We’re no strangers to Indonesia and its 17,000 islands. It’s actually our fourth visit. We went to Bali, twice, and then Borneo and the Derawan Islands. And like Borneo, the Komodo National Park is what you can call a paradise for nature lovers.
You’ll find beautiful islands, unique wildlife, including the Komodo dragon, and some of the world’s biggest marine diversity. It’s also famous for having some of the world’s best dive sites. No wonder it’s now part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. And to make the most of it, we recommend hopping on a boat for a couple of days.
We were invited by Flores XP for a 4 day/3 night trip in the Komodo National Park, but there are many options to explore the park ranging from 1 to 4 day-trips.
In this post, you’ll find our favourite spots from all the places we visited with Flores XP during our Komodo Adventure Tour. That way, you can pick and choose the top places you want to see based on the length of your stay.
Which islands should you visit in the Komodo National Park?
There are 29 islands in the Komodo National Park. As we know you can’t see all of them at once, we listed our favourites below. We’re sure that they’ll take your breath away!
If you’ve seen a picture of an island from the Komodo National Park, chances are, it was Padar Island. This place is what dreams are made of. Climb the couple of hundred steps to the top and you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view.
It’s especially popular for sunset, and for good reasons. There are many spots offering the same view as you climb to the top, so you’ll always find a quiet spot to snap your pics.
The notorious Komodo Dragons can be found on several islands of the Komodo National Park: Komodo Island (of course), Rinca Island, Flores, Gili Motang and some say in Padar and Nusa Kode. Rinca Island is actually less crowded than Komodo Island, which makes it the best place to spot the dragons.
On Rinca Island, as they tend to wander close to the ranger station and picnic areas. So after you pay your entrance fee, it won’t be long before you spot your first dragon. We were expecting big creatures… but these guys are HUGE! One of them was marked in red as it had recently bitten one of the workers. He was still at the hospital after a few days. So stay close to your ranger when you hike around the island 😛
This is where we paid the entrance fee for the rest of the park. The way the fees are split is pretty complex. You’ll get a bunch of different tickets depending on what you choose to do. The fees also increase if you visit during a public holiday. We were there for Christmas and had to pay 1.5 million IDR instead of the normal 1.2 million IDR for our 4-day itinerary in the park.
As mentioned above, Komodo Island is getting very touristy and pretty busy but offers a good opportunity to spot dragons.
There are multiple hiking options. To see more of the island and its beautiful forest, we chose to go for the adventure trekking. It’s a 4-hour trek going from Loh Liang to Loh Sebah. The beginning of the trek is pretty flat, but it gets tougher as you climb the hill in the harsh Indonesian sun. Having said that the views are breathtaking.
If you’re not a big fan of long hikes, opt for the short or medium options.
Gili Lawa Laut Island
We went there twice. For sunset first, then for sunrise on the following morning.
There are 2 spots to watch the sunset. A small hill to the left when you land on the island, and a big hill to the right. We went to the big one, for both sunset and sunrise, but the small hill can be a good option for sunset as well. If you go there for sunrise, definitely go for the big hill.
The path to walk down the hill wanders through the island and is really pretty.
There are multiple pink beaches in the Komodo National Park. And while this is not the official Pink Beach, Mawan Island hides its own. It gets its colour from the millions of red coral fragments that end up on the shore. It’s a lot quieter, so it might be a good option if you want to escape the crowds.
There is a mini-walk up a hill for a quick birds-eye view of the island.
It’s also a must do as it’s a great spot to see manta rays! Be careful though, the current is VERY strong! Check out our description of the snorkelling spots below.
Kelor Island is a very peaceful island. You can walk up a hill to enjoy the view. A great opportunity for photography. You can even buy a refreshing coconut on your way down 😛
This small island surrounded by mangrove is famous for its colony of bats. Every day like clockwork, at dusk, millions of flying foxes fly from Kalong Island to nearby Flores Island to go feed on fruits. The sky is literally covered with bats. Definitely a unique phenomenon not to be missed during your trip to the Komodo National Park.
What are the best snorkelling spots in the Komodo National Park?
Definitely the go-to spot to find manta rays. But because mantas like to feed in strong currents, be careful when snorkelling. Currents in Komodo are surprisingly strong, so stick with your guide.
At first, Batu Bolong doesn’t seem like much. It’s a big rock in the middle of nowhere. But as soon as you put your head in the water, you’ll be amazed by the coral and the plentitude of colourful fishes swimming around. Again, watch out for the currents on both sides of the rock.
This is where we really felt the power of the currents in the Komodo National Park. They are so STRONG! It doesn’t seem like much at first, but when you look at the shore, it feels like you’re going at a hundred kilometre per hour.
But don’t miss it as it’s another great place to spot manta rays. These beauties seem to be flying effortlessly against the current while you move your feet like crazy!
This is a quieter spot to go snorkelling. Again, the coral is out of this world, and you can spot sea stars. It goes without saying, but they don’t support sunscreen that well, so please avoid touching them. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a turtle or two.
We stopped offshore Flores Island, on a small beach called Manjarite. You can find many Chocolate Chip starfishes close to the jetty and thousands of tropical fishes swimming amongst colourful coral.
The coral around Kanawa Island is also worth a good chunk of your time. Wander among the coral, anemones, clown fishes and other tropical fishes before heading under the jetty to try to spot the resident lionfish. Those guys are incredible… but stay clear from their venomous spines.
We also spotted a few baby black-tip sharks swimming close to the shore when we were walking around the island. Don’t worry, they’re harmless. You can also stay overnight on the island.
When booking your tour, make sure it covers the spots you absolutely don’t want to miss. If you go out for several days, it’s definitely worth asking about the comfort on board: how many people will join the tour, do you get your own room, fan vs aircon, and whether you can charge your batteries on board.
Remember to pack light. It will make your life easier on board. But don’t forget to pack the following:
- Sunscreen! The Indonesian sun is harsh. We kept covering our bodies with sunscreen but got sunburned anyways. Bring lots of it.
- Swimsuit, towel and a hat
- Rashies: a top and potentially pants – it will protect you from the sun and from the jellyfish. They don’t hurt that much, but their sting is enough to annoy you every time you snorkel.
- Mosquito repellent for when you’re out trekking in the jungle.
- Hiking shoes are recommended when trekking, but we got away with hiking sandals as the tracks weren’t muddy. It does get hot out there!
- Camera, batteries, and a GoPro/underwater camera for your underwater shots.
Your tour will feed you heaps but you might want to bring some snacks as it’s difficult to buy anything once you hop on the boat. For those of you who take a lot of pictures, like we do, make sure you can recharge your batteries on the boat: Flores XP has it all figured out. We never had to worry about that.
If you’re looking for a sweet place to call home when you’re staying in Labuan Bajo before hopping on your boat, check out Wae Molas Hotel. It opened early Jan 2018 and only offers 4 nice rooms which give it a nice family feel. Plus Astu, the manager is awesome!
Bonus points for their spa offering massages. Perfect after a long flight to Flores or after a tour to the Komodo islands.
Have fun guys!