Best tips to discover Komodo National Park
1. When to go
The best time to visit Flores Island and Komodo National Park is from May to October during the dry season. There’s a strong wind from Australia, keeping humidity levels low and making outdoor activities more bearable.
I had my trip in August, and the sky was mostly sunny and obviously windy. The rainy season is from December to March, and humidity is high. The showers are short but intense, so if you decide to visit the Park during this period, you won’t have to spend the whole day inside.
2. How to get there
The easiest way to get to Flores Island is by flight. The airport is “Komodo National Airport” in Labuan Bajo City. You have to take a domestic flight from Bali Denpasar Airport. Once at the airport, there is a taxi service to the town centre or other destinations around Flores Island. Find your cheap flight by clicking here.
3. Where to stay
Labuan Bajo city is a small coastal town, the base and starting point of all the cruises through the Komodo National Park. Along Jl Soekarno Hatta street, you’ll find accommodations, restaurants, minimarkets, diving centres and plenty of local tour operators offering boat trips through Komodo National Park and tours of Flores Island. Here are also some currency exchange shops, local Banks and two ATMs.
4. Where to sleep and eat in Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo offers a good range of accommodation, from cheap dorm beds in Hostels to expensive Hotels. I slept at Bajo Beach Hotel, basic accommodation on the main road.
Alternatively, I can suggest:
- G-Rima Homestay
- Ciao Hostel
- Dragon Dive Komodo Hostel
- World B&B
- La Cecile Hotel;
- Wae Molas Hotel
- Komodo Lodge
- Platan Komodo Beach Resort
My favourite restaurants are Mediterraneo and Le Pirate Restaurant & Deck. If you like tasting street food, go next to the fish market (kampung Ujung), where, from 6 p.m., you’ll find several stalls selling local food.
The tour to visit Komodo National Park
1. Private /shared boat trip
There are daily boat trips or 2Day/1Night, 3D/2N, 4D/3N boat trips around the National Park. There is also a boat tour from Komodo to Lombok Island (4D/3N). If you don’t have much time, you can book in advance online contacting by email some local tour operators and obviously haggling the price.
Otherwise, once in Labuan Bajo, go to the main road, that is plenty of local travel agencies where you can choose the most suitable tour and get the best price. The expense is different and changes as what you want to see and for how long.
It’s not that easy to say how much is the trip because it depends on the boat and the services you choose so I can tell you about my experience. Anyway, the average price for a shared 3D/2N trip is around 4.000.000 IDR x person (300 USD), all included, but, as I said, it depends on the boat you choose. More the boat is comfortable, and the more you pay. If you are an adventurer, the cheapest option is the really basic boat where they prepare your ”room” under the sky, laying a mattress on the boat deck.
If you are a group of 3/4 people (but even 2 people), you can hire an essential boat for a private tour, and the average price is 11.000.000 IDR (750 USD). If you are travelling alone and you can’t join a “shared tour“, you have to rent the whole boat as I did. I didn’t have time to look for a shared tour in Labuan Bajo, and I booked 2 months in advance my trip. I emailed and haggled with a local tour operator for a basic boat (small room, toilet with a hole and no shower – I used small water tanks). I paid my boat trip 9.000.000 IDR all-inclusive (600 USD). It was a bit expensive, but it’s worth it.
No worry if you don’t want to cruise the park for several days. The local tour operators also offer daily trips through Komodo National Park and its beauty. The main daily tours usually are :
- Komodo Island Tour full day that includes a stop on Komodo Island (to see Komodo dragon), Pink Beach, Manta point and Kanawa island;
- Rinca Island Island Tour full day that includes Rinca Island (to see the Komodo dragon), Mejerite I, and Kelor Island;
- Padar Island Tour full day that includes Padar Island, Rinca Island (to see Komodo dragon), Menjerite and Kelor Island (option 1) or Padar Island, Komodo Island (to see the Komodo dragon) and Pink Beach (option 2);
The prices are different and depend on whether you choose a private tour, a shared tour, a slow boat or a speed boat. The best thing is to contact the local operators in advance and ask for all you need information. I highly recommend the tour that touches Padar island because the hike on its top is a thing not to be missed.
Alternatively, you can also look at the web platform Viator.com which includes and groups several trips offered by the local operators.
The best way to enjoy the Island is with a private tour, but if you like going yourself, you have the chance to stay in Komodo village, 10 minutes by boat from Komodo Island Park Gate.
In the village, there are 3/4 guest houses where you can sleep (250.000 IDR per night) and where you can arrange your tour with a local fisherman day by day.
There are also 6 bungalows inside the Komodo Island Park Gate with a restaurant, and the price is around 325.000 IDR per night.
If you want to sleep in Komodo village go straight there, at the jetty, there is a small information centre where you have to pay a fee and ask for your guest house.
Reaching the village, it’s a long way, probably about 5 hours by boat (less if you can find a speed boat); anyways, at first, go to the harbour in Labuan Bajo or some of the jetties located along the shore and ask the fishermen to get you there.
3. How to plan the tour
Since I planned to stay on Flores Island for only 10 days (4 days in Komodo National Park and 6 around the island), I didn’t have time to waste looking for a tour once there.
I arranged my trip a few months in advance, looking for a local agency on the web. After contacting some of them, I chose Komodoblessing adventure. Mr Maxi’s owner was always punctual and accurate in his answer. Of course also very patient because I’m really demanding when I arrange my trips.
Other tour operators that I found in Labuan Bajo
Top Attractions of Komodo National Park
1. Rinca Island
It is the first island where you can meet big Komodo dragons. The entrance fee (Loh Buaya gate) is 150.000 IDR per day (around 15$).
Once there, you can hike yourself or ask for a ranger (80.000 IDR) at the ticket counter. I recommend you get your ranger because he can explain exciting things about the Komodo dragon’s life, and it is easier to see the giant wild monitor lizard.
He can also tell you about the behaviour you should keep because the Komodo Dragons are dangerous, and in case of a bite, you seriously risk your own life.
There are different hiking paths: short, medium and long. The medium one takes around 1 hour; it is flat and smooth. The dragons are active in the early morning, and anyway, it is not guaranteed that you can spot them.
2. Komodo Island
It is the most famous and biggest island where the Komodo dragon lives. The entrance fee (Loh Liang Gate) is 150.000 IDR (per day), and as in Rinca, you can get a ranger at the ticket counter (80.000 IDR).
There are 4 hiking paths: short, medium, long and adventure trek. I did the medium hike, 1 hour along a flat trail.
3. Padar Island
Even though a few dragons live here, it is complicated and sporadic spotting them. This beautiful island is famous for the breathtaking view you can enjoy on the top of its hill.
An uphill path starting from the beach takes around 30 minutes to get to the top. Once there, you can stare at this view for hours.
4. Kelor Island, Pink Beach, Pempe Island, Kanawa Island
These are beautiful islands where you can snorkel with many tropical fish, see the coral reef, and relax on the beach. Kanawa is a private island with a Resort where you can relax and enjoy a stunning sea.
5. Kalong island
Usually, all the boats stop here at the end of the day before the sunset to see the flying foxes. Immediately after the sunset, thousands of big bats leave the mangrove trees heading to Flores Island. It is a great wonder of nature.