Now you might have seen beautiful pictures of Komodo island, or probably have heard travel recommendations as well, probably mostly online.
But what's next? Where should you start? How you should begin? The first thing that you should know, Komodo island is a small island located in Indonesia, East Nusa Tenggara Province. Most foreign tourists start their journey from Bali or Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia.
You must have known Bali better. But to get to Komodo island from Bali, you need to take a one and a half hour flight to Labuan Bajo, the gateway of Komodo National Park. There's also another way to reach Labuan Bajo, which is by water, but we will discuss it further below.
The following is a complete beginner's guide for you if you plan to take a trip to Komodo island. First thing first, you must visit a country named Indonesia.
Travel to Indonesia
Indonesia is a Republic nation and the largest archipelago country in the world. It is located in the Southeast Asia. The exact position on the equator between Asia and Australia and between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Indonesia has more than 18,000 islands (6,000 of them inhabited) with a tropical climate with two seasons, the rainy season and summer season. Java is the most populous island, where half of Indonesia's population lives there. The national capital of Indonesia is Jakarta, located on the island of Lava.
Indonesia consists of five large islands, namely: Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Irian Jaya.
Indonesia's location is also located on a tectonic plate, so it has many active volcanoes. One of the most famous is Krakatoa, located between the islands of Sumatra and Java.
Indonesia's population can be divided into two groups. In the western part of Indonesia inhabited ethnic groups are mostly Austronesian while in the east are ethnic Melanesians.
How Many Languages Are Spoken In Indonesia?
The main language of Indonesia is called "Bahasa" or “Bahasa Indonesia”. But in Indonesia, there are more than 1,100 languages, because Indonesia has 714 tribes.
Most Indonesians speak two languages, namely the Bahasa and their ethnic language. Some in big cities or modern cities they are mastering three languages. "Bahasa Indonesia", their ethnic language, and the English language.
On islands or regions that focusing on tourism industry, they usually speak three languages.
History of Komodo Island
When we first visit Komodo village around 10 years ago, we met a guy named Anjas. Anjas was born from Komodo village. He is an active and hardworking young man, and very proud of his village. We learn quite a few about the history of Komodo Island from him. At that time, Laba Laba Boat had a social mission to routinely distribute educational books and children's toys to the Komodo village. We were assisted by Anjas in distributing books and toys for children. Sometimes our boat Captain directly visit the Komodo village and handed the books and the toys and sometimes we leave it on a transport boat that back and forth twice a week from Labuan Bajo to Kampung Komodo.
Until now, he always give us an update information related to the village and Komodo National Park. We found and learn many things by exchanging ideas with Anjas.
One of them is the history of Kampung Komodo and its familiarity with the Komodo Dragons.
A Legend about "Ora" from the village of Komodo
"Komodo dragons are part of our family" Anjas said. We were a little confused back then. But Anjas explained that the residents of Kampung Komodo highly respect the dragons. It is said that in ancient times, there was a princess named Putri Naga who lived on the island. The princess married a young man called Moja. Not long after, the princess was pregnant and was blessed with two twin baby boys. But strangely, one of the babies was not a human baby but a lizard. The boy was named "Si Gerong" and raised in humans. While the lizard was given the name "Ora" and released in the forest. Time passed until Si Gerong became an agile young man. One time Gerong wanted to hunt deer in the forest with a spear when it came across a giant lizard. Gerong then chased the giant lizard and wanted to kill him with a spear. Suddenly, the Dragon Princess appeared and prevented Gerong from pointing his spear at the giant lizard. The Dragon Princess tells Gerong that the giant lizard is a Komodo dragon who is a twin brother of Gerong. After that incident, the surrounding community treated the Komodo dragon with respect.
The History Of Komodo Island During The Dutch Colonial Era
In 1910, the Dutch named the island as the Komodo Island.
Lieutenant Steyn van Hensbroek is the guy who firstly tries to prove the report of Dutch troops about the existence of a large animal that very similar to a dragon, living on the island.
Steyn then killed a Komodo dragon and brought the documentation to the Museum and Botanical Garden in the city of Bogor for research.
A Brief History about Komodo National Park
Indonesia has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of them is Komodo National Park. Starting in 1910, the existence of this ancient dragon then spread all over the world. A number of scientists from all over the world came to do scientific research. The following is the track record that we quoted from the archives of the Komodo National Park:
1911 Discovery of the Komodo Dragon by J.K.H Van Steyn.
1912 Giving the scientific name of Varanus Komodoensis by P.A. Owens.
1912 SK. Sultan Bima about the protection of Komodo.
1926 SK. Manggarai local government protects Komodo.
1930 SK. Flores resident protection Komodo.
1931 Komodo dragon listed in the list of animals that are absolutely protected in the Law on Protection of wild animals.
1938 Establishment of Rinca Island and Padar Island Wildlife Sanctuary.
1965 Establishment of the Komodo Island Wildlife Sanctuary.
1980 Establishment of the Komodo National Park.
1991 Designation as a world natural heritage by UNESCO.
1992 Komodo as a national animal in Presidential Decree No.4 of 1992.
2013 The Komodo National Park is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.
Komodo Dragon Facts
Komodo Dragon is one of the endangered species of ancient Reptile which is protected and only exists on Komodo Island, Indonesia. Komodo or in Latin also called Varanus komodoensis, is the largest living lizard species in the world. This giant lizard lives precisely on the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Gili Dasami, Nusa Tenggara. By locals especially in Komodo village, this animal is called Ora.
Some Komodo Dragon Interesting Facts
Another name is "Varanus Komodoensis". Adult Komodo dragon body weight can reach 70 kilograms to 160 kilograms, with a maximum length of more than 3 meters.
It lives a solitary life. They prefer to hunt alone.
Thankfully, it doesn't have the sense of hearing and not being able to see at night. At night they fall asleep.
Komodo can swim in the water.
In the morning, they climb hills at the park to sunbathe, and then back to the shady and humid areas to cool down.
They can be easily stressed when there are too many people around.
The mating period is between June and July. In September up to 15-30 eggs laid at the nests. Rinca island is the most famous (now only accessible island to see the dragon), and around 80 nests can be found there.
The females of the Komodo dragon usually makes a fake nest in an attempt to camouflage it from the predator. Snakes or boars love to steal their eggs.
It is said that the female dragon only incubates their eggs for 3 months and then leave. They pretty much don't care for its juveniles.
The baby Komodos can easily climb trees to avoid predators. They will stay at the trees until they reach 3-5 years of age.
Komodo dragons are cannibals.
When threatened, the Komodo dragon will attack. During the mating season, their viciousness is at its peak.
The sticks that rangers carry are wooden sticks that have two branches at the ends. This shape resembles the Komodo tongue. It is believed that Komodo dragons do not dare approach if they see the shape of a stick that resembles a larger tongue.
What do Komodo Dragons Eat?
Komodo dragons eat Goat, Deer, Buffalo, Pigs, and other animals. Usually, dragons hunt by slowly approaching the prey and then bite the legs of the prey. Many people still believe that the Komodo dragon kills its prey by transmitting a deadly infection through its saliva. But in fact, some scientists have other opinions. Komodo dragon also posses powerful venom and infectious bites.
Read more interesting and unexpected facts about the Dragon here: 6 Weird Facts About The Ancient Komodo Dragon.
How to Get To Komodo Island
As explained earlier, the gateway to Komodo National Park is Labuan Bajo. It's a small fishermen town and there's an airport there called Komodo Airport or Labuan Bajo Airport. Traveling to the island of Komodo is now very easy. The fastest and simplest way is by air. There are many flights available from Jakarta, Bali, Lombok, and several other big cities in Indonesia. After you arrive in Labuan Bajo, then you have to charter a Komodo boat, because the only way to access the Komodo National Park is by boat. Unless if you want to charter a helicopter, which is ridiculously expensive and impractical, since it cannot island hopping and restrict your opportunity to enjoy the beauty of many beaches and interesting spots around the Komodo National Park. Many other articles (especially for budget travelers or budget backpackers) also recommend transportation to Labuan Bajo by water, especially if you are from Bali or Lombok. We highly don't recommend this kind of transportation. Yes, it is a much cheaper option than flying but requires about a minimum of 4 days for just one-way trip, through shallow and rocky waters and the trip can be treacherous. Sape Strait is notorious for its violent waves, strong currents, and deadly whirlpools. All boat trip from Lombok to Komodo must cross this strait. The safest way to reach Labuan Bajo is by plane and below you can check the domestic flight pricing and schedule.
We recommend you to book the flights ticket and the boat at least one or two months before your trip schedule. You can learn more information here: How to Get to Komodo Island.
Komodo Island Weather
The climate in Komodo National park is certainly tropical. The weather during the day can reach 35 degrees Celsius. At night the sea breeze is quite breezy and nice. Seawater temperature ranges from 27-30 degrees Celsius, perfect for snorkeling all year round.
Best Time To Visit Komodo island
Avoid January to March, because this is the rainy season and strong winds, or commonly known as the West Monsoon Season. Not a perfect time to go sailing or have a liveaboard adventure. Laba laba Boat also stopped operating during this month. The best time to visit is April until the second week of December. From April to May, the entire Komodo National Park is beautifully green. In June the hills begin to turn yellow and become a beautiful dry savanna, in stark contrast to the turquoise colors of the beach. High season starts from July to December. Expect certain famous spots are filled with plenty of tourists from foreign countries. We advise you to book airplane tickets and book your Komodo liveaboard tour at least 1-2 months in advance, due to high demand.
A guide to Choose Komodo Island Tour
This is the most important point you should not miss. What is the type of tour that suits you best? In principle, there are two types of boat trips offered if you want to explore the Komodo National park. A sharing trip and a private live board trip. We try not to be biased in discussing this. Because after all, our trip specializes in private liveaboard komodo trips. In principle, sharing a trip is suitable for those of you who do have a limited budget. But there are pros and cons to both.
Sharing boat tour or commonly also named “open trip to Komodo”.
It's a type of trip who is more suitable for someone who loves to socialize. Usually, these ships have a sound system provided so that later at the time near sunset until midnight, the boat is converted into a party boat.
The ship is more often overcapacity (one ship can be filled 10 - 30 people exclude crews), especially during high-season.
The itinerary is less flexible. Because the guide has matched the itinerary to accommodate various types of guests. Some people want to snorkel a lot more, some people prefer to explore as many islands as possible, some people want to do as many selfies as possible and possibly, making a video with a drone (trust me, Asian and Indonesian tourists, including influencers, bloggers, love to do this). If you are outnumbered with a number of other tourist groups, you will end up following their timing and their preferences, which could potentially reduce your opportunities to be able to enjoy Komodo National park to the fullest in accordance with your expectations.
Private Komodo Island Tour (multi days liveaboard trip)
There will be no other tourists besides you and your own group. More privacy, less noise, and less drama caused by other third parties. You can calmly enjoy the atmosphere of National Park calmly, and can be more integrated with nature without any disturbances.
The itinerary is more flexible and can be arranged based on your needs.
The crews will be more focused and will cater to you and your group’s needs.
Perfect for families who bring children or couples who prefers more privacy and quiet time alone.
Pricier compared to the share trip or open trip. The price differs, depends on how many days you’ll take, the size of the boat and the quality of services.
Popular Areas Around Komodo National Park
Not only trekking to see the Komodo Dragon. Tourists also come to Komodo to witness the panoramic beauty of the islands, beaches, and beauty in the sea. That is why it is unfortunate if you just take day-trip. You need a minimum of 2 days to at least experience one of the 7 Wonders of Nature in the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit Komodo Island Pink Beach
Komodo island Pink beach or the local people called it "Pantai Merah" or meaning Red Beach. There are only 7 pink beaches in the world. And the pink beach in Komodo National Park is one of the most beautiful. Do not easily believe the photos that circulate a lot on the internet because most of them use Photoshop to make the sand pinker. From a distance, while you're still on a boat, at first you will see the beach at a glance of ordinary white and somewhat underwhelming. But the closer you get to the beach, it gets pinker. The pink color caused by dead red corals is eroded by strong currents and mixed with white sand. The corals are red because of microscopic animals called foraminifera. More detail information about Pink Beach komodo here.
Hike the breathtaking summit of Padar Island Indonesia, and make your friends jealous of your travel photos.
Padar island or Pulau Padar. Guarantee that it's one of the most beautiful islands in the world. This is one of the highlights of your trip if you explore Komodo National Park. When asking people what your favorite trip is, most people will answer hiking at Padar Island. When we first climbed this island in 2010, we immediately fell in love with the island. Here you will see the most incredible sunsets and sunrises that you will see in your life. Although the track is easy, be prepared to hike and sweat due to the heat. Take it easy and rest between spots and enjoy the view until you slowly reach the top. Indeed the best view comes after the hardest climb. Bring a camera and take a memorable picture. Bring trekking shoes or sandals, sunscreens at minimum SPF 40, shades, camera, and a bottle of mineral water. Read also: Padar Island: A Tour That Will Captivate Its Beauty And Hidden Story.
See Komodo dragons on Rinca Island and experience the real life of Jurassic park adventure.
Previously you could see the Komodo dragon in two locations, Loh Liang or Komodo Island itself and Loh Buaya or Rinca Island. Currently, Loh Liang is closed for conservation and maintenance so you can only visit Rinca island to see the dragons. Your trip won't be complete without seeing the Komodo dragons. You will be accompanied by a Ranger. There are three routes, short trekking, medium trekking, and long trekking. Read more detail: Rinca Island: Real Life Jurassic Park Adventure.
Meet gentle giant Manta Rays at Manta Point in Komodo National Park
Manta point is an area of shallow waters with a depth of around 5-10 meters but have strong currents. A favorite place for manta rays to gather in the morning to look for foods like plankton and jellyfish. Manta Rays are different than Sting Rays. The creature won't attack you and quite shy. Unfortunately it's not guaranteed to encounter this gentle giants and it depends on luck. Make sure you use your fins, snorkels and swimming vests. Swimming with Manta rays is surely a beautiful experience. As of year 2020, Komodo National Park official imposed a new regulation that is limited to only 30 ships per day to visit Manta Point, so as not to disturb the existence of the manta itself. Each Komodo boat will be required to register first and the method is first come first serve. Read also: Manta Point Komodo: A Close Encounter With Giant Manta Rays.
Snorkeling with sea turtles on Siaba Island or famously known as Turtle City
This is the option if you can’t visit Manta Point. Turtle City at Siaba island is also possess an interesting spot to snorkel. This is the place where the seawater turtles gather. Unlike Manta Point, Siaba island doesn't possess strong seawater currents, making it more ideal for beginner swimmer to snorkel at this place. Not just turtle, you can also spot some interesting colorful fishes and nice corals. Read also: A Turtle City With Pristine Coral And Wealth Of Hidden Treasures.
Enjoy the beach and beautiful panorama of Gili Lawa Darat
For those who visit Komodo National park, Gili Lawa Darat is one of the favorite places for snorkelers, divers, and photographers. The island offers exotic hills with a wide expanse of grassland, surrounded by beautiful blue sea.
Unfortunately, this island was burned in 2018, and access for tourists was closed. But slowly the Komodo National Park authority began to allow ships to visit the island again, even though the number of ships was still restricted.
The grassland will be green during the rainy season and yellow in the dry season. When visiting Gili Lawa Land, tourists can track or climb the hill to see views of the islands near Gili Lawa, such as Komodo Island, Kanawa, and Sebayur.
Tracking to the top of this island takes about one hour, depending on your physical condition. Tourists can enjoy the moment of the sun rises and sets on a hilltop.
For those of you who like photography, the top of the hill becomes a place that must be visited because of the beautiful scenery. Other activities that can be done are to enjoy the beach and swimming. The underwater beauty is truly amazing.
The boat can anchor at the beach and spend a night here. It's truly a calm and soothing experience. Read also: Gili Lawa Darat, The Most Photogenic Island In Komodo National Park.
Visiting Kalong Island at Sunset. The home of thousands Huge Megabats
You can only witness this unique show at dusk. Out of nowhere, thousands of megabats flew up into the sky, right above your boat. Relax in your Komodo boat's upper-deck while laying relaxed on beanbags, probably sipping on beers while witnessing one of the most amazing natural shows on earth.
During the day time, these amazing creatures were sleeping and hanging around on mangroves. During sunset they start to leave the island, looking for food.
No one knows where they go and actually find their fruits. Not even guides and locals. They return in the morning. This is a magical moment that you can witness when you visit Komodo National Park.
Visiting Taka Makassar in Komodo National Park
Taka Makassar is a unique spot in Komodo National Park. Located in between Manta Point and Turtle City. It has pink sand too. The size of this island is probably smaller than a soccer field. This island only appears during the day when the sea water recede. Meanwhile, when the sea water level is high usually during the night time, the surface will mostly submerged underwater. The main activity that can be done while here is to enjoy the natural beauty of the underwater, can be with snorkeling or diving. Read also: Taka Makassar Is A Crescent Shaped Petite Island With A Pink Sand.
Hike and Reach the viewpoint at Beautiful tiny island called Kelor (Kelor Island)
Kelor Island. A petite island that has very soft sand with clear water and beautiful coral reefs. It is quite close to Labuan Bajo and not within the perimeter of the National Park area, but every Komodo boat always takes the time to stop by this island. It is uninhabited, the island is often visited by visitors as the last stop for snorkeling or just playing on the beach before returning to Labuan Bajo after exploring the Komodo National Park. Underwater scenery when snorkeling is pretty amazing. We can see a coral reef with a variety of colorful and tropical fishes around it.
Snorkeling at Kanawa Island, Flores Indonesia
Although Kanawa located not within the perimeter of the Komodo National Park, Kanawa island offers a very interesting beach and underwater life. Plenty of starfishes, colorful tropical fishes, this island also famous for beginner divers. The coral reefs are super amazing and you will spend quite a lot of time snorkeling. Read more here: Kanawa Island: Exceptionally Calm And Soothing Spot Near Labuan Bajo.
Main Activities in Komodo National Park
Of course this depends on the itinerary you choose and how many days you spend while you are in Komodo National Park. The longer days you take, the more activities you can do.
Snorkeling. You can do at Bidadari Island, Kanawa Island, Kelor Island, Pink Beach, Manta Point, Siaba Island or Turtle City, Gili Lawa Darat, Sebayur Island, and Manjarite Island.
Hiking. You can do that at Kelor island, Padar Island, Rinca Island, Gili Lawa Darat.
Dragon Tour. Rinca Island.
Sleep on a Boat. This only happens if you choose Liveaboard Trip. Stare at the milky way, sleeping on an upper-deck is surely a good night time option.
Scuba Diving. Sabolo Island, Kanawa Island, Batu Bolong,
Komodo National Park Is Not Closing
Contrary to what online mainstream news media has been reporting, the whole Komodo National park is not closing.
Only Komodo island that is closing just for a year for conservation purposes only. The sensationalism from news media outlets, especially from the international news media that leads to this gross misinformation.
The government has fully rejected the closure plan and if you want to read the complete press-release and detail info, you can read: Komodo National Park Will Remain Open And The Rumor About $1000 Entrance Fee Still Don't Apply.
About Labuan Bajo - Things To Do
Labuan Bajo is the only main gateway to the Komodo National Park. A small town in West Manggarai Regency, East Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. Basically Labuan Bajo is just a small fishing village where the fishermen sold their catch originate from their villages around Komodo Island. They came Komodo village, Papagarang and Kampung Misa. They brought their catches and sold them to a famous fish market in Labuan Bajo is located in "Kampung Ujung", located on the north side of Labuan Bajo. At that time foreign tourists knew only Bali or Lombok as a world-class destination. Airlines was almost non-existent. Back then there are not many accommodations in Labuan Bajo and it was only popular among divers.. Right now Labuan Bajo continue to grow rapidly. Currently the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo is focusing Labuan Bajo to be a premium-class tourist destination. We can already see that the economy and businesses starts to and many airlines open their route to Labuan Bajo. Learn more about interesting spots around Labuan Bajo here: What Are The Top Attractions To Visit In Labuan Bajo.
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