If you’re planning a trip to Indonesia, you should really look at putting a trip out to Komodo Island on your ‘to do’ list. It’s a part of Indonesia that feels a bit forgotten, away from the party-fuelled streets of Kuta and the resorts dotting the coastline of Bali. In truth, I’d begun to feel a bit tired of the Bali scene, feeling like I’d done all there was to do and seen all there was to see in Indonesia, but I was wrong! My trip out to Komodo National Park changed my view of Indonesia altogether, reminding me there’s just so much beauty to be discovered and explored. So, to help you visit for yourself, here’s my guide on everything you need to know about visiting Komodo Island and a few dreamy photos to inspire you to get out there and have an incredible adventure!
Why visit Komodo?
The short answer to this is simple; it is absolutely, freaking beautiful! I could not get over the perfect blue water, dramatic mountains and gorgeous weather. Everywhere we went I just kept wanting to jump into the water and spend the day swimming. Komodo offers up a tropical paradise of dreamy islands, strung together by the Flores Sea. You’ll find it a total haven from the busy, party-wild streets of Bali, but with that same ‘anything goes’ vibe Indonesia is so well-loved for. Not only this, but Komodo Island is home to the infamous Komodo Dragon; equal parts terrifying and mesmerising.
How do you get there?
Komodo Island is just one of the 17,508 islands that form Indonesia and is also part of the Komodo National Park. One way to get there is to fly from a major airport, like Jakarta or Denpasar, to Labuan Bajo. From here, you can jump on a boat and set sail for Komodo Island. A boat is the only way to navigate these islands unless you’re uber-rich and have access to a helicopter. Trust me, the boat ride is fantastic! It takes around 2 hours or so to get from Labuan Bajo to Komodo Island so you can do it as a day-trip, but I’d recommend you spend a few days sailing the area if you can, as there’s so much to see and do. You’ll want to take it slow, jumping off the boat when you can and just really enjoying yourself in general!
Seeing the Komodo Dragons…
Our visit to Komodo Island was only a day trip, with us spending a couple of hours on Komodo Island up close with the Komodo Dragons. We arrived by boat and saw our first dragon as we were walking off the jetty, with the absolute beast of a creature having a nice nap on the beach. We were greeted by a group of rangers, who divided us up into groups of no more than 5 people and were assigned two rangers, one to walk ahead of us and one to walk behind. The rangers are armed only with a long wooden stick, which they use to bop the dragons on the nose if they get too close as the nose is the most sensitive part of the dragons.
There are a few different hikes you can do on the island, of varying lengths and difficulties. As it was such a hot day, our group opted for the short hike. We didn’t see any dragons during the walk, but we did see plenty of them down toward the beach. It’s hard to describe how you feel when you see them because they do look quite docile but you know how quick they can move and how deadly they are if they get you. I felt weird when I saw them, but I never felt unsafe because there were so many rangers around us.
The National Park is a conservation area and protected, so it makes sense there’s an entrance fee on Komodo Island. The fees are subject to change, so it’s best to check when you arrive in Labuan Bajo, but it only costs a few dollars per person and a little extra for a ranger. All up, you’d be looking at around $10-$15AU per person to enter the park, be guided around and protected by a ranger. You can pay the fees when you arrive in Labuan Bajo at the National Parks’ office or when you arrive on the island. You can find the official website of the Komodo National Park here.
What to take with you
We visited in August and it was scorching hot, though it wasn’t anywhere near as hot as it can get! I’d definitely recommend you take a lot of water with you, to stay hydrated during your visit. This is even more important if you’re doing one of the long hikes or visiting in the height of summer. You will absolutely need to pack a hat and slather on sunscreen. I used my little electronic fan to stay cool, which helped a lot, and just wore shorts and a t-shirt. You should wear closed-in shoes with socks, not just for the hike, but because it’s a bit unnerving having your toes out on display around the dragons, looking like delicious little sausages.
Best time to visit
To help you plan your trip properly, here’s a look at the four main seasons:
- December to March: Rainy season, with quite a few boat tour operators choosing not to run during this time due to weather conditions
- April to June: End of the rainy season, when you’ll find the mountains alive with lush greenery. You’ll have the chance to spot whale sharks, the weather is a bit cooler and the scenery on point after all the wet weather, though you may still get the odd rainy day.
- July and August: High season, where you’ll find it pretty dang hot and packed with tourists. Still a great time to visit, just very busy. Expect lots of sunny days and beautiful, hot weather.
- September to November: Another ‘shoulder’ season, this is one of the best times to visit as you’re still spoilt with great weather and warm days, but fewer tourists.
Top tip: I highly recommend you visit the famous Pink Beach when you visit the National Park. Make sure your boat operator makes a stop there for at least 2-3 hours, it’s the perfect spot to swim, jump off the boat and hike up to the top of the mountain for amazing views.
It’s pretty cool seeing the Komodo Dragons, but for me, I loved the adventure of it all more. It was so fun climbing aboard the boat and whizzing along the Flores Sea out to Komodo Island. I absolutely loved the gorgeous islands we visited along the way, spending hours jumping off the boat and swimming and just soaking it all in. It reminded me of all the things I used to love about Indonesia but had forgotten about because I’d had my Bali blinkers on.
Even if the idea of seeing the dragons doesn’t immediately grab you, I’d still recommend you do it. The dragons can take up a few hours on one day, but you can spend the rest of the time exploring Komodo National Park by swimming, snorkelling, diving, hiking or sailing your way around – which is, honestly, incredible and has become a highlight of all my trips to Indonesia! I really recommend you do it!