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[Photos] The Rugged Beauty of Indonesia’s Komodo National Park

Most people think of dragons when they hear about Komodo. While the world’s largest lizards are one reason to journey to this remote corner of the world, the rugged vistas and incredible biodiversity, both above and below the sea, are more than enough reason to visit in their own right.

Labuan Bajo serves as the jump-off point for trips into Komodo National Park. A relatively sleepy town with a population of less than 2,000, Bajo is a small fishing community with a bustling tourism industry servicing the park. Once inside the protected area, mountainous islands, swift currents and turquoise waters dominate the scenery. The beauty of this place is largely untouched, with manta rays cruising the shallows and Komodo dragons roaming five different islands inside the park.

Short but steep hikes up islands such as Pulau Pandar and Gili Lawa Darat result in jaw-dropping vistas. Pulau Pandar could easily brag, with three differently colored beaches – black sand, white sand and pink sand. The Golden Passage between Komodo Island and Gili Lawa Darat is no slouch in the scenery department either, with its narrow bands of land nearly touching each other as the current rushes through.

Labuan Bajo, the jumpoff point for trips to Komodo National Park.

Pulau Padar sports three bays with different colors of sand. One pink, one white and one black. The black and pink are pictured here while the white sand beach lies to the right out of frame on the opposite side.

Local boats in Komodo National Park.

Guides equipped with forked sticks lead visitors around Rinca Island, one of 5 islands in Komodo National Park in which Komodo dragons live.

The Komodo dragon, Earth’s largest land reptile.

The calm water in between islands.

“Banana” Island near Gili Makassar, Komodo National Park.

A local boat in Komodo National Park.

The rolling hills of Gili Lawa Darat.

Visitors climb the mountain to the viewpoint at Gili Lawa Darat.

Komodo Island from Gili Lawa Darat.

The Golden Passage between Gili Lawa Darat (foreground) and Komodo Island (far).

A manta ray cruises the shallows in Komodo National Park.


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