What to do in Kanawa

I was lucky enough to stay on Kanawa Island in Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia for four days.

When you go to Kanawa Island, you should prepare yourself mentally for what you are going to find there.
On Kanawa you will find all or nothing. Or perhaps a bit of both.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all “you can go there to find yourself…” on you. That’s up to you.

But nevertheless, you should prepare yourself mentally for the remoteness of the place.

Kanawa Sunset

Can you just do nothing?

If you are reading this then you are probably already thinking of staying on Kanawa Island and you are probably intending to enjoy doing nothing.

But can you really cope with doing nothing?

On our last day in Kanawa I had quite a few plans: I wanted to walk the whole way around the island; I wanted to snorkel; and I wanted to pass the previous night’s sunset photos to my computer.

By 9.30am I had done all this as well as having had breakfast!

Then I had the whole day ahead of me and I had no plans whatsoever.

So I ask you again: can you really cope with doing nothing?

Many people (hopefully the kind of people that stay on Kanawa Island) would say ‘how can you possibly get bored in such a beautiful paradise with all that beauty of nature around you?’

But there are a lot of people who by 9.30 that morning would be lost and restless. Those people should think twice about staying on Kanawa Island.

Kanawa 2013

Taking pictures of the view from our bungalow

If you are still thinking of staying on Kanawa Island then I guarantee that at some point or another you are going to want for something to do. This list is for you:

Sit and enjoy the view

Okay, that’s a pretty obvious one but you might not realise just how well-placed the bungalows are.

Our bungalow was right on the beach. We were in bungalow no. 3, which according to the staff, is the best one.

On the bungalow’s terrace is a hammock and a day bed from where you can look out to the turquoise water and across to the other nearby islands. It’s a view that you will never get tired of. The day bed also serves as a wonderful spot to write, read and do whatever.

Swimming and snorkelling

what to do in kanawa

The sea is warm and clean. The moment you step in the sea you enter another world, one of exotic fish, colourful coral and plants that move and sway with the ocean.

I recommend you take shoes that are waterproof so that you don’t cut your feet on the many shells.

Scuba Diving

When I stayed on Kanawa Island there was a fully certified PADI dive centre running daily trips in Komodo National Park directly from the island. Before you go to Kanawa, if diving is a must for you, double check by sending a quick message, that they do still have the dive centre, as I did read that they were having some trouble renewing contracts.


Boat trips to Komodo National Park are bookable at reception.

Remember, any tour your do that involves leaving Kanawa Island will be by boat as it’s the only way on and off.

Walk around the island

Kanawa 2013

At low tide you can walk around the entire circumference of Kanawa Island. It takes about an hour and the scenery is simply breathtaking. You will pass white spotless beaches and exotic mangroves.

This walk involves climbing over rocks so make sure you have some shoes with you.

Walk up the peak

There are three peaks on the island and to walk up the highest one takes only about 20 minutes. From the top you have a magnificent panoramic view and it’s a great place to see the sunrise or sunset from.

A morning in Labuan Bajo

Chances are if you are visiting Kanawa, you have probably spent some time in Labuan Bajo already, but if you really need to get off the island, this is an option.

You can take the free ferry shuttle that leaves Kanawa at 8am daily to Labuan Bajo. It sets off back at 12 midday, giving you about 2.5 hours free time in Labuan Bajo.

Kanawa Sunset

Totally amazing how the sky lights up

Watch the sunset

At about 5.30pm on a clear day, go to the main pier to see the sky there turn into a magnificent display of colour.

The sun sets at about 6.30pm but it’s good to go earlier to see the whole spectacle.


I don’t really see the point myself but sometimes they do a bonfire near the main pier in the evening and people stand around it and chat. (You could just as easily stand around and chat to people when there is no bonfire).

Collect shells

There are many beautiful shells to be found on Kanawa’s pristine beaches. Even the least creative people could seek out the ones with a hole to make keyrings to give as souvenirs.

Kanawa 2013

Are we making canoes? Or necklaces?

Watch the geckos

Just after sunset your bungalow’s wall will come alive with gecko activity.

Watching them squabble over the flies and fight over who gets to go in the ceiling lamp, not to mention their sordid affairs, is way better than any TV soap.

I was so amused with Kanawa’s geckos that I wrote a whole post about them! Read it next time…

Filed Under: asiafeaturedIndonesiaNusa Tenggara


About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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