Komodo Island, Indonesia
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Indonesia is easily one of the most exotic destinations on Earth. But coming into port in Komodo—located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago—feels like arriving on an entirely different planet. The major draw here is, of course, Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and biosphere reserve since 1992. The region is home to roughly 5,700 Komodo dragons, which are, in fact, lizards—and the largest lizards in the world at that, growing to lengths of three meters (almost 10 feet).
The dragons are best seen during tours that head to the islands of Komodo and Rinca, which along with the island of Padar make up the park. In addition to marveling at the feeding habits of the dragons (they can often be seen preying on Komodo's native Timor deer and water buffalo), visitors are impressed by the diversity of Komodo's landscapes. On the one hand, there are pristine white-sand beaches and even pink-hued ones, lapped by clear blue water. Offshore coral reefs are home to over 1,000 species of tropical fish as well as whales, dolphins, dugongs, manta rays and sea turtles. But there are also rugged and sheer cliffs here and hot and dry regions with savanna-like grasses. Prepare to feast your eyes on one of the world's truly special untamed places.