Do you know that Flores has another beautiful marine park other than Komodo National Park? Called, Seventeen Islands Sea Garden, this nature reserve is situated on the northern coast of the island, Riung district to be precise. Seventeen Garden is a hidden gem and only inhabited by a fisherman community living in traditional houses.
The entire landscape of this place is pretty similar to Komodo National Park. In fact, it can be said that it is the miniature of the national park. Seventeen Islands park boasts pristine scenery with crystal clear blue water and sparkling white sandy shoreline. You can even see Mbou, the cousins of famous komodo dragons which are smaller and more colorful. There are actually more than 20 island in the park but 17 was chosen to celebrate the Independence Day of Indonesia.
You’ll soon find total quiet as the first impression as you set your feet at the beach. Besides fisherman, no more than three boats are seen taking travelers tour around the islands. These islands usually make several stopovers on certain islands for snorkeling or lunch.
Interesting snorkeling sites are easily found just beyond the beach. Just dive to the depth of 2 meters, you’ll sure to find coral beds teeming with colorful mini creatures. The wave is nowhere and the current is gentle, keeping the coral intact and unspoiled.
Coral reef is not the only attraction here, there are also “Sea Rose” a phenomenal giant red sea organism. It’s not flower though. In fact, it’s a collection of sea hare’s eggs that form like petals dancing in the current. Come to the island of Batang Kolong to get first-hand experience of this unique highlight.
Some boats are equipped with looking glass on the bottom part which offers an extensive view of the marine life while being onboard. There is an island called Kelelawar where hundreds of flying foxes are seen hanging on the branches of mangrove. The boats always pass this island in the afternoon on the way home during which the bats are awaken and ready for hunting. This will be a wonderful moment.
A trip to undiscovered places is always rewarding. Like the one to Seventeen Islands Sea Garden that promotes exclusive vacation to private ocean.
How to Get There
The nearest airport from Riung is Ende airport, 7 hour drive to the northeast. You must be ready for a longer trip if you choose to take public bus rather than private car. There is no bus from Ende that directly goes to Riung as most stop at Mbay district. From Mbay, you have to catch another bus to take to Riung.
The road is quiet challenging. The bus will pass through a winding narrow road along steep mountain slope. Plus the many potholes, the trip can be daunting for some. The view is quiet eye-catching however. While grass land is seen along the way, a huge area of tundra with single palm tree can be seen on your way to Riung.
Riung is a small laidback fishing village. If you plan to stay there, what you can find will only be a few guest houses and simple hotel. There are a few good restaurant too that mainly serve local cuisine.