Throughout my travels in Indonesia and East Java more specifically, Komodo was hands down my favourite discovery. Somewhat isolated and reached only by a long travel day, Komodo is made up of three main islands to explore: Komodo Island, Rinca Island and Padar Island. Each island has its own draw cards and visited together, this is the perfect itinerary for adventure travellers.
Despite the beauty of Komodo National Park and surrounding islands, this part of Indonesia remains somewhat off the beaten path. Without a doubt this won’t remain the case forever, so be sure to add Komodo to your list of destinations in Indonesia!
Arriving in Komodo is a fairy easy journey despite it feeling a world away from Bali. First you will be travelling by plane from Bali Denpasar airport (around one hour flight time). Labuan Bajo is the point of entry for your dragon-spotting and diving-filled adventure that lay ahead. The city is located on the island of Flores, which is the gateway to the paradise of Komodo and surrounding islands. Labuan Bajo is a great place to base yourself for day trips to the outlying islands and there are a number of great hotels and guest house stays here with new developments in the pipeline.
The first stop on our adventure was to take a speedboat to Padar Island and hike the gruelling staircase to the peak for one of the best views in Indonesia. I had heard this was one of the most beautiful lookouts in the country, so naturally made it my first stop whilst exploring the area. We took a speedboat because we were so short on time but if you have a few days in Labuan Bajo, the best option is to take a full day trip stopping at Padar Island, Pink Beach and Rinca Island or Komodo Island to see the Komodo dragons.
The view at the top of the Padar Island viewpoint was absolutely breathtaking. I would recommend making the trek before sunset to get the best of the golden light and at this time of day you have the place almost entirely to yourself. The trek to the top will take around 20 minutes without stopping. The track itself is quite good though at times toward the peak you will need to navigate some rocks and there are no barriers. Make sure you wear sneakers for a safe and enjoyable hike!
For our next stop we made our way around the bay by boat to Pink Beach. As the name suggests, this is an idyllic oasis featuring pink sand, turquoise water and to our surprise, no other people! This beach is isolated so the only way to reach it is by boat from Labuan Bajo. Most of the day tours arrive earlier in the day so when we arrived in the hour before sunset, we had the beach entirely to ourselves. This was the perfect time of day to take stock and reminisce over our Indonesia adventures so far. We both agreed that this day (Padar Island and Pink Beach) was our favourite from the trip.
If you manage to visit in the hour before sunset, you can enjoy Pink Beach entirely to yourself. It is still an hour by fast boat back to Labuan Bajo so be sure to leave as the sun begins to set if you would prefer to be back before dark. This was also a great chance to watch the sunset from the boat the entire way back to shore!
The next day we were eager to see the Komodo dragons, one of the most popular activities in Komodo National Park and indeed one of the reasons so many travellers make their way here. The Komodo dragon is the largest monitor lizard on the planet and can grow up to 8.5 ft long (in other words, they are huge!) The park requires you to have a ranger to show you around (highly recommended, these things are dangerous!)
The ranger will take you on a walk around the National Park and explain the terrain as well as answer all your questions about these impressive reptiles. You will also be advised not to go to the toilet alone, never to look a dragon in the eye and if you are a woman on your monthly cycle you must take extra caution as the dragons are very sensitive to the smell of blood (crazy, hey!?)
We had the most incredible time in Komodo National Park and surrounding islands. This was without a doubt our favourite destination so far in Indonesia. At the time of writing there aren’t so many travellers that it is unenjoyable and by all accounts the area still feels very authentic and natural.
Another main activity in the area is diving though because we had already been diving in Wakatobi, we chose to spend all of our time adventuring on land. This is one of the best areas in Indonesia for diving so be sure to consider making extra time for this!
For more of my visit to Indonesia, visit the Indonesia archives.