Wong Chun Wai
ANN/THE STAR – It’s easily one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in Indonesia and Padar is also arguably the most famous island among that nation’s many land masses.
I must admit that my decision to visit this place was driven by the desire to have my picture taken at the stunning spots captured in innumerable photos on social media.
Influencers on these platforms certainly live up to their name. They have helped tourism in many ways.
Padar Island is simply out of this world. Visitors heading to Komodo Island to see the legendary dragons are invariably drawn to Padar.
The island is the third largest of the Komodo archipelago, neatly nestled between Komodo Island and Rinca Island.
All three-form part of the Komodo National Park famous for its Komodo dragons, from which the park earns its moniker.
Padar is located about 30 kilometres (km) from Labuan Bajo, a small fishing town on the westernmost part of Flores.
Getting to Komodo Island constitutes an hour’s flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo and then a three-hour boat ride to the islands.
It belongs to the Lesser Sunda chain of Indonesian islands in the Province of East Nusa Tenggara. Padar is an uninhabited island with a setting quite like Jurassic Park. Those giant reptiles used to roam the island but have since been declared extinct.
However, some websites insist that they still exist on the far north of the island that’s inaccessible to tourists.
Padar is reportedly one of the only places in the world where you can find pink, black and white sand beaches all on one island.
Dive Concepts diving centre describes the three colours of the beaches aptly – “one is pearly white, another charcoal black and the third is the very rare pink”.
What inspires every visitor to make the 45-minute hike up to the top of Padar is a majestic view of the island, with its rustic red volcanic hills, savannahs and the turquoise-coloured sea of the three bays surrounding the island.
The scenery defies description – it’s just a sight to behold.
The trek up the summit is not extremely difficult but no walk in the park either. There’s no prize for reaching the top first.
So, I took quick and short stops to regain my breath as I trudged up the path. There are no slippery slopes, so there’s little chance for mishaps.
It also makes sense to enjoy the incredible scenery from both sides of the climb since neither trees nor bushes obstruct the view.
Divers can hire boats to search for sharks, manta rays, dolphins, green turtles and even whale sharks, which Padar is also famous for.
My boat man took me to the Pink Beach, but I was bummed that the colour of the sand was no longer as vibrant. I hope I was just taken to the wrong side.
According to reports, the beaches apparently get their colour from foraminifera, microscopic red organisms that live in the coral reefs and get washed up onto the beach.
A pink sand beach in general is very rare, and there are only a handful of them in the world. The Pink Beach is one of seven pink beaches on the planet and is merely one of the many amazing features of Komodo Island that make it truly a natural wonder of nature.
The excursion to the Komodo islands is a day trip, and depending on your preference and budget, you can opt for a group or private boat tour.
Look for a speed boat with good amenities and comfortable seats. I didn’t ask questions and trusted my agency, and then I found myself in a slow wooden boat. An unhurried ride simply translates to less time on the islands.
The tour I went on covers the top locations in Komodo National Park such as the hike to the famous Padar viewpoint, Pink Beach Komodo, seeing the famous Komodo dragons, and swimming at Kelor Island. It also includes hassle-free pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Labuan Bajo, return boat transfers, and a guide.
And please ensure the trip includes entrance tickets to the islands.
Bring along some cash for tips, drinks at the islands and buying souvenirs such as T-shirts, stickers, cloth badges and carvings.
My advice to older people is, see all these exciting places while your knees and heart allow you to climb.
More importantly, take a deep breath as you enjoy these incredible sites and appreciate Allah the Almighty’s creations.