Following the release of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” Bali's popularity skyrocketed for tourists around the world. Rightfully so with its perfectly terraced rice paddies, unique temples with mountainous backdrops and sleepy surf towns making it one of the top beach destinations in the world. However, in recent years there has been growing attention to one of the neighboring islands. After being invited by AYANA Komodo Resort to attend an Instagram Meet with some amazing influencers from around the world, I was thrilled to catch a plane and head out to the sunny Flores island.
While the uptick in tourism has caused concern for the local government and resulted in a proposed ban on visitors in order to protect the wildlife and eco system, the government revised the plan and will still welcome a limited number of guests. The restriction is designed to prevent a massive expansion of the tourist industry and keep negative consequences to a minimum which is important to maintain the balance of the eco system. Now is definitely the time to go before more people discover this bucket list bliss.
Here are a few of the highlights and what not to miss!
Pulau Padar Island
Not only does Padar have one of the rarest pink sand beaches in the world, but the island also boasts white and black sand beaches. Small reindeers offer a friendly welcome on shore and a quick hike up to the top provides an impressive overlook of all three colored beaches and the surrounding turquoise and cobalt blue waters.
Each evening the legendary sunsets consistently fill the sky with a blaze of color. There is no lack of options for places to catch the daily show in AYANA from enjoying a cocktail at the rooftop bar Unique, cruising the pier bar, or taking a dip in the infinity pool.
Play with Dragons
Moments after arriving at the Komodo National Park on Rinca Island, we were greeted by one of the giant lizards casually sauntering by. Before we did our small walk about, the guides gave a safety brief to warn how fast and deadly the Komodo dragons are. We were instructed to keep our distance from the lazy looking giants as they are far faster than they appear and there is still no cure to treat their venomous salvia. While we did encounter a handful of the world's largest species of lizards, they were fairly inactive and seemed unfazed by our group, perfectly content laying around in the afternoon heat.
Sail the local islands from Labuan Bajo
On the first day, we spent the afternoon sailing the local islands on the maiden voyage of the Lako Sae and checking out the luxury accommodations on the Lako Dia. The ship boasts lovely cabins with nets over the water on the lower level, a full bar and lounge in the middle, and a sundeck on the top. After spending the afternoon cruising the bay, we jumped off the edge to play in the water and snorkel around!
An early morning wake-up call followed by a brisk walk up the hill behind AYANA brought us to a 360 view of the island and catch the first rays of light over the harbor.
Exploring Rangko Cave
Tucked away about a 15-minute boat ride from Rangko village is a hidden cave where you can take a dip in the glowing pool of aqua water. The high salinity in the water makes it easy to float under the stalactite ceiling.
Kayak out to a Private Island
All water sports including scuba diving, paddle boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, you name it- is offered, but the best part is that a private island is only a few hundred meters away from AYANA's pier. Sun chairs offer a quiet get-away on an island inhabited by only a few monkeys and birds. Throw a bottle of wine in the kayak and feel like royalty sipping in solitude.
Thanks again to AYANA for sharing this slice of paradise!