Komodo Island, Indonesia
To the east of Bali, little Komodo Island is just 12 miles by 25 miles, and it’s dry, rugged, and sparsely populated. Together with nearby islands, it makes up the Komodo National Park, which was founded in 1980 to save the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon. Cruise ships anchor offshore, and since the park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, you must be on an official trip to visit.
What We Love
Other Wildlife: When you’re on the beach waiting for your tender, you'll likely see Timor deer grazing along the waterline. There's also a good chance you’ll spot wild boar and crab-eating macaques (monkeys), and maybe even the Asian palm civet (a type of wildcat).
Excellent Diving: Experienced divers will love the variety of marine life off the coast of Komodo, from dolphins and eagle rays to sunfish and pygmy seahorses, plus a rainbow of sponges, tunicates, and corals.
Best Known For
Komodo Dragons: They’re actually giant lizards and are extinct on most other parts of the globe. Males can be more than 10 feet long and weigh more than 300 pounds, and though they look lethargic, they can move quite quickly.
Pink Beach: The island has one of the world's seven pink-sand beaches, and the calm blue waters off the scenic stretch are ideal for snorkeling.
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Who It's Best For
Wildlife Lovers: Where else will you see the massive lizards? And the island's other fauna and sea life will not disappoint.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Watch Out: Keep in mind that Komodo dragons are carnivores, and when they’re on the hunt for dinner, they rip apart prey with their powerful sawlike teeth. Always stay with your guide and on the trail.
Beware of Pushy Souvenir Sellers: Although you can’t blame them for wanting to make a sale, some roaming vendors will follow you between your boat and the entrance to the park, and they'll be very insistent.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.