KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
for komodo dragons & diving
Komodo National Park is a protected area covers a huge part between Flores and Sumbawa and since 1991 a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. The national park is famous for the komodo dragons, which is a prehistorical animal, it can become 3 meters long..... Komodo dragons can be seen on the islands Komodo and Rinca. Keep in my mind that the islands are not a zoo. You will see the dragons in their natural habitat. At the entrance you can hire a ranger which is usually a local resident. Don't even think about to wander around without one! Although accidents not happen that often, remember that the dragons are carnivores. So listen to your guide! Besides the islands Komodo and Rinca there are dragons on other smaller, unhabited islands like Padar islands, Gili Motang and Gili Dasami, however exact information is still a bit unsure. Except in Komodo National Park there is also a somewhat smaller specie of komodo living in the north of Flores in the area of Pota.
The islands of the National Park are dry with little rainfall. Depending on the time of the year the mountains are yellow, green or brown. Some people find Rinca more appealing than Komodo
island as there is more variety in landscape and animals.
For the most superb view: leave early morning from the harbour in Labuan Bajo, between 5.30 and 6.00 am. Enjoy the sunrise on your left side while heading for Padar island. Climb the hill and you have an overview of Padar itself and Komodo island.
Pink Beach is on the bucketlist of many people. Pink Beach usually refers to the pink beach on Komodo island, however there are more pink beaches in Komodo NP, and actually also on other islands in Indonesia.
Many people choose for Komodo National Park as a diving destination. In town there are many agents to
arrange dives and snorkelingtrips for you. A good source to read about diving is Flores Diving Around Komodo (2011) ISBN 978-3-9523834-1-4. This is a diving special with detailed descriptions of divingspots between Labuan
Bajo and Sumbawa. The books are available at Periplus shops and the airports of Denpasar and Jakarta.
The website of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry provides good info about Komodo National Park.
Map of Komodo Natonial Park
Boat trips to Komodo National Park
In Labuan Bajo there are numerous boattrips available. From one day trips with a simple boat up to multi daytrips on luxury
One of the most popular daytrips is Padar-Komodo-Pink Beach-Manta Point. But there are also combinations wit Rinca, Kelor and Menjerite island.
With the increasing tourism in the last decade prices have gone up but even more since the pandemic and the increase of fuel prices in September 2022.
For the cheapest trip Padar-Komodo-Pink Beach-Manta Point, expect to pay at least 800k per person on seat-in base for a slow boat or 1,2 million for a speedboat
which means one you will share with other travelers.
Usually this includes a shuttle service hotel-harbour vv, lunch and water and a snorklingset. The trips starts between at 6:00 and 7:00 am and you will be back in Labuan Bajo around 17:00 pm. There are also halfday trips with a speeboat.
But there are many other boats and trips in shapes and sizes private or shared. Differences in price and quality can be huge. This can be anything between 2,5 and 40 million.
Prices depend on the luxury of the boat; well often, as this isn't always that clear. You also can join a 2, 3 or 4 day trip on seat-in base.
Transparancy and good information is sometimes a challenge.
However, price is one thing but what is much more important is
The sea between Flores and Sumbawa, eg Komodo National Park is unpredictable, can be very rough and is prone to whirlpools and currents, in particular near the islands Padar and Komodo. In combination with strong winds and heavy rain this can become a critical situation. A seaworthy boat and a captain who knows the area very well is a must plus many other things. Too much risk is often taken and even sometimes illegal sailing (=without a permit from the harbour master).
To come to the point: Labuan Bajo hasn't a good reputation when it comes to safety on water (actually the whole country hasn't).
Despite stricter measures in the last few years it seems they are unable they get this under control. In concrete terms: there are too many incidents, too many accidents, this year (2023) already 8, the most recent last August.
Horror stories? Is this to frighten you? Absolutely not but actually to protect you and be critical.
Boats for Komodo NP get a lot of attention on social media but this is usually about prices and facilities, seldom about safety.
Komodo National Park is a wonderful place, one of the most beautiful areas of Indonesia. However booking of a boattrip can be a challenge as business is often not transparant regarding prices, information about the boat and safety.
Check all details before taking off.
BASARNAS > since 2017 BNPP (Badan Nasional Pencarian dan Pertolongan)
in English and short SAR (Search & Rescue), emergency call 115
Be careful with
See also stories "this could be heaven or this could be hell"
Boat trips from Lombok to Labuan Bajo
Before the pandemic boattrips from Lombok to Labuan Bajo including visiting Komodo National Park were very popular.
In March 2020 all of the companies suspended these trips and since the summer of 2022 they have been operational again. However not yet all of them.
These trips are usually 4 days/3 nights. Bear in mind that 4 days can be a long time regarding weather forecast!
Actually this is the same story as with trips from Labuan Bajo when it comes to safety.
There have been accidents reported with the most tragic one in August 2014 when a touristboat on the way to Labuan Bajo ran into a reef and sank near Sangeang island north of Sumbawa.
So for safety I refer to the chapter here above.
Anne Mieke -AM PHOTONESIA©-