Around a month ago I received an email from the Indonesian Tourism Board that I had won their Trip Of Wonders Quiz, and that I would be travelling with them to Komodo National Park from the 29th to 2nd November. I was in shock, I never win anything! Komodo National Park has been on my bucket-list for as long as I can remember, and having the chance to go with the official Tourism Board was honestly a dream come true! So without further ado, here is our Komodo National Park Travel Guide, to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
Planning a trip to Komodo National Park can be fairly complicated, it’s still very much a developing tourist destination. Hotels are limited (but seriously growing), there are endless dive centres to choose from and an array of day trips or live-aboard boats. It can be hard to decide which is best for you, your budget and your time.
As it is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World (quite rightly so!), it’s no surprise that tourism to the area is increasing dramatically. Whether you’re an avid diver, trekker, naturist or just wanting to marvel at the Komodo Dragons, this place is certainly for you!
Komodo National Park Travel Guide
How To Get There
The main and cost effective option is by flying internally from either Denpasar, Bali (roughly 10 flights a day on Garuda, Wings Air, or PT Nam Air), or Jakarta (one flight a day on Garuda). There is an option of taking overnight boat from Lombok or Sumbawa, however I would not recommend this option.
If you’re flying to Komodo Island, you’ll be landing in Labuan Bajo (LBJ) airport on Flores Island, which is the main gateway to Komodo National Park.
The cost can vary greatly between airlines and the time of year you’re travelling. In off-season on Wings Air for example I’ve seen flights for as long as £57 return (US$75) and up £200 return (US$265) in peak-season on Garuda Indonesia. If you’re not bothered about the airline Wings Air is a great choice.
Want to find the best flight deal? Check out Skyscanner and use their cheapest month option when searching!
Where To Stay
There are really only 2 options for accommodation in and around Komodo Island. The first is staying in Labuan Bajo and heading out on day trips/dives to the National Park and the second (and highly recommended) option is staying on a live-aboard boat for a few nights.
Hotels in Labuan Bajo are quite limited, don’t expect 5* luxury when staying here, accommodation ranges from basic hostel dorms to fancier 4* hotels with a high price tag. Here are the best hotels in Labuan Bajo according to travellers ratings and Agoda.
Plataran Komodo Beach Resort
Set on a beach in a secluded cove overlooking the Flores Sea, Plataran Komodo Beach Resort offers the only luxury resort near Komodo Island. Due to this, it is fairly costly at around £240 (US$300) per night.
Dragon Dive Komodo Hostel
With private as well as dorm rooms this is a great value option. With a lively atmosphere and swimming pool it’s a great place to chill after a long days diving and exploring Komodo. The hostel offers daily dive trips to Komodo as well as snorkelling and other tours.
Puri Sari Beach Hotel
This boutique style hotel has beautiful rooms and offers free airport transfers with most bookings. They can also help arrange diving and other trips into the park. Breakfast is also included in the nightly rates.
There are so many dive centres in Labuan Bajo that can take you out to the dive sites in and around Komodo National Park, however the best way to experience the real Komodo and the diving in the National Park is to stay on a liveaboard for a few nights.
This is how we stayed when we visited Komodo National Park and cannot recommend it enough! This was my first time on a liveaboard and it was incredible! With a chill out area, viewing deck to watch the sunrise/sunset, dining areas and 5 rooms with bunkbeds/double beds and air conditioning!
Top Places To Visit/Things To Do In Komodo National Park
Komodo has so much more to offer than the Komodo Dragons, it really is a haven for adventure! If you’re unsure of what you can do around the islands here are a few things you shouldn’t miss.
I had to start with this, as after all it is called Komodo National Park! There are two main islands where you can witness these prehistoric creatures, Komodo Island and Rinca Island. When I went we did both which I highly recommend as they’re very different. Rinca Island is more open with a beautiful hike up to a lookout point over the bay with many dragons near the base and around the houses and Komodo Island is a lot more forested with dragons all around the walk.
It’s compulsory to hire a guide to take you on the walk to see them as they can be very dangerous (watch Steve Irwins Komodo Island!). They are also the largest reptiles in the world, despite their scary and menacing look they are actually pretty lazy, and are usually spotted lounging in the sun or slowly walking around the desert-like landscape.
When we were there we saw one dragon chase a monkey into the forrest, shortly after there was a lot of screaming coming from the bushes…not pleasant but nature at it’s finest!
Gili Lawa Sunrise
One word, Incredible. Honestly, one of the most amazing sunrise points I have ever been too. It’s a quite a challenge trekking up to the view point but 100% worth it. I highly recommend only attempting the hike before sunrise (waking up at 3:30am) or around sunset, as midday would be brutal!
Another absolutely stunning part of Komodo is Pink Beach. Yes the sand really is pink! It is caused by millions of fragments of red coral mixed into the sand, and the tide line is the best place spot to really appreciate the colour. It can get fairly busy during the day with boats, so I recommend heading there in the afternoon or morning for less of a crowd.
Tip: For the best shots of the beach, try and get up high on either the lookout points or if you have one to fly a drone over beach!
Probably the most famous viewpoint on Komodo Island. Sadly we didn’t have enough time to get here but I’ve heard that view is incredible and highly worth the trek. Great excuse to come back with Yannick I guess! Apparently the trek up isn’t as hard as Gili Lawa and can even be done barefoot!
Watch The Bats At Sunset
We watched the bats fly over on our first night on the liveaboard. Docking up around 30 minutes before watching the sunset and bats was insane. The bats are enormous and there are so many of them that they cloud the skies.
Saved the best till last! I have dived in many places around the world including the Maldives, Great Barrier Reef, Seychelles and Thailand. None of these compare to the marine life and colour of the dive spots here in Komodo National Park. I’m still in shock with the beauty of the coral and marine life.
If you’re a keen diver or just do it recreationally 100% do not miss this! Even if you’ve never dived before you can take your Open Water PADI here, and what a place to do it!
We dived with CND Dive and had the privilege of diving with a legend called Condo who has been diving in Komodo National Park since 1987, has over 10,000 dives under his belt and has helped discover and map many of the dive sites in the region. With him, we were definitely in safe hands.
We did a total of three dives including:
- Manta Point (famous for the Mantas) – 15m
- We saw four Manta-rays,
- 2 Black Tip Reef Sharks and
- 2 large Stingrays
- Batu Balong (insane colourful coral) – 30m
- So many turtles,
- Moray Eel,
- Thousands of Fish (no joke!)
- Shotgun (strong currents) – 15m
- 2 White Tip Reef Sharks,
Be warned though, Komodo is famous for its ripping currents, so the more dive experience you have the better, but ultimately this is what brings in all the incredible marine life and makes it such a memorable place to dive. But don’t let that put you off if you’re a beginner or haven’t dived before!
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WONDERFUL INDONESIA definitely lives up to its name.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Komodo National Park Travel Guide!
Have you been to Komodo National Park? Any tips or advice you want to share?
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