Captivating Kanawa

Ten days on Seraya just whet our appetite for more tropical bliss here on Kanawa, a tiny island located between Labuanbajo and Komodo. In addition to lazing on more white-sand beaches, we also came here to do some night dives on the house reef as well as the wall off of neighboring Sebayur Besar.

As with Seraya, Kanawa is not a luxury destination but simple huts on a desert island where you can live out your Gilligan’s Island fantasy with a motley crew of fellow dreamers. In fact, dinner with our little group of travelers here on Kanawa was half the fun (despite the fact that the food is overpriced and pretty bad).

In addition to excellent company, snorkeling on Kanawa is superb: we’ve seen bumphead parrotfish, blacktip sharks, an eagle ray, schools of squid, giant trevallies hunting fusiliers, sea turtles and more. The snorkeling is so good that we ended up swimming our way around the entire island. (Note to self: when you spend 4 hours snorkeling, put sun block on the back of your knees.)

Unlike Seraya, Kanawa has its own new dive shop run by Ed (Brit) and Marie (Swede) which allows divers to skip the toxic air at Labuanbajo and base themselves here. Don’t confuse Ed and Marie’ new dive shop with the rather shoddy old one which closed down years ago. Ed and Marie are tons of fun and as their dive operation matures, it just might become a serious contender for the best option for day-trip divers to Komodo. While we were there, they were also discussing plans for overnight trips into southern Komodo (tempting).

I guess at some point we will have to continue our trip east across Flores, but – man – I really love the larger Komodo region. It’s going to be really hard to make me leave.

5 responses to “Captivating Kanawa”

  1. avatar Emily says:

    I have really enjoyed reading the part of your blog about Flores. We are planning on going there in mid-June, and your posts helped to spark some fun ideas for our trip. I love the idea of staying at Kanawa and snorkeling around the entire island. You mention that the scuba shop might be one of the best places to go on day trip dives to Komodo. Is that only for dives or do they do trips to the islands to see the dragons too?
    Also, in your other post, you talk about the rays. We don’t have our diving certificate, so we can’t do that dive, but it sounds incredible. Would it be possible to go there and visit the rays as a snorkeler?
    Thanks again.

    • avatar Tony says:

      Hi Emily,

      Yes, Kanawa offers day trips to Rinca and Komodo. Snorkeling trips can also be arranged to see the mantas. We even saw a dozen of the amazing creatures from from the boat. You can get all the info you need on what’s available in the Kanawa office in Labuan Bajo. Be aware that Kanawa often books out in advance.

  2. avatar Emily says:

    Thanks for the info. You mentioned that Kanawa gets booked in advanced. Is there a way to make a reservation online or a phone # that you know of?

    Also, How did you find a driver for the overland portion of your Flores trip? It seems like a good driver could really make a difference in the experience.

  3. avatar Tony says:

    There is some ongoing debate on’s Thorn Tree Forum as to the quality of the Kanawa experience. From our experience on Kanawa, many of the complaints are valid. Here is the link:

    Despite these issues, we enjoyed Kanawa’s natural attractions including great snorkeling and diving. We emphasize that Kanawa is NOT a luxury destination. It has a very simple, desert isle feel. While we hope they can make improvements to food quality and the efficiency of their staff, we truly hope they maintain the very enjoyable simplicity of the Kanawa set-up.

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