Diversity, adventure, and exceptional beauty characterize the collection of volcanic islands that make the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia. Its remoteness and otherworldly tropical idylls have captured the imagination beyond many other tropical destinations. The archipelago and its clusters of small and unique islands with vibrant wildlife, culture and beautiful surrounds attract large numbers of tourists keen to explore and search for their own little island paradise.
Looking for the perfect destination; a destination not frequented by many holidaymakers is becoming less and less easy to find. In fact, an authentic travel experience of nature and immersion to the local’s way of life is becoming difficult to obtain when you search for a destination. The discerning traveler who seeks to encounter the remote and untouched needs to eke out opportunities to locate regions which have not yet succumbed to commercialization.
Rinca Island, also known as Rincah and Rindja is a small and relatively undisturbed part of the West Manggarai Regency and located close to the better-known islands of Komodo and Flores. It is only 198 square kilometers with a dry and almost arid climate that is distinct from other parts of Indonesia. Flores and Komodo, the home of the eponymous dragons’ experience far greater volumes of visitors. The volcanic and green carpeted hills, savannahs and mangroves of Rinca are so-far relatively undisturbed. This makes this little island a great opportunity to take in the natural splendor and wildlife of this intriguing region.
It is certainly rustic and lacking in the amenities and infrastructure that visitors to other parts of Indonesia may be used to but that should not dampen the appeal to the intrepid explorer. Those who have visited readily describe the remarkable beauty of the island of Rinca.
Undisturbed Access to Nature on the Island of Rinca
Despite its low footfall, Rinca has its own claim to fame, being part alongside Komodo and Padara, of the Komodo National Park. The park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. It also has world-famous residents, hundreds of undisturbed pre-historic looking Komodo dragons, the world’s largest living species of reptile and a fearsome predator. Despite the popularity of Komodo Island, Rinca has the densest population of these up to 3m long, 200kg giants which are locally known as ‘Ora’. With scarce cover, you are likely to be able to get as close to them as you dare. Rinca is certainly the only place in the world where you are going to see Komodo dragons at ease in their natural environment.
Alongside the Komodo dragons, Rinca offers stunning views and rich wildlife including buffalos, goats, deer, wild boar, exotic birds and a colony of some cheerful and engaging monkeys. Superb hiking trails across the green hills offer outstanding sea views right across the island.
The Locals of Rinca Island
Just under 4,000 people make the islands that comprise the Komodo National Park their home. Rinca has only a few residents, the majority of whom make their living by fishing. Given their expertise in dwelling alongside the fearsome Komodo dragons they have a lot of knowledge and advice to share with visitors. Their way of life is simple and lacking in much of the infrastructure and amenities of the more developed territories. Much of the local culture is not well documented but people are friendly and engaging. Bahasa Indonesia and Bajo are the main languages spoken.
Visitors usually visit Rinca Island for day trips, most often traveling from the lively fishing town of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. Domestic flights run to Labuan Bajo from both Bali and Jakarta. Bima on the island of Sumbawa is an alternative connection and can be reached by air from Bali.
Rinca Island has a discrete dock at Koh Kima which is your gateway to the island. Flores has a number of companies and individuals offering charters to Rinca with an arrangement of hiking trips and other activities including visiting the tranquil ‘pink’ beach which gains their unique color from the corals.
Other off-shore activities can be arranged including snorkeling and diving, which allows unrivaled opportunities to explore the incredibly biodiverse marine life, the other major draw of this region. Explore the waters to see manta rays, seahorses, sharks, dolphins, sunfish, and octopuses. Care should be taken with diving trips due to the infamous whirlpools and strong currents between Rinca and Komodo.
Spending more than one day in and around Rinca is simple with a good quality charter or yacht where you can enjoy a comfortable onboard stay. The sunrises and sunsets by the pink beach produce a stunning kaleidoscope of color. If you want to extend your stay on-shore, accommodation facilities are modest. Wooden huts with shared bathrooms and dining area serving local cuisines such as Nasi Goreng, a rich fried rice dish and Mie Goreng, fresh stir-fried noodles with meat and vegetables. Despite the Spartan lodgings staying overnight on the island is an experience.
Make Rinca Part of Your Wider Indonesia Cruise Itinerary
Once-in-a-lifetime experiences need exceptional accommodations and service. One of the best ways of seeing the best of Rinca is by cruising where you can spend as much or as little time there as you desire. Chartering a yacht or a liveaboard yachting experience is probably one of the best ways of experiencing Rinca and the amazing islands of Indonesia. A cruise provides a unique opportunity to explore the very best Indonesia has to offer and enjoy the most remote and exclusive territories. Whether for luxury or adventure, you can choose the vessel of your choice and create your own bespoke itinerary. Enjoy exceptional service, great cuisine and a variety of activities tailored to your tastes.