A beautiful island about one and a half hours by boat more or less due west of Labuan Bajo, Kanawa Island is a bit of a go-to location for backpackers and flashpackers looking for some downtime.
The island is surrounded by a reef, some of which is in extremely good condition with an impressive range of sealife, from soft coral through to sting rays, sharks and turtles -- and it's easy swimming distance from the beach. The beach itself is also very attractive, with ample shade, and you're never too far from the sole restaurant on the island (unless you walk around the island of course).
It is possible to walk all the way around the island or you can walk over the top of the island and down onto the back beach to continue on your way. The rustic but photogenic pier was destroyed (along with some of the reef) by a storm in early 2013, but a new pier has since been built and we've been told the reef is showing encouraging signs of regeneration.
A series of viewpoints can be reached by a relatively easy climb and the views, especially at sunset, will take your breath away. Be sure to follow the trail all the way to the simple hut on the peak -- absolutely lovely -- and watch out for the goats!
There is just a single place to stay on the island, and while it has picked up its act from a few years ago, it still badly misses its potential. While the staff you'll be dealing with on a daily basis are friendly and try hard, one hopes management will either improve or change.
Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kanawa Island.
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