KOMODO

 The Ultimate Komodo Super Guide - The most detailed and comprehensive adventure and how-to guide for the Komodo National Park in Indonesia! Click here for more information on the best snorkeling spots, view points and more!

 

TOP 5 REASONS TO VISIT KOMODO NATIONAL PARK

  1. Snorkel, swim and dive in one of the most biodiverse and breathtaking underwater paradises in the entire world!

  2. Walk with the infamous Komodo Dragons!

  3. Experience one of the most stunning landscapes in Indonesia!

  4. Swim with Manta Rays!

  5. Tick a major world National Park and UNESCO world heritage site of your bucket list!

The most comprehensive and detailed guide to exploring the Komodo National Park!

Background Information: The Komodo National Park

Komodo National Park consists of three main islands – Komodo Island, Rinca Island and Padar, along with around 100 smaller islands and rocky islets. It is sandwiched between the bigger islands of Flores and Sumbawa and only just a short flight away from Bali.

Volcanic in origin, the islands have a rugged topography characterized by hills and steep cliffs. With an average temperature of around 40 degrees celsius, Komodo National Park is one of the driest areas in all of Indonesia. Annual rainfall in the region is less than 800mm – creating a dry savannah-like environment.

The park was established in 1980 initially to protect the Komodo Dragon. In 1991 the park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since it’s founding, the Komodo National Park has been expanded to protect the marine environment as well. Komodo is described as one of the worlds most bountiful marine environments, home to some of the best diving in all of Indonesia, if not the world. Komodo is home to over 1000 species of fish, 385 species of reef-building corals, over a hundred species of crustaceans and a plethora of whale, dolphin and shark species.

Map of Komodo

When to Visit

The best time of year to visit Komodo National Park is from April – December. This time of year brings good ocean visibility, warm temperatures, and little rainfall.

How To Get There

You can travel to Labuan Bajo, Flores (Gateway to Komodo) by AIR, by SEA, or by LAND (combining bus & ferry)

FLY: This is the easiest way to get to Komodo. There are 7 flights a day from Bali – Labuan Bajo. Flight time between 50-90 minutes. In high season these are often booked, so book a few weeks in advance.

If flights to LBJ are full or too expensive, you can fly to Bima, Sumbawa (around 600,000IDR from Bali) Then take a 1-hour bus to Sape and then the 5-hour ferry to LBJ (Ferry is daily). We often take this route.

SEA: LBJ can be reached via ferries from – Makasar (Sulawesi), Benoa (Bali), Gillis islands (Lombok).
Check online for latest prices/ classes/ schedules. The boat trip from Lombok to Labuan Bajo is a popular method for backpackers.

LAND: Traveling from Bali to Komodo via bus & ferry is a long and tedious journey (Not recommended)
Denpasar BUS -> Padang Bai, FERRY -> Lembar (Lombok), BUS -> Labuan Lombok, FERRY -> Alas (Sumbawa), BUS -> Bima, BUS -> Sape, FERRY -> Labuan Bajo. So unless you wish to spend time exploring Lombok/ Sumbawa, you SHOULD FLY to LBJ.

Labuan Bajo – The Gateway to Komodo

Labuan Bajo is a small fishing and port town on the west coast of Flores island. This is the closest town to Komodo and thus the gateway to the national park. The airport ( new and improved) is only about 5 minutes drive from town. In recent years due to the influx of tourism in the area, the town of Labuan Bajo has seen a high level of development. It is now a thriving backpacker hub for those wanting to explore the Komodo Islands and Flores.

Labuan Bajo is a small fishing and port town on the west coast of Flores island. This is the closest town to Komodo and thus the gateway to the national park.

The port town of Labuan Bajo, Flores

Boat Trips to Komodo Islands

Once in Labuan Bajo, you will need to organize a boat to get you out to the islands of Komodo National Park.
Luckily there are countless shops all lined up offering various types of trips. If you are an adventurer: We recommend that you charter a low budget private boat and visit all of the spots on this Komodo guide (even if it takes 2-3 days). This way you experience the very best of Komodo, as well as avoid the large tourist groups all doing the same thing!

You can go on a one-day boat trip with a shared group (15 people).
Departs 6 am back 6 pm. Prices range between 500k – 1.2 million (IDR)

There are also options for 2-3 day trips, with a cabin or open deck boat.
These prices range between 1.5 – 2.2 million p/pax.

*It’s best to walk around until you find a shop that offers you the best deal.

If you are an adventurer:
We recommend that you charter a low budget private boat and visit all of the spots on this guide (even if it takes 2-3 days).
This way you experience the very best of Komodo, as well as avoid the large tourist groups all doing the same thing!

Turtle swims in Komodo National Park, Indonesia

Turtle swims in Komodo National Park, Indonesia

 

The Best spots to visit in Komodo


NOTE: We spent over 4 months exploring Komodo National Park, and unlike most guides and travel blogs, we avoid sending our readers only to the overrated & overcrowded touristy spots. If you follow our guide, you will experience the best that Komodo has to offer on a level that no other “tourist snorkel day trip boat package” will offer you. We recommend you charter a low budget local boat and visit the following:


For Trekking:

(For our full guide on the 6 BEST VIEWPOINTS in Komodo, Click HERE)

Padar island viewpoint -Komodo National Park

Padar island viewpoint -Komodo National Park

  • Gilli Lawa Darat sunset viewpoint
  • Rinca Island (Dragon walk -various trails/ distances)
  • Padar island (famous viewpoint)
  • Pink Beach (short viewpoint trek)

This is a Map of all the Best Viewpoints in Komodo National Park. To see full guides of these viewpoints, visit our blog @ GoingEpicPlaces

For Snorkeling/Freediving:


NOTE: the organized day trip boats will not take you to many of these EPIC dive sites listed below, so if you you want to snorkel here, its’ best to charter your own low budget boat to take you. Komodo is infamous for its’ strong currents, thus some of the dive sites here should only be dived during slack tide. If you are a keen snorkeler/ freediver/ adventurer, we highly recommend going to these spots.


Siaba:

A beautiful sheltered bay ideal for snorkeling and playing in calm, clear waters. Preferably dive on high tide.

Beautiful Siaba Besar bay in Komodo National Park. The calm clear waters here are ideal for diving.

The calm & clear bay of Siaba bear

Distance from LBJ: 25km
EPIC rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Features:     

  • Sheltered Bay
  • Possible Dugong sightings
  • 5-15m deep
  • Good for beginner divers
  • Many turtles
  • Usually calm/ clear waters

Batu Bolong:

A tiny exposed rock islet located almost in the center of the park. Although exposed to currents, one side will always be protected and safe to dive. Hands down one of our all-time fave scuba/ freedive/ snorkel spots in the whole of Komodo. Best dived during slack-tide.

Batu Bolong has pristine corals and a large variety of marine life. It is one of the best dive sites in Komodo National Park

The pristine corals of Batu Bolong teeming with life, all the way into the depths

Distance to LBJ: 30km
EPIC Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Features:

  • Exposed pinnacle
  • Excellent coral
  • max 40m.
  • Wall dive
  • Many large + small fish to be seen

 

Makassar/ Manta Point:

A 3km long submerged reef shoal running north-south along the east coast of Komodo island. Although the majority of the reef consists of coral rubble dunes, Makassar is popular for watching Mantas, as they commonly aggregate here almost all year-round. IF you dive Makassar on a falling tide, start far up north and drift over the entire reef!

Swimming with Manta rays at Manta Alley in Komodo. Arguably the best dive site in Komodo National Park, Manta Alley offers a manta experience like none other. At times, it is possible to encounter 20+ manta rays on a single dive

Etoile freediving amongst a manta ray tornado in Komodo

Distance to LBJ: 30km
EPIC rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Features:

  • Drift Dive
  • 7-15m
  • Mantas
  • Dead coral dunes
  • Not much else to see
  • Coral beds healthier on north end

 

Crystal Rock:

One of Komodo’s most popular scuba dive sites, this exposed rock pinnacle is a perfect combination of crystal clear waters as well as vibrant pelagic- and macro marine life. This site is overlooked as a “tourist snorkel spot”, mainly because of the strong currents during a tide shift. However, visit this spot during a slack tide, and you are bound to have one of the best freedive sessions of your life!

Distance to LBJ: 35km

Crystal Rock is a great dive site in Komodo with alot of marine life and clear water

Marine life at Crystal Rock

EPIC rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Features:

  • Crystal clear waters
  • 1-30m
  • Exposed to currents (dive only during slack)
  • Large underwater boulders
  • Pelagic life (Eagle Ray)
  •  Shallow pinnacle breaks surface

Gilli Lawa Laut: SHOT GUN

This small passage (aka “Shotgun”) is located between the islands of Gilli Lawa Laut and Gilli Lawa Darat in North Komodo. Over the months this has become one of our all-time favorite spots to dive, as it is unique in so many ways! During Komodo’s strong falling tides, the current bottlenecks here making it a powerful drift dive. Mantas usually congregate here on the cleaning station, along with Giant Treveli’s, and sharks! If you are not a strong swimmer, we recommend diving here during slack tide.

Gilli Lawa Laut Passage aka Shotgun is a great dive in Komodo National Park.

Etoile overlooking Gilli Lawa Laut Passage (aka Shotgun)

Distance to LBJ: 35km
EPIC rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Features:

  • Drift Dive
  • Max 25m
  • Underwater canyons
  • Mantas
  • Sharks.
  • Giant trevally
  • Turtles


For Scuba Diving


Unless you’re sailing through Komodo on your own boat and scuba equipment, the only ways to scuba Komodo are with a dive liveaboard or through a local dive school in Labuan Bajo. Liveaboards have their planned itineraries, as do dive schools. Thus, we can only advise you as to which dive sites we recommend and hopefully, you can choose your dive schools accordingly.


The 5 Best Scuba Dive Sites in Komodo National Park

Batu Bolong is one of the best dive sites in Komodo National Park. It has pristine corals and an abundance of marine life.

Pristine corals and abundance of marine life @ Batu Bolong

1) Batu Bolong

  • Pinnacle/ Wall dive
  • 40m Max
  • Abundant marine life
  • Sharks/ turtles/ Great Barracuda
  • Excellent coral

 

 

 

Shotgun is a great dive site in Komodo National Park

Corals at Shotgun

2) Gilli Lawa Laut Passage/ (“Shotgun”)

  • Drift Dive
  • Max 25m
  • Underwater canyons
  • Mantas
  • Sharks
  • Turtles

 

Crystal Rock is a great dive site in Komodo with alot of marine life and clear water

Marine life at Crystal Rock

3) Crystal Rock

  • Crystal Clear waters
  • Exposed to currents
  • 1-30m
  • Pelagic Life (eagle Ray, sharks))
  • Large underwater boulders -Macro

 

 

White tip Reef Shark

White tip Reef Shark

4) Castle Rock

  • Large Pelagics
  • Sharks
  • Max 40m
  • Exposed to currents
  • submerged pinnacle

 

 

Mantas at cleaning station

Mantas at cleaning station

5) Manta Alley

  • Abundance of Mantas (Have spotted 30+ in one view)
  • South of Komodo (cold water 21°C)
  • Underwater canyons/ cleaning stations

 

 

 

Here is a list of some popular dive shops in Labuan Bajo:

 


Visit the Komodo Dragons


There are two main places in Komodo National Park where travelers can go and see the infamous Komodo Dragons. Typically, if you book a day tour or an overnight tour, a stop at either one of these places will be on the itinerary.

Komodo Dragons in Komodo National Park

 

1. Rinca Island Ranger Station: Rinca island is the second largest island in the park and has the biggest Komodo dragon population. A 1h30min cruise from LBJ will take you to the ranger station where you can do a guided trek. We recommend doing the short trek ( 20 mins ) as most of the dragons hangout around the ranger station and along the main path. The short trek will take you up on to a nice viewpoint overlooking Loh Buaya Bay. Have a look at this blog post for other top viewpoints in Komodo!

2. Komodo Island Ranger Station: Komodo Island is the biggest island in the park. Due to its large size, dragon sightings here are less likely as they are more spread out. Similar to on Rinca Island, there are varying levels of treks you an do: short, medium and long. Again we recommend the short trek as most of the wildlife action is congregated near the ranger station on the beach.

Nusa Kode Bay in the very south of Rinca is actually the BEST spot to see dragons in their natural habitat. Only dive liveaboards and private yachts make it down here as it is quite far and not suitable for less seaworthy vessels. But if you are own your own boat like us, a cruise down to Nusa Kode is a must!


Bat Island 

Another top experience on our Komodo to-do list is to visit “Bat Island” at sunset. This small cone shaped mangrove filled island is home to thousands and thousands of fruit bats. Each evening at sunset, the bats fly out of the trees into the sky to feed. An amazing natural event, made even better when paired with an illuminating pink sky as a backdrop.

The only way to get to bat island is by boat. If you are doing an overnight trip on a private boat, make sure to include this on your itinerary. It is close to the ranger station on Rinca island, which makes dragon viewing the following morning ideal.


Labuan Bajo Accomdation

There are plenty of accommodation options for various budgets available in town. The cheaper alternatives such as local guesthouses don’t have online booking option, so its best to walk around and just see if they have availability. For the more upscale hotels, you can book via booking.com. During high season ( June/July/August ) we recommend booking something beforehand.

  • Mutiara Guest House = Cheap yet comfortable guest house on the main road close to the harbor jetty. Fan and AC options. Breakfast included ( Banana pancakes + Tea or Coffee) 100,000 – 300,000 IDR. (No online booking)
  •  Blue Ocean Hotel = More upscale accommodation in the center of town. Big rooms, AC, Wifi, good breakfast. 400,000-600,000 IDR. ( Use this Booking.com link to get a 10% discount on your stay!)
  • Dragon Dive Komodo Hostel = A comfortable hip, clean hostel with a great vibe! Centrally located in town with a pool and Italian restaurant on the premises. This hostel can help you organize a dive trip to the islands with a discount for guests.  ( Use this Booking.com link to get a 10% discount on your stay!)

Labuan Bajo Where to Eat / Drink:

Cafe in HIT: Best coffee and wifi in town! Conveniently located in the town center just under Le Pirate Bar and Restaurant. Big Cappuccinos, iced lattes, cheesecake, you name it! A hip little cafe that doubles as a dope workspace.

La Cucina: Cute little Italian restaurant on the main road with an amazing harbor and sunset view. The pizzas are fantastic, and they even sell freshly made bread. Small and can get quite busy so if you want a seat, especially out on the terrace for the sunset view, be sure to make a reservation (+62 812-3851-2172)

Mediterrano: A more upmarket Italian restaurant with beach-chic interior. Excellent variety of pastas, pizzas and a selection of wine available too.

Warung Mama: Just above Labuan Bajos main road opposite Cafe HIT and Le Pirate. This is a cheaper local food option for concerned budget travelers. Nice selection of Indonesian food and great fresh juices (Highly recommend the pink dragonfruit juice).

Night Market: At night the north coast road in town turns into a lively seafood dinner market. Pick your fresh seafood from the plethora of options and stalls. Sit with the locals, fetch a beer from the supermarket across the road. Fish, rice, veggies = 100,000 rupiah. Doesn’t get better than this.

Paradise Bar: The only bar in town that is open late-ish. More upscale venue with an incredible view overlooking the entire harbor and probably the best sunset view in town. Every Saturday there is live music till late. Food is good too.


Komodo National Park

Although now a popular tourist destination, Komodo National Park is still FULL of hidden gems! The park is HUGE and there are so many spots just waiting to be discovered! We encourage you to get out there, deviate from the tourist trail ( and even our guide haha ) and find your own slice of Komodo paradise.

Even we still have some x’s marked on our own maps waiting to be explored…..

Padar Island, Komodo National Park

Padar Island, Komodo National Park

Have you been to Komodo before? Share with us your favorite spots!

OR

Have any questions or need any additional information about exploring Komodo National Park? Write us in the comment section below and we’ll be sure to answer!

HAPPY EXPLORING 

Going Epic Places

 

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