How to Organise the Best Komodo Island Tour in Indonesia
If you’ve been dreaming about visiting the world-famous island of DRAGONS, get ready to read the ultimate Komodo Island tour in Indonesia! The following guide will help you organise the best Komodo trip and it includes useful info about how to get there, what fun things you can do while you’re there and more.
Question: Have you ever seen dragons outside of movies? No? Good.
Would you like to? Yes? You’re in luck!
Out of the 17,508 islands that make up Indonesia, there is one that has dragons or, more correctly put, the largest lizards on the planet. The fact that there are dragons on this island makes it surreal. That you can stand a few feet away from them makes it mind-boggling.
Interested? Here’s all you need to know in order to organise the best self-made Komodo Island trip!
Quick facts about Komodo Islands
Spread over 390 sq. km., and with a population of around 2000 people, Komodo Island in Indonesia is part of Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Primarily famous for the “dragons”, Komodo Island is named after these majestic creatures that inhabit it – “Varanus komodoensis”.
Along with 28 nearby islands including Rinca and Padar, Komodo Island is a treasure trove of biodiversity. Pristine waters populated with dolphins, manta rays, and sea turtles are excellent spots for snorkelling, swimming, and diving. Pink beaches and nature trails will offer you endless options for exploring and a true Komodo adventure!
How to get to Komodo Islands
Before you can take a selfie with a slow-moving giant lizard in the background and caption it ‘Enter the Dragon’ (which of course you should), you’ll need to know how to get to Komodo Dragon Island, of course.
There are multiple ways to get to the island, but the easiest would be to fly to Labuan Bajo on Flores Island. A direct flight from Bali takes a little more than an hour. This is what I did as well and everything went smoothly! The flight price is around $70 and I recommend checking for the cheapest fees from Labuan Bajo to Komodo on Skyscanner.
From Labuan Bajo, you can travel to Komodo Island by boat only. The ride takes two hours and the price varies between depending on whether you take a group tour or hire a private boat.
You can also take a ferry from Bali directly to the Komodo Islands. I don’t really recommend this, as the entire ferry ride takes 36 hours and it’s a bit more dangerous, although it’s cheaper – only $10 USD!
RELATED READ: Complete Gili Islands Travel Guide – Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan
Recommended: Organised day trips to Komodo Islands
If you want to skip the hassle of organising your own Komodo tour, I would seriously recommend simply booking a day trip or multi-day trip. This is the most popular way to explore the Komodo Islands as you get to see everything and skip the hassle of the organising. There are many tour companies offering these tours, but here are my favourite hand-picked options:
- 1-day Komodo Island tour by speed boat – recommended if you’re short on time
- A private 2-day tour – one of the top Komodo tours for extensive exploring
- A private 3-day tour with hotel and professional guide included
- A guided 3-day group tour – perfect for the social traveller.
Most of these tours offer an itinerary that includes everything stated in this blog post: Komodo Island National Park, Rinca Island, the Pink Beach, Taka Makassar Island, Padar Island and Manta Point. Thank goodness, because all of them are unmissable! Multi-day tours include on-boat accommodation as well, which is a big plus.
I recommend checking if the organised tours and day trips include the entrance fee to Komodo National Park as well – this usually costs an additional 150.000 Rp on weekdays ($10.5 USD) and 225.000 Rp. on weekends ($16 USD).
7 Top things to do in Komodo Islands
1 - Spot Komodo dragons at Rinca Island
A komodo dragon tour is the main reason to go to the islands, as it’s the only place on earth where these magnificent creatures live! All tours, group or private, will take you to Rinca Island where you can observe the Komodo dragons in action. And by that, we mean really slow-moving, but potentially fatally dangerous action. It’s mandatory that you have a trained and armed ranger with you on the tour. During our tour, we were guided by a small dude with a big stick. At first, we were dubious of his capabilities to fend off any of the dragons should they attack, but we were still glad to have him there to give us warnings and information on these incredible animals.
The Komodo dragon can grow up to 2.5 metres, and weigh up to 300 pounds. Extremely venomous, the dragons can be usually found lounging around or guarding their nests. It’s important to maintain a safe distance and do nothing to provoke these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
2 - Visit the Pink Beach
Turquoise waters, blue skies, brown mountains, and pink sand. The pink beach on Komodo Island is one of the only two pink sand beaches in Indonesia!
From a distance, the Pink Beach, or Pantai Merah, will remind you of multi-coloured ice cream bars from your childhood. This can only mean one thing. It’s time to get busy with your camera, and soon realise that none of its filters can match the contrast of colours all around you!
After the exploration of Rinca Island, the pink beach is an idyllic location to just sit down and unwind. The waves, just like the locals, are friendly, and perfect for snorkelling. After a while, a long stroll along the crescent-shaped beach will seem undeniable. I spent an hour collecting the most stunning conch shells and left them behind for the next lucky visitor to find. Please remember that it’s illegal to take shells or sand from the beach.
RELATED READ: 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Uluwatu, Bali
3 - Snorkel with manta rays at Manta Point
The waters around the Komodo Islands are home to, among other marine species, enormous manta rays. And snorkelling is the best way to get close to them! This spot is usually included in most tours. However if you’re going solo, you can either take a regular boat or a speedboat to Manta Point to meet these impressive creatures and do some unforgettable Komodo Island diving. The captain of your boat will guide you to the precise spot from which you can begin your adventure.
Manta rays are big and graceful; they move in groups, and allow you to swim along beside them, which will be an experience you won’t forget for a long time! As the waters are pristine, and manta rays are harmless yet curious gentle giants, you will be able to closely observe them. Believe me, after this experience you’ll consider changing your favourite animal to Manta Rays.
RELATED READ: Complete Guide to the Nusa Islands, Bali
4 - Sunset bat spotting at Kalong Island
If giant reptiles and manta rays haven’t satisfied your lust for wildlife, how about giant clouds of bats?
No boat trip to the Komodo Islands is complete without a visit to the Kalong Island at sunset. The island, known as Pulau Koaba, houses tall trees and closely packed mangroves. As the sun sets, the skies above Kalong Island are home to a spectacular sight as hundreds of thousands of bats leave their caves, partially clouding the sky. This arresting sight lasts for a good hour or so, and the best place to observe it is from your boat.
5 - Sunrise hike on Padar Island
The spectacular sunrise at Padar Island is the reason why I recommend to stay not just one, but at least two days to explore the Komodo area! For the sunrise hike on Padar Island, you will have to start your day a little early. And by that I mean around 4:30. The boat will dock at the island from where a smaller speedboat will take you to the shores. From there you will have to go on a relatively easy hike to the top that takes about 20-30 minutes. Although the trek is made easy by stairs, you will have to climb a bit as you near the top, so I would recommend solid shoes. Once you reach the viewpoint, you will realise that it was all worth it, because the view is simply stunning!
Many travellers and locals believe it’s the best place in Indonesia to watch the sunrise, and rightly so. Picture this: the black sand beach, boats docked at the shore, a golden glow atop the rolling hills, and the horizon stretching forever. That’s the view you will have from the top at sunrise!
NOTE: Drone pilots beware! Padar Island is a strict no drone zone. You may be thinking – Ah ha! I shall climb to the top and they shall never know! – I am here to tell you, they will, my friend… they will. We saw two groups get heavily fined (10mil Rp.) on their way back down to the boats.
6 - Snorkel in the turtle sanctuary
Komodo National Park never ceases to amaze travellers with the variety of its beautiful wildlife. One of the most elegant among them is the endangered sea turtles that can be found in multiple spots around the Komodo Islands. The coral reefs of Siaba Island are home to these beautiful marine turtles. Because the reefs are protected, the boats will dock away from them. Smaller speedboats will then take you to the reefs where you can snorkel and catch a glimpse of a vibrant and thriving marine life including these incredible turtles. Since the water is crystal clear, you will be able to see the colourful sea life deep below.
You can also go snorkelling in Turtle City, a hard coral reef that’s also protected. Green sea turtles can be seen napping peacefully here. You could also head to Manta Point or Batu Bolong for more glimpses of these peaceful animals.
RELATED READ: East Bali Adventure – My Recommended 10-Day Itinerary
7 - Admiring the clearest blue water at Taka Makassar Island
One of the most popular islands not just around the Komodo Islands but the whole of Indonesia is Takka Makassar Island. Pristine waters, light pink sands, and hills in the distance make for a spectacular sight and make this island a must-visit spot. The water is shallow and crystal clear and simply invites you to swim or snorkel.
Get ready to gaze at the blue waters and the boats on the horizon. After all the nature trails and walks, this is where you relax and just let go of all your worries and exhaustion. June to August is the best time to visit this breathtaking beach, that despite its immense popularity, still manages to stay clean, thanks to the diligence of the authorities.
Keep in mind that this crescent shaped, little blip of sand is completely bare, so remember to slap on the sunscreen as you won’t find any shade to protect you from the sun.
Komodo Island accommodation
If you’ve decided to prolong your stay around the Komodo Islands, you’ll need to find some accommodation – this will most likely be in Labuan Bajo. Below I have hand-picked three of the best Komodo Island hotels.
My best finds:
SPLURGE: Komodo Island Resort – on Sebayur Island at the border with Komodo National Park
PICTURE PERFECT: Le Pirate Island – boutique beach bungalows on a private island
MID-RANGE: Puri Sari Beach Hotel – in Labuan Bajo
BUDGET: Seaesta Komodo Hostel and Hotel – in Labuan Bajo
How much does it cost to go to Komodo Island?
A day trip to Komodo Island can cost as low as $150 from Bali or $300-400 for a Komodo tour package for 2 or 3 days with accommodation, food and everything else included.
But is it worth it? Definitely! I mean, what other chance would you get to see real dragon-lizards in person?
And that’s everything you need to know in order to organise the best Komodo Island tour and get the best out of your experience!
This is just a small part of my one-year-long adventure around Indonesia. If you want to read more about Bali, Lombok or the Gili Islands, I recommend you check all my articles here.