Komodo, Indonesia, is just one of the over 18,000 islands that make up the world’s largest archipelago, but it is decidedly mountainous and shapely.
It is part of a national park that has been designated as a World Heritage Site, and is also a Biosphere Reserve.
The dragons (which are prehistoric, and venomous) are what everyone comes to see, but there is a lot of other wildlife hiding in the folds of the foliage if you pay attention, including Timor deer, elegant long-tailed macaques (which eat crabs), and over 72 bird species.
On a bright, sunny day that veered towards piercing, I took a ferry from my cruise ship towards Komodo after slathering on lots of sunscreen. On the island, I spotted a tiny lizard on the pink beach, looking every bit like Dino, and without his mother. A group of us nervously looked around to see if his mother was anywhere near eyesight, because it is not smart to go off unassisted.
We first visit a fishing village, which has a robust smell, and see many children selling plastic Komodo dragons. One young bronzed guy wears a Brazil tee shirt and asks for money before a group of us boards the ferry towards the beach, whose sands are smothered in powdery coral.
Pantai Merah, located on the southern leeward side of the island, is one of seven pink beaches on the planet, and it’s a place where time stands still. It is an impressionist’s dream, a stretch of granular beauty that opens to a shallow reef filled with clownfish, diaphanous-looking angelfish, and water the color of Paua shells.