It was a bit difficult this time of year to find a shared boat for day trips to Komodo National Park because it just wasn’t that busy in Labuan Bajo. Most places weren’t offering the shared boat day trips and would only sell us the overnight excursions (many people come from Bali and do the overnight excursion and then go right back to Bali). We stopped in at one little shop that had just put a sign out front offering a shared boat to Rinca Island the next day, and as luck would have it they could line us up on another shared boat to Komodo Island a couple of days later. One thing we liked about this particular tour operator is that it’s locally owned by an Indonesian husband and wife team, and they were some of the nicest people we met on Flores. You know how you just feel instantly good with someone, well that’s how it was with them and their prices were good too. If it’s important to you (it definitely was to us), make sure before you book that the boat has enough lifejackets (Indonesia does not have a good reputation with regards to boat travel and safety).
We started our day early and walked down to Sunset Liveaboard’s shop for our journey to Rinca Island. We were pretty excited with the hopes to see the Komodo Dragons. We shared the boat with 3 international students that were studying at the University in Yogyakarta. The boat ride to Rinca Island took around 1.5 hours and the waters were fairly calm, we just kicked back and enjoyed the sights. We thought it was cool how the mountains were brown on one part and then completely black on another part, almost like they had been burned by the scorching sun. On the way we passed some gorgeous deserted beaches with not a soul on them.
Our first stop was on Rinca Island, Komodo National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We paid for our park pass, ranger fee, and camera fees and then headed out on our 1.5 hour walk. It’s mandatory to have a ranger and they carry a big stick to hopefully protect you if a dragon decides you look tasty. You definitely don’t want to get bit by one of these, they carry a very venomous bite.
There are 3 different walks that you can opt to take and we chose the mid length one mainly because it was very hot that day. We didn’t have to walk far at all to see our first set of Komodo Dragons shading themselves under a tree. They had blue markings on them and we asked the Ranger about it and apparently the ones with the blue marks are extremely dangerous (good to know).
We continued on our walk passing by some Timor Deer and trekked up a hill to a beautiful viewpoint. We didn’t see any Komodo Dragons along the trail but we did see a Komodo nest. The Ranger told us that once the babies hatch they climb up in the trees to escape being eaten by their mother or other Komodo’s. They have to live there until they are around 4 years old and then they can move to the ground.
On our way back from the viewpoint we saw a number of Komodo’s under the Ranger Station lazing in the shade and of course they can smell the food so they like to hang out there (we were told that they do not get fed).
After our visit on Rinca Island we stopped at Pimpe Island for some snorkeling. The coral was quite nice with a lot of soft corals and fans. We enjoyed our lunch on the boat with drinks before our next stop at Kanawa Island. The snorkeling along the reef at Kanawa Island was really great, it was a very healthy reef, the water was clear, and there were lots of fish. On our way back to Labuan Bajo, we made a stop at Angel Island for a little snorkel and it was pretty good too.
It was definitely a great day seeing the Komodo Dragons and then spending the rest of the day in the water.
Komodo Island is farther then Rinca Island and most people don’t visit it on a day trip so we were lucky to be able to share a boat with a very nice lady from France who also wanted to do it in a day. While talking with her she had the same warm feeling from the people we booked our tour with and that’s the reason she booked with them also. We had many boat operators try and talk us out of doing this as a day trip, playing up how long the boat ride is and how we wouldn’t have time to do anything else but it’s not true, we had plenty of time to do our snorkeling trips after a visit to Komodo Island (they want to sell you the overnight trips). We did have to leave around 6:30am and we arrived back in Labuan Bajo at 5:00pm, so it was definitely a full day but it can be done.
On our way to Komodo Island we passed a small fishing village that circled a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived at Komodo Island we didn’t have to pay again because we had already purchased our park passes on Rinca Island two days prior, we just showed them the papers. The park pass is good for 3 days but if you’re not aware of that and don’t have the papers with you then they will collect from you again.
It was another very hot day so we all decided to take the mid length walk and after about 10 minutes of walking we came across a large Komodo Dragon laying under some branches. We were able to get quite close to it and we couldn’t believe the large claws they have.
We did a nice walk on the park trails and went up a hill to take in the views of the surrounding islands.
We found that the Komodo Dragons were larger in size on this island in comparison to Rinca. While we were at the Ranger Station, the cook tossed out a chicken bone and the dragon was over to it in a flash (so much for not feeding them). The way they just lay around you would think they are slow but they are surprisingly quick when motivated!
After visiting Komodo Island we stopped at Pink Beach, a beautiful white sand beach with a pink tinge to it. We enjoyed the beach and did some snorkeling here, there were many soft corals and some weird tiny jellyfish like creatures that completely carpeted the top of the water. Those kind of freaked me out a little but they didn’t sting so it was okay. While we were on our boat getting ready to leave, some young boys on boats came over to us wanting to sell us little Komodo carvings and beer (they were pretty young to have beer).
After Pink Beach we went to Manta Point which I thought was going to be a spot on a point close to shore but it wasn’t. It was an area out in the open ocean but more of a shallow spot that is frequented by Manta Rays and we were lucky we saw two of them. The current was crazy strong here and swimming against that current exhausted all of us. Our last stop was our absolute favourite, Siaba Kecil Island. The snorkeling here was world class and this is one of the few places where we have seen coral this pristine and the amount of marine life was incredible. We both made wow sounds through our snorkels the second our masks hit the water and we could see what was waiting for us…we won’t be forgetting this place anytime soon!
Komodo National Park and the islands around it are really something to see and we’re so glad we made the effort to go. The snorkeling was fantastic, the beaches were pristine, the water was crystal clear, and those Komodo Dragons – they were cool!
Tour Operator: Sunset Liveaboard
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel