Stranded in Paradise
Trip Start Aug 21, 2011
49Trip End Jul 01, 2012
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The dive shop operators frankly recommend leaving town and coming back next week. But if you talk to the locals, it might be better to return next month. Technically the harbour should reopen on the 22nd, but who really knows if this is a storm that will pass or a season that could linger.
Several other backpackers I met had plans to travel east. They booked a car and driver to take them to see some traditional villages and hillside tribes
I also thought about taking my rescue dive course. It would be a way to kill the time while waiting for good weather and a next step in my scuba diving education, but the course is also stressful and I didn’t really want to take it alone.
So instead , on Sunday morning I wandered over to the Kanawa Island Resort booking office. They told me that there were people on the Island and beachfront Bungalows available for 300,000 Rp ($30) a night.
A little history on Kanawa Island: for the last few months I’d been frequently googling Komodo and searching for accommodation/activities for my holiday. And during this time, Kanawa Island Resort kept coming up on Tripadvisor with excellent ratings. It also appealed to my desire to get lost in the middle of nowhere. The small, private island is an hour and a half boat ride away from Labuan Bajo. The pictures show a wooden pier, white sand beaches and beautiful coral reef surrounding the small, vibrant green island
So with nothing to do and the desire to do nothing, I booked a bungalow, checked out of my dorm and packed up, ready to catch the shuttle boat to the island at noon.
I was pleasantly surprised to see 5 other guests would be heading over to the island. We were lead to the boat, which was larger than most of the other boats in the harbour, and I proceeded to the roof. From my dive trip the day before I knew that on the rough seas I would likely stay the driest up above. It was also covered and offered the most complete shade. What I didn’t predict was how terrifying it was being stuck on the roof of a boat that was keeling 45 degrees in alternate directions as we steered through the huge swells which were the reason all the other boats were stuck in the harbour. As I clutched the railing and pondered the consequences of going overboard, I was content to know that my iphone and passport were safely on my body in a waterproof bag
I arrived at Kanawa Island with a mix of relief and trepidation, knowing that the only way off the island would be back on the boat. And with the weather not likely to get better, the hopes for smooth sailing were nil.
But the Island, oh, let me tell you about the Island.
The beaches were small at high tide, but empty and covered with fine white sand, sea shells and leaves that had naturally fallen from the scattered green, green trees. I was quickly checked in and lead to my bungalow: a perfect, thatched hut that was mostly a covered patio with a hammock, a day bed and a small, open air en-suite, which was why I had chosen the bungalow over the bale bale. The bungalow faced the ocean, but was sheltered from the rain and wind by the hill behind and a tree in the front.
In the reception I met Sara, a fellow traveler from my cancelled flight two days ago
Most of my two days on the island were spent doing very little, but I did manage to hike the hill, snorkel, dive and do walk around the island at low tide.
The food at Kanawa was good. The chef, Hero, quickly befriended me on the boat ride over and joined me for a beer before dinner, until he departed to cook my dinner. The staff at the dive shop was also really friendly. A nice, young divemaster named Alex took me on a 1 hour shore dive on the House Reef. I saw lionfish, scorpionfish, crocodile fish and an eagle ray. The diversity was impressive and the coral abundant.
The next day in Kanawa it rained and rained and rained. The boat attempted to leave in the morning to return to Labuan bajo, but quickly turned around when informed that the harbour was still closed. the one passenger who had tried to return to the mainland was forced to stay another night. The other guests on the island watched this happen with interest, then went back to our own schedule of doing very little. We all showed up to dinner with a book in hand, having spent most of the day reading. I kind of like when days are spent waiting between meals. It was very relaxing.
That night there was a sunset
That night, we could see stars. They opened up the beach bar and we sat outside until 11:00 enjoying the cool evening.
The weather was nicer in the morning, but the waves were too big to go to Rinca. So back to Labuan Bajo I went. So long, Kanawa. Hopefully I’ll be back soon!