The national park is collection of 30 odd islands clumped together. The islands are hilly, dry and sparse; reminiscent of the hills of Australia or South Africa rather than the tropics. Apart from a few fishing villages most of the islands are uninhabited and untouched. The water is clean and blue. It’s beautiful.
The most common reason people know of this place is of course the Komodo dragons. They are very impressive and definitely worth seeing but, to be honest, the most interesting part of this area is the islands and marine life.
Strong currents rip through the islands and when there is fast moving water there is always fish and coral. Beautiful big reef fish and glorious coral. The diving is awesome. Unfortunately there are still fishing by local people, despite it being a National Park, and its affects can be seen in some places, I think I‘ll talk about that in another post.
What I like most this area is that potential for exploring. The islands, bays and beaches are a playground for boats. From a couple of days to a couple of weeks it is easy to lose yourself here. In the 3 weeks of exploring I surprisingly only saw two other private yachts however. This place has tremendous potential for yachting, it could be the Asian version of the British Virgin Islands.
Most people of course don’t have a yacht to explore in. There are many overnight boat cruises that can be taken from the regional centre Labuan Bajo. They can vary from 2 days to 2 weeks, from tiny local boats to fancy big ships with airconditioning, and naturally the price varies accordingly! 2 days is far too short a time to appreciate this area, I feel it warrants a week at least. The local boats look fine as well, why sleep in airconditioning if you can sleep under the stars?
Im sure that it’s possible to independently hire a local boat and crew and have an adventure yourself. I haven’t met anyone doing it but I’m sure if you went to docks of Labuan Bajo and chatted with some captains (most speak basic English) they could do something private. I can’t imagine it could cost more than $50 a day per person for 4 or 5 people. Why not?
As for where to visit – check out a map, see what looks interesting and set forth. Make your own discoveries.