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Are you ready to embark on an adventure unlike any other? Then it’s time you pack your bags, gear up and explore the unique wonders that await in Indonesia’s Komodo Islands or Komodo National Park.
Filled with mountainous jungles, vibrant coral reefs, and animals you can’t find anywhere else, Komodo National Park is a prime destination for outdoorsmen wishing to check off their bucket lists of activities such as scuba diving and hunting dragons (no joke!).
Whether you’re a solo traveler or a family looking for fun-filled memories, this archipelago of islands will leave everyone amazed by its beauty. So what are you waiting for? The Komodo Islands are calling out your name!
My Bucket List Review of the Komodo Islands
|My Overall Rating||8/10|
|Who is the Bucket List Item For?||True adventurers who want to go off the beaten path and love nature and wildlife.|
|Best Time to Go||March-December|
|Budget||$$$ – depends on the duration of trip and level of luxury. There are lots of options!|
If you want more information about my bucket list reviews, please swim here.
Introducing the Komodo Islands – A Hidden Gem in Indonesia
Have you heard of the Komodo Islands? Tucked away in Indonesia lies one of the world’s hidden gems. With its rugged terrain and crystal-clear waters, this island chain is a must-visit destination for adventurers and nature lovers alike.
Some of the island’s star attractions include the famous Komodo dragons, the largest lizards in the world, and the stunning Pink Beach, where the sand glows a subtle pink hue. But the Komodo Islands are more than just their iconic residents and picturesque beaches.
Here, you’ll have the chance to hike through untouched forests, snorkel with vibrant marine life, and immerse yourself in the unique culture of the indigenous people who call this archipelago home. So what are you waiting for? Add the Komodo Islands to your travel bucket list and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.
The Komodo Island is an Indonesian archipelago between Sumbawa and Flores. It is composed of Rinca, Padar, and Komodo. There are a bunch of smaller ones but they are all volcanic in origin.
As you would expect, this is a UNESCO world heritage site that boasts pristine (sometimes pink!) beaches, blue coral-rich waters, unique inhabitants, rugged hillsides, and lush forests!
Let’s get started with all the bucket list worthy things to do while island hopping the Komodo Islands!
When I went to Indonesia, I went through a company called Tru Travels. This was a 9 day island hopper trip and was a magnificent introduction into the Komodo Islands!
Everything Bucket List Worthy to Do While Island Hopping the Komodo Islands
Go Find Some Dragons
These islands, located in the Flores Sea in Indonesia, are home to many unique species that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. With a diverse population of wildlife and environemts, these islands have it all. In the ocean, the rich coral reefs attract whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and more!
I know what you are thinking…why is it called Komodo Island? It’s because it is famous for being the only place where you can spot Komodo dragons in their natural habitat! Sure, you might have seen one in a zoo, but nothing truly compares to watching these magnificent beasts roam freely. And don’t worry–when the dragons aren’t hunting, they are surprisingly very chill and even lazy.
Although the Komodo Islands have a vast variety of activities and incentives to visit, I would be lying if I said that the Komodo Dragons didn’t take the trophy for the coolest thing to do here. It truly makes this place 100% unique. You can lounge on pristine beaches or go hiking in the forests anywhere–but you can’t do that and see a Komodo dragon at the same time anywhere else in the world!
Quick Facts about Komodo Dragons
Odds are that you’ve heard about Komodo Dragons. But what makes these giant lizards so special? Here are some fun facts about these incredible creatures that you may not have known before!
- The Komodo dragon is an iconic species found only in the wild in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park.
- These lizards, which can reach up to 10 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds, are known for their impressive size and strength.
- Komodo dragons can live up to 30 years in the wild and even longer in captivity.
- They aren’t very good at climbing trees. In fact, the only time they climb is when they are young…and that is to escape being eaten by their parents!
- They are also one of the few venomous lizards, with a bite that contains several toxins that can cause significant pain and even death if left untreated.
- Their powerful jaws allow them to consume prey larger than themselves, such as deer or goats, while their sharp claws make it easy for them to climb steep terrain.
- Despite their intimidating appearance, they’re actually quite intelligent animals capable of learning behaviors from each other – something rarely seen in reptiles!
Experience the Thrill of Adventure Sports and Activities – Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Trekking, and More!
Are you someone who constantly craves an adrenaline rush? If yes, then adventure sports and activities are just what you need!
If I had to do one type of activity, adventure is always my go-to! That’s why it’s always listed first on my website! I am an adrenaline junkie!
Bucket List Things to Do on Land in the Komodo Islands
What You Need to Know about Trekking Komodo National Park
- Be sure to check on permits. I was on a liveaboard, so all of our permits were already settled. But if you are on a day trip, make sure that your tour covers it or you plan out time to purchase them at official gates the day of your adventure! Make sure to ask your tour guide as sometimes these are already included in your tour.
- Wear sturdy shoes! Although some of the hikes are short, the terrain can be quite challenging.
- Bring LOTS of water. I don’t personally do well in the heat…and the heat was pretty intense when I went in August. It is VERY important to stay hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion.
- Be careful of the Komodo Dragons! This one seems obvious but this is their natural habitat and they are quite dangerous to humans. Make sure you are respecting them, keeping your distance, and staying safe! I would also recommend knowing your protocol if one of them gets too aggressive. Please ask your local guide or staff at the park for a more detailed response to this. But in a nutshell…”run like hell and climb the highest tree you can find” was the best response I got.
- Always bring a camera or phone. If you do stumble upon a Komodo dragon or another amazing species or fauna, you always want to capture your travel memory!
Best Hiking Trails in the Komodo Islands
Length: 1.6 miles
Best time to go: Sunrise or sunset
If you don’t do any other hike in Komodo, please do this one! The hike is somewhat unassuming, but WOW! The view from the top is incredible! The guide told me that the locals call this the “fidget spinner”.
And you can see why–because the island is a unique formation that is complete with three separate beaches. One thing to note is that the landscape may vary depending on the season. In the rainy season, the hills will be covered with green, and in the dry seasons, your view might resemble a sandy savanna. Both are equally as beautiful but it is up to you!
Rinca Island Loop
Length: 2.8 miles
Note: it is mandatory to use a ranger guide when going around this island.
Rinca Island is a protected space for Komodo dragons. If you are looking for an easy-ish hike for a chance to spot the giant lizards, then grab your guide and get rolling. Note that if you want a more forest-y setting, then I would go to Komodo Island, but Rinca Island is more known for the savanna-type landscapes.
When I went, there wasn’t a ton of shade and it was HOT so make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat!
Komodo Pink Beach
Length: 0.4 miles
While I wouldn’t really categorize this as a “trek”, it still deserves to be talked about nonetheless. Pink beach is near Manggarai Barat.
This is a pretty small island but is known for the coral particles that make the beach PINK. Although most of the day you will want to be lounging on the pink sand and wading in the crystal clear blue water, it is worth it to make the short trek up to the top.
This will give you a great view of the entire beach and the surrounding islands. Learn from my mistake: when I went, I just brought flip-flops because I was on the beach! The trail isn’t completely made for flip-flops and there were some plants that poked at my feet quite a bit. It might be worth bringing some extra shoes if you want to make the small trek up for the view!
Rinca Island Viewpoint
Length: 1.6 miles
If you can’t get enough of Rinca Island, then you can take another loop to the Viewpoint. This hike wasn’t my favorite (I prefer hiking in forests), it is definitely worth the climb!
Keep an eye out for some Komodo dragons!
Loh Liang – Komodo National Park
Length: 2.8 miles
This is another great option if you want to try to find some Komodo Dragons!
When I went in August, there were parts that were desert-like and other parts with some nice trees! I saw a plethora of Komodo Dragons and had a guide. It was like a safari and a hike in one!
Bucket List Things to do in the Sea in the Komodo Islands
Let’s just get straight to the point and chat about my favorite thing I experienced below the surface in Komodo: MANTA RAYS.
Quick little story: I had previously had surgery on the top of my ear in Vietnam, and the doctor told me that I couldn’t get it wet for three months. Naturally, when the opportunity arose to swim with manta rays in Komodo, I did the irresponsible thing and went against the doctor’s orders (not smart, but oh, well). I ended up creating an ear wrapping out of water-proof bandaids and gauze.
Back to my point, this was something that I always had on my bucket list and I got to check it off here! It was MAGICAL.
In addition to manta rays, there is also a chance of seeing whale sharks, sperm whales, turtles, dolphins, and some thriving coral ecosystems! This is a mermaid’s paradise!
Still, on my own bucket list, I think the best way to truly see the waters of Komodo is to do a liveaboard. Catered to divers, this will ensure you see what the underwater world of Komodo has to offer! You can do a day trip, but it will be pretty limited on dive sites and you might miss out. However, if you are short on time or budget, I think it is still an amazing option!
Best Dive Sites to Check Out around Komodo National Park
As I said before, seeing the manta rays was something everybody needs to add to their bucket list!
There have even been sites of 100 manta rays at a time! I, unfortunately, went in August so I only saw 3, but you can increase your chances by going from December and February. This is a gentle and easy drift dive so it is perfect for beginners.
If you are looking for a lot of marine life, this is going to be the option for you.
The rocky island in the middle attracts a plethora of fish! This is actually rated as one of the best dive spots in the world. It definitely has some high currents, so it isn’t ideal for beginners as it requires a lot of control and good buoyancy.
This is a great dive if you enjoy sand diving and looking at macro life. It is in a protected bay so there are little to no currents.
This means that it is another great option for beginners! You may also see a dugong if you are lucky–don’t worry, I had to google it too.
Located near Padar Island, this dive sight features many caves and swim-throughs! It is protected from strong currents, so it can accommodate divers of any experience.
This site will give you an increased chance of seeing sharks and turtles. This coral ecosystem is alive and thriving and I would highly recommend bringing a red dive lens if you want to do some underwater photography.
Although it is a little farther out, so you might need a liveaboard to see this one. Keep an eye out for the master camouflage fish among the rocky coral (scorpion fish or frogfish).
If you want clear visibility on your dive, then this one is going to be hard to beat. It does have some high currents, so it may not be suitable for all divers. It has a plethora of soft and hard coral to enjoy and is known for the massive schools of fish that will surround you during your dive. You might even spot a barracuda!
Whether it’s the excitement of exploring underwater wonders while snorkeling or the thrill of diving deep into the ocean with scuba diving, there are plenty of experiences that will leave your heart racing.
With so many options available, adventure sports and activities cater to all levels of enthusiasts. So why not step out of your comfort zone and try something new? Who knows, you might just discover a new passion!
Relax on a Unique Pink Beach
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of slipping off your shoes and feeling the sand between your toes on a secluded beach.
Although you can find pristine beaches in multiple locations, you may have noticed that one beach makes this location stand out from the rest: the pink beach.
About Pantai Merah
Pantai Merah, or just the Pink Beach on Komodo Island, is truly magical!
Visiting the pink sand beach is a bucket list idea in itself. While subtle, the unique sight of a pink sand beach is a wondrous site to behold for all nature and beach lovers. You can also go for a quick snorkel or dive if that calls to you.
Beautiful backdrops, a small hike for a fantastic viewpoint, warm blue waters?
I was very distraught to hear that my boat wouldn’t just leave me there 🙂
Pink Beach on Padar Island
There is also a pink beach on Padar Island as well as Komodo. I did notice that the vibrancy of the pink was a little better here, but the overall vibe and ambiance of the main one on Komodo was a little better.
I think whichever one calls to you, you cannot go wrong!
What Makes the Pink Sand Pink?
Ironically, the pink hue that accompanies this beach actually comes from microscopic coral insects known as Foraminifera.
These creatures have bright pink or red shells that are full of holes. They can also leave red particles behind that blend with the white sand, giving the beach its pink tint.
As with many things on the internet, many photos can be edited and this is no exception. In reality, I would expect more of a pinkish hue to the sand. From my personal experience, from afar it looked similar to any beach. It wasn’t until I picked up the sand and inspected it closely that I noticed the subtle pinks and reds.
That being said, it is still a natural wonder that needs to be added to your bucket list! And a quick round of editing will no doubt bring those pink colors out to sport on social media (if that is your thing!).
The image below is from the hike that was mentioned earlier. You can still see the pink hues, but they are not edited to stand out. This is just to give you an idea of what to realistically expect.
Explore Ecotourism in this Isolated Archipelago
If you’re someone who loves to immerse themselves in nature and wants to experience a truly unique adventure, then exploring ecotourism on an isolated archipelago may be just the ticket for you.
This type of tourism focuses on leaving a minimal footprint while experiencing the natural wonders surrounding you. From snorkeling to hiking, there is no shortage of activities that allow you to connect closely with the environment, yet leave it as beautiful as you found it.
This means a great opportunity for all of my ecotourists out there looking to make a difference. You can even do this by doing your best to not leave a trace that you were ever there!
Even though there are around 5,000 dragons in Komodo National Park, there have been instances of smuggling and ignorant tourists. Every year, more and more tourists come to see the magnificent lizard, and there are not many ways to safeguard it from poachers and smugglers.
Managed by the Indonesian government, there are several plans in place to patrol areas, increase local awareness, and stress the importance of research and study of unique biological features. Often the increasing number of tourists can make this difficult, but it can also be a way for you to make a difference by spreading awareness and influencing positive change!
Discover Local Cuisine and Culture of the Komodo Islands
Food is much more than just sustenance – it’s a way to learn about local customs, traditions, and cultures. When I travel, I not only explore different sights but also the local cuisine. There’s something magical about discovering new flavors and aromas that are unique to a region.
There are plenty of things to satisfy your appetite but I would not skip eating fish (I’m not a fish person but WOW), their satay, or literally any curry!
Trying traditional games and engaging in artisanal crafts is also an excellent way to learn about the local culture. It not only helps you understand the intricacies of a particular ethnic group, but it also connects you with the surrounding environment.
If you are looking to take part in cultural activities, I would definitely check out Bena Village on Flores.
So, when you’re traveling next time, be sure to indulge yourself in the local cuisine and take part in the cultural activities. You never know what you might discover!
Stargaze on a Liveaboard through Komodo National Park
There are several options that allow you to tackle the Komodo Islands as a day trip! These are perfectly acceptable if you are low on time or funds.
However, I cannot recommend doing a multi-day tour enough!
When I Island Hopped the Komodo Islands, I did a tour with Tru Travels. This provided me with a nice rounded trip to the Komodo Islands over a 9-day period. I was on a shared boat for the majority of the time.
If I had to do it over again, I probably would have done another Livaboard just for diving, but it did take me to all the major sites and was a true bucket list trip!
One of the things that stood out to me about this boat was the STARS. I noticed that this has not been talked about enough! There was a deck out on the boat in addition to our shared deck for sleeping.
One of the nights, it was unbelievably clear with no light pollution and I cannot even tell you how clear the stars were. With the gentle rock of the boat and an entire view of the milky way, it is to this day (with the Peruvian Sacred Valley at a close second) the best stars I have ever seen!
I tried to take a picture with my phone but it didn’t even come close to doing it justice. I guess you just have to go yourself and bask in the starlight! 😉
Komodo Island Tours – Explore the Best Ways to See the Dragons
Although I said that you can take day trips, I would aim to take a multi-day tour so you don’t miss anything! Here are some ideas!
This tour is a perfect option if you are already vacationing in Bali. It is also a good option if you don’t have as much time and just want the major highlights, including hiking Rinca Island, Komodo National Park, and snorkeling pink beach.
For those who want a little bit more of an in-depth look at the Komodo Islands and check them off of your bucket list, this tour focuses on Komodo and Rinca Islands.
With guidance from an experienced ranger and 2 nights on your own private boat, this is a great way to see Komodo. You can also upgrade to include roundtrip airfare from Denpasar, Bali. Once in Komodo, you will have a chance to find the dragons, snorkel, and hike to your heart’s content!
Komodo Islands FAQs
Is it worth it to go to Komodo Island?
Abso-freakin-lutely. Komodo Island is truly a paradise…and one that a lot of people didn’t know about. The only reason I knew about it was at my local zoo in Denver in the Komodo section.
I do have to warn that unless you are a big spender and rent a private luxury boat, these tours do have a tendency to be “off the grid”.
I think if you want a luxurious getaway and want to sit on a beach for a week, I would probably recommend Bali instead. A trip to Komodo Islands is going to be filled with adventure, outdoor activities, and wildlife.
There was no wifi, no air conditioning, and I literally slept on the top half of a boat on a mattress with 15 other travelers. I loved every minute of it, but some travelers might not. However, if you are down for that, then it is 100% worth it!
How much is a Komodo Islands tour?
This is going to depend on if you are going for one or multiple days (and if you are going budget or luxurious).
For one-day tours, I found prices to be anywhere from $100-500 on average.
For multi-day tours, I would expect to pay from $600 to $5000. The higher prices are going to be more luxurious or scuba diving liveaboard boats.
My tour was 9 days and cost about $1,500.
Can you go to the Komodo Islands on your own?
Unfortunately, no. Since all ports are an hour or so from Komodo and since it is a national park, it is required to be on an operated tour (most often from Labuan Bajo).
I read from one source that you can rent a boat independently. I don’t really believe it, but it might be worth checking out if you hate group tours. You would need to make sure you are following regulations and will be required to have a guide anyway on some islands.
Since this is a cluster of islands with very little man-made work and dangerous animals, I’m not sure you would want to do it on your own anyway!
What month is best for the Komodo Islands?
This is a tricky question that depends on what you want to do and see. To help, I will give you some important time frames for Komodo.
Peak Season = July-August
Best Diving Visibility = November-January
Best Diving Marine Life = July-August
Dry Season = April-October
Windy Season = May-September
Wet/Monsoon Season = November-March
How do you get from Komodo Island to Bali?
Most tourists will most likely be in Bali before or after their trip to Komodo.
The easiest way to get from Bali to Komodo (or vice versa) is to fly from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo Komodo Airport (LBJ). Labuan is the airport on Flores and is your closest shot to Komodo. This is also where the majority of guided tours begin.
Prices for these flights can range from $50-100, but I have seen tickets for as low as $35.
This is a short flight of about 1 hour and 15 minutes give or take.
Can you fly to the Komodo Islands?
No. When I tell you these islands don’t have much and are a true outdoor experience, I’m not lying.
The closest airport is Labuan Bajo (see previous question) on Flores. From there, you should be able to meet up with your tour group and take a boat over to Komodo.
Note that most tours require you to get to Labuan Bajo a day early.
Bonus travel tip: if you are looking for something to pass the time in Labuan Bajo, I would check out Batu Cermin Cave.
Is it safe to go to Komodo Island?
Generally, yes…if you aren’t an idiot.
You are with a guided tour, your own boat, and there are not a lot a lot of urban settings. This lowers the risk of common safety issues that comes with traveling. There is always a risk with outdoor adventurous activities, but you will get those risks anywhere you go.
There are, however, animals that can kill you here. What I found is that the dragons are actually quite lazy. Always listen to your guide or park ranger for safety tips and use common sense.
Remember, you are in their home and it is up to you as the traveler to be a good guest and treat them and their environment with respect.
Final Word about Adding the Komodo Islands to your Travel Bucket List
The Komodo Islands shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to international travel. A secluded archipelago off the coast of Indonesia, the Komodo Islands offer travelers an incredible opportunity to explore nature like never before.
From the towering dragons that inhabit its grassy plains to the unique species found underwater; from eco-tourism experiences to tasting authentic local foods and cultural activities; and from thrilling adventure sports like snorkeling and trekking to stunning mountaintop views—the Komodo Islands are hidden gems in Indonesia with something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a guarantee of an exciting vacation that will stay with you long after you return home, then it should be clear—visiting the Komodo Islands must make its way onto your bucket list!
Do you know someone who would be brave enough to see the dragons? Share this bucket list guide with them below!