Mesa Island is a world beyond its own tucked away in the middle of the Flores Sea. This tiny island is nothing like the rest of Komodo National Park. Home to 1’500 Bajau people, or otherwise known as the sea-gypsies, Mesa Island, is a unique destination to immerse into a fascinating culture, whose origins are not well-documented.
The warmth and welcoming people of the Mesa Village are descendants of sea gypsies with their centuries-old history, and little-changed way of life. They are said to be originated from Sulawesi. Once known as nomads and lived only on boats, they have since adapted and started to build houses of their own. Even the homes that they build reflect and hold much of their culture and customs. Built on stilts above the water surface, visitors can see how much the Bajau people have adapted while still calling the open sea their home. Here on Mesa Island, you catch a glimpse of the islanders’ daily lives – drying fish and sea cucumbers, handling a sundry shop, or processing shellfish. And don’t be startled if a bunch of curious kids come and follow you by your side while you walk around this lively island.
There is no freshwater source on Mesa Island. So the men have to go out in their boats every day to collect it from other places, mostly from Labuan Bajo. Interestingly, “mesa” means “itchy” – and the island was named so due to the itchy sand. Despite the lack of beautiful beaches and gorgeous landscapes, Mesa Island is one destination that provides a new perspective on the culture and people of Komodo National Park. Overall, Mesa is an authentic island gem that you should not miss during your exploration of the Komodo National Park.