Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 26 September 2016 • Destination
“Captain Beko!” I called out to the man behind the wheel. “Let me ask you a question. Why do you think people want to go to Padar Island? I think there’s a lot of great islands in Indonesia, but what’s with this one?” I asked him from the open window right in front of his deck. Captain Beko was ‘my captain, oh captain’ on the Raja Ampat boat, owned by Grand Komodo. He had often sailed there due to popular demand. I’ve never been to Padar Island and thought I could get more insight from somebody that has been there countless times. ‘I have no idea,’ he shrugged and kept the wheel steady through the tough current.
I had wanted to see Padar Island for sometime, because it was so odd looking. I never had the chance because it’s pricey. You need to fly into Labuan Bajo and rent a boat, not to mention the currents are tough so sometimes boats refuse to sail there. Initially, these were my obstacles. A few hundred photos on social media later, Padar Island became less appealing to me. I didn’t know if there was more to see of the island. I questioned myself, should I really spend that much just for an island that has grown so popular? Is there more beyond it? Should I focus more to somewhere that is still less known? #TrueIndohoyTrooper
But, then again you can’t really judge unless you’ve seen it for yourself.
It was meant to be. The #TripOfWonders invitation from the Ministry of Tourism Indonesia presented the opportunity to see Padar Island amongst others. Located in the middle of Komodo and Rinca, which take up more popularity, Padar Island successfully gained more of the travelers’ interest due to its scenic viewing spot. During the 24 hour live-on-board experience around Komodo National Park, we viewed the only sunset on the trip at this most Instagram-ed island around these waters. And of course, to get a real grip on things, I must reach this iconic viewing spot.
Never say never! A motto Indohoy holds on to for very strong reasons. We’ve always ended doing things that we say we’d never do; climbing hills and mountains are amongst them. Hence, I remind myself to never say ‘Never!’, especially on that day.
The most photographed spot was quite elevated and requires a mild hike. Or so it seemed. The track was sandy and partially rocky. The walk was about 30-40 minutes on a 45-degree elevation, which resulted in heavy panting (because I rarely exercise). And because I’m such a klutz, I misplaced my shoes. I had to walk up with flip flops, like the time I went to Wae Rebo. Yes, typical me.
From the second highest reachable point of the island, a spot where most people take their picture, I looked out to the island spread. I have to say, it’s a strange island and it had a prehistoric feeling to it. It’s very rugged with sharp rises, no open land, deep coves and narrow capes. The spread of small islands around it gave a feeling that the area was young and still growing; the dark blue ocean shows deep water surrounding the area. It’s exotic and exciting.
For me, it’s not the first time I’ve seen an exotic island. One of them would be Wetar Island. Padar Island is beautiful but the sensation wasn’t new. By this point, it was a ‘meh’ to ‘ok’ kinda verdict. By the time I reached the famous viewing point, I had a tad feeling of ‘that’s it?!’. However, the more I saw it, the more I thought it might be interesting for geologists and those in similar fields. The forming of Padar Island and the surrounding must be very complex. It looks like a few plates were pushed into each other creating a sharp rise. From a few reading, I learned that the Komodo National Park, including Padar Island, is on the edge of a tectonic plate that meets the Australian plate. It pretty much explains the steep rise. It would have been so good to go with a geologist that has some more knowledge of the place.
“It’s interesting because there are three different colored beaches. One black, one white and one pink. And right timing, at sunset. It’s very beautiful,” JJ said when I asked why he said Padar Island was his highlight. JJ was another travel blogger on the #TripOfWonders, from South Korea. I took a look back to my photos to find that he was right. Hmm whadya know? It is interesting if you look at it that way. Padar Island is not all bland.
Yes and no. The climb was a struggle but doable. It’s relatively easy as long as you walk slowly and wear sufficient shoes, and by this I mean shoes or sandals with a good grip. I don’t recommend shoes with flat soles. The tough part was not as much walking up with flip flops, as it’s about getting down. Getting down was more challenging for me because of the sandy surface, being slippery, even those with shoes had minor struggles. You’ll slip or have aching knees trying to keep balance. It’s not much of a pain, but it’s annoying to some extent. Sand and slippers down a hill, don’t mix!
Truthfully, I can recommend it for people of age, children, and those with relatively minor health issues.
Can you see the people hiking?
Is it worth traveling to Padar Island? Yes on a few different levels. If you just like beautiful places, in search of a good hike and don’t mind queuing to take a picture at the iconic spot. But if you’re the type that likes something more, a good read about the geology and ecology of Padar Island before traveling would be a nice touch and something extra.
Speaking of extra, Padar Island is noted to have Komodos living on the island according to WWF. And why did I just read this now?
You can check out the Grand Komodo packages or rent yourself a speedboat with CND and do a day trips.