“Thank you Mother Nature for your Bounty.”
What’s happening in Angel Island Eco Resort during the rainy season month of February?
Well we can tell you, the island is flourishing, the wild birds (woodpeckers, kingfishers, white eyes, sun birds, Megapodes, etc) are singing throughout the day, whilst Berti — our rescued water buffalo — is enjoying daily Mud baths and fresh green grass on the hillsides. The island is transforming into a lush tropical forest, the wildlife is drawn by the abundant growth, it is now the time of plenty!
Wild birds are standing by for the new fruits which will soon appear this month, the Hibiscus flowers are blooming, while Jujube trees or “whistling thorn trees” which are called Bidara in Indonesian are sprouting and blooming preparing to fruit, the Katapang or umbrella trees have already produced their fruit, every night the fruit bats (flying foxes) come in for a feast. The rainy season transforms the island into a green jewel that complements Komodo National Park.
In the rainy season, particularly February, the sound of waves and wind can be so loud we can hear it across the island, the swell and the waves are beating clean the sand and moving it along the White Beach and Red Beach, but the temperature is still warm.
This month Komodo (Labuan Bajo, Indonesia) waters have faced strong winds high rainfall and rough seas. The harbourmaster has warned tour and diving operators not to cruise and suspended tourism activities on some of the worst days. It is no wonder that most of the island resorts suspend operations temporarily during this month.
Now, we are busy with general maintenance on the island and Resort, we’re clearing the fallen trees branches and trimming others, taking advantage of the rain and planting new flowers hoping to attract even more birds. Making use of this time to take care of the villas painting and decorating and of course major overhaul of generators, air compressors, as well as maintaining operational equipment such as dive equipment, kayaks, etc.,
We’ve replaced the grass roof completely on our restaurant, she looks beautiful, ready to receive our new guests for the new season starting 1st March.
We look forward to your stay with us in Angel Island Eco Resort, to enjoy our tours to Rinca to see the famous Komodo dragons or snorkeling on our wonderful house reef, diving the world class sites in Komodo National park, canoeing around the island, or just chilling out on our wonderful pink or white beach, maybe with a cocktail in hand to watch the sun go down on our beautiful island.
“There be Dragons”
Our group entered into the forest area and within minutes we came across several mounds of dirt all with holes in the middle. Our focus was drawn to one hole in particular where dirt was flying through the air. The animal was submerged about a meter in and all you could see was its powerful tail. Closeby there were two megapodes(chicken-like birds) clawing up dirt as well. Then the commotion stopped and a slender, scaley head peered up from the depths of the hole.
The ranger turned to us, “We are very lucky today; we see the dragon digging a nest!” His tone had changed to one of great excitement, which in turn made our group excited the sound of camera shutters filled the air.
After mating between May-August, September brings nesting season for the Komodo Dragons. The guide stopped us here and provided our group with a detailed explanation of the event, and why we are particularly lucky to see it in action. During his explanation we see both the dragon and the birds resume digging, and interestingly they seemed to be moving from mound to mound. He tells us, “Not many actually see the dragon digging or moving. The dragons do not like to move in the heat. Today we see both, so we are very lucky!”
Turns out the dragons choose an area where megapodes have already started to dig, which helps to disguise their nests. About 20 eggs are deposited in abandoned megapode nests or in a self-dug nesting hole The females make many camouflage nests/holes to prevent other dragons from eating the eggs. In order to provide protection for the first three months of incubation the female dragons do not roam far from these nests. Over the course of our tour we are shonw several more nesting grounds with dragons lying nearby. All of these areas have been roped off for protection with cameras set up to monitor the activity to aid in new scientific research.
The eggs are incubated for 7-8 months, hatching in April, when insects are most plentiful. It’s a tough start for the young Komodo dragon; “Mothers think young look like other small lizard prey. Sometimes eggs can hatch and mother eats her young,” describes the guide. (Cannibalistic parents, nice!)
In order to stay safe from predators and cannibalistic adult dragons, the young dwell in trees until they are roughly 3 years old. Guess it’s a hard knock life when it comes to being a young Komodo dragon, but it sure fits their tough image!
Witnessing the dragons actively nesting provided yet another fascinating insight into how varied the natural world is. September is also a great month to visit these dragons, the busy summer crowds have disappeared allowing for a more personalized interaction. When will you come to visit the “Land of the Dragons?”
Staying on a remote island can be an adjustment for many reasons but in this day and age the one amenity I most often see travelers struggle with is access to Wi-fi. Whether it’s checking your social media, E-mails, or the news… a lot of us our attached to a device that can connect us to the outside world.
Angel Island Eco Resort provides Free Wi-Fi access to all of our guests; the main hub is located on the mainland at Labuan Bajo. On occasion a bad storm/wind/rain will come through (one time a truck drove through the main cable in town!), and we can lose Wi-Fi for periods of time causing frustration. I can’t pretend that it’s not something I struggle with, that amazing shot of the Komodo Dragon sticking out it’s tongue on Rinca Island needs to go on Instagram right away! Or maybe, we cannot stream that video that has gone viral.
Hair pulling stuff really… I then stop. I look up from the sand beneath my feet, over the ocean, and across to the majestic mountains of Flores and beyond. Here I remember: this is pretty much the National Geographic/Discover Channel and the pictures folk’s wanderlust over on the internet right in front of me. The news is going to happen whether I can check it or not, plus most of what’s going on right now in other parts of the world is a bit of a buzz killer! You’re on a remote island; your boss just has to understand that the E-mails will get answered, just not right away 😉
What I’m getting at is to remind everyone that we travel, explore, and visit places of natural beauty for a reason. Stop and soak up the experience and live in the here and now. Look and listen to this island because it is so alive. Whether you are a budding botanist, onlooking ornithologist, avid astrologist, or motivated marine biologist; it’s all here for you on Angel Island. I’m still a kid at heart, not to sound cliché but I grew up when you entertained yourself by getting outside and being active! It’s much more fun to do then to observe. If you want to catch it on your camera and GoPro- all the better, have someone else observe you! Take a couple days to edit your photos/video, you’ll still probably get the same kind of reactions if you share it on the internet a few days later.
If relaxation is your thing, then the lounge chairs and relaxed outdoor restaurant atmosphere will help you unwind. Listen to the waves lap along the shore and the bird song accompany as you walk along the resort; look out over the ocean and mountains of Flores and finish your day viewing a glowing Indonesian sunset. Sip a fresh juice, enjoy a bite or two or four to eat: with everything but alcohol included it’s an ideal set up to let the island to care of you.
Let Angel Island Eco Resort remind you that you’re in paradise; Wi-Fi is just a bonus.
The reason? If you’ve been here than you know, a pristine house reef awaits you just minutes from your front door.
This is a typical day we often hear from guests: “We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the restaurant, and it was so funny we saw fish flying and bubbling at the surface in front of us, we walked down the beach to find a shady sunlounger and we couldn’t believe we saw baby sharks swimming so close to the beach! Are these normal? After about an hour of relaxing we decided it was time to cool off for a bit in the water, so we received snorkeling gear from the resort staff, 3 hours later we were still snorkeling! We couldn’t believe the amount, variety, and colours of the fish and corals we saw! So many nemos! Stingrays, butterfly fish, angel fish, snappers, big moray eels, and so much more!” (Some folks even catch sight of turtles and bumphead parrotfish cruising by!)
“By this time the snorkeling had worked up an appetite so we enjoyed a lovely lunch with a deliciously refreshing watermelon juice and the chicken sate was yummy! Of Couse then, we had to sleep some of lunch off but soon we went back to snorkeling and it was like a whole new set of colours and fish were out there. We caught the sunset a couple times from the water with the golden sun sparkling on the reef. A few days we finished snorkeling early because the lovely restaurant staff serves an afternoon snack- which is a convenient time to enjoy a drink, Might as well, it’s served to you right on the beach! The evening is pleasantly quiet; we indulge in a 3 course dinner, admire the stars, and settle in to the quiet of bed for an unrivaled quiet night’s sleep. We look forward to doing it all again tomorrow!”
It’s the one activity all guests agree on: Snorkel the house reef at Angel Island.
As an Eco Resort we take pride in our reef, we encourage everyone to enjoy our reef but at the same time be very vigilant while snorkeling. Education for guests on the importance of not touching or standing on the coral is paramount to the future of the reef and it’s inhabitants. Guests have an opportunity to learn about the growth rate of our soft and hard corals, plus the effects of rising sea temperatures on coral bleaching. A small touch from the oils in our hands (just like sunscreen) can cause irreversible damage. Now imagine what kicking or standing on corals can do. We also see the temptation that many of the shells would seem like a nice souvenir, but please remember leave these behind. Take only your memories. By having responsible reef practices, you’ll be able to preserve this special world for others to experience.
The biased diver in me cannot help but add that the adventure does not always have to stop at the surface! Anyone interested in going deeper can sign up for a Discover Scuba Diving course and experience the sights of the house reef on a new level!
It’s late afternoon and the heat of the day has started to disappear into the rolling clouds spotted around the sky, a perfect time to go for an adventure. Paddles in hand we launch our kayaks into the crystal blue and set off on our coastal exploration. First up, we are greeted by our friends the resident baby black tip sharks, seen daily pottering around mid-morning and late afternoon.
The 360 degree tour of Angel Island’s coast reveals how much the natural landscape has been preserved. We set off West from the kayak launch, towards the Northwestern tip of the island, headed into the setting sun. From the ocean you can see the tips of the long grass field, but your attention is drawn to the rock faces towering up above your head. Imagining these as old coral formations, the tree’s that now top the peak could have once been acropora coral structures. As we head around the tip we take time to look out to the South West, where Komodo National Park lies, the surroundings are truly breathtaking.
We round the corner of the island now facing back to Labuan Bajo basking in the evening sun; I hear a voice tell me from the back of the kayak to get my camera ready. I look up and perched atop a small rock mound is a majestic grey heron, as I’m busily taking photos I then see my partner points out a monitor lizard. I try my best to snap photos of them both but both quickly disappear from sight. Not to worry though, as the kayak drifts along a break in the rocks reveals a cave to explore! We both thought we should have a little look see, and as soon as we entered the overhead environment the bats flew about in the darkness.
Flying fish join us as we paddle on, looking at the passing rocks and corals below we note future snorkel explorations should be done along this shore. We quickly round the corner where the island welcomes all to her shores at the sandy public beach, the resort restaurant now in view we wave back to the restaurant staff. We encountered small currents the whole way along, the last pleasantly bringing us back to our starting point; fortunately we have one last meeting. A blue spotted stingray zooms under our kayak! Time out on the water taking in the beautiful scenery of Angel Island and her surroundings and the encounters with species of all shapes and sizes made for quite the sunset adventure. Can’t wait to do it again! Next time, maybe sunrise?
I’ve finally managed to calm down again after one of the most incredible days of diving in Komodo national park, and I thought I would share it with you all.
Some days the ocean definitely brings it’s A game and a few days ago Maggie my dive buddy of the day and I got to experience just that.
The day itself was beautiful, blue skies and the sea was so calm it was almost like looking at a mirror, First stop of the day was Tatawa besar island which is one of my favorite places and one of the most visually gorgeous dive sites I’ve ever been too. Nice warm water at 28 C, visibility a little “murky” at maybe 15 m average and very gentle current pulling us along the sloping reef. The site is nicknamed orange grove for the abundance of a orange soft coral and on this day they were all blooming, creating orange flower bouquets everywhere you looked. Fish were everywhere. Fusiliers moving up and down, blanketing the whole site, blue red fang triggerfish hanging around, trevally’s herding everything else, It was a party and everyone seemed to have been invited including a couple of blacktip reef sharks, hawksbill turtles and a majestic looking manta ray. It is not easy to leave a dive like that but eventually you have to, So back on the boat, eat some cake, a cup of tea and then next stop a little gem of a place, usually sheltered from currents it is a shallow bay with reef creating an almost perfect circle with a sandy center., mostly about 10-12 meters in depth, the water was a little nippy at 26C but we quickly forgot all about that.
Spending almost an hour swimming around in the sand looking at everything and searching, for what, you never really know with this place. We got lots of little slugs hiding in the sand, nudibranch’s, headshieldslugs and flatworms crawling about, little shortfin lionfish (with little I mean maybe a cm max in length) a snake eel sticking its head out of the sand, a robust ghost pipefish couple, lots of crabs and lots of shrimps, and then what I thought was gonna be my find of the year, a juvenile lacy scorpion fish aka lacy rhinopia, maybe about 5cm in a beautiful yellowish colour, now this was already making the dive pretty awesome, but just as we were about to leave the sand and finish off the dive in the reef, we had an incredible encounter, what for many is high on the wish list of marine life, the very rare and elusive Dugong!!! I’m just gonna spell it out for you, in case you missed it D-U-G-O-N-G!!! Wow, what a special moment, not sure the dugong was quite aware of how special the moment was, since it just continued miffling about over the sand, and too soon he was gone…..
That is a moment that truly makes you grateful and reminds you of the beauty that still is in the world.
Just to take the edge off the high and collect ourselves, we then went to spend 20 minutes in the reef surrounding the bay, which just happens to be a hangout place for the green turtles of the area, we must have seen around 15 or so of them in just that short time.
Now all of you are probably wanting pictures of this magical day, but you know these things just only seems to happen when there aren’t any cameras in sight!
Indonesia might not have 4 seasons, as other countries may have, but still it is quite special to observe the changing nuances through the year as the season changes from dry to wet and back again, the changes are subtle when living in the tropics but still rewarding to those who pay attention.
Right now in our little part of the world at Angel island Komodo we are welcoming the signs of a long awaited rainy season. All the signs are there, I sit on the beach and I look out over the beautiful horizon, I hear thunder, I see the mist and clouds over Labuanbajo and nearby islands, it is hot, humid, yet the rains are still very scarce and all of those clouds threatening in the distance seem to just disappear again without ever hitting our little paradise.
We get a little shower here, a bit of a drizzle there, but the earth is so thirsty after a long dry season that the water immediately is sucked right up.
Most of you around the world are probably hoping for snow this Christmas, not us, we are hoping for rain and lots of it, every little shower here is met with smiles, joy and maybe even a little dance.
You might think that is a bit of a strange wish but you would change your mind as soon as you see the incredible scenery of Flores in wet season.
Right now I look out on the islands lining our horizon and the savannah covering them is dry and brown, creating a stark contrast to the dark green mangroves and the beautiful blues of the ocean, but with every rain, little green patches appear and I know that soon they will be fully covered in a beautiful blanket of light green.
Our trees and bushes on the island are already taking advantage of the extra water and are blooming with amazing colours of red, pink, purple and orange, butterflies are flitting all over and the bees are buzzing getting ready to make honey.
Not to forget our VIP member of staff Mr. Bertie the water buffalo who is tired of being waited on by mere humans for basic needs such as a nice shower and munching on some delicious grass, he cannot wait for life to be simple again where he can roll around in his mud hole as it pleases him and munches on the free supply of grass. He is all about eating local not all that imported stuff he’s been getting lately.
Night dive magic
We have had a chance to spend quite some time out on our house reef lately during the day and at night and I must say this little reef just never ceases to amaze me, especially the night dives of late have just been incredible.
Checking out our seahorse couple and cuttlefish friends is always a must, finding a great variety of shrimps and crabs everywhere always a nice bonus of the night dives.
Here are my highlights – Several banded pipefish couples are hanging about with eggs attached along the bodies of the males, some already hatched and even found a teeny tiny juvenile no bigger than a needle, A group of Jan’s pipefish were hanging out on the underside of some outcropping coral, Had some of the smallest members of the cephalopod family saying hello, a dwarf cuttlefish at approximately 1 cm and one at 2cm, several bobtail squids with the biggest being the size of a pea, A normal sized reef squid, some nudibranchs, juvenile Toby’s, pregnant purple skeleton shrimp, scorpion fish and my new favorite night diving pastime – to aim my light in the distance and just observe the zooplankton showing up in the light, it is like being in an alien world -tiny see through shrimps, jellies, worms, various larvae somethings, the fluorescent plankton was strong and everytime you moved your light out in the darkness small shrimps would shoot off a blue cloud of fluorescence. Pure magic! In combination with starting the dive just as an amazing fireball sunset is disappearing and finishing with a perfectly clear starlit sky, night dives like this leave you with a feeling of being specially privileged.