It was 10 years ago. The first time I hiked to the top of Padar island.
Back then, not many people know Padar due to difficult access. The sea currents are tough, and smaller boats are mostly refuse to sail there. It was Arif, our boat captain, who invited us to visit this island. At that time, I went to see the dragon on Rinca Island. It was my first time visited the island. Arif and I took the long trekking option. We were also accompanied by a Ranger to guide us to the safest route. By the time we finally reached the top of the Rinca hill, I took my camera out from my backpack, and started taking some pictures. I could see from afar, through my lens, our boat anchoring at the Crocodile Bay. "This is awesome! You're lucky growing up in Labuan Bajo." I say to Arif while at the same time trying to adjust my camera setting. It was 10 am in the morning. The sky is clear blue without any clouds. A perfect moment to hunt some good panoramic shots, I thought to myself. "Wait until you see Padar." Arif said. “Padar?” I asked. "The island is not far from Rinca. If we start now, we can catch the sunset there and spend the night on the boat.” “But do we have enough gasoline to get there. And what about the food?" "There are several packs of Indomie in the boat and we have quite a lot of gasoline. It should be fine." Arif replied. Arif is the type who doesn't talk much. He’s pretty straight forward and only focuses on getting things done. Maybe these traits that make me quite trusting him. So i agreed and we decided to go to Padar.
A complete recharge to the body, mind, and soul. Standing on the top of this uninhabited island, far away from busy cities, the bullshits, the drama from the perpetual teeming crowds. You can witness the entire Komodo National Park is clearly visible from a distance. Not to mention also that there’s Komodo dragon on Padar island, according to WWF. I was also heard this from the local guide in Padar Island. The island also rumored, and this comes from the local people of Labuan Bajo and nearby villages in Komodo national park, - has rich gold ores deposits.
So Where is Padar Island and How you get there?
Padar island is one of the three biggest islands in Komodo National Park. Located between Rinca Island and Komodo Island. Around 30 kilometers from Labuan Bajo. If you are renting a speed boat, it will take around an hour to get there, depends on the stream condition at the time. If you are taking a slow boat or a Komodo liveaboard cruise from Labuan Bajo, it will take around 3 hours to reach Padar Island. Speedboat is surely faster, but most aren’t built for the liveaboard cruise. Most don't have a kitchen, toilets, and a cabin. You can’t spend a night with a speed boat. After all, once you reach Padar, you’re already halfway there. It would be unfortunate if you have to go back again to Labuan Bajo. Better spend more time longer, to explore this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the liveaboard cruise, you can spend a night in Padar island and experience both sunset and sunrise. it’s quite magical especially during the golden hours. Not to mention the amazing feeling, seeing the sails set, and interact with the wind as if you are back to the 18th-century era.
Padar island Pink Beach named “Long Beach”
Yes, Padar island also has a pink beach. It’s different from the other already famous “Pink Beach” located on Komodo Island. This one is pinker and longer. So there you have it. An island, with dragons living in it, and has four multicolored beaches. The white one, the black one, the grey one and the pink one. The island is also very odd-looking. The pre-historic vibe is pretty strong on this one. If you stand on top of Padar Island you can see that the structure of the hills and the rocks formation are very complex. As if, it were once the seafloors that were squeezed together by two large islands for millions of years, pushed and forming a sharp rise. I have read that Padar island is located in the geological "shatter belt" between Sunda tectonic plates and Australian plates. It would have been interesting to know and explore another point of view from a geologist who has some more knowledge about this.
What is the Best time to visit padar island?
Padar island is quite isolated. Surrounded by strong seawater currents. Smaller Komodo boat with a small engine usually refuses to go to Padar. Padar island's climate and the best time to visit is starting from May to November. If you want to see Padar island when it's beautifully lush green, May is the best month. The rainy season just ended, and the sea was already calm and friendly. If you coming around June to November, the entire Komodo National Park enters a dry summer and the hills turn yellowish tone. August and September are high-season so expect more visitors to come. Weather on Padar island ranges between 31-35C in the afternoon and seawater temperatures around 28C (82F). I strongly suggest you avoid Padar Island from December to March. Especially between January to March. This is the West Monsoon period. The sea is rough and the stream is very, (very) strong. Don't be tempted by any tour agents who offer Padar island tours during this particular month. You will regret it. Padar island is directly facing and exposed to the southern open sea. Its job is to protect other small islands around the Komodo National Park. During West Monsoon Season (January to March), high waves from the southern sea are heading directly towards the island, making it unsafe to sail during those months. I remembered the first time I hike to Padar island in May, the views were astounding enough that left me speechless. Especially if you have time to do a multi-day liveaboard tour, imagine the golden hour during sunset or sunrise would be. This island is simply a photographer’s delight. Just look at the photos...
5 Interesting Facts about Padar Island
1. There are Dragons on Padar Island.
Many people don't realize that Padar island also has Komodo Dragons, but not many. Around 7 Komodos live there. That's the reason why people are prohibited to camp on the island. And the interesting fact is that the Komodo dragons which they brought to Padar Island are the ones that are “problematic”, or difficult to tame.
2. Padar Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.
Not just because of the existence of Komodo dragons - the biggest lizard exist nowhere else in the world - there is also another fauna recorded on Padar island, among others are 72 unique species of birds, such as sulfur crested cockatoo or Cacatua Sulphurea, noisy Friarbird or Philemon Buceroides, and also the luxuriant and diverse coral reefs and marine fauna such as Manta Rays, Dugongs, five species of sea turtles, ten species of dolphins, blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) and sperm whale (Physeter Catodon).
3. Padar Island is rich in gold ores and presumably, other valuable earthy materials.
It is well known locally and has become one of the most controversial topics, especially among local environmental activists, that the land in Flores, including the area of Komodo National Park, are rich with gold ores and diamonds. The Indonesian central government is still working intensively to shutting this illegal multi-national mining company that has tried to make and excavate gold mines whose areas are very close to the Komodo National Park, only a few kilometers from Labuan Bajo. One mining company that has been subject to restriction by the government or a moratorium is a Chinese-owned company.
4. Padar island has its own pink beach. In fact, Padar island Has a four-colored beach.
If you hike to the top of the Padar island you will see clearly a beautiful four crescent beach and each has a different color. One is with white sand, one is volcanic black, one is somewhat greyish and one has pink sand.
This pink beach of Padar Island is famously called “Long Beach” and pinker than the famous pink beach in Komodo Island.
The pink beach on Padar island is pristine and brilliantly turquoise. The pink sand is coming from the tiny red coral flakes, and the red color was caused by tiny microorganisms that grow rich around Padar island called Foraminifera. You can snorkel at Pink beach in Padar island (Long Beach) or simply sunbathing and while enjoying a nice cold beer. Never forget to bring the trash back to the boat, though.
5. You can see Milky Way clearly on Padar Island.
This is because Padar island is an uninhabited island and the air is free from pollution. If you take a multi-day liveaboard cruise, you can request a specific itinerary, so that you can spend a night at the boat. The boat will anchor near Padar island beach. You can try to sleep on the upper-deck on your comfortable bean bags, start stargazing or, my favorite, bring my SLR Camera and let the shutter go to an overdrive. The best time to see Milky Way is around May to August. Don't visit Padar island from December to March due to the rainy season.
What to pack for padar island Hike
Remember that you will go hiking when you visit this island. Below are some things that I recommend to you so that you can better prepare for this trip:
Ask the boat crews for a bottle of water to bring. And remember, always bring the bottle back to the boat. Don’t throw any non-organic trash.
A few energy bars would help, especially if you want to hunt sunrise in the morning. Bring a small flashlight so that you can see the trek clearly.
Prepare sunscreen that has a minimum of 50 SPF. Reapply the cream every two hours especially if you have the skin type that is very sensitive to the sun.
Bring an umbrella or wear a hat. The sun in Padar island is quite intense.
Don’t wear sandals or flip flops. I made a huge mistake when I went hiking on Padar island for the first time by wearing a pair of flip flops. Bring trekking sandals or climbing shoes instead.
Bring a light warm jacket. This is for the night time or early in the morning. it’s quite chilly.
Bring a camera, or drone, or whatever that you fancy to capture the moment. Better to put them in a water-resistant bag, because you will be transported to the Padar island beach by a motorboat dinghy.
If you are not experienced in trekking, please take your time and hike slowly. Take a break if you need to catch your breath. Bring a hiking stick if you need to. It will help you climb the hill.
Padar island entrance fee Tickets
Since Padar island is located inside the National Park perimeter, every tourist must buy the entrance fee tickets. I strongly recommend you to bring more cash in Rupiah or IDR. The pricing established by the National Park authority is somewhat confusing, and the price differs between weekdays and weekends.
For the safest amount, bring IDR 450.000/day/person, or around USD 32/day. I put the highest calculation, but better bring far more cash money. I once saw several tourists who were not allowed to enter Padar Island because they did not bring enough cash. This is a fatal mistake because they were already chartered a boat.
Most travel agents or boat owners refuse to incorporate this entrance fee to their service price. The main reason is that the price of the entrance tickets sometimes increased without notice or without prior socialization to the travel agent or the boat owners. So the wisest choice would be to bring more cash in Rupiah.
What to know before you book Padar Island tour?
I previously explained in my last article about the difference between sharing-trip or open-trip and a private Komodo liveaboard cruise. You can read it in here, I think it's a good starter to read: 6 Essential Komodo Liveaboard Tips, What To Know Before You Go. There are many travel agents in Labuan Bajo. Choosing them and deciding which one has the best and most trusted service is often difficult. You can start your research and read experiences from other fellow travelers on an online forum such as Tripadvisor. You need to be more careful because most of them actually don't have their own boat. Most of them only act as “middlemen”, made a lot of arrangements with plenty of boat owners to find customers. The drawback is that usually, "an error" happens, such as double bookings during the hectic high season, or cancelling your trip because they couldn't find enough people to share the boat.
The price offered also sometimes inconsistent and you must be very good at haggling. The process is somewhat tiring, stressful, and time-consuming. You also have to make sure what type of services they provide. Because if you don't ask them in detail, it will lead to great disappointment. Make sure you ask:
The price breakdown.
The pictures of the boat.
Does the boat has obtained official permits necessary to access the Komodo National Park. Recently in the year 2020, the Komodo National park established a rule that every boat that offers a trip to Komodo National Park must obtain an official permit. If the boat hasn't obtained this permit, the Komodo national park patrol will force you to return to Labuan Bajo immediately.
Ask for the boat specification, the size, and its maximum capacity. What type of marine engine do they provide? How many knots. This is important especially if you want to cross Padar island that is surrounded by strong currents.
Is the meal included in the trip? How many meals do they provide a day? Do they offer refreshments and freshwater? How’s the quality of the food.
Does snorkeling equipment included on the price or not, also fins, swimming vest, etc.
How's the boat safety standard.
There have been many travelers who prefer to choose and book their boat online, long before they arrive in Labuan Bajo. This is far more practical and safer than hunting your boat directly through travel agents around Labuan Bajo. Make sure the boat has good reviews and they own their boat, not just an ordinary tour agent.
Padar Island tour Options
Several choices are usually offered if you want to experience a Padar island tour, for example:
1. Padar island Sunrise Tour.
This tour ideally departs before sunrise, around 4am from Labuan Bajo port. But in practice, they are usually late. I can say that this one-day sunrise tour to Padar island is a little bit tricky and difficult to realize.
Why? Because every boat to Komodo must obtain a permit to sail from the local port authority on the same day of departure, and usually, such a new port authority opens the ticket locket at 6 am. Often, you are too late to see the sunrise. Unless the boat sail without a permit, and that's against the law.
This trip will end on the same day around 4 or 5 pm. Unless you charter a speed boat, you can reach out on the island within an hour or maybe less than an hour, but the price for chartering a speed boat is quite expensive.
2. Regular Padar island tour.
This is also the type of day trip to Padar Island that usually starts around 8 am and ends the trip around 4 or 5 pm. The slow boat (or wooden boat) is far cheaper compared to the speed boat but takes a longer time. The maximum itinerary you can get usually only consists of Padar island, and maybe, one small island nearby Labuan Bajo on your way back to the port. It could be Kelor island or Bidadari Island.
3. Padar island liveaboard tour.
This is the multi-days cruise, sleep on the boat. The boat is designed almost like a floating hotel, complete with kitchens, rooms, and toilets. This is the most effective trip to explore in full, the Komodo national park. You may experience sunrise or sunset at Padar island including the opportunity to explore any nearby islands, depends on how many days you take. The most effective way if you want to explore the whole Komodo National Park.
Travel to Padar Island Responsibly.
This is a very special location protected by the government and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be an environmentally responsible traveler.
Below is the example or tips that you can try so you can leave a positive impact, not just to the island but also set up an example for other tourists.
Listen to your Captain and also the Komodo National park guide.
Don’t step on any coral reefs and try not to catch the land and marine fauna there.
Never leave anything on the island, especially rubbish and worse, non-organic rubbish such as plastic waste. Bring back to the boat. The boat crews will collect them and then bring back the waste to Labuan Bajo. They will hand over them to the garbage collector and reprocessed it.
If you find a plastic waste on your path, you may also collect it. Show a positive example to other tourists.
About Laba Laba Boat Laba Laba boat has been proudly operating our own Komodo liveaboard tour for 7 years. Our boat is a sturdy wooden boat crafted by the experienced Phinisi boat maker in Sulawesi Island, made from the best material of Iron Wood and Teak Wood. We maintain the classic design of a traditional Indonesian wooden boat called Phinisi but in a smaller version. Visit our website to learn more | https://www.labalababoat.com/