Located in Indonesia, between the West Lombok islands and east Flores, the Komodo National Park, is truly a mesmerizing place to visit. The interesting features of this island are the thrilling rough hillsides of savannah, perfect green thorny vegetation, wonderful sandy beaches, sparkling blue water and splendid coral reefs. And the best of all attractions is that it is the home to the exceptional giant lizard on the planet, the Komodo Dragon.
The area is full of diverse marine life like sea turtles, whales, dancing dolphins, hoards of Hammerhead, Gray sharks, and varieties of coral reefs. Under the star-studded sky, you can also spot the flying foxes. If you want to give your Indonesian holiday a twist then Komodo National Park is a must visit.
Witness the rare Komodo Dragons
The Komodo Dragons are the main attraction of this National Park. The creatures are around ten feet or more and weigh over 300 pounds. Witnessing these largest living lizards is like going back in time. It seems a dinosaur species has been left on the island. Komodos can’t run zigzag, so a good way to escape an attack.
The Komodo Islands are perfect to explore by boat. From Labuan Bajo port it will take you to the Komodo and Rinca Islands where you can come close to these wild lizards. Buying a three-day pass costing $15 is mandatory to enter the National Park in order to see the dragons. You need to show the pass while entering the island and for doing other fun activities.
Also taking a guide along with you is a must requirement even if you are an adventurous individual traveler. Wanderlust online magazine provides some extensive information about Komodo Nation Park and how to get there
Explore the Rinca and Komodo Islands by boat
The best option to see the Komodo islands is to book a boat trip. You can take a one-day trip if you are only visiting Rinca Island, which is only 2 hours away from the seaside port, but to cover Komodo and other groups of islands a two-day trip is a must.
You can book your boat tour at a minimum cost of $40, hence it is wise to travel in groups as it will cut short the expenses. Also before deciding on a particular trip check which islands they will cover and other amenities they provide such as drinking water, food, wine etc. as this can vary.
A live aboard for 2 or 3 days is another good option to explore the islands. Then you can even stay overnight on the boat while a short tour will only give you slight glimpses of the wildlife. In the morning, you will be able to see the dragons from the wooden cabins of the cruise.
Go for snorkeling near the Pink Beach
There is a beach known as the Pink beach, which is a mixture of white sand, and red coral fragments. Yes, don’t get surprised! I was equally stunned during my visit to this place. When I visited this beach I found it beautiful with a pink hue. It was indeed a beach that stands true to its name. To visit the beach you need to hire a boat from Flores that will bring you to the beach.
Unfortunately there is no accommodation for an overnight stay. After enjoying the tranquil environment you need to return back to the main island. For an overnight stay you can head towards Kanawa Beach, which has a lovely resort with accommodation facilities starting at a rate of $30 for single room and $40 for double room lodgings.
Snorkeling trips in normal boats accommodating up to 4 persons will cost you around $50 to $75 and if you want to go for quick speed boats the price will be around $250.
Travel blogger Michael Turtle provides some great pictures and information about this beach which you can read in his blog post The Most Beautiful Beach I’ve Ever Seen.
Indulge in diving and an exquisite swim with Manta Rays
Scuba diving in Komodo and swimming with the Manta rays, is an exotic and ecstatic experience. I had heard so much about this magnificent experience that when I was in the Komodo National Park, I took this chance of swimming in the crystal clear water to join the mantas.
While you are scuba diving in the water you will clearly see the manta rays somersaulting in their playful mood, a lovely sight to view. A dive up to an average depth of 5 to 30 meters or above, will assure you to have an encounter with the exotic manta rays. This experience and the beauty of the sight are just indescribable.
Generally, the perfect time for diving in Komodo is between the months of April to October when the water temperature remains between 20 to 27 degree C. In case you want to see the mantas in abundance, then make sure to visit the park during the months of rain, which is between December and February. Choose for the dive sites that have good amount of current and tides for witnessing wide varieties of marine animals.
Feel the miraculous sunset from the Batu Cermin Cave
The Batu Cermin Cave, also known as a Mirror Rock in Indonesian language is basically a series of caves in Labuan Bajo. When I visited this cave, I was quite impressed with the limestone outcrop. The easiest way to reach this cave located at a distance of 4 kilometers from Labuan Bajo is by taxi or motorbike, which takes only 5 to 10 minutes. I preferred to go by foot as in this way I could witness the natural beauty on the way. The trek is an easy walk of 90 minutes that will give you a good view of the surroundings.
The reflecting rays of the sun coming through a small hole are worth watching as it creates a mesmerizing visual effect on the walls of the cave. And this is then also the reason behind the name of the cave. From here I had a panoramic view of the whole mainland and also got to witness wild boars and long-tailed monkeys. You can spend quite some time here exploring the beauty and the mysticism of the place.
It is a great place if you are a photography lover, so don’t forget to carry your camera to capture some splendid shots. Also don’t forget to hire or bring flashlights, as you will need them to guide you through the cave.
Experience the magic of the landscape through trekking
On your Komodo National Park trip you should definitely go for a trek up to the highest point on the Komodo Island, the Gunung Ara. This hike will take around 3.5 hours to reach there. You will be witnessing beautiful flora and fauna such as the megapodes, deers and cockatoos. Once the sun is down, you will see many flying foxes ascending lazily to the nearby island to feast on the flora, which is definitely a delightful sight. I found the view from the mountain top breath taking.
Apart from this you can also choose other trekking routes on the Komodo and the Rinca Islands as per your ability and preference. During my trek from Komodo I started from Loh Liang, but if you want to go on a trek on Rinca Island you need to start from Loh Buaya. The cost of the trek will start from $18 and can go up to $30 depending on the nature of the trek and the nationality of the tourists. To gear up for the hike, you should carry enough water to survive the walk and wear sturdy shoes to maintain a grip while trekking.
Have a lunch or dinner in Restoran Gardena. It is serves some great Indonesian and European dishes. While relishing on the delicious sweet and sour tuna or kerapu fish you can witness the beautiful surroundings lit up during the sunset.
Still wondering what you will miss if you don’t visit Komodo National Park? Trust me I did underestimate this experience before choosing to pay a visit to this wonderful place, but I was astonished to see how wrong I was. The Komodo Island is said to be a lonely island set amidst splashes of blue and green aquamarine water.
Being infested by the largest alive lizard on earth, it bestows you with a different kind of experience. Whether it is encountering the most ancient predators living since a million year on earth or watching rare marine creatures and flying reptiles, you will be thrilled by what you will witness. If you are traveling to Indonesia, going to the Komodo National Park is a visit you wouldn’t regret. It is great to combine it with a visit to Flores as well.
Have you been to the Komodo Islands? Would love to hear your experience!