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“You'll find treasure island”
Review of Kanawa Resort

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Kanawa Resort
Reviewed 6 August 2014 via mobile

We have visited Kanawa last summer and everytime we plan a new vacation we hope it is going to be like Kanawa. Come here if you like: weaking up in front of the sea/ going to bed in front of the sea / snorkel and dive / living a 100% natural island experience

Stayed: September 2013
2  Thank Guido84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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114 - 120 of 515 reviews

Reviewed 30 July 2014 via mobile

Everything has been said about Kanawa, and the place is almost always full. When I'm asked why I return there, on top of snorkeling, accommodations, activities, clean beaches, sunrise and sunset, ....and farniente, I never forget to talk about the food. The cook they have there made a difference. He's certainly part of the reasons why I invite people to go to Kanawa. He's inventive, he loves his job, and there are always tasty surprises in the specials of the day. Thumbs up!!!

Stayed: July 2014, travelled solo
Thank PakJekk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2014

When I pulled up the page for Kanawa to leave my review I was really surprised to see negative comments from others. I loved my time on Kanawa and so did every other guest that I spoke with while I was there. In fact, I hadn't previously planned on visiting but I met a couple that had just recently come from there and they spoke so highly of it that I rerouted my trip to come the opposite direction just to visit the island. Maybe people aren't used to "roughing it" a bit but I loved it there so much I was working with the staff to try and extend my stay but unfortunately they were completely booked up and no one canceled by time it was time for me to leave.

The rooms: I stayed three nights in a bale bale on the beach and one night in a bungalow. There are also tents available. I would request a bale bale given the choices, if you don't mind forgoing privacy. They are basically raised platforms on the beach with wooden blinds on all four sides that make up the walls. Inside there is a mattress and a mosquito net. Very simple but they get the best breeze. When I stayed in the bungalow it got stuffy at night so I ended up sleeping on my porch, which was no problem as I had a large couch/bed type thing and hammock on the porch.

The restaurant: I have no idea why anyone would say anything negative about the food. There is a menu they have all the time which is mostly pizza and pastas and then the chef and his crew make different specials each night. The specials were usually some kind of freshly caught fish. Yes, there could be a long wait for your order but it was no big deal. There's only one restaurant on the island so you're just hanging out in the restaurant chatting with the other guests. You can even sit outside on the sand near the beach and have beers while you talk with others and wait.

The staff: they were all completely wonderful. I don't have one negative thing to say about any of them. The chef, Hero, is a really cool and friendly guy. He loves to read so if you have a book you've finished ask Hero about doing a book exchange with him. I had left my phone charger on the island and they somehow managed to get it off of the island and back on the mainland and deliver it to me at the airport the next day before I caught my flight. I was waiting in the boarding area and someone from the hotel arrived with it. They really went above and beyond. The owner was always around and not just supervising but I saw him carrying luggage for guests and pitching in helping. I chatted with him one night and he seemed very friendly and like he really loved the place.

The snorkeling- amazing. I came for the diving but many people that didn't dive were there because the snorkeling is known to be amazing. We were seeing starfish, blue spotted rays, sharks and tons of fish and coral just a few steps into the water. You can even arrange snorkeling/trekking trips through the office. We went on a trekking trip to Rincha to see the Komodo Dragons and then stopped to snorkel at two spots on the way back. We mentioned to the boat captain that if there was time we were interested at stopping off at the nearby fishing on the way back and even though it put him and his crew staying to work later than planned he made sure we got to make the stop.

The diving- the best I've ever done. This is the entire reason I backtracked and went to Kanawa and I'm glad I did. I did two full day trips (3 dives a day) and we saw so much- tons of sharks, huge fish, blue spotted rays, sea snakes, eels, the healthiest coral I've ever seen and we even had dolphins swimming next to the boat on the way out to the dive site one day. The dive masters were great, the boat was in good condition and the equipment was all well maintained. They even closed down the dive shop one day for equipment maintenance. The prices are fair when you price them out per dive, about the same as I was paying on Gili T and Nusa Lembongan.

Cell phone service/wifi: there is no wifi anywhere on the island. I would love to say that I'm one of those people that could unplug for my stay but I'm not. I bought a local phone with a data plan for my time there. I was told Telkom Cell is the only cell provider with service in that area. Data was slow but it was better than not having any as I had to do some messaging while I was there.

If you're going for or are used to luxury then this may not be the place for you. The accommodations are super basic and simple but the island is completely worth it. We joked that it felt a bit like summer camp for grown ups. Not only would I recommend this place to others but I fully intend to come back myself one day, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Room Tip: The bale bale's are beachfront and have better breezes if you don't mind giving up some priv...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
3  Thank nlaguilera
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 July 2014

We spent 4 nights in bungalow 6 ( back row, ask for one in the front for views of the water) at the kanawa island resort and had a wonderful stay. You arrive by boat which is free departing at noon and return the same way with a boat at 8am.

Our bungalow is a decent size with a queen bed with mosquito netting, outdoor bathroom and shower, and a balcony with a lounge bed and hammock for 400,000 idr / night. The shower water is not heated but it's not cold either. There is an allocation of 50,000L per person per day of fresh water.

This is the only resort on the island. There is a PADI dive center here, as well as a place for massage if you want. I did not use the dive centre but my friend did and he said they were professional and the dive masters were great, however some equipment could use replacing ( he had a mouthpiece that wasn't great but when asked to exchange it, they did).

There is a dining area as well as an outdoor area on the beach. Specials were at lunch and supper and food was generally pretty tasty and good. Some of the staff are just learning English but there is always someone around who speaks well.

Tours are bookable right on the resort the night before and are very reasonably prices, dependent on number of people going. I went on the Komodo island tour and rinca island tour, both times with 7 people so we only had to pay 300,000 idr each. Do note that at each park you have to pay ranger fees. Then once every 3 days you enter parks there is the tax, park fee, snorkel fee and camera fee.

The staff were friendly and if you are required to move from one bungalow to another as some of my friends did, they will do so for you.

Snorkelling is amazing even right off the beach of kanawa with lots of soft and hard coral, tons of variety of fish, including lion fish , reef sharks, and some people even saw stingrays. I saw what I think was a really big squid about 2 feet long that changed colors from brown to white to yellow with variations thereof as well as changing spots and stripes.

There is a volleyball net but I'm uncertain as whether it's only for the locals to use as we only saw them play the entire time we were there and there was no offer to join them when our friend stood by the net.

Alcohol is available, and there is a small bar on the beach. Power on the island is only available from 6pm-11pm.

I would highly recommend this resort and would definitely go back again if I was in the area!

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank Halilee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2014

WOW, beautiful and stunning don't even begin to describe Kanawa. Fantastic snorkelling, we saw turtles, lion fish, rays, so many fish. A great walk around the island reveals stunning beaches with no one on them. However, like it has been said by many reviews, the staff and restaurant let this place down. There is a small group of helpful, friendly staff however the majority appear not to care much at all.

the restaurant could be amazing, just needs better management. For example our children could not have a fresh juice for breakfast as the kitchen was busy "mass producing" eggs and fruit. We had no problems with the food or the speed at which it was served except for one occasion waiting over 1 hour for a Nasi Goreng. They run a tab system for all food and drinks, be sure to double check as we had beer purchased at the bar charged to our tab when we never purchased anything from the bar, however management agreed to delete from our bill.

The bungalows are fine, if you are staying with kids I would suggest you get a bungalow away from the restaurant/bar area, as it could get quite loud at night. and make sure you bring a towel as none are supplied on the island.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
3  Thank TeoNorthIsland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 July 2014

Kanawa is the beautiful island surrounding with coral, you don't need to dive in here because the snorkeling really great, you can see Lion fish family, baby shark, all kind of Tuna, small sting ray blue spot and many fish etc. so you just need the snorkeling gear and for sure bring your PADI diving card. You need to booked the bungalow advance via internet, because the boat going there only at 12 noon and back to labuan bajo at 8AM. once a day. the food is good. We've been there many times for our holiday and one time we brought our friends and family. Great place white beach and great coral. nice staffs and friendly. the bungalow around 200 - 350 thousand rupiah. just go to the web site to booked your holiday.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
2  Thank ZaharMartial020711
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 July 2014

As all the other reviewers have stated, Kanawa Island is absolute paradise, and at just a short 1 hour boat ride away from Labuan Bajo (we saw dolphins on the way!), is fairly accessible compared to other places in Indonesia. The water is crystal clear and the reef is just amazing - teeming with all sorts of fish, beautiful corals, turtles, sharks, and even a ray or two. With this being the only resort on the island, it's relatively easy to find peace and quiet, whether it's on one of the three beaches or hiking around the hills. For scenery, it's 5 all the way. For accommodations, we knew what to expect and were fine with everything, though the insane heat did make it impossible to sleep.

The owners know what a jewel they have and trade completely on the natural splendor of the island, putting no effort into anything else, especially service. The attitude is: Kanawa is the staff's playground, and customers are lucky to be paying for the privilege of being there.

I'll give a few examples of the service issues. We did not book in advance (big mistake), so when we showed up at the office on LBJ, they only had one night available, and then a 4-night block a few days later. We took the one night and asked if we could be put on a waiting list in case someone canceled so we didn't have to go back to LBJ and wait for the 4-day block. We were told by the LBJ office to ask the staff on the island. Upon arriving at the island at 2pm, we asked the staff as instructed our and were told check back in at 5pm. At 5pm, we were told to check back in again around 7pm. When we checked back in around 7pm, we were told that we would in fact have to go all the way back to LBJ to check-in with the office there. When we explained that the LBJ office had told us we needed to speak to the staff on the island, we were met with confusion. That's when the "manager" Fabrizio stepped in. We explained the run around we were given and expressed our frustration at being unable to even figure out who to talk with about extending our stay - he got very testy and acted like we were being unreasonable.

We asked him if he, as the manager, could contact the LBJ office as the manager and sort this out, as there is clearly an internal miscommunication. He informed us that the office was now closed and that he could not contact them until 8am the next morning. Again, we expressed frustration that we checked in with the island staff twice earlier in the day when the office was open, and no one offered to call over there. Unfortunately, the LBJ office opens after the boat from Kanawa back to LBJ leaves. So, it was either stay on the island and run the risk that no one cancels, leaving us to sleep on a mattress on the floor in the staff bunkhouse, or head back to LBJ and speak with the office there. Given the immaturity and rude behavior we saw among the staff, we decided not to risk it and went back to LBJ. BTW, we were not the only guests that had this problem with being sent back-and-forth between the LJB office and island staff.

Back on LBJ, we explained what happened, and, if you can believe it, the lady again tried to steer us back to the island to check with them but after seeing our frustration, she decided to help (finally). We asked if there had been any cancellations - she told us no and that she would not know if there were any cancellations until she called over to the island in the afternoon to see if everyone arrived. The problem is, there is only one boat a day to the island, which is the 12pm boat. So, if we have to wait until after that boat leaves to see if someone cancelled, it would be too late for us to go the island. When we explained this to her, it was like a light bulb went off in her head. She thought about it for a few minutes and asked us to check back in at 11am - if the guests hadn't confirmed or shown by then, the bungalow was ours. Indeed, this is exactly what happened.

All of this ridiculousness could be avoided if responsibilities of the LBJ office vs. the island office were clear and there were a few processes in place (e.g. check-in at the LBJ office would be helpful, as well as a requirement that all guests confirm reservations 24 hours in advance or risk losing it to folks on a waiting list).

This is entirely the fault of Fabrizio, who seems to have zero interest in being a boss or actually even working at all. He seems to spend most of his time hanging out with his friends in paradise. After our run-in with him, he behaved like a 5-year old, saying hello to everyone in the restaurant, smiling, etc. and then pointedly not saying anything to us or even looking us in the eye. Grow up, dude.

Another example of service issues: the bungalow next to us had a leak from the shower, and the guests in that bungalow were gone for the day. Given how precious water is on the island (you only get 50L/pp/day), we decided to inform the staff about the leak. When we walked into the restaurant, which was closed for the afternoon, I called to a staff member sitting at the back. In response, he did not get up, take off his headphones or even look up from his phone - he just said: "What you want?" from across the restaurant. When we explained the problem, he said:"Just go over there and turn it off yourself." Um ... what? I was so taken aback I said something like "well, it's not our cabana and just thought someone on staff should know." So much to say about this: 1) If he had listened, he would have known it was leaking from the shower and underneath the bungalow - not as simple as just turning off a faucet, as he suggested; 2) I was uncomfortable going into someone else's bungalow, even if it was just the deck; 3) from the other guests' perspective, I think they would have felt very uncomfortable to find out that another guest had gone to their bungalow (remember, you can only pay in cash on this island=easy opportunity for theft); and 4), perhaps most importantly, I am a freaking paying guest, while the staff is BEING PAID to handle this kind of problem. Honestly, if our roof had blown off, I think this guy would have pointed us in the direction of the tool shed and told us to fix it ourselves.

Again, the fault lies with Fabrizio for not providing training or setting an example of how to treat customers. I am not expecting five-star service in the least, but I do expect to be treated like a human being, especially when I am paying! These were two major examples, but the issues are everywhere. Meal service is completely chaotic - no one seems to have sections or a clear idea of their own responsibilities, so meals take forever, are misdelivered, and orders never even get placed. Some of the staff seem acutely aware of the fact that they have no idea what they are doing and walk around looking panicked, especially if you approach them. We witnessed a "trainee" as noted by a little badge, left to herself entirely while we were there - no one training her, helping her, or even checking in with her. I felt terrible for her - she seemed lost and stressed, as do many of the staff.

In sum, we adored our stay on this beautiful island paradise, but should warn other travelers that the owners/managers are in the money-making business, not the service industry. They don't give two craps about your experience or your stay, so if you can look past that, give it a go. If you have the time, skip Kanawa and check out the Togian Islands off of Sulawesi. We stayed at several places in the Togians, and all were a third of the cost of Kanawa with nicer accommodations plus warm and friendly service.

In sum, we adored our stay on this beautiful island paradise, but should warn other travelers that these people are in the money-making business, not the service industry. They don't give two craps about your experience or your stay, so if you can look past that, give it a go. If you have the time, skip Kanawa and check out the Togean Islands off of Sulawesi. We stayed at several places in the Togians, and all were a third of the cost of Kanawa with warm and friendly service, not to mention better accommodations.

Room Tip: For the bungalows, the best ones are to the right of the restaurant at the end - 1, 2, 3, and 5 have...
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  • Stayed: June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank WanderrlustAdv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kanawa Resort

Address: Kawana Island, Komodo National Park, Komodo 86554, Indonesia
Region: Indonesia > East Nusa Tenggara > Komodo > Komodo National Park
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Restaurant Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Speciality Lodging in Komodo National Park
Price Range: £39 - £62 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Kanawa Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Kanawa Island Resort Kanawa island is located just 6miles away from Labuan Bajo, at the borders of UNESCO World Heritage site, Komodo National Park. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Kanawa Resort Komodo, Indonesia

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