LAZY LO MBOK
Our Lombok journey begins at Gili Meno, just a 30-minute boat ride from the mainland. Said to be the most relaxed and romantic of the trio of Gili Islands (which also includes party island Gili Trawangan and Gili Air), we dive off our boat and snorkel around coral reefs filled with iridescent clouds of tiny silver fish, fat sea slugs, turtles and more. After a lunch of curried fish wrapped in banana leaves at Mahamaya, a chic boutique hotel and restaurant set on the talc-fine white sand, we’re ready to explore. We hail a cidomo (a traditional horse cart, Meno’s only form of transport) and after just five bumpy minutes we arrive on the other side of the island. There, we paddle in translucent waters and laze in the palm-thatched huts lining the beach until it’s time to float back to the mainland. The following morning we drive for two hours through jungle and verdant rice paddies into the rugged highlands to the 40-metre Senaru waterfalls. Accessed via a half-hour jungle hike, we stand knee-deep in the frosty waters letting the spray cover our faces and the mighty roar engulf us. If we had an extra two days we’d spend them summiting Mount Rinjani, an active volcano and one of Indonesia’s highest mountains. Today, however, it’s time to head off to our next Indonesian idyll. three crew members for 24 hours and set sail. Soon we arrive on Rinca Island, one of Komodo National Park’s three main islands where about 2,000 dragons are said to live. Just 10 minutes into our 90-minute walk we spot five of the two-metre dragons. They have more than 50 strains of bacteria in their saliva, says our guide, and within 24 hours of being bitten their prey usually dies of blood poisoning. We decide to keep our distance and swiftly move on along the jungle paths, then back to the boat for a much-needed afternoon siesta. At sunset we find ourselves off the coast of Kalong Island, or Fruit Bat Island. There, as the sky morphs from orange to pink to lavender, hundreds of flying foxes rush and chatter overhead as they leave their home in the mangrove forests in search of dinner. From here, the awe-inspiring nature moments just keep on coming. There’s a sunrise dip at Pink Beach, where we drift over the red coral reef that turns the beach sand pink. There’s a swim with endangered manta rays at Manta Point, where dozens of the huge, playful creatures glide around below us. The piece de resistance, however, is a night on Seraya Island, where we relax in our whitewashed wooden beach bungalow just metres from the shore, swim in the beachfront saltwater pool, and watch the orange sun drop into the ocean from the top of the island’s 40-metre cliffs.