Ultimate Guide To Planning A Trip To Komodo National Park For First-Timer

January 29, 2020

by Ashley Phillips

woman standing on cliff surrounded by brown rocky mountains
©Photo by Yulia Agnis on Unsplash

It’s common for everyone’s ideal vacation to be all about the sand, sea, and sun, but what about having dragons, diving, and dining on your list, too? You read that right! At Komodo National Park, you don’t just get all that sand in your toes, the scenic views of the sea, and the sun kissing your skin. You’ll also get to see dangerous dragons up close, dive and snorkel to see amazing underwater views, and eat the most exotic and delicious food you’ve ever tasted.

 

If you’re already hyped up, so are we. This guide is going to be your new best friend as we take you on your first trip to Komodo National Park.


Where Is Komodo Island?

a wide angle shot of Komodo Island from far away

©Photo by arnhue on Pixabay

 

Before we start, let’s clear up a few things so you won’t get confused along the way when you read this. Where is Komodo National Park? It is located in Indonesia, and it isn’t just located in one area. The park is composed of several islands, three of which are the ones frequented by tourists the most because of the activities to do, the sights to explore, and of course, to visit the Komodo dragons.

 

The three islands are namely Komodo Island, Rinca Island, and Padar Island. People think that visiting Komodo Island is the only way you’ll get to see the largest lizard in the world, which is the Komodo dragon. But these beautiful yet dangerous creatures can be seen in Rinca Island, as well. Komodo and Rinca Island are the only two islands in the park that allows and entertains visitors if you’re there to see Komodo dragons.

 

Aside from the dragon park, a series of wildlife both on land and at sea, flora, and fauna can also be appreciated as Komodo National Park is a beautiful place to explore.

The best time to go there is between April and December where the rain won’t ruin your stay. There are still rainy weathers in between those months, but they’re not as frequent like they are in December.

 

If you’re more interested in seeing the Komodo Dragons, do note that their mating season is from July to August and their nesting season is from September to November, so you might spot only a few of them during these times.

 

Komodo National Park: How To Get There

There are many ways to get to Komodo National Park. You’d have to get to Labuan Bajo first, which is located in Flores Island. Think of it as the first stop before you reach the three major islands in Komodo National Park.

 

The quickest, safest, and most convenient way to get to Labuan Bajo is by air. You can fly from the many main Indonesian islands such as Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, and Praya. Airlines frequent Flores Island daily, so you don’t have to worry about catching another flight if you miss a trip.

 

You may also take a ferry trip from Bali to Labuan Bajo, but it’s not advisable since it takes 36 hours to reach Flores Island. The trip may also be rocky. It may be a budgeted way of traveling, but you’d be spending a night at sea which might be a waste of time for some who would like to get to their destination and spend that extra night in Labuan Bajo already.

 

How To Get From Bali To Komodo National Park

To get to Komodo National Park from Bali, you may take a plane trip to fly to Labuan Bajo. The airport that is located on this island is Komodo Airport. It takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to get there. Flights are available daily from the different parts of the islands of Indonesia, especially those coming from Jakarta, as well.

 

How To Get To Komodo Island National Park From Komodo Airport

It’s highly recommended to book all of your accommodations and activities at Labuan Bajo. Think of it as your home base. You can go island hopping, snorkel or scuba diving, swim with the manta rays, and see Komodo dragons on other islands. But at the end of the day, you return to Labuan Bajo to rest since the town is complete with amenities, restaurants, and other tourist needs.

 

It is at Labuan Bajo that you’ll also book the tours that will take you to Komodo National Park. The tour guides will be in charge of taking you around the islands.

For a list of tours, we recommend booking at Le Pirate Tours, where you can cruise around the island at your own pace. You can book for a day or up to three days. The longer your stay will be, the better the deals they’ll offer.

 

You might also want to check out booking activities and tours at Viator. You’ll be able to get a detailed itinerary and recommendations based on reviews. Read through the details carefully since some tours allow hotel pick-ups and drop-offs. Some tours also include packed lunches.

 

By booking through tours, rest assured that you can explore Komodo National Park safely and conveniently.

 

What Can You Do In Komodo Island

You will never run out of activities while you’re in Komodo National Park. You’ll have all sorts of things to do, and these activities are catered to different interests. Whether you’re the adventurous type or the leisure traveler, there’s something for you to enjoy.

 

1.

Explore Komodo National Park

photo of green, lush mountains overlooking the boats on the beach

©Photo by Stijn Dijkstra on Pexels

 

One of the reasons people head to Indonesia is to visit Komodo National Park. This is where you can see Komodo dragons up close, take a few photos of them, and witness their lifestyle on the island.

 

It’s best to have a tour guide around when you’re visiting the park. This is to ensure your safety and to get the full historical information about the island. Your tours should cover all necessary costs such as admission fees to the park, a tour guide, and a boat that will be taking you around the islands.

 

2.

Hike Padar Island

aerial view of the beautiful rocky mountain formation

©Photo by Rizknas on Pexels

 

Hiking up Padar Island is a wonderful experience. The trek is tiring and quite a challenge so bring your most comfortable hiking shoes. Once you reach the viewpoint, you’ll be rewarded by the most breathtaking views of the island that you’ll forget about how exhausting the hike was. Padar Island and its viewpoint are also major scenic attractions you cannot miss while you’re exploring Komodo National Park.

 

3.

Go Scuba Diving

photo of a black sting ray swimming under water

©Photo by Adam Juman on Unsplash

 

Scuba diving is a must when you’re in Komodo Island. It’s like going to an underwater amusement park. You’ll get to see turtles, fishes, and manta rays up close like you’ve never seen them before.

Again, joining a tour for scuba diving is recommended as this will be safer and more convenient. Tours such as Ora Dive, Blue Marlin Komodo, and Manta Dive will let you join their teams. They even offer basic courses if you’re new to this activity or you can join an advanced one if you’re already well-experienced.

 

4.

Join A Liveaboard Diving Trip

photo of a sailing boat near the green hills

©Photo by Frans Daniels on Unsplash

 

Take your diving experience to the next level by going on a liveaboard. This activity is like scuba diving, but it spans longer since you can spend 3 nights to up to 2 weeks on the boat. The liveaboard will not just take you to Komodo Island but Padar, Rinca, and Flores, too.

 

Manta ray sightings are the highlight in a liveaboard trip, but the best sightings are during December and February. One other creature that you might spot includes the mola mola, which is known as an ocean sunfish.

So if exploring underwater rather than on land is your thing, take the liveaboard and enjoy the best scuba diving experience you’ll probably have.

 

5.

Walk Along The Sandbar

photo of a beach sand lagoon with a clear blue sky

©Photo by koseb on Pixabay

 

If you’re willing to splurge a little, renting a speedboat to visit some of the remote islands and sandbars in Komodo National Park is a treat. These beautiful sandbars are a great way to have a piece of the island all to yourself.

 

What Can You See In Komodo Island

 

1.

Pink Beach

photo of the pink sand where the water meets the shore

©Photo by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash

 

If you’ve heard of the infamous Pink Beach before, then it’s high time you should visit it if you’re in Komodo National Park. Just on the opposite side of Komodo Island is Pink Beach. The beach’s sand is not entirely pink, but it does give off a pinkish color because of the tiny pieces of red corals that have mixed with the sand through time. It’s beautiful up close and even from afar.

 

People come to Pink Beach to snorkel, while others just lounge in the clear blue waters. It’s recommended to hike to the top to get the view of the whole beach which is just as elegant as it is at sea level.

 

2.

Komodo Dragons

photo of a komodo dragon after drinking water

©Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

 

Never miss an opportunity to catch the real live dragons of Komodo Island. Komodo dragons are the highlight of visiting Komodo National Park. They’re known to be the largest lizard in the world. You’ll see for yourself just how huge they are when you visit Rinca Island, as well.

 

Remember, these dragons can be dangerous. Their bite is venomous, and their teeth are sharp. If you’ll notice, your tour guide will be carrying a stick with them to ward off the dragons if they get too close. That’s why it’s best to go with a tour guide rather than explore on your own.

 

3.

Kanawa Island

women snorkeling on clear and bright water

©Photo by clicjeroen on Pixabay

 

Another place that’s perfect to go snorkeling is Kanawa Island. This island is much closer to Labuan Bajo. You’ll find lots of fishes and colorful corals.

 

Take a ferry from Labuan Bajo to Kanawa Island. It takes an hour to get there. If you booked a liveaboard, they usually take you to this place. Ask your guide or check the itinerary if you’ll be able to visit Kanawa Island. If you feel like this is a lengthy trip, don’t worry. You’ll be rewarded in the end by clear crystal waters and an amazing place to snorkel and relax.

 

What To Eat In Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo may be a laid back place but it boasts of a lot of places for tourists. Restaurants are abundant at Labuan Bajo and the food served is delicious. You’ll have a mix of international cuisine or local cuisine that your taste buds are well catered to.

 

1.

Mediterraneo

photo of the entrance to the Mediterraneo restaurant in Indonesia

©Photo from official Mediterraneo website

 

One does not tire of pizza and pasta. At Mediterraneo, you’ll have the finest taste of Italy in Labuan Bajo.

The restaurant has the most beautiful ambiance and overlooks the harbor. The menu is diverse with appetizers ranging from bruschetta, salad, to tartare. Their pizza is known to be the best on the island and there’s no shortage of flavors from meat to vegetables. Mediterraneo also has a vegan menu if you’re looking for one.

 

Website: http://www.mediterraneo.co.id/labuan-bajo
Address: Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa Tenggara Tim. 86554, Indonesia

 

 

2.

Le Pirate

Le Pirate - Ultimate Guide To Planning A Trip To Komodo National Park For First-Timer

©Photo from official Le Pirate website

 

Craving for really good food on the island? Visit Le Pirate Bajo’s rooftop restaurant for fish and chips, quesadillas, pad thai, beef rendang, and more. The rooftop gives you a great view of the harbor and on some days, there are live bands performing and movie nights for the crowd. The rooftop restaurant also has a bar if you’d like to chill and drink for the night.

 

Website: https://lepirate.com/labuan-bajo/
Address: Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa Tenggara Tim., Indonesia

 

3.

La Cucina

a photo of the exterior dining area of La Cucina Komodo

©Photo from official Mediterraneo Facebook page

 

Another place that serves really good pizza is La Cucina. It’s a quaint restaurant with a homely décor. The space is small though so be sure to head there early as it gets crowded quick.

 

The menu includes pizza, bruschetta, gnocchi, and gelato for dessert. The portions are good for two to three people so you’re sure to never go hungry at the end of your meal.

 

Address: Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa Tenggara Tim., Indonesia

 

4.

Warung Mama

Get a taste of Indonesia by dining at Warung Mama. Try out their specialty, which is the daging rendang or also known as dry beef curry. For vegetarian options, you can get the nasi sayur which is vegetables on rice. The prices are affordable and at Warung Mama, you’ll get a taste of home-cooked Indonesian goodness.

 

Address: Jl. Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa Tenggara Tim., Indonesia

 

5.

Night Market

photo of grilled chicken and rice on banana leaf

©Photo by mufidpwt on Pixabay

 

Don’t miss the important night street food scene at Labuan Bajo. This is no fancy restaurant so don’t expect to be served or sit in a posh setting.

 

The night market is a wonderful experience for food enthusiasts as you get to eat delicious grilled chicken or also known as ayam bakar. You can also have grilled fish called ikan bakar. The price is cheap and great for those traveling on a budget but would still like to experience good local food.

 


Where To Stay Komodo National Park

There are tons of places to stay at Labuan Bajo when you’re visiting Komodo National Park. Here are a few accommodations that might catch your interests:

 
 

Bintang Flores Hotel

phot of the Bintang Flores Hotel's exterior design

©Photo from official Bintang Flores Hotel website

 

Situated along the coast of Flores Island is Hotel Bintang. This 4-star hotel is for those who want relaxation rather than join in the activities. But that doesn’t mean the hotel itself doesn’t host a couple of things to do.

 

The hotel has a pool and a private beach if you want to take a dip. Flores Island also has a few diving spots you can go to that are near Hotel Bintang. Scuba diving is also an activity that you can sign up with through this hotel.

 

Hotel Bintang is also 10 minutes away from the airport for your convenience.

 

To book, visit their website: https://bintangfloreshotel.business.site/

 

Dragon Dive Komodo Hostel

Book your stay at the Dragon Dive Komodo Hostel if you’re into scuba diving or snorkeling. This hostel offers courses and trips for you daily for your snorkeling and scuba diving needs.

 

They have a hostel for those who want to stay in Labuan Bajo’s daily and dorm-type rooms for those who want to stay as a group. They also have liveaboard options for those who want to stay on the boat for 3, 4, or 5 days and cruise around Komodo National Park’s Islands. This will already include a tour plus diving experiences.

 

To book, visit their website: https://www.dragondivekomodo.com/en/liveaboard-scuba-diving-komodo/

 

Komodo Lodge

If you’re one to like staying where it’s near to all the hustle and bustle of the town is, then book a stay at Komodo Lodge. This hotel is a 5-minute walk to the main road and market where all the shops, restaurants, and cafes are located. As for its distance from the airport, it’s a 15-minute ride by car.

 

Komodo Lodge has its restaurant on the 4th floor if you’re too lazy to go out into town. It’s a beautiful hotel with gorgeous views that it’ll make your stay in Labuan Bajo worth remembering.

 

To book, visit their website: https://komodolodge.business.site/

 

Le Pirate

We’ve already mentioned Le Pirate above as one that hosts liveaboard and cruise tours and is known for an amazing rooftop restaurant. Below the restaurant is Le Pirate Hotel where you stay. And as mentioned above, you can also choose to do a cruise tour if you’d like to stay at sea rather than on land.

 

To book, visit their website: https://lepirate.com/labuan-bajo/

 

Things To Bring

photo of sunblock and sunglasses on sand

©Photo by kaboompics on Pixabay

 

Before traveling to Komodo National Park, there are a few essentials you need to carry. This is for your safety and protection from the sun and mosquitoes you’ll be meeting along the way. It’s best to be prepared and carry all these items with you rather than buy on the island. But if you miss an item or two, there are shops where you can visit that provide them.

 

Sunblock

You’re going to an island where you’ll be spending most of your time outdoors. Whether you’ll be hiking, swimming, or just walking around the beach, one important thing to put on is sunblock.

 

Get a sunblock that has an SPF of at least 30 to protect you from the harsh rays of the sun. Make sure to apply sunblock evenly on your face, back, legs and wherever else your skin will be exposed to. You don’t want to get sunburned on just the first day of your trip and suffer for the rest of it.

 

Mosquito Repellant

It’s important to bring a mosquito repellant when you’re traveling to Komodo National Park. Indonesia is a tropical country, and mosquitoes thrive here since it’s a hot and humid place.

 

Avoid getting any insect-related disease by protecting yourself with mosquito repellant.

 

Water

Refrain from being dehydrated while exploring Komodo National Park by bringing along a bottle of water. The sun can be harsh, especially during the summertime, and you’re guaranteed to be sweating a lot. Hydrate yourself by drinking water throughout your trip so you don’t faint in the middle of it.

 

Go eco-friendly by bringing a reusable water bottle and replenish it at your hotel. Don’t drink water from the tap unless your guide says so. To be safe, always drink from trusted sources or buy sealed water bottles at grocery or convenience stores.

 

Hat

The sun will be with you at all times during the day when you’re in the different islands of Komodo National Park. The sunblock will help protect you against the rays and heat of the sun. It would be nice to add more protection, such as wearing a hat.

 

A hat doesn’t just protect your scalp. It also provides shade for your eyes. You may bring a wide hat to shade your face and the back of your neck, or a simple baseball cap can do.

 

Sunglasses

We have been going on and on about the sun’s harsh rays, but it really is one of the highlights of your trip. Therefore, along with your skin, protecting your eyes is also important. This is to avoid cataracts and blurry vision. So make sure to bring along a pair of sunglasses.

 

Footwear and Beachwear

You will be spending your days walking around the sand and feeling the island heat. Wearing light beachwear and the proper footwear can ease your discomfort. Loose clothes such as dresses, sleeveless shirts, shorts, hiking sandals, or beach sandals are appropriate for Komodo National Park. Ditch the jeans and long sleeves. You do not want to feel stifled and sweaty throughout your whole trip.

 

Currency

The local currency in Komodo National Park is Rupiah or IDR. There are ATMs in Labuan Bajo and some money changers are available, but its best to be prepared and convert your dollars or other currencies to rupiah before flying in Labuan Bajo.

 

You may also bring your credit cards since most major dive shops accept them. But it’s still recommended to bring in cash just in case other shops and restaurants might not accept credit cards.

 

Passport and Visa

The most important thing to bring while you’re traveling to any country is to bring your passport. This will serve as your identification card throughout your trip. If this is your first time traveling out of the country then do know that you cannot enter a country without a passport.

 

Do check whether you are required to apply for a visa, as well. Some countries are allowed to enter Indonesia without a visa while others need to apply for one.

 

Always remember that it’s important to check with your travel agency for any important documents you might need to bring when you’re traveling to Komodo National Park.

 

Bring all these necessary items with you to ensure a convenient and safe way of traveling to Labuan Bajo. Above everything else, pack light. Don’t go overboard and pack so many shoes and clothes. Everyone will be wearing their lightest clothing to enjoy the tropical weather and so should you.

 


Sample 4 Day Itinerary In Komodo Island

ariel photo of yachts on the shore of Komodo Island Indonesia

©Photo by Seb T on Unsplash

 

This sample 4 day itinerary in Komodo National Park should help you get a gist of what to expect when you book your tour. Should you wish to add more places to your itinerary, check with the tours you’re signing up with if they can accommodate these places.

 

Day 1

Fly in from Bali to Labuan Bajo and get yourself settled. Check-in with the hotel of your choice and explore the shops and restaurants nearby. Get yourself acquainted with the place and hotel or relax at the beach. Book your tours if you haven’t yet. Eat at a restaurant outside the hotel for dinner and rest early to prepare for the next day.

 

Day 2

Once you’re done with breakfast at your hotel, head on to dragon park also known as Komodo Island for your first stop. The tour depends on the difficulty of the trek you signed up. An easy trek on the island is about an hour, while the advanced trek is around 4 hours. Here, you’ll see Komodo dragons in their natural habitat.

 

After lunch, head on to Pink Beach to snorkel. Take as many photos as you can as the beach is Instagram-worthy. If you’re still up for some more snorkeling, you can go to Kanawa Island. End the day with a nice sunset dinner and some drinks at the rooftop of Le Pirate.

 

Day 3

Rise early and have breakfast. Head to Padar Island for a hike. Bring your camera with you because the viewpoint is majestic, and you can’t leave without snapping a photo of it.

 

After lunch, sign up for some scuba diving with a team. You may also take a course if you haven’t tried out scuba diving yet.

 

Have dinner at La Cucina or taste the local food at Warung Mama or the grilled chicken at the night market.

 

Day 4

Go around the shops after breakfast for some souvenirs or postcards to bring home. Make sure you don’t forget anything when you check out of the hotel before flying out of Labuan Bajo.

 

Liveaboard tours or cruise tours make you spend most of your nights and days at sea. The packages already have a detailed itinerary planned for you, so it’s better if you book with them. This way, you’ll only need to rest and enjoy the rest of your trip.


FAQs About Komodo Island

How Much Do I Need To Pay To Visit Komodo Island?

The entrance fee to Komodo Island is $11 on a weekday while on the weekends it’s $18. The tours will vary depending on the type of boats you’ll take. For instance, a speedboat will cost you more than a wooden boat, and a large group can get a bigger discount than just for a couple going on a holiday. Calling ahead and booking your reservation online also helps give you a better price.

 

Are Komodo Dragons Poisonous?

Komodo dragons are not poisonous, but they are venomous. Komodo dragons secrete venom once they bite you. Therefore, they can be quite dangerous. It is recommended to always stick to the tour with a tour guide and not go off on your own to interact with Komodo dragons.

 

What Is A Komodo Dragon’s Lifespan?

A Komodo dragon can live up to 30 years. They can reach a length of 10 feet and weigh 300 pounds.

 

How Many Days Should You Stay In Komodo Island?

A lot of people take a 2-day trip to Komodo Islands not knowing that this is quite a rushed trip as there are so many things to see. To fully enjoy Komodo Island and the rest of the islands in the Komodo National Park, a 4 to 5-day trip would be enough. You can make it an extended trip if you’re coming from Bali.

 

The next time you wonder where Komodo National Park is and how do you get there, just take out this guide to help you. We hope the tips included here will get you to explore all the islands in the park. Keep your eye on a lookout for those dragons and enjoy the beach and scenery that Komodo National Park offers.