Saving the best for last

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Oct 31, 2010

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Kanawa Island

Flag of Indonesia  , East Nusa Tenggara,
Thursday, October 28, 2010

As if our trip could get any better than it has already been, we seemed to have saved the best for last. We didn't even think that we’d make it to Flores on this adventure, but we are so glad we made the decision to end our trip here. It has been absolutely amazing. As we approached Flores for landing, we flew over the many islands in this region, and were taken back by the beauty. The water was the most perfect turquoise. Before we even got off the plane, we were already wishing we had more time to spend here. But when we did land, the weather was perfect, and we quickly got a taxi to town to see if we could book a room at one of the private islands with accommodations. We found an island called Kanawa that offered transportation to and from the island and our own private beach bungalow for $25/night.

The girl in the office phoned the captain, and shortly afterwards, a boat was there to pick us up. We were enjoying the ride and views of the surrounding lush volcanic mountains, when after 45 minutes a thick black plume of smoke spewed out of the engine.  A moment later, the engine died. The driver seemed to find this amusing and laughed as he got on his phone and explained to us "no problem, other boat coming." Well, we waited for a while just floating in the middle of the ocean but after an hour or so another boat came by and towed us the rest of the way. When we got to the island, the water was as crystal clear and blue as water can be. We were led to our bungalow and settled in. The bungalows were very basic, not much to them.  The rooms had a somewhat comfortable bed with mosquito net, and the outdoor bathroom consisted on Indonesian style squat toilets and a mandi (bucket shower). But the view was amazing from our deck and the island was so picturesque .We spent the rest of that afternoon snorkeling around the island checking out the beautiful coral and relaxing in the flip flop island life style. We did a quick little hike up to the highest point of the island and caught an amazing sunset that goes in the books for sure.

The next morning we awoke early to have some of the best pancakes in the world.  Then we literally spent the whole day snorkeling, and it never got boring. The coral was the best we had seen yet on this trip and the marine life was also outstanding. We snorkeled, took a break to eat lunch, read some of our books, snorkeled again and soon enough it was dinner time. Pretty stressful day I’d say. At diner time, we make arrangement to charter a boat the next day that would take us to Rinca Island to check out the famous Komodo dragons.

The next day we got on our chartered boat and started the trip with another superb snorkeling spot at close by island. After snorkeling for a bit, we continued the trip to Rica island.  The boat ride was about two hours, but the weather seemed perfect, and we couldn’t really ask for more.  That was until the weather took a turn for the worse, and out of nowhere we were in the middle of an absolute torrential downpour.  All of a sudden you couldn’t see more then 20 feet in any direction, and we were surrounded by a big cloud of grey.  Luckily by the time we got to Rinca, the rain had subsided, but the sun never came out the rest of the day. 

Rinca was pretty cool, but we thought it was kind of overpriced. We paid almost as much in entrance fees as the cost of our boat for the day, and we only spent an hour there. But we figured, we aren’t going to come all this way and not see the world’s largest dragon, so we paid and entered the national park.  Most of the dragons, while not tamed or accustomed to humans, were hanging out by the camp kitchen.  I assume they were waiting for the leftovers or something.  But these things were beasts, about 8 feet long.  Bacteria filled salavia dripped from their mouths and frankly they were a bit scary.  After taking some pictures around the kitchen we embarked on our hike with the park ranger.  On the hike, we saw one more female dragon guarding her egg nest.  We were expecting to see more wildlife (water buffalo, wild boar, etc), but we think the rain caused the animals to seek hiding.  Our hike only lasted an hour, and then we were back on the boat. We hit up one more snorkeling spot and then we were back on our way to Kanawa. 

We seemed to be at Kanawa at a very lucky time.  An Indonesian guy named Matt, who spoke excellent English, was at the island doing some staff training. His job is to help develop tourism and to teach hotel staff how to provide good service to the customers.  So we got some out of the ordinary treatment.  The food at Kanawa was decent and cheap, but the menu was small and after a few meals you’ve already tried everything on the menu.  But Matt was there to teach the staff how to put on a dinner buffet.  So for dinner three out of the four nights, with Matt’s help, the staff created a delicious buffet consisting of fresh fish, squid, chicken, vegetables, rice, and homemade sweet and sour and chili sauces.  So good. I think it was the best fish I’ve ever had (it seems we are having a lot of “bests” on this trip). 

The fourth and final day at Kanawa was again spent snorkeling and also organizing our diving trip for the next day.  Matt hooked us up with his friend Condo who is a pioneer of diving in the Komodo area. Condo has been diving here for decades and has more than 15,000 dives under his belt. We also found one other couple on Kanawa from Holland to join us for the next day and we finalized our plans.  On our last night, we hiked up the mountain again to enjoy the sunset and talked about how happy we were that we came to Kanawa.  We both agreed that out of all the “island” type places we’ve stayed, this was our overall favorite. 

The next morning, Condo picked us up a bit late, but we still beat all the other boats to the dive site. We geared up (me diving and Kristen snorkeling) and jumped in the water.  The first site was awesome. I saw six manta rays, a huge shark, and tons of big fish that looked like tuna. It was my best dive to date.  The currents were very swift, and Condo had a large metal hook that I wasn’t sure what its purpose was until we got down there.  But right when we hit the ocean floor, we were swept away by the current and just drifted on the ocean floor taking in the beautiful sights around us. At one point when we spotted two mantas, Condo took his hook and dug it into a rock and we just hovered there holding on to the hook for a while observing the mantas. It was great. Kristen was also lucky and saw 10 mantas while she was snorkeling and one came right up to her within arms distance.

The second dive was also fantastic. Unfortunately, the other diver we were with (Kenny) developed a blood clot in his eye so he had to sit the dive out. So it was just me, Condo and Matt. This dive was much easier but equally as pretty. Within the first minute, we saw a huge black tip shark that was a little too close for comfort. It was a scary looking shark too with big teeth, but no one seemed to act as if we were in danger so I played it cool. The coral was again amazing and I saw an abundance of marine life, huge lobster, lion fish, scorpion fish, an eagle ray, sweet lips, ….another excellent dive to end on a good note. Kristen spotted a different black tip shark and enjoyed the snorkeling above us.

At the end of the day, we rode back to Labuanbajo (the town where the airport is) with Condo. Matt took us to a local hotel he manages where we crashed last night. In a couple of hours, we are flying back to Bali, and we will have 10 hours there to check out a few last sites before reuniting with Korean Air for our flight home….and we are keeping our fingers crossed for the free first class upgrade. 
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Cousin Sarah on

Glad you are both okay after hearing about the Tsunami. I hope you have a safe trip home!


"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."

Mike & Leigh on

Wow what an amazing trip. You were so lucky to dive with manta rays. They are so beautfiul. You must be on your way home. Safe travels. Johnny & Garg have missed you. They'll be happy to see you soon.

Nancy Reynolds on

Glad you guys had such an awesome trip. Have a safe trip home. I look forward to seeing you Kristen and meeting Brendan on Thursday at the dinner for your Mom.

Love, Nancy

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