Things to do in Komodo National Park
Things to do in Komodo National Park
Whilst predominantly known for being home of the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on earth, there is a wide variety of things to do in Komodo National Park that are not dragon related. In fact searching for Komodo dragons may take up the least of your time as they’re generally very easy to find and once you have that all important selfie people generally move on quite quickly. The islands in and around the national park are absolutely stunning and it is easy to join a boat trip that takes guests to the most popular sights on a day trip. Such is the beauty of the area it is well worth spending several days in the area and so I have put together this list of the best things to do in Komodo National Park.
Komodo National Park comprises of Komodo, Rinca and Padar islands as well as 26 smaller islands covering an area of 1,733 km2 of land and sea. The park was founded in 1980 with the aim of protecting the Komodo dragon but later on it encompassed marine species as well and in 1991 was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are no flights to Komodo, people usually fly to Denpasar in Bali and then onto Labuang Bajo on East Nusa Tenggara otherwise known as Flores. I flew with Garuda International but there are several airlines offering flights. The flight is just over an hour from Bali to Labuang Bajo.
The majority of visitors will stay on the coast of Flores as the greatest concentration of accommodation is found here catering for a range of budgets. Budget guesthouses tend to be in the town whereas the upmarket accommodation is found several kilometers away usually with their own beachfronts. Most day trips can be arranged through the accommodation or via the many dive shops in the area. Ok that’s enough of the basics, now onto the best things to do in Komodo.
Pink Beach, Komodo Island
Pink beach is one of the stops on a typical day trip and is found on Komodo island (our boat visited pink beach after seeing the dragons) and is apparently one of only a handful of pink beaches in the world. The colour comes from a red coral that has been broken down over time forming a light pink hue which is best seen at the point the sea comes into contact with the sand. There isn’t so much to do on the beach other than relax and take in the scenery or perhaps snorkel on the offshore reef.
Hiking on Padar Island
Padar Island is located on the way to Komodo Island and is usually the first stop on the daily boat tours allowing people the chance to hike to the summit via a well-maintained trail. The hike is breathtaking with amazing panoramic views of the entire island and beyond. The hike itself is very easy at under 2km in length and less than 200m in altitude gain. An hour is enough for a gentle stroll to the top taking hundreds of photos along the way. Before boarding the boat for the next part of the trip buy a delicious coconut from the sellers on the beach.
Of course, top of the list for most people visiting Komodo National Park is seeing Komodo dragons in their natural habitat and it doesn’t disappoint. Whilst it is open for discussion whether Rinca island or Komodo island is best I can only comment on the latter having not visited Rinca so best ask around for recommendations. After paying the park fee you are assigned a guide armed with a long stick for the hunt to find the dragons. Actually, its not really a hunt, the guides will go direct to one of a couple of places they’re generally guaranteed to be which for my visit was a 2.3km round trip hike in intense tropical heat. I managed to see one rather large docile dragon lazing in a dry riverbed and a 6-month year old scampering about. The guides know the best places for you to stand for photo opps so let them snap away with your camera.
Snorkeling and Diving around Komodo
I have to admit I was quite disappointed in the water conditions during my visit in August although I later learned from a diving company in Komodo that August was perhaps the worst month for snorkeling and diving in Komodo. Apparently, November to February is the best time to go. That said we visited the aptly named Turtle City for a snorkeling trip and must have seen a dozen or so turtles in the space of 30 minutes so that was worth the trip. Komodo is becoming as well known for its dive conditions as it is for the dragons so it is well worth putting this on the list of the best things to do in Komodo.
Tip. Check out our scuba diving in Thailand page if you’re looking for other diving locations in the region.
Take in a Sunrise / Sunset on a Private Island
There is no shortage of accommodation around Flores but it is worth spending a little more for something a bit more luxurious like where I stayed at Sudamala Resort on Seraya Island. There are just a couple of resorts on the entire island and no roads, no cars or motorbikes, just beautiful beaches and trails in the hills that are perfect for taking in a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
Leave us a comment if you have other suggestions for the best things to see in Komodo National Park or you can check out our other blogs here.