From Dragons to Dreamy Beaches: Planning the Best Komodo Trip

LOOKING FOR SOME HELP AND INSPIRATION TO PLAN YOUR UPCOMING KOMODO TRIP? – I’ve got you!

If you’re looking for a well-rounded adventure experience of seeing Komodo dragons in their natural habitat, trekking to views of unique tropical landscapes, snorkelling with manta rays and sea turtles, basking on the infamous Komodo island pink beach and sailing the gentle waters with the ocean at your bedroom window then this is a boat trip not to be missed in Indonesia!

Komodo National Park (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is truly an Indonesian treasure! However, being that this is still a growing tourist destination you could definitely do with some tips for planning your Komodo trip!

Komodo tours in Indonesia are quickly becoming a dime a dozen as popularity flourishes here, but the key to visiting Komodo Dragon Island is in the planning!

This Komodo Trip travel guide will outline the most important info you need to know about a trip to Komodo Islands

Where is Komodo Island?

Komodo Island (in Indonesian: Pulau Komodo) is one of the 17 000+ islands that comprise the Republic of Indonesia. It’s located in the West Manggarai Regency, East Nusa Tenggara- whoa that is a mouthful, but more easily it’s known to be in Flores Islands and is a short boat ride from the coastal town of Labuan Bajo. Check out the Komodo Island Map below:

NEED MORE INSIGHTS INTO KOMODO ISLANDS?

📖 READ: How to Choose the Best Komodo Islands Boat Tour: Everything to Consider

📖 READ: The 10 Best Komodo Island Tours: My Top Picks

📖 READ: 17 Stunning Labuan Bajo Hotels – Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo (all budgets)

📖 READ: Paint your world Pink at Pink Beach Komodo Island

📖 READ: Padar Island Hike: The Most Spectacular View in Komodo National Park

📖 READ: 22 Amazing Labuan Bajo Restaurants to Try for the Hungry Traveller

📖 READ: 20 Best Things to Do in Labuan Bajo: Island Hopping, Dragons and More

How to Get to Komodo Island?

The Komodo Islands are most easily accessed from the small city of Labuan Bajo, which is East of Java and Bali. Labuan Bajo’s airport is actually called Komodo Airport. Most Komodo Island tours will depart from Labuan Bajo, so it’s best to book a tour leaving from Labuan Bajo.

A flight from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo will take about 2.5 hours, and Komodo Island from Bali will be 1 hour.

Another alternative route is a multi-day boat trip from Lombok, but it involves leaving from a specific city (which I don’t have much information on). 

➡️Is there an option to do a Komodo island tour from Bali? Yes, try this option.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: We travelled from Jakarta for our trip to Komodo, so the Bali-Komodo flight is a great option because a stop in Bali on the way back is always a win.  

Airline Schedules to and from Labuan Bajo

Flights from Bali

BALI TO LABUAN BAJO FLIGHT SCHEDULE

AirlineDeparture TimeArrival TimeDuration
BATIK AIR8:009:101h 10min
11:4012:501h 10min
15:3516:551h 10min
AIR ASIA11:3512:551h 20min
{POST-COVID-19} Current Available Flights from Bali (DPS) to Labuan Bajo (LBJ) Unfortunately flights are not always available daily. Will update the posts as more airlines start flying this route

Flights from Jakarta

When I first visited Labuan Bajo, I travelled from Jakarta. Unfortunately, pre-covid I couldn’t find any direct flights from Jakarta (or I couldn’t find any :/) but now thankfully there are!!!

JAKARTA TO LABUAN BAJO FLIGHT SCHEDULE

AirlineDeparture TimeArrival TimeDuration
BATIK AIR11:4015:052h25min
CITILINK10:50`14:102h20min
CITILINK9:3513:002h25min
GARUDA11:0014:252h25min

{POST-COVID-19} Current Available flights from Jakarta (DPS) to Labuan Bajo (LBJ) Unfortunately flights are not always available daily. Will update as more airlines start flying this route

💡 In light of COVID-19 flight schedules may have changed. Please check flight availability before booking any trips to Komodo. Komodo National Park entry may also be affected.

Best Time to Visit Komodo Islands

Man standing on Komodo Boat looking out onto sunset with back to camera and sunset ocean scene infront of him

Is it possible that there could be a bad time to visit this bucket list destination? Frankly, NO!

But it’s important to know if you are visiting to sight the wildlife, certain times of the year are better suited for your Komodo tour package.

The months of April through June are during Indonesia’s rainy-wet season, therefore you’re going to experience luscious green and blossoming leafy landscapes, as well as gentle and crystal clear waters lapping at the Komodo beaches.

Whilst September to November is prime time for spotting Komodo Dragons and sea creatures– this is a great time for those looking to dive Komodo too! Highlights include spotting manta rays, sea turtles fluorescent fish and whale sharks.

Although like any wildlife environment, the animals don’t always stick to a prescribed schedule so if you have a sighting its a win!

The high season is known to be from June to August, so if you don’t mind the crowd, be sure to get your bookings in early for Flores Komodo tours and Labuan Bajo accommodation because these will be hard to come by if you’re visiting on a whim!

As previously mentioned, whilst there truly is no bad time to explore a fantastical island inhabited by these prehistoric mythical creatures and other spellbinding wildlife, it’s good to know what you can expect when visiting at any certain time.

Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo

The Komodo Island trip allows for two options of travel accommodation (you can’t physically stay on any Komodo Islands):

🛌Stay in a hotel in Labuan Bajo and do day trips to the Komodo Islands

🛌Stay on a boat for the Komodo Island hopping liveaboard trip

TRAVELIST TIP: Whether you are doing day trips from Labuan Bajo or heading out on a Komodo boat trip, you usually will need a place to stay at least the night before you head out on the boat. As you can see above, the flights arrive after your tour departs so you usually have to arrive and stay the night before).

As Labuan Bajo is a seaside town, most of the hotels, resorts and even hostels have sea-view accommodation!

📖RELATED READ: 17 Stunning Labuan Bajo Hotels – Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo (all budgets)

If you only have 10 USD or 100 USD you’ll find stunning and scenic sunset views for every budget.

my top accommodation picks

Plataran Komodo Beach Resort

Local Collection Hotel

The Seraya

Seaesta Komodo Hotel & Hostel

Attractions of the Komodo Islands

1. Rinca and Komodo Islands

Well, would it be a trip to the Island of Komodo if you did not visit the only remaining natural habitat of the Komodo dragon?

What is important to understand here is, we often refer to the Komodo Islands as the culmination of the islands in Komodo National Park, but it actually is an island itself.

Rinca Island (Komodo Dragon Island) is also its own island and its actually easier to spot Komodo dragons on Rinca Island as you’re be walking the terrains with a ranger. This is especially lovely because the guide shares so much information about the Komodo dragon’s habitat, diet, behaviour, life cycle etc.

TRAVELIST TIP: If you’re not a fan of the reptilian creatures, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do a Komodo cruise. You can still do Komodo boat trips but opt to stay on the boat for the Komodo dragon portion.

Spotting Komodo dragons on Komodo island is significantly more difficult because they live in remote parts of the island away from the hiking trails. So if you only manage to get to Rinca Island it’s definite that you will see one, on Komodo Island, it’s not always guaranteed.  

TRAVELIST TIP: You’ll find that most tours will not include the Komodo National Park entrance fee in the Komodo boat tour package price (the fee is per day so it is important to visit both these islands on the same day if you’re going to both). There is more info about fees in the sections below.

2. Padar Island

You can get all this view just a short walk uphill from the shoreline! Padar Island is truly one of the most unique looking Jurassic Park-like landscape that you can photograph from every angle.

Whether you’re right on top or only halfway up you still can capture the incredible view as well as the stunning bay-like creations on either side. This was one of the highlights of my trip to Komodo Island.

TRAVELIST TIP: A good tip for this Komodo sailing trip is to visit Padar Island around or just after sunrise. Visiting during midday will be an extremely hot hike up to the top.

3. Pink Beach

Is this not just an Instagram influencer’s dream?

A Komodo Islands boat trip isn’t complete without a trip to Pink Beach. This is one of only 7 natural pink beaches in the entire world.

The amazing pink hue is created from the breakdown of corals and crushed shells of microscopic organisms called Foraminifera.

4. Kelor Island

This view is to die for! Another view that rewards so much after a 10-minute walk up a sand-like hill. The blues and greens truly are mesmerizing.

Snorkelling: Manta Point and Siaba Bay

Let this be mentioned, divers from around the world come to Flores to see the magnificence that is the marine life in this region. Apart from the stunning vibrant corals and sensational fishes, there also the opportunity to see and swim with gentle manta rays and sea turtles.

TRAVELIST TIP: If you’re looking for the experience of swimming with manta rays, plan to visit around September to October.

Kalong Island

Although you might not physically set foot on this island, what you will experience is the flight of thousands of flying fox bat-like creatures that leave the island each dusk in search of food.

The pinks and purples of the sunset coupled with this sunset migration are truly spellbinding. It is something worth seeing!

TRAVELIST TIP: Make sure you’re on a boat that has a comfy lounge deck and some bean bags, to lay back and take in the full experience.

Types of Komodo Trips

This is a just an explanation of the terminology you’ll find on the tour operators websites or adverts:

Liveaboard: Staying on the boat overnight

Open trip: A trip in a group (not private)

Private trip: Only you or your guests on the trip

Day trip: A one-day Komodo trip that leaves and returns the same day from Labuan Bajo

Chartered Trip: This is also a private trip whereby you hire a boat specifically for the purpose of touring the islands. You would have to check what this includes as this sometimes only means the boat (I.e.: no meals etc.)

Komodo Liveaboard Boat Trips

Visiting the Komodo Island tour hopping whilst staying on a boat is extremely popular! There are now hundreds of tour companies and providers that offer this service.

Phinisi Boat often used for Komodo Island boat trips (live-a-board)

With that being said, because there are now so many tour operators, with the many good operators that there are, there will be a handful of bad ones.

Types of Boats

Komodo Trip Phinisi Boat used for Liveaboard Komodo islands tours

⛵ Standard Boat: No-AC (AC = Air Conditioning)

⛵ Standard Boat: with AC

⛵ Traditional Pinisi

⛵ Luxury Speed Boat or Yacht

TRAVELIST TIP: Only the Luxury Sailing vessels and Pinisi boats have the option for private cabins. Picking your boat to Komodo will definitely depend on your comfort level and budget. As I’m no longer in the backpacking stage and not a fan of confined non-ventilated places, the cabin and amenities inside were important to me.

One day Komodo island tours will be on a different boat as there’s no need for staying on board.

Komodo speed boat tours are a great option for those who prefer the comforts of a hotel and who experience severe motion sickness on boats.

Staying on a boat is VERY DIFFERENT from staying at a hotel.

Boat deck on some of the Komodo Boat tours

There’s a lot to consider before deciding which Komodo boat tour to choose! So much so I’ve compiled a whole article detailing exactly what factors you need to consider when choosing a boat and tour!

Some of the factors will include:

Cabins (private or shared)

Bathroom

Hot water

Maximum capacity of the boat

Air Conditioning or Ventilation

Some of the above points may seem like a necessity but on the boat trip to Komodo island, but you really do get what you pay for so, be sure of exactly everything you want on a boat before booking.

💡For a detailed guide, check out my article on How to Choose the Best Komodo Islands Boat Tour: Everything to Consider + My Recommendations

If you are happier to stay in Labuan Bajo and do day trips to Komodo Island, that is equally as easy. There are a number of tour providers that offer Komodo day tours.

Komodo Island Tour Packages

Best Komodo Tours from Labuan Bajo

MOST REVIEWED DAY TOUR: 1-day Komodo Open Trip with Bintang Komodo (TOP DAY TOUR PICK) BOOK IT ➡️

MOST BOOKED DAY TOUR: Full-Day Komodo Speedboat Tour from Labuan Bajo BOOK IT➡️

BEST PRIVATE MULTI-DAY TOUR (2 People): Private Komodo Islands boat tour (TOP PRIVATE MULTI-DAY TOUR PICK) BOOK IT➡️

BEST PRIVATE MULTI-DAY TOUR (Small Group): Private 3 Day 2 Night Tour BOOK IT➡️

MOST RECENTLY REVIEWED PRIVATE MULTI-DAY TOUR: Private 4-Day Komodo Boat Trip incl Labuan Bajo attractions BOOK IT➡️

If you’re doing a sleep-on board boat to Komodo tour, these are some of the common inclusions/exclusions:

Common Inclusions:

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Bottled water

Snorkelling gear

Tour guide (speaking your language)

Pick up and drop off from hotel/airport in Labuan Bajo

These are just some of the main things that all boat tours will have included on most Komodo boat liveaboards.

Common Exclusions:

Komodo National Park Entrance Fees

Flights to and from Labuan Bajo

Travel and luggage insurance

Personal drinks and snacks

⚠️ I can’t stress enough if you are booking a tour ahead of time to make sure you know what is included and excluded, ESPECIALLY the Komodo National Park entrance fees.

TRAVELIST TIP: Make sure you have in writing exactly how much you should be paying for the Komodo National Park entrance fees. Unfortunately, there have been stories of foreigners being charged incorrect prices or tour providers going back on their initial word of what the pricing was. The price is significantly higher for foreigners than it is for locals, however, these prices appear fair as this is for conservation purposes and the environment is extremely well maintained.

Komodo Islands Boat Tour Price

The price range for these trips can range anything from 1 million rupiah for day trips to 40 million rupiah for liveaboards depending on the type of tour, boat, number of days, inclusions and exclusions you choose.

So there really are options for budget and luxury travellers.

The average Komodo Island tour price for 3 day 2-night open trip on a standard air-conditioned Pinisi boat (with basic inclusions) is IDR 4 to 5 million rupiahs.  

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: We did a Komodo Liveaboard 3-day-2-night tour which included all meals, bottled water, a tour guide, pick up and drop from the hotel, private cabin and private bathroom on a Pinisi boat which cost IDR 5 million per person. This excluded flights to and from Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park entrance fees. This appears to be on par with many local tour providers which we checked and verified in compiling this article.

Komodo Itinerary

How many days do you need to visit the Komodo Islands? I feel that a 3 day 2-night trip is the perfect length, you will, however, find that day trips from Labuan Bajo are ever-popular but those who are on the sailing or liveaboard tours will have Carte Blanche and be first on the scene.

Typical 3 Day 2 Night Komodo Island Boat Itinerary

DAY 0 Stay the night before in Labuan Bajo

DAY 1

  • Sail out from Labuan Bajo
  • Rinca Island
  • Komodo Island
  • Kalong Island

DAY 2

  • Padar Island
  • Snorkelling at Manta Point
  • Snorkelling at Siaba Bay

DAY 3

  • Kananwa Island and Snorkelling
  • Kelor Island
  • Sail back to Labuan Bajo
  • Flight back to Jakarta or Bali

TRAVELIST TIP: If you’re doing the Komodo Island boat trip (liveaboard), arrive the day before in Labuan Bajo. The flights arrive in Labuan Bajo after 9:00 and most tours will leave at 9:00 or before. It also gives you a  chance to stay in a gorgeous hotel and sample some of their incredible restaurants

What to Pack to Visit Komodo Islands

🧳Luggage

Well, let’s just start by saying pack light! There is really no need for tons of clothing for this trip. A medium-sized backpack or carry-on luggage size back and day bag is literally all you need.

TRAVELIST TIP: Bring a dry bag (waterproof bag) for your snorkelling trip and to use when travelling in the speed boat from the ship.

👚Clothing

The islands are hot! Regardless of the time of year, Indonesia is a tropical country and its humid! Light-weight or cotton based clothing works great to absorb sweat (yes, you will sweat). There will be some trekking but you don’t need serious hiking gear, as long as you have closed shoes like sneakers or mountain sandals, you’ll be fine.

TRAVELIST TIP: If you’re exploring more of Indonesia, travel light! The humidity of the country is intense if you’re not used to the climate. If you’re prone to getting chilly on the plane or maybe doing a sunrise volcano hike (like Mount Bromo or Kawah Ijen) in one of the regions, you’ll only need to pack in 1 pair of long pants and 1 jacket and 1 long top.

👙Swimwear

I feel it needs to be mentioned, but it goes without saying, if you’re staying on a boat or even just coming for the beach, there’s likely to be some swimming involved and even more so if you’re coming to snorkel with the manta rays.

Swimming Towel

Often the liveaboards and sailing trips do provide bath towels, but a swimming towel will be great to keep in your dry bag on your snorkelling trip and when lazing on the beach. Opt for a lightweight microfibre towel for quick drying. You’ll definitely want to pack this is when lounging on Pink Komodo Beach.

📸Camera

Whether it’s your phone, professional photography gear or a GoPro and drone, you will want to document your trip. We literally used everything!

🔋Power Banks

It is highly recommended to bring a power bank, whether you need it to charge your phone, your smartwatch, your camera gear etc.

TRAVELIST TIP: Don’t forget to pack your charging cables as well as a universal travel adaptor. On most boats there is only one power outlet per cabin, sometimes there’s two, but one is for the light or air conditioner, so a multi-plug may be needed if you don’t have a power bank to assist in charging all your devices. In Indonesia, Type C or F plug sockets are used.

💊Motion Sickness Medication

If you’re prone to seasickness, you’ll need this. The boat ride is relatively smooth, but there may be patches where you’re sailing during the night when the waters become a bit rocky.

🦟Insect Repellent

This was definitely needed when staying in Labuan Bajo, and also when trekking on Rinca Island and up Padar Island. A number of the convenience stores in Labuan Bajo sell insect repellent and it’s really affordable too.

😎Sunscreen and Eyewear

The sun is harsh in the area and coverage is extremely limited. Often there is direct sunlight in your eyes, so sunglasses are a must and skin protection is vital on literally every part of the trip! I’m a user of the higher SPF’s and sunscreen choices may be somewhat limited in Labuan Bajo.

TRAVELIST TIP: If you use a particular brand, make sure to pack it in as pharmacies or convenience stores in Indonesia might not carry it and the imported sunscreen brands that are available are EXTREMELY expensive.

Helpful Tips for Visiting the Komodo Islands

📶 Internet on Komodo Islands

You’ll be surprised but you actually can get internet signal on most areas of the Komodo Islands in Komodo National Park. The most popular network to use is Telkomsel. You might find like other mobile networks like Indosat will not have coverage in Labuan Bajo or the Komodo Islands.

TRAVELIST TIP: Pick up a Telkomsel sim at the airport in Labuan Bajo or when you land in Jakarta or Bali. They are not easily found at convenience shop’s and 7 elevens because they need your passport to register the sim card, so getting a small traveller data package is best from the airport (and they’ll set it up for you!)

💵 Cash

You will certainly need cash at some stage of the trip. Komodo Islands have no ATM’s so don’t be surprised. You’ll need cash when paying for your Komodo National Park Entry Fees or just tipping your guide. You’ll also find in Labuan Bajo, that only certain restaurants will accept credit and debit cards, so be sure to check before ordering.

It’s recommended to get your currency exchanged at the airport or certified money exchanger.

There are also a number of ATM’s in Labuan Bajo from which you can use your card to withdraw cash, I recommend using an ATM that is attached to a bank or in the vicinity or inside the supermarket as those are known to be the most reputable.

The currency used in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah, usually shown as IDR or Rp. Use XE Currency to check your countries’ exchange rate against the Rupiah.

Drone use

Drones are prohibited from Rinca and Komodo Island. I have witnessed drones being used on the other islands. Please exercise caution with all drone use and make sure you are up to date with Indonesian drone regulations for the area.

TRAVELIST TIP: If you are uncertain of the drone laws for your trip, make sure to check with your tour provider as to whether you’ll be able to use your drone on the trip on the other islands and boat.

💰Tipping

Regardless of the country, you are from and what the customs are there, the Komodo Boat trip crew (especially the sailing and liveaboard trip) does actually rely on tips.

They only earn such a small percentage of what the tour providers actually pay them so it’s really important that you have some cash on board to give them if you appreciate and received great service.

MY PERSONAL APPEAL TO TRAVELLERS: As much as you may read about bargaining in South East Asia, These trips really are good value for money and considering how hard these boat crews work as well as how well the islands are maintained, please try to pay what is fair. It’s not kind to try to get people down to the bare minimum as the economy is still developing, you should be a contributor and in light of COVID-19 prices are already significantly reduced.

🚺Time of the month (for Women)

Well, this seems like a strange thing to mention, but it actually is something that NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED.

It has been recommended that women who visit during their menstruation cycle, really need to be careful when visiting Komodo or Rinca island. Komodo dragons can smell blood from a distance of approximately 8 kilometres. Rangers would need to be aware of this as the Komodo dragons can become restless and aggressive – they are wild animals.

fingers making a heart shape with sun setting in the middle whilst on Komodo trip on boat

ARE YOU EXCITED TO TOUR KOMODO ISLANDS NOW? I hope this guide to the Komodo Island Tours helps you enjoy this incredible adventure in East Nusa Tenggara Flores. 

I honestly feel like the Komodo tour was the best trip I have taken in the country so far, I’m so sure that your tour to Komodo Island will be too!

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in the article have affiliate links, what this means is, if you click a link and make a purchase I may earn some money to buy a coffee (whoohoo!). Thanks for the support, I’d love to keep making this content freely available to all. As always opinions and thoughts remain my own.

2 thoughts on “From Dragons to Dreamy Beaches: Planning the Best Komodo Trip”

  1. An essential read for anyone looking to explore the Komodo Islands. This guide provides invaluable insights and tips to ensure a memorable and seamless adventure. A must-have for every traveler’s checklist

    Reply

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