Christmas Day With Komodo Dragons

Christmas Day With Komodo Dragons feature image. Jeff and Zuzi stand behind two Komodo dragons on Komodo Island

Christmas is normally a time we enjoy spending with our family and loved ones. It’s a time to exchange presents and eat & drink until we fall asleep in front of the TV. In 2019 we didn’t receive any gifts or eat any turkey but we got something better – spending Christmas Day with Komodo dragons!

For one year, we missed out on all the Christmas traditions. There were no cheesy Christmas songs playing on all the radio stations, or the frantic last-minute Christmas shopping by the less organised (like me!)

Instead, we were on the island of Flores in Indonesia, where the sun was shining and we walked around in shorts and flip-flops. A nice change to the grim UK weather we’re normally used to.

Why Were We In Flores?

We finally started our Southeast Asian adventure in December that year. After visiting Singapore we moved on to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia before taking a slight detour to Labuan Bajo in Flores to visit Komodo Island!

The original plan was to visit Indonesia as our last destination, before returning to the UK, but there were rumours that the government wanted to introduce a $1,000 USD entry fee to Komodo Island in 2020! An extortionate amount since the current fee was only $11 USD!

Even though we had to budget an extra $90 for the return flights from Kuala Lumpur, we thought it was better to take the detour than risk paying the rumoured amount in 2020.

As it turned out, Komodo National Park (and pretty much the whole world) would’ve been closed to tourism at the time we originally intended to visit anyway due to a certain virus!

Christmas Morning In Labuan Bajo

Image of a boat on the beach in Labuan Bajo on Christmas morning

I can’t remember the last time I woke up before 5am on Christmas Day. Probably never!

We were told that we were being taken to our speedboat at 6am. I bet I knew some people who were still partying from the night before at that time!

When we arrived at the pier the sun started to rise above the sea and there was hardly a cloud in the sky and I thought Zuzi, we’re not in England anymore!’

Hiking Up Padar Island

Jeff giving a piggy back to Zuzi at the top of Padar Island

Our first stop of the day was Padar Island – one of the most Instagrammed places in Southeast Asia.

Padar is the third largest island in Komodo National Park however there aren’t actually any Komodo dragons to be found there. There is a rumour that problem dragons that have attacked tourists have been secretly dropped off on Padar Island though!

The hike itself should’ve only taken thirty minutes but the humidity meant that we had to take sips of water every few steps! Not to mention that the higher we climbed, the more we stared at the beautiful views.

Even though we were soaked with sweat we couldn’t take our eyes of the unbelievable view from the top – a stunning panoramic image across the island where we could see four of Padar’s beaches.

Arriving on Komodo Island

Jeff and Zuzi face each other at the entrance gate to Komodo Island

This was the moment we were waiting for! We were going to see Komodo dragons on Christmas Day!

As we walked through the giant gates I could hear the theme from Jurassic Park playing in my head. Luckily, the rest of the day didn’t end up like the movie!

The guide told us that the dragons would be resting now due to it being a blazing hot day but that didn’t bother us.

A sign saying 'Komodo Nest' on Komodo Island

It was probably better for our own safety that they weren’t so active! After all, these beasts can smell blood from nearly 10km away! They also have a mouth full of serrated teeth and, it was recently discovered that, they produce venom.

Endangered species indeed!

Meeting The Komodo Dragons

Statue of a Komodo dragon at the entrance to Komodo Island

Around twenty minutes into our hike we came face to face with them – two huge beasts, well over two metres long!

They were, indeed, resting! Two dinosaurs sheltering under a tree, occasionally hissing at each other. There was a small crowd around them and guides were instructing people on where to stand for their photo.

When it was our turn we stood behind the dragons, very aware that any sudden movement could set off these cold-blooded killers. I was covered in sweat and not just because of the heat.

Two Komodo dragons lie on the floor on Komodo Island

It was so awesome to see these magnificent dragons. Even though they weren’t devouring a water buffalo, or fighting to the death like on National Geographic, just being able to see them in real life was still a privilege and a personal dream of mine.

After leaving our new friends, we ended the hike near a cafe where Zuzi and I shared a refreshing Christmas Bintang. To our surprise another Komodo dragon wanted to share the Christmas joy with us. This one obviously had one too many and just slept under the stairs!

Pink Snowman On The Pink Beach 

Jeff stands in the water on a pink beach in Komodo National Park

While most people are dreaming of a White Christmas, we were very excited to have our first (and probably only) Pink Christmas!

The famous pink beach on Komodo Island is one of only seven pink beaches in the whole world!

Microscopic Foraminifera (I don’t know what they are either) produce red pigment on the coral reef. The red coral fragments then mix with the white beach to give off the amazing colour.

It seemed like most people had forgotten that it was Christmas Day. We were the only ones on the beach wearing our Christmas hats and building our pink sandman.

Swimming With Manta Rays

Three manta rays swim underwater in the blue waters at Manta Point, Flores

If meeting the Komodo dragons wasn’t enough, we were also treated to another incredible wildlife experience that day.

The appropriately named Manta Point attracts large gatherings of Manta Rays. Some over 3 metres wide! Sightings are pretty much guaranteed if the conditions are just right, like the day we were there.

The currents were really strong that day so we all had to hang onto a rope attached to the boat. This didn’t take anything away from the experience though. Not when we were lucky enough to see around six of these gentle giants.

Ending The Day At Taka Makassar & Kanawa Island

Jeff and Zuzi lie in the water on Kanawa Island in snorkel masks and flippers

Seeing Komodo dragons, pink beaches and manta rays is enough to tire anyone out so, at the end of the day, it was time to relax.

Before heading back to Labuan Bajo we were taken to a sandbar in the middle of the sea. It wasn’t the type of bar that served beers and cocktails though, but it did have some of the clearest turquoise water I had ever seen!

Our last stop was the small tropical island of Kanawa. It’s actually a small resort but we were allowed to chill on the beach and have a swim.

This was also a great chance grab our snorkels and fins as we explored the coral reef to look for the cast of Finding Nemo.

A Once In A Lifetime Experience!

Christmas with the dragons on Komodo Island was a real once in a lifetime experience!

Seeing these amazing creatures was something I’ve wanted to do for so long. The fact that we got to share Christmas Day with the dragons just made the experience even more amazing. I didn’t think about turkey or pigs in blankets once!

Not everybody likes to be away from their families during the Christmas period. I think it’s fair to say that, on this occasion, our loved ones wouldn’t have minded that we weren’t with them?

I hope you enjoyed this story of how we spent Christmas Day with Komodo dragons. If you liked this post, or want to know more about our experience, then please leave a comment. Thanks!

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