The small island of Komodo is famous as the home of the huge lizard called Komodo dragon. The island has been listed as one of the ‘New 7Wonders of Nature’ – a collection of outstanding natural wonders chosen by conducting a global poll. The place holds an enduring charm for divers with its unspoilt corals, rich and diverse underwater life, fantastic dive sites, and beautiful beaches, one of which is pink in colour.
Location of Komodo Island
Komodo Island is in Indonesia and part of the Lesser Sunda group of islands. It is a sparsely populated island with an area of 390 sq km and falls in the province of East Nusa Tenggara. To its west is the larger Indonesian island of Sumbawa which is also part of East Nusa Tenggara. Komodo Island is a part of Komodo National Park, which includes two more islands, namely Padar and Rinca. On the eastern side of the park is the island of Flores, which is in the province of West Nusa Tenggara.
What You Can Do in Komodo
The astounding marine biodiversity of Komodo National Park and its amazing dive sites like Cannibal Rock, Batu Bolong, GPS Point, Yellow Wall of Texas, and many more, have made Komodo a very exciting option for divers.
Other attractions are comparatively less in Komodo, especially for those who prefer to depend on tourist infrastructure for sightseeing, but there are plenty to do for nature lovers, as listed below:
- Komodo dragon, the largest extant species of lizard, mostly found in islands of Rinca and Komodo, is a major tourist attraction. This giant lizard is the last of its kind on the earth today. It is considered harmless but there were instances when they had attacked humans. Expert guides generally set baits during the day to show these creatures to visitors.
- Trekking to Kelimutu Volcano, which has three crater lakes on its top, is an activity you can include in your itinerary. Its westernmost lake, called ‘Lake of Old People’ is blue in colour, while the next, ‘Lake of Young Men and Maidens’ is green, and the third, ‘Enchanted Lake’ is often red. The second and third lakes share a crater wall. This colour diversity is seen nowhere else in the world.
- In Flores Island, there are caves in which a large number of bats and pythons live. Here, interested naturalists can see snakes in their natural habitat. However, tourists are warned never to go inside those caves without the help of experienced guides.
- A boat trip from Labuan Bajo pier to Komodo National Park will be an interesting experience. Besides the bright blue sea, you will be able to see green savannahs and many small, pretty islands.
- Snorkelling trips and forest hiking tours are organized by many resorts.
- There are no nightclubs in Komodo. Many liveaboards are well-stocked with drinks and travellers often celebrate night by drinking with fellow-travellers and the boat crew.
Best Time to Visit Komodo
Komodo’s dry season is from April till December and rainy season the remaining months, namely January to March. The dry season is the best time to visit Komodo. Komodo dragon can be seen year round but is seen less during its mating months of July to August and nesting months of September to November. However, for those who want to study its mating or nesting patterns, those months are the best to visit.
Best Dive Season
Komodo is suitable for scuba diving throughout the year. Visibility is the maximum (can be more than 30 m) during November to January. The sea is a bit rough at northern dive sites from January till March and at the southern dive sites in July and August. However, such changes are insignificant and liveaboards continue to make diving trips through all seasons.
Where to Stay in Komodo
Komodo Resort Diving Club
Komodo Resort, located in Labuan Bajo in Flores, consists of 16 sea-facing bungalows made of teak. The bungalows have garden, terrace, mini-bar, air-conditioning, and en-suite bathroom. The resort organizes many diving cruises including one that lasts 6 days and 5 nights, consisting of diving in Labuan Bajo, Komodo, Pink Beach, Rinca etc. The cruise vessel is a Phinisi Schooner, a traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing vessel, made of ironwood and teak. It has five cabins and can accommodate 10 people for diving and 12 for cruising. One of the cabins is a family room that can accommodate four people. The dive centre offers a full range of diving courses starting from Discover Scuba Diving to Peak Performer Buoyancy.
Angel Island Resort
Angel Island Resort is in Angel Island, which is a private island bordering Komodo National Park. This eco-friendly resort consists of 10 villas set in hibiscus gardens, and 3 white beaches. The villas have patios with sun loungers, air-conditioning, open-air private bathrooms, mini-bar, espresso coffee machine, and TV with a good collection of movies. The resort organizes all sorts of activities like snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching, and dragon-watching trips to Rinca Island. Visitors are offered massage with essential oils as well as reflexology treatment. Angel Island has a well-equipped dive centre that offers all PADI and SSI diving courses.
Blue Marlin Komodo (4 star)
Blue Marlin, located in Labuan Bajo at a distance of a seven-minute drive from Komodo Airport, is a 4-star resort. It has an outdoor pool, bar, restaurant, shop, and facilities for laundry, luggage storage, dry cleaning, car parking, babysitting, massage, non-motorized water sports, and diving. The resort has different types of rooms to suit the differing budgets of the visitors. It has a PADI 5-star dive centre with instructors who are fluent in many languages, and dive training is given in a pool specially designed for the purpose. The resort organizes diving trips on liveaboards and boats.
How to Reach Komodo
While most visitors enter Komodo National Park (KNP) through the gateway cities of Labuan Bajo in the west of Flores or Bima in eastern Sumbawa, the departure point for your trip is actually Denpasar, Bali.
The airport nearest to Komodo Island is Komodo Airport which is situated in the town of Labuan Bajo in Flores. Frans Seda Airport (also called Maumere Airport) serving the town of Maumere in Flores is also near Komodo. You can fly from Jakarta or Bali to these places and then proceed from there to Komodo by ferry. Bima Airport (Sultan Muhammad Salahudin Airport) in the island of Sumbawa also has flights to Bali and ferry service to Komodo Island though these ferry services are not very regular.
The planes that operate in the Bali-Labuan Bajo route are typically small and are filled easily. So it is safer to book your seats sufficiently in advance.
There is no way you can travel to Komodo completely by road but there are overland bus trips from Bali to Komodo which include three ferry crossings, namely to Lombok from Bali, to Sumbawa from Lombok, and to Labuan Bajo from Sumbawa.
The last portion of the journey, from Labuan Bajo (or Maumere) to Komodo can only be by ferry. The boat journey from Labuan Bajo to Komodo takes about 3 to 4 hours. There is no port as such in Komodo Island. Travellers have to disembark from the boat and shift to smaller vessels that will take them to the island.
You can stay in a resort in Labuan Bajo and explore Komodo dive sites on a liveaboard. Alternatively, you can get a boat in Labuan Bajo and go on your own cruise to explore the park and also snorkel to your satisfaction. There are many travel agencies which will arrange such cruises for you.
Getting Around in Komodo
To explore Flores, you can hire a car and driver through a travel agency. You can also travel inside Flores in local buses, especially if you are staying in Labuan Bajo. Komodo marine reserve is best explored through diving and snorkelling trips on a liveaboard or by chartering a boat that will take you everywhere.
On Komodo Island itself, there are no motor vehicles or roads and all the exploration has to be done by walking.
Things to Remember While Travelling in Komodo
Komodo is hot all the time. As such, you will feel most comfortable in lightweight cotton clothes. Shorts are all right for beachwear but it is safer to wear full trousers, a full-sleeved top, and a cap while trekking, for protection from insects as well as the sun. Walking shoes, sand shoes, and sunglasses are the other things that will help you.
When visiting temples or other places, you must remember to show respect to local traditions by taking off your shoes or by not wearing revealing clothes as custom dictates.
No specific vaccination is required to enter Komodo. However, travellers should ideally get routine vaccinations against measles, mumps, tetanus, polio, hepatitis etc.
It is better to take with you some sunscreen lotion, a first-aid kit, and basic medicines for headache, fever, diarrhoea etc. Other recommended items are insect-repellent and mosquito-repellent sprays and incense sticks.
Visa and Passport Requirements
The main passport requirement is that the passport you carry must be valid for six months more after your period of stay in Komodo. If you have such a passport, you will be issued a visa on arrival at a cost of about $25. Alternatively, you can get a visa for 30 days or 60 days from your nearest Indonesian embassy before you start your journey.
Scuba Diving in Komodo?
Check out our Komodo dive guide and start planning your next dive trip!