For the first time travelers to this wonderful piece of Indonesia, here are 9 tips to help you explore Komodo National Park.
1 | The Komodo Dragons
Only found in the world within the Komodo National Park and the surrounding Flores island, these Jurassic and majestic creatures are the park’s star attraction. Although awesome to see, visitors are urged to keep a distance and exercise caution. Always be accompanied by a ranger and follow all the ranger’s instructions when in the proximity to these dangerous lizards, although they may look pretty docile.
2 | Climate and geography
3 | LAND AND MARINE FAUNA
Aside from the magnificent Komodo Dragon, The Komodo National Park is the habitat of various other land and sea creatures. Visitors can witness these intriguing animals roaming freely in their natural outdoor settings.
Terrestrial fauna that can be found here includes a diversity of reptiles, mammals, and birds. This includes but isn’t limited to 12 snake species, 9 lizard species, various frogs, the Timor deer (the main prey of the Komodo), horses, water buffalos, wild boars, the endemic Rinca rat, fruit bats, the orange footed scrub fowl and over 40 species of birds.
The marine fauna is astonishingly diverse and includes over 1,000 fish species, 70 types of sponges, 10 types of dolphins, 6 types of whales, dugongs, green turtles and various types of sharks, huge manta rays, stingrays, marine reptiles and crustaceans and occasionally migrating whales.
4 | DYNAMIC DIVING SITES
Komodo National Park conveniently sits in the heart of the Asia Pacific Coral Triangle and is home to one of the world’s richest marine environments. Divers, scientists, and photographers from around the world come to this national park to experience the astonishing biodiversity which can be found in one of the many dive sites – the larger islands of Rinca, Komodo, and Padar, together with the smaller islands that surround them, make up at least 100 world-class dive sites.
The area is famous for its fierce currents, riptides, and whirlpools which bring in rich nutrients from the depths of the Indian Ocean to create ideal conditions for thousands of species of tropical fish and corals to flourish.
Diving sites range from challenging blue water current dives with a chance of glimpsing manta rays, sharks and dugongs, to low visibility muck dives where divers can discover rare invertebrate closer shore. Diving in the Komodo National Park will bring you to the heart of the most dynamic marine environments in the world.
Because of the strong currents that can carry divers right into the wide-open Indian Ocean, as well as the huge sea mammals passing here, visitors are strongly advised to engage reputable and experienced diving operators and avoid those that lack basic safety measures.
5 | HIKING UP PADAR ISLAND
The breathtakingly beautiful landscape on Padar Island is second to none. This island is the perfect place for a scenic hike and spectacular photos. As you ascend one of the many grassy hills, you will be swept away by the surrounding gorgeous green, white and blue hues.
The vantage point from the tallest peak will give you a stunning view of four crescent-shaped sparkling beaches and an abundance of photos to make your family and friends green with envy. A hike up the main peak of this mountain will approximately take 2 to 3 hours. Be prepared and bring comfortable shoes, clothing, water, and sunscreen as the sun can get scorching hot.
6 | PINK BEACH ON KOMODO ISLAND AND PADAR ISLAND
Due to the degradation of red coral in combination with the pristine white sand, this unique and charming beach got its name. Also known as Pantai Merah, Pink Beach is one in seven in the world to have a glowing soft pink tinge. The panoramic views of the luscious green hills, pristine turquoise waters, luminous pink sand, and azure blue skies will surely take your breath away.
As Komodo Island is still inhabited by the Komodo Dragons, visitors should exercise caution on the beach and in the water. It is highly recommended to come here with an authorised guide or ranger.
7 | SNORKELLING AT KANAWA ISLAND
Visitors come to Kanawa Island to relax, swim and experience the fabulous snorkelling spots. The visibility of the water is crystal clear and it is even possible for visitors to see the prolific sea life from above the water. Snorkelers can begin their underwater adventure right from the jetty as the sea is very calm and strong waves are protected by the surrounding coral reefs. Be prepared to be mesmerised by the colourful schools of tropical fish, mystical corals and unique marine fauna such as stingrays, dolphins and turtles.
The island has weak phone and internet reception and transactions on this island is strictly on a cash basis. Visitors to this island are encouraged to bring an adequate amount of cash to cover all necessary expenditures.
8 | SUNSET AT KALONG ISLAND
The name of this unique island, Kalong, comes from the local language for giant flying fox bats. The bats, which are the main attraction of this island, create an enthralling sunset spectacle unlike any other. As the day approaches dusk, visitors are invited to witness thousands of these mystical creatures migrate from the island to the backdrop of awe-inspiring sunset hues. The resounding flutter and noise of these bats as they escape the mangrove forest and soar into the sunset will leave a hauntingly beautiful lasting memory.
9 | KOMODO SPOTTING ON RINCA ISLAND AND KOMODO ISLAND
Due to the purposely undeveloped nature of this island and sparse foot traffic, Rinca Island is the perfect spot for those looking to catch a glimpse of the exotic Komodo Dragon. Visitors will disembark on the dock of Koh Kima and be taken to the campsite of Loh Buaya, where sometimes Komodo Dragons can already be spotted. A trek across the island will show dense forest give way to grassy fields and a few scattered watering holes where the Komodo Dragons hunt for prey. If fortunate enough, visitors will be able to see other terrestrial fauna such as the wild water buffalos, Timor deer, wild horses and various species of tropical birds.
Due to the fierce nature of the Komodo Dragon, visitors who come here must hire the service of an experienced ranger. Prepare cool clothing and sunscreen as the climate on Rinca Island can be quite dry and very hot.
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.
How to get there?
Komodo Island is just one of the 17,508 islands that form Indonesia and is also part of the Komodo National Park. A number of domestic flights on Indonesia's local carriers service Labuan Bajo from Denpasar and Jakarta. These flights, which must be booked in person from satellite offices or at the airport, are often canceled or experience mechanical problems.