26/09/2022

Penelope Tours

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Komodo National Park Dragon Tour

Komodo National Park Dragon Tour

The Komodo island in Indonesia is famous for being home to the beastly Komodo dragons (the world’s biggest lizard), and it’s an incredibly scenic place with lots of other ‘bucket list’ travel experiences.

The UNESCO designated Komodo National Park has dozens of islands with white and pink sand beaches, exotic mountains for trekking and coral reefs for diving, and it’s the only place in the world where you can see Komodo dragons up close in the wild and get your picture taken with them!

Since Indonesia is our second home, we’ve done the Komodo island tour a bunch of times over the years and it’s always amazing. One of the great things about Komodo’s gateway town, Labuan Bajo, is that it’s not far from Bali and it’s easy to reach with a short flight from there.

This Komodo island travel guide and map will explain how to get there, where to stay, what to do, best tour packages, and everything else you need to know before you go!

 

Where Is Komodo Island?

Komodo Island is part of the Komodo National Park, a group of tropical islands located just off the coast of Flores, in east Indonesia.

The park’s three main islands are Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, but there are lots of smaller ones too, so it’s the perfect place for island hopping!

The closest city is the fishing town of Labuan Bajo in Flores, which has its own airport and plenty of hotels and restaurants to enjoy in between visits to the park.

    
 

Komodo dragon island!

How To Get To Komodo Island Indonesia

The only way to visit Komodo Island and the rest of the national park is on a boat tour from Labuan Bajo, where the airport is located. You can’t fly to Komodo Island directly.

There are a bunch of flights to Labuan Bajo airport (LBJ) every day from Bali, with a 1 hour flight time and several airlines offering ticket prices as low as $40 USD.

Getting to Komodo island from Bali is easier than ever now that AirAsia flies between them several times per week. You can also fly to the Labuan Bajo airport from Jakarta, Surabaya, or Ende.

Once you get to Labuan Bajo, it’s possible to book a boat tour to Komodo Island at the harbor, or you can book a day tour online (more on that later).

The Komodo islands are located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Labuan Bajo as the crow flies, and the journey normally takes 3 hours with a slow boat, or less than half that with a speedboat.

You can knock out all the top sights of Komodo National Park (including the dragons) in one full day tour, or it’s possible to stay in a liveaboard boat and spend several days sightseeing!

 
 

How To Get Around The Komodo Islands

The three boat types for exploring the Komodo islands are slow boat, speedboat, or liveaboard boat.

Slow boat is the cheapest option, and it’s commonly used for day tours, but you do waste a lot of time in transit because it’s just so darn slow. Speedboat is much faster and more efficient, but it’s quite a bit more expensive.

Liveaboard tours can also be pricey, but it’s a unique experience where you get to sleep in a cabin and spend several days sightseeing and enjoying more of the sights in the park.

Book Now: Komodo Liveaboard Tours / Day Tours

 

Where To Stay In Komodo

There are no hotels in Komodo island. All of the hotels and accommodation are in the nearby town of Labuan Bajo.

You can find hotels and accommodation in Labuan Bajo to suit all budgets, from backpacker to luxury. However, it’s a little bit more pricey than Bali on average, because the development hasn’t quite caught up to the number of tourists coming here.

We’ve included some of our Komodo hotel recommendations below.

Labuan Bajo Hotels

 
 

Best Things To Do In Komodo National Park

 

• Padar Island

The most scenic viewpoint of Komodo Indonesia is on the small island of Padar. It’s a short 30 minute hike to the top, and you’re rewarded with probably one of the best views in Southeast Asia.

This is like a Jurassic Park landscape. The island has a giant X shape, with three bays where you can see a white beach, black beach, and pink beach.

Each of those sand colors is pretty special in itself, but to see all of them in one place is crazy. This is probably the only place in the world where you can witness that!

Even though Padar is one of the smallest islands in the Komodo National Park, this scenic viewpoint has become a famous natural landmark of Indonesia, and it’s even been featured on the 50,000 Rupiah cash note.

Read More: Padar Island

The iconic Padar Island viewpoint

Beaches in all directions!

 

• Pink Beach

The Komodo islands are home to several pink sand beaches! The color comes from tiny organisms in the coral called foraminifera.

Pink beaches are very rare, and there are only a handful of them worldwide. The one with the brightest color is hidden in a bay on the north side of Padar Island.

These unique beaches are a must see when you’re visiting Komodo National Park.

Read More: Pink Beach Komodo Island

The extraordinary pink sand beaches at Komodo National Park

Pink Beach Komodo Island

 

• Komodo Dragon Trek

Of course the main attraction of Komodo Indonesia is getting to see the dragons themselves in the wild! The Komodo National Park is the only place in the world where you can do this.

For this part of the tour, you’ll go ashore at one of the two main islands where the dragons live in Indonesia (Rinca or Komodo Island) and do a short trek looking for dragons while accompanied by a park ranger. The trekking path is flat and suitable for all fitness levels.

For sightseeing purposes, there’s not much difference between Rinca Island or Komodo Island, and many tours use these locations interchangeably. There are plenty of Komodo dragons living on either island.

You’re almost guaranteed to see at least a few dragons (after all, it’s Komodo dragon island), and with the guide’s help you can even take pictures with them! It’s an amazing experience getting to see these animals up close in the wild.

 
 

Komodo Dragon FAQ

  • How big are they?
    Adult Komodo dragons can be 3 meters long (10 feet) and weigh more than 140 kilos (300 pounds). The males are bigger than the females.
  • Are they venomous?
    I think the jury is still out on that. Some research has shown that the Komodo dragon bites may be dangerous because of venom or bacteria.
  • How do they hunt?
    Komodo dragons can smell blood from almost 10 kilometers (6 miles) and they can run in bursts of speed up to 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph). Truly dinosaurs!
  • What do they eat?
    A mix of deer, boars, monkeys, birds, goats, wild horses, and water buffaloes. Their favorite food is the deer (Javan Rusa). They can also be cannibals sometimes and eat other dragons.
  • Do they attack humans?
    Yes, but rarely. The dragons don’t think of us as food. Less than a dozen people have been killed by them in the past 50 years, and all of the victims were locals at the village on Komodo dragon island, living in close proximity to the animals.
  • Do they breathe fire?
    No, the dragons can’t breathe fire, but the first Dutch explorers in the Komodo islands believed that!
  • Are there Komodo dragons in the Galapagos islands?
    No, there aren’t any Komodo dragons outside of Indonesia except in zoos. The lizards in the Galapagos islands of Ecuador are marine iguanas, not Komodos. Totally different animal. They’re much smaller and tamer.

    

 
 

Komodo Trekking FAQ

  • Is it safe?
    Yes, just stay close to your guide and you shouldn’t have any issues. The only tourists that have ever been attacked by dragons were trekking alone without a guide.
  • Can I visit during my period?
    Yes, menstruating women can still visit Komodo dragon island (even though the dragons are good at smelling blood), but you’re supposed to tell the park staff so your guide can be more careful.
  • How long is the trek?
    There’s a short, medium, long, or adventure trek. If you’re on a day tour (island hopping), then you’ll probably only have time to do the short or medium trek (both less than 1 hour) before you’re whisked off to go see the manta rays or pink beach.
  • How easy is it to see dragons?
    You’re practically guaranteed to see dragons, even on the short trek, because there are thousands of them living on Komodo and Rinca. I’ve done the trek a bunch of times, and I saw lots of dragons every time. You can also spot them on the beach sometimes. Photo ops galore!

    

 

  • Are the dragons sedated?
    No, the reason they lie around motionless sometimes is because they’re digesting a big meal or resting after a hunt. The dragons are most active in the morning, but like to chill in the middle of the day.
  • Can I touch them?
    No way! The photos in this travel blog where we’re up close with the Komodo dragons are perspective pics. We kept a healthy distance from them and definitely didn’t touch them.
  • What else can I see?
    If you’re lucky on the trek, you can also see Komodo nests, baby dragons, rare birds, snakes, spiders, and more. Snake species include the spitting cobra and island pit viper. It’s way more than just a Komodo dragon island.
  • Do I need to tip?
    Tipping isn’t customary in Indonesia, but if your guide takes good pictures for you then a small tip is certainly appreciated. The guides on Komodo dragon island are not paid very much.

 
 

More Things To Do In Komodo

  • Kalong Island: Also known as bat island, if you go here at sunset you can see thousands of fruit bats flying through the sky.
  • Manta Point: Amazing spot where you can swim with giant manta rays in the ocean. They’re a little shy but not dangerous at all.
  • Taka Makassar: This is a small crescent shaped sandbar near Manta Point. Taka Makassar has perfect white sand and crystal clear water.
  • Gili Lawa Darat: One of the most remote spots in Komodo Indonesia since it’s located on the northwest boundary of the park, just off the coast of Komodo dragon island. It has a hill that’s great for sunrise.
  • Kelor Island: A lot of Komodo tours stop at this island since it’s close to Labuan Bajo. It has a hill you can climb for a nice view of Flores island.
  • Private Island Resorts: For private island resorts near Komodo, you have your choice of Le Pirate Island, Sebayur Island Resort, or Kanawa Island Resort.
  • Scuba Diving: Komodo Indonesia is famous for its world class snorkeling and scuba diving. You can see bright coral reefs and lots of underwater wildlife here.
  • Labuan Bajo: Don’t forget to spend some time exploring the town of Labuan Bajo and its surroundings. There are a bunch of good things to do near Labuan Bajo. I’ll be covering those separately from this Komodo Island travel guide.
Snorkeling at Sebayur Island (© Booking.com)
Le Pirate Island (© Booking.com) — you can camp in bungalows on this private island for very reasonable rates!

Drone pic at Kelor Island, one of the popular stops on Komodo tours.

 

Komodo Island Map

Here’s a Komodo island map showing all the dive sites and main areas of interest. You can click on the image to see it bigger.

Komodo dragons can only be seen on Rinca or Komodo Island. The town of Labuan Bajo (top right) is where all the restaurants and hotels are concentrated.

Komodo island map

Komodo Entrance Fee

The Komodo National Park has a confusing ticket system with a bunch of different entrance fees that you pay in a small booth at Padar. Here are some of the main fees:

  • National Park Entrance Ticket (Mon-Sat): 150k IDR ($10 USD)
  • National Park Entrance Ticket (Sundays & Nat. Holidays): 250k IDR ($17)
  • Retribution For Recreation & Sports: 100k IDR ($7)
  • Padar Entrance Ticket: 150k IDR ($10)
  • Komodo Ranger Fee: 120k IDR per group up to 5 people ($8)
  • Komodo Hiking Fee: 5k IDR ($0.30)
  • Komodo Wildlife Observation Fee: 10k IDR ($0.70)

When you total everything up, you can expect to pay up to 500k Rupiah ($37 USD) per person for a 1 day park pass that allows you to do the highlights of Komodo National Park.

These ticket prices are current as of 2021, but they seem to go up every year. There’s no discount for children or KITAS/KITAP holders, either, which is pretty lame. The least they could do is make the tickets last 3 days or 1 week so they have more value.

I think the price is still worth it for the outstanding nature you get to see at Komodo Indonesia, but if they keep raising it then it may start getting unreasonable. For comparison, a U.S. National Parks annual pass costs not much more than this, but gives you access to 400+ national parks for 1 year.

There’s also been some talk from Indonesia about increasing the Komodo Island fee to a ridiculous $1,000 USD per person, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen, and if it does, I think it would probably kill tourism here for most people.

In June 2022, it was announced that Indonesia may raise the Komodo entrance fee to 3.75 million Rupiah ($250 USD) per person, and limit park visitors to 200,000 per year.

This change is supposed to take effect on August 1, 2022, but a later government statement contradicted this and said it was only a recommendation, not a final decision. Personally, I’ll be surprised if it happens.

Such a big price increase is absurd in my opinion, and seems likely to kill tourism in Komodo. Most people who visit the park are not ultra rich, and to make a major change like this with such short notice is extremely inconsiderate of park visitors.

I’ll keep this Komodo travel guide updated as we get more information. I wouldn’t consider these changes to be final yet, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on if you’re planning a visit to Komodo Island in the near future.

    

 
 

Is Komodo Open Or Closed?

In 2019, the government of Indonesia announced plans to close Komodo Island for the year of 2020 in order to work on conservation and rehabilitation. The idea got a lot of backlash, though, so they decided to reverse it at the last minute.

A lot of the locals in Komodo and Labuan Bajo survive off of tourism, so closing it is a tough proposition for them. To be honest, the islands do need better conservation, but I’m not sure if that means they need to be closed completely. Trash cleanup could be done regardless, and some of the places need it.

As it turns out, the Komodo National Park was closed anyway for almost 6 months in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the park reopened in August 2020. We visited the islands again in 2021 and had a wonderful time.

Komodo Island is officially open for tourism!

 
 

Other Komodo Tips

  • ATM: There are lots of ATM choices scattered around Labuan Bajo town. BNI worked great in our experience.
  • Credit Cards: Some places accept card now, but many don’t. It’s good to keep a bit of cash handy for meals, taxis, and such.
  • WiFi: A lot of hotels in Labuan Bajo still have weak WiFi connections, but they’re improving every year as the infrastructure catches up to the massive influx of tourism.
  • Cell Service: Telkomsel has good 4G reception in Labuan Bajo, Komodo, and even some of the intermediate islands. We used this for a hotspot at times when we didn’t have good WiFi.
  • Restaurants: There are lots of good places to eat in Labuan Bajo. Some nice restaurants to check out are Green Cherry, Baccalá, and La Cucina. We also liked Ayam Bakar Primarasa, near the airport.
  • Transportation: Labuan Bajo town on Flores is small and easy to get around. You can rent a scooter all day for 75k Rupiah ($5 USD), or take a taxi around town for 50k per trip.
  • Mosquitoes: According to this Lancet study from 2018, Malaria is rare in Flores and the Komodo islands. I’ve never heard of a tourist getting Malaria from mosquitoes in Komodo. However, it’s still a very good idea to wear repellant while out and about, just in case. Malaria can be nasty and dangerous.

 

Javan Rusa (deer). The favorite meal of the dragons.

Best Time To Visit Komodo

The best time to visit Komodo Indonesia really depends on what you’re looking for.

You can see the dragons all year round. Prime diving season is March to October. High season for Komodo National Park is July to August, when the weather is cooler and more comfortable, but the park is also more crowded with tourists.

The main months to avoid for Komodo Island are December to February, when Indonesia has its rainy season and the weather is not very good for sailing or trekking. Generally the only reason to go in these months would be to avoid the crowds.

The grass color at Komodo changes with the seasons. It’s green in the tail end of the rainy season (January to April). By April or May, the grass color starts to turn yellow. In the summer and fall (July to November), the islands are bone dry and the grass is all brown. The pictures in this Komodo travel blog were taken in early March.

The scenery and dragons are honestly spectacular in any month of the year, so regardless of when you go, you’re sure to have a very memorable trip. Happy travels!

 

Sunset in the Komodo islands

Best Komodo Island Tour / Day Trip

If you’re looking for a vetted tour company for visiting Komodo Island Indonesia, here’s a top rated Komodo National Park day trip with Klook starting at 600k Rupiah ($42 USD) from Labuan Bajo.

This tour includes the top sights in Komodo like Padar Island, Pink Beach, and the Komodo Dragon trek, and their prices are very competitive based on what we’ve seen being quoted for similar tours in Labuan Bajo. The online reviews are positive too.

We’ve used Klook for lots of tours and activities around the world, and they’re great! Highly recommended.

Book Now: Komodo Island Tour / Day Trip
 

Where To Stay In Labuan Bajo

 

Future Of Komodo Tourism

The future of Komodo tourism is still uncertain. I’m happy Indonesia has opened the park for everyone to enjoy, and I’m glad it’s given employment to the locals, but further development of the islands could become a problem.

There’s been some talk of a ‘Komodo dragon park’ or luxury resort being built on Rinca Island, for example, which seems like a very bad idea.

Komodo dragons are amazing animals. They’re already endangered, and their habitat is very limited. I hope Indonesia will do the right thing, and choose conservation over greed, so we can continue to enjoy this place for many years to come.
 

More Things To See Near Komodo Indonesia

There are lots of other great things to do near Komodo Indonesia if you have time.

On mainland Flores island, you can visit the Goa Rangko Cave in Labuan Bajo, and then do an overland tour of Flores from west to east and see sights like the spiderweb rice fields, Wae Rebo traditional village, Mount Inerie volcano, and the turquoise volcanic lakes of Mount Kelimutu.

The Kelimutu National Park has a trio of colorful volcanic lakes in central Flores, and you can see it without doing any hiking. The lakes are known to regularly change colors (to blue, green, pink, or brown!) because of changes in the underlying gases and elements.

Alternatively, if you want to skip the Flores road trip and just go directly from Komodo to Kelimutu, you can fly directly from Labuan Bajo to the Ende airport (ENE) and visit Kelimutu from there. That flight takes 1 hour and costs about $60 USD.

In spite of the lack of publicity and infrastructure, Flores is definitely one of the best places to visit in Indonesia!

Read More: Best Islands To Visit In Indonesia

Kelimutu National Park is one of the most spectacular sights on Flores island

My Indonesia Travel Guide

Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this travel guide for Komodo Island Indonesia.

Seeing dragons on the Komodo tour was one of the best parts of our visit to Flores, Indonesia.

Don’t forget to check out my complete Indonesia Travel Guide with more free tips, info, and photos!
 

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