Technically, the Lesser Sunda Islands extend westward from Bali all the way to Timor and as far north as the Tanimbar Islands. But for the purposes of this article, we’re focusing on the smattering of smaller islands between Lombok and Flores, including the Komodo National Park.
Whilst best known as the home of the Komodo Dragon, the national park and nearby islands are fast gaining a reputation as an island hopping paradise, and rightly so. Stunning island scenery, fabulous beaches, a rich marine environment and safe, sheltered waters are the perfect recipe for an idyllic island getaway.
And the best part… The islands are highly accessible with convenient entry and exit points from Bali, Lombok or Flores, and a host of organized tours, charter boats and liveaboards to suit every budget. The only challenging part, will be tearing yourself away.
Here’s a little taste of what you can expect…
Close encounters with prehistoric Komodo Dragons on Komodo and Rinca Islands are just the beginning. Both islands also boast Timor deer, long-tailed macaques, sulphur crested cockatoo’s and some fabulous scenery.
Thanks to presence of millions of tiny red Foraminifera, a type of hard shell amoeboid, the Lesser Sunda Islands boast not one, but two pink beaches. Pink Beach (Pantai Merah) on Komodo Island is a favourite stopover with all the tourist boats, but the other pink beach on neighboring Padar Island is just as impressive. There’s also some great snorkeling over small coral reefs straight off the front of both beaches.
Sea Gypsy Villages
While many of the islands are uninhabited, some 4,000 people live and work among the Lesser Sunda’s, including descendents from the once nomadic Bajo and Bugis sea gypsy tribes of South Sulawesi. Whilst they’ve given up their nomadic ways, they still maintain close ties to the ocean, living in stilted villages over the water and fishing for a living.
Many villages welcome tourists to call in a have a look around, and some like the tiny village on Kukusan Island, even offer “Day in the life of…” village homestays where you can stay overnight with a village family.
Compared to the grassy tussock covered hills of its neighbours, the soaring volcanic peak of Sangeang Api Island stands out. It’s very much active too, having last erupted in 2015. You’ll need a couple of days to climb this behemoth, or just satisfy yourself with snorkeling over the underwater gas vents bubbling off the village beach. If you’re lucky, there may even be a traditional wooden phinisi boat under construction during your visit.
Or for something a little different, head over to Satonda Island for a swim in a volcanic crater lake.
After swimming and snorkelling your way through the islands, who could resist a chance to rinse off all that salt water under one of the fresh waterfalls on Moyo Island. All under the watchful eyes of some of the island’s resident monkeys.
Swim with Manta Rays
As well as some excellent coral reef snorkelling, Manta Point off Komodo Island has a well-deserved reputation for delivering up close encounters with manta rays. Watching one of these huge creatures gliding silently through the water beneath you is an experience you won’t forget. Turtles, cuttle fish, trevally, starfish and sea urchins are just some of the other creatures you could well encounter here too.
Of course, you don’t need to do anything if you don’t want too. Kick back in your very own beach bungalow on Sebayur or Kanawa Islands, or laze on the deck as a gentle sea breeze tickles your skin and the sun sets on another perfect day in paradise.
To find out more about planning your own island hoping adventure, check out our extensive travel guide to the Komodo National Park & Lesser Sunda Islands.