Seventeen Islands Marine Park

After sitting in a car for several days, we’ve decided to mix it up a little and change our mode of transportation. From Riung town, located on the northern coast of Flores, we chartered a boat to take us around the Seventeen Islands Marine Park known for its beaches, coral gardens and interesting wildlife. For $45, our motley group of four was promised a fun day out which included snorkeling, flying-fox spotting, and island hopping with a BBQ on Pulau Tiga.

First off was a visit to Pantai Ontoloe, a coastal mangrove forest which is home to the biggest colony of flying foxes I have ever seen. I can’t even begin to estimate the number of these incredible animals, but it must have been in the millions. Amazing! Every inch of every branch was taken up by bats quarreling over prime hanging spots. Many were up in the air. Circling above us in unbelievable numbers, the furry chocolate-brown creatures blackened the sky. Add to that the deafening noise of their shrieks, and it felt like an Asian remake of that Hitchcock classic The Birds.

En route to Pulau Tiga (with my jaw still dropping), we stopped at a couple of places to snorkel. For those snorkelers coming from Komodo, the marine park may not quite live up to their expectations. The fish and coral life is not as plentiful, and, due to the archipelago’s proximity to a number of coastal stilt-house communities, there was quite a bit of plastic trash floating in the water (at least on the day we were there). That said, the archipelago’s underwater world is much better than anything we’ve seen under water along Thailand’s Andaman coast. Nice patches of colorful soft corals, a small school of bumphead parrotfish as well as our first juvenile crocodile fish kept us happy. We actually spent over an hour snorkeling off of Pulau Tiga while Frans and the boat captain prepared the BBQ.

And the BBQ was worth the whole trip. Frans had gone out of his way to make this an amazing experience. From his own money, he bought two chickens in the market to add some variety to our otherwise seafood-heavy barbecue. After everything was plucked, scaled, cut and cooked, we were presented with a beautiful buffet of grilled fish, squid and chicken as well as veggies, rice, tomato salad, noodles and fruit salad. Yum!

All in all, we had a fantastic day in the Riung archipelago. Besides discovering the biggest bat colony ever, we made another AMAZING discovery… but that will have to wait until our next post. 🙂

4 responses to “Seventeen Islands Marine Park”

  1. avatar Leonie says:

    Thomas, das war jetzt aber echt gemein…Jetzt muss ich ständig nachschauen, ob der nächste Post schon da ist…

  2. avatar Ronn Garton says:

    We are missing Thomas and Tony on this Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed hearing about the two chickens added to the seafood bbq. Were the chickens range free?

  3. avatar Melinda says:

    Hi there,

    Thanks for your blog – very enjoyable reading.

    We are looking at visiting Riung and 17 islands NP in May 2012. I have been ringing accomodation options in the area and they have indicated that a full day charter boat trip to the 17 islands is Rp850,000 – about double your trip’s cost. Do you have any details about who you booked through? Did you accomodation book for you, and if so, where did you stay? I look forward to any info you can provide. Many thanks!

    • avatar Thomas says:

      Hi Melinda,

      The boat we used was booked through Frans our tour guide/driver, and we paid IDR 400,000 for the day plus IDR 15,000 entry fee each to the marine park. I think once you go there and ask around, you’ll probably find much cheaper offers than IDR 850,000. When you call a place, you never have the same bargaining power. Also, you may find other people to share the boat with which makes the trip much cheaper.

      When we did our outing, there was another group and they paid the same price as we, so our price wasn’t just a one-time find.

      As for the hotel, we stayed at the Bintang Wisata and paid IDR 150,000 for a fan room.

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