When it comes to tropical islands in Southeast Asia, most of us flock to destinations like Bali and Thailand. But here’s a lesser-known destination, Komodo Island. It’s part of a bigger area, Komodo National Park, located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in Indonesia.
The national park is made up of 29 volcanic islands, with the most popular ones being Rinca, Padar, and Komodo. It’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 to protect its most popular inhabitants, the Komodo dragons.
Sure, you can appreciate them from afar at the Singapore Zoo, but we dare you to make a trip to Komodo Island for an IRL encounter with these free-roaming creatures.
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Flying into Komodo Airport.
Image credit: @estevaothiesen via Instagram
The gateway to Komodo National Park is Labuan Bajo, a quaint harbour town where tours depart from. Most visitors stay in Labuan Bajo town and make day trips to the other islands.
From Singapore, you can fly via AirAsia or Batik Air to Komodo Airport, with a stop in Surabaya, Jakarta, or Bali. The whole trip should take less than 6 hours, and a round-trip flight typically costs around S$350-S$450.
Image credit: @ivanwilliam_ via Instagram
Upon arrival in Komodo Airport, head to Labuan Bajo Port if you’re getting on a liveaboard or boat to the other islands, or Labuan Bajo town itself. The drive is about 7-15 minutes, depending on where you’re going. Do note that ride-hailing services such as Gojek and Grab are only available in Labuan Bajo town, and not elsewhere on the island.
And if you’re heading to the different islands, you’ll have to pay a one-time Komodo National Park Entrance fee of Rp 150,000 (~S$13.33) on weekdays and Rp 250,000 (~S$22.21) on weekends at the National Park office in Labuan Bajo. While this includes access to all the islands, there are additional fees required at certain locations, which we’ll list below.
From activities for adventurous souls like hiking and diving to just chilling at a seaside resort in Labuan Bajo, we’ve rounded up this list of things to do in Komodo National Park.
Image credit: @oliviarne via Instagram
The Padar Island hike looks out to Komodo National Park’s iconic viewpoint of the surrounding natural landscapes. We’d bet you’ve seen travel accounts on Instagram posting a birds-eye view from the top of the island, located 185m above sea level.
It’s a steep but relatively easy 20- to 40-minute trek, with a cobblestone path leading all the way up. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with views of surrounding rock formations and islands. But take your time, because there are several viewpoints along the way where you can stop for some photos.
The deer that roam around the island.
Image credit: @takenbyer via Instagram
You can get to Padar Island via a 1.5-hour speed boat from Labuan Bajo – and it’s best to book a full-day tour to visit other islands in the area, too. We hear that the best time to go on the hike is at dawn for the best sunrise views.
Book a full-day speed boat tour from Labuan Bajo to destinations including Padar Island.
Padar Island fee: Rp 15,000 (~S$1.33)
Padar Island on Google Maps
Image credit: @andrisugara_ via Instagram
The Barbie movie, bandung, Patrick Star – what do these things have in common? They’re all doused in pink.
Joining this gang is Pink Beach on Komodo Island. It’s a gorgeous beach with salmon-coloured sand contrasting bright turquoise waters, making for the perfect drone shot.
Image credit: @wtlaraswaty via Instagram
Fun fact: it’s supposedly 1 of 7 pink beaches in the world. The pink colour comes from foraminifera, microscopic red organisms that live in the coral reefs which get washed up on the beach. The pink tinge is the brightest when the sun is out.
Besides just sunbathing on the beach, you can also snorkel and dive in the sea. The waters of Komodo Island are home to stunning coral reefs and marine life like fish, turtles, and giant manta rays.
Book a full-day speed boat tour from Labuan Bajo to destinations including Komodo Island.
Diving: Rp 100,000 (~S$8.89)
Snorkelling: Rp 50,000 (~S$4.44)
Hiking: Rp 5,000 (~S$0.44)
Pink Beach on Google Maps
Image credit: @hellohendry
Speaking of which, one of Komodo Island’s most popular snorkelling spots is located about 25 minutes by boat from Pink Beach. Manta Point, or Makassar Reef, is home to schools of giant manta rays – you know, the ones you often see at S.E.A. Aquarium.
If you’re lucky and the water is clear, you’ll be able to see these graceful sea creatures from the boat. But of course, seeing them from above can’t compare to literally swimming with them – so grab your snorkelling or diving gear and dive right in. Besides manta rays, you may also see marina animals such as turtles, sharks, eagle rays, and cuttlefish.
For the highest chance of seeing manta rays, we recommend visiting from December to February as the diving visibility is great. However, do be careful as it’s rainy season – and the currents are stronger too. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with the dry season from April to September.
The best way to visit Manta Point is by going on a full-day speed boat tour, or booking a dedicated snorkelling and diving package.
Diving: Rp 100,000 (~S$8.89)
Snorkelling: Rp 50,000 (~S$4.44)
Manta Point on Google Maps
Image credit: @zfs.z via Instagram
With all this talk about Komodo dragons, where do you actually find them? Well, Komodo National Park is home to around 5,700 of these giant reptiles, but tourists mostly head to Rinca Island to see them up close. There are about 2,000 wild Komodo dragons roaming the island.
Image credit: @limena09 via Instagram
You can go on guided treks led by rangers, ranging from 1-3 hours long. And while these massive lizards are known to be high-key dangerous, you don’t have to worry – the rangers are skilled and carry around forked wooden sticks in case one of the animals goes rogue. Hey, they’re even trained to help you take a Komodo dragon selfie.
Besides Komodo dragons, Rinca is also home to wild pigs, water buffalos, sumba deers, monkeys, and even saltwater crocodiles that are hiding in the mangrove forests.
Ranger fee: Rp 120,000 (~S$10.66) per group of up to 5 people
Hiking fee: Rp 5,000 (~S$0.44) per group of up to 5 people
Rinca Island on Google Maps
Image credit: @anniemedwin via Instagram
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to get on a boat from Labuan Bajo Port for chio natural landscapes. Rangko Cave is a beautiful limestone cave with a natural blue pool, located about a 45 minute-drive from the main town in Labuan Bajo.
To get there, book a Grab or Gojek that takes you to Rangko Village. We’d recommend arranging for the driver to wait for you, as it’s a very ulu village and you’d likely have trouble getting transportation back from here.
Image adapted from: @uteeebk via Instagram
From the village, there are 2 ways to get to the cave: crossing by boat (Rp 200,000-300,000, ~S$17.77-S$26.66) or walking on a wooden bridge before going down a few steps that lead you to a blue pool that you can swim or float around in.
According to locals, the best time to visit Rangko Cave is at noon, where there’s natural illumination because of the sun rays streaming into the cave.
Book a guided tour to Rangko Cave.
Rangko Cave on Google Maps
Image credit: @angieskydefari via Instagram
Are you in Greece or Indonesia? Who knows at Loccal Collection Hotel, a hotel that has major Santorini vibes with its clean all-white architecture and use of natural materials. Its guest rooms are also inspired by caves – so if you haven’t had enough from visiting Rangko Cave, you can now sleep in one.
There are different room types based on your group size and budget starting from Rp 140,000 (~S$124.50). If you’re on a romantic vacay, splurge a little bit more on the Hempa Rae Suite (Rp 415,000, ~S$368.96), which comes with its own private pool on the terrace. Pour yourselves a glass of champagne and take a dip while gazing at the sun setting over the ocean.
Image credit: @virgo_babe168 via Instagram
Alternatively, the swimming pool area overlooks the surrounding islands – and you get gorgeous sunset views from here.
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Image adapted from: @carpentercafeandroastery & @sammastudio via Instagram
While we love traditional Indonesian kopi, it can be more difficult to get cafe-style coffee in a place like Labuan Bajo. Enter: Carpenter Cafe And Roastery. You can find beans from around the region here, including Arabica beans from Flores, from around Rp 85,000 (~S$7.56) for a packet of beans.
Pair your latte (Rp 38,500, ~S$3.42) with one of the bakes and desserts – the cafe is especially known for its choco brownie, choco banana, and banana bread.
Address: Jalan Soekarno Hatta, Labuan Bajo, Kecamatan Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timur 86754, Indonesia
Opening hours: 6.30am-10pm, Daily
Contact: +62 812-3642-4411 | Carpenter Cafe & Roastery Instagram
Image credit: @paradise_bar_bajo via Instagram
It’s not every day that you get to knock down some beers while looking at views of the ocean. For some drinks with live entertainment, Paradise Bar is where it’s at. This bar is located on a hill in Labuan Bajo, and is one of the more popular sunset spots in this sleepy town.
Image credit: @paradise_bar_bajo via Instagram
Besides affordably priced drinks and bites, most visitors come here for the music. The bar has themed live music nights such as reggae, rock, and oldies – and there’s even a dance floor in front of the stage. You know what the kids say, it’s lit.
Address: GV8H+2M4, Jalan Binongko, Labuan Bajo, Kecamatan. Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timor, Indonesia
Opening hours: 5pm-1am, Daily
Contact: +62 823-3935-4854 | Paradise Bar Instagram
Image credit: @divekomodo via Instagram
A quintessential Komodo Island experience is staying on a liveaboard, where you sleep on a boat for a few nights instead of a hotel. During the day, you snorkel, dive, and explore the different islands. While some of the atas ones may be slightly more expensive, Dive Komodo offers affordable packages starting from Rp 9,000,000 (~S$798) for a 3D2N trip.
But we think the best deal is the 4D3N liveaboard package (Rp 12,000,000, ~S$1,064) to get the most out of your trip to Komodo National Park. If you do the maths, that’s essentially S$266/night per person, and it comes with 13 dives, all meals, your own cabin, and dive equipment rental.
Image credit: @dive_with_rian
The only things that aren’t included are your own Komodo National Park entrance fees to the different attractions, tips for the crew members, and your own diving insurance. You’ll also need a PADI license – a scuba diving certification – to be able to go on open water dives.
Address: Jalan Soekarno Hatta Labuan Bajo
Contact: +62 81237634606 | Dive Komodo website
Image credit: @wae_molas via Instagram
We know what you might be thinking, “Why go to a beach-inspired pool when you can go to the beach?” Well, Molas Cafe also has a pool table, bean bags to chill in, and massage facilities. And if it does get too hot, you can seek shelter under the shaded areas in the cafe.
You just have to buy a drink and you’re free to use the swimming pool. If you’re feeling peckish, the food menu has bites like chicken bites (Rp 65,000, ~S$5.78), a seafood basket (Rp 120,000, ~S$10.66) filled with beer-battered white fish fillet, calamari, prawns, and french fries, and fish and chips (Rp 110,000, ~S$9.77).
Address: Jalan Soekarno Hatta, Goron Talo, Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa, Tenggara, Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara 86554, Indonesia
Opening hours: 11am-10pm, Daily
Contact: Molas Cafe Facebook
Image credit: @tamanlauthandayani_labuanbajo via Instagram
Seafood lovers should check out Taman Laut Handayani Seafood, a popular dinner spot perched above the harbour. You can expect to pay around Rp 150,000-Rp 175,000 (~S$13.31-S$15.53) per person, but it’s all worth it because of the views that you get.
Image credit: Mulyalim Koswara via Google Maps
Look through the Google reviews, and you’ll find their grilled fish mentioned over and over again. Other recommendations are the nasi goreng, shrimp tempura, spicy crab, fish with sour soup, and BBQ squid with honey.
Address: Jalan Soekarno Hatta No.9, Labuan Bajo, Kecamatan Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Barat, Nusa Tenggara Timor, Indonesia
Opening hours: 10am-10pm, Daily
Contact: +62 853-3388-8827
With almost otherworldly natural landscapes and some of the best diving spots in the world, Komodo Island is one destination we’d recommend to nature and adventure lovers. It’s super rather accessible to get to from Singapore too, and you can get there within 6 hours from Changi Airport.
More travel destinations in Indonesia:
Cover image adapted from: @angieskydefari, @anniemedwin & @oliviarne via Instagram
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