PANTAI MERAH: Where dragons dwell
Komodo Island, Indonesia
The heat on the rocky outcrop of Komodo Island builds rapidly as the sun climbs higher, so it’s best to get here soon after sunrise. This is the home of Komodo National Park and the world famous pre-historic lizards which take their name from it. Although they are technically monitor lizards, their immense size they can grow up to three metres long and weigh as much as 200kg carnivorous appetites and fearsome appearance makes “dragon” a far more appropriate moniker.
Just around the shoreline from the Rangers’ Station lies another reward for those who journey here: an idyllic little beach called Pantai Merah. The remains of red corals washed ashore have tinted this short stretch of sand a beautiful deep rose colour, giving rise to the beach’s other name: Pink Beach. Crystal-clear, blue water laps at the sand and massive headlands shelter the shallow bay from swirling currents in the channels.
But snorkel and lounge here with care. Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) indigenous only to Komodo and the nearby Rinca islands — swim well and run fast, and are known to frequent Pantai Merah. And they do eat people: only the camera was found of a Swiss visitor who overstayed her welcome here two decades ago.
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