The Komodo Islands is becoming a more and more popular destination for people traveling in Indonesia. We tell you what you need to know.
The islands are part of Flores islands and located near Labuan Bajo, which are a popular place to visit, because of its absolutely unique Komodo Dragons.
The islands are also very popular among divers. This is one of the few spots where you not only find stunning coral reefs but also get the opportunity to swim with manta rays.
How to get there?
If you plan to visit the Komodo islands, the best way is to fly to Labuan Bajo (Komodo Airport). It is easy to fly there from Bali. You also have the opportunity to take a ferry from Bali. This option is not very expensive, however, with this option you are going to spend 3 days cramped with many people on the sea. You are better off by taking a flight.
Labuan Bajo – the main town of Komodo
Labuan Bajo is very small – so small you can actually walk from the airport to the center of the town. While the area lives from tourists, the town is not very pretty. There is pretty much only one street, close to the sea, where you find some bars and restaurants. You can enjoy the sunset there, but that is pretty much it.
TIP: While the popular bars, where you can see the sunset, can get very crowded at times, a great spot to see the sunset is near the Laprima Hotel, which is a short walk South of Labuan Bajo. Right at that hotel, there is a jetty and the sunset view there is incredibly peaceful. Here you will be pretty much the only tourist (apart of the few from the hotel and unless not many people get to read this post) and you also have the chance to see wild monkeys, which are in search for food at the beach.
Where to stay?
The best place to stay near Komodo Islands is Labuan Bajo. From there it is easy to organize trips to the dragons or diving tours. The small town offers everything from hostels to budget accommodation and more luxurious places. Check out booking.com just shortly before you go there to find the best last-minute deals.
How to get to Komodo Islands?
To go to Komodo Islands you either have the option to book a one day tour or a multiday tour which usually means one night – two days. In our experience, the one day tour for these islands is more than enough. You have the option to go with a fast boat or a traditional boat. The fast boat is in our humble opinion well overpriced – well above 1 million rupiahs and we also didn’t manage to negotiate on the price. If you are a larger group, it might make sense to charter your own private fast boat. Enquire at the many tourist agencies at the main road and compare their offers. Prices should be around 1.5 million rupiahs.
The more affordable way is traditional boats, which are obviously much slower. We recommend asking for offers at a few of the plenty of tourist agencies, which you can find on the main road, where also the restaurants and bars are located. They will tell you about their special prices only for you and try to talk your language, but don’t let them fool you. Standard prices for a one day tour are 400.000 rupiahs per person. Try to negotiate and bring the price down to 350.000 rupiahs, some agencies will definitely go for it. The tours start in the early morning – from around 6 am to around 6 pm.
The tours include lunch, usually fried rice, which is prepared in the morning already. You might want to bring some of your own snacks, just in case.
ATTENTION: The sea at Komodo can get quite rough. Be prepared to get wet on a traditional boat as water may pour in from all sides. In case you have a waterproof bag, store your valuables there.
Komodo Dragons – What to Expect?
The Komodo Dragons are the largest lizards in the world and very interesting to see. They can get up to 3 meters and length and feed even on large mammals such as deer, water buffalos, and snakes. They bite their prey and inject venom which kills it. All the dragon needs to do is to wait until its death and feast on it. Komodos are cannibals – they also hunt smaller ones!
This venom is the reason they are also very dangerous to humans. You do not want to get bit by them! In such a case, an injection is needed. Such first aid stations are on the main tourist spots. It is not possible to see the Komodos yourself – a ranger of the national park leads small groups around the island.
Komodo or Rinca Island?
There are two main islands where it is possible to see Komodo Dragons. One is Komodo Island itself and the second one is the nearby Rinca Island. Komodo Island is bigger than Rinca. While the probability to see dragons is very high on both islands, chances are better on Rinca, because of the smaller size of the island and the fewer spots suitable for the dragons.
If the sea is rough and currents strong, traditional boats are not able to go to Komodo Island. In this case, the tours go to Rinca. In this case, you won’t go to the manta ray spot, but at least you are pretty much guaranteed to see Komodo dragons.
Both islands are part of the Komodo National Park for which you have to pay a daily entrance fee. This fee includes also the ranger which guides you along. The minimum group size is 6, but even if you are traveling by yourself or in two, you can put yourself in groups together with other people on the spot.
The payment of the fee can be a bit chaotic and it seemed to us that rangers, who are waiting in front of the small registration building for people to come out and get going with them, don’t really care if you paid or not.
Padar Island – Beautiful Views
All tours include a short stop on Padar Islands. Here you can easily reach higher elevations with amazing views across the archipelago. Many people bring their drones to get nice shots from here. Check out the photos.
Swimming with Manta Rays
Komodo is also popular for swimming with manta rays. This is one of the few spots around the world, where there is a regular high chance to see manta rays. This experience is usually included in a one day tour. However, the place where manta rays can be found is located an area in strong currents. This is because it is a perfect spot for them to feed from the water currents, which bring in food and plankton.
If the currents are too strong, traditional boats are not able to bring you to the manta rays. This is unfortunate, however, they will take you to an alternative snorkeling spot. The reefs in this area are superb! Even if that is the backup plan, you will get to see wonderful coral reefs with an amazing marine life.
Diving the Komodo Islands
As mentioned above, diving and the underwater life in this area is absolutely stunning. If you are a diver it is well worth to book a diving trip here. We idiots forgot our underwater case when diving here, so we are not able to provide any pictures. If you aren’t a diver or would like to convince yourself about the quality of the submarine nature, you can do so on your trip to the Komodo dragons and check out the snorkeling first.
How long to stay for?
If you only want to go the Komodos for the day, you only need to stay there for two days. As tours leave early in the morning you need to fly in the day before. This gives you also time to check out some tour agencies and book your day trip – there is no need to book the tour days in advance. The trips return around 5 to 6 in the afternoon, if you don’t find a flight to your next destination after around 8pm, you should definitely stay a second night in Labuan Bajo as well.
If you are planning to go on a diving excursion you should plan in an extra day. The town itself doesn’t offer much to make it worthwhile to spend more time here.