Here is the ultimate guide to Komodo National Park. Located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in the East Nusatenggara province, sits the vast and impressive Komodo National Park. The Komodo National Park encompasses a total of 29 volcanic islands (including the 3 major islands Rinca, Padar and Komodo) and is home to approximately 2,500 Komodo Dragons and other terrestrial fauna such as various species of reptiles, birds, and mammals. The park’s terrain is uniquely diverse, consisting of a mountainous hillside, tropical rain forests, grass-woodland savannah, and pristine white sandy beaches that harbor rich marine biodiversity. The marine environment in the Komodo National Park is one of the world’s richest in flora and fauna and is still relatively undiscovered.
Traveling to Komodo island is a little confusing at first so in order to make things clear, you will not be flying directly to the Komodo Island because the island is in the national park. The island you can fly into is called Flores and the nearest city on Flores with an airport is Labuan Bajo, so that is where you will have to fly into. Around Labuan Bajo, you can walk to almost all the places worth seeing in town from the airport to the tourist street and the pier but for the Komodo National Park, you will have to take a boat.
The best time to visit the Komodo Island is during the dry season which is from April to December where the sea is likely to be calmer, the weather is bearable, and little to no rain. A chance of spotting manta rays may not be as great as in the wet season, but you will be able to spot some at the Manta Point all year round. We spotted 3 at Manta Point in early August.
Approximately reaching 3 meters in length and weighing over 70kg, the Komodo Dragon (or otherwise known as Varanus Komodoensis), is the world’s largest lizard and reptile. The dragons have their massive size, flat heads, bowed legs, long thick tails, and fork-shaped tongues. Komodos can run and swim up to 20kph and have an excellent vision where it can see objects from 300m away. A fierce predator, these reptiles are carnivores and can eat 80% of their weight in one feeding. The Komodo can consume very large prey such as water buffalo, deer, carrion, pigs and even humans. It has a unique way of killing by biting its prey – especially when it is a large water buffalo, – surrounding it in a group then wait patiently until the poison in its saliva has slowly killed its victim.
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.
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.
Pink Beach also offers some spectacular snorkeling and diving spots. The pristine marine landscape is densely decorated with a vast variety of biota. The underwater garden is home to hundreds of species of soft and hard corals and reefs bustling with various species of marine fauna.
The Pink Beach is also one of the best places to go snorkeling. Many tourists are shocked by the coral reefs this colorful and the water this clear before. Just off the beach, even in the shallow area, you will see hundreds of fish swimming around the most colorful coral reefs you will ever see. You will most likely lose track of time when you are snorkeling at the Pink Beach so be sure to come out before the sunset and watch the pink sand shifted colors vividly.
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.
The island is best appreciated either in the morning or in the evening where the lights and shadows are at its best. The depth of the Padar island landscape you see above cannot be seen during midday, only during sunrise/sunset.
Labuan Bajo is a pretty small town, with one main street running along the waterfront which is basically the hub for everything you need – you’ll quickly discover that you’re walking distance to pretty much everything!
So if you’re looking for where to eat in Labuan Bajo I’d check out the following spots that I enjoyed some meals at
Labuan Bajo is the gateway to Komodo Island National Park and as a result pretty much every other shop in the town is selling tours to it – so you’re going to be pretty spoilt for choice or overwhelmed with option depending on how you look at it!
You’ll be looking at around £75/$100USD for a day trip which ticks off the main attractions, but there are varying budgets depending on what level of comfort you want and how much you’re fitting in.