kalong.
A popular attraction for visitors to Labuan Bajo on the Indonesian island of Flores, Batu Cermin (Mirror Rock) Cave takes its name from the light that shines through a small gap in the rock and bounces off its silica walls. Though it has some interesting marine fossils, stalactites, stalagmites, and bats, it’s the light effects that make this small cave special.
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