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Essential travel guide to Komodo Island

Torben Lonne
Torben Lonne

Editor in chief of divein.com

Jakarta | Tue, June 5, 2018 | 12:33 pm
Essential travel guide to Komodo Island

Komodo Island is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands in East Nusa Tenggara. (Shutterstock/-)

Komodo Island is a small island in East Nusa Tenggara province. It is found within the Lesser Sunda Islands and is famous for being home to the endemic Komodo dragon as well as to a number of incredible wildlife species, both on land and in the water.

This fascinating island falls within the Pacific Ring of Fire and is therefore of volcanic origins. Gazing at the giant brown and green volcanic mountains, emerging from where the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean meet, is an awesome and awe-inspiring experience of a lifetime.

How to get there

Traveling around  Komodo Island can be relatively easy, but to get to Komodo, you first need to travel to Bali and then to Labuan Bajo by either plane or boat, and finally to Komodo Island by boat.

By air

A couple of local airlines fly from Bali to Labuan Bajo on Flores Island. Labuan Bajo is the best and closest base point foreembarking to Komodo Island. Both Indonesian Air Transport (IAT) and Trans Nusa Airlines (TGN) offer daily flights to Labuan Bajo.

By water

Taking a ferry from Bali to Labuan Bajo may excite budget travelers to the area, but don’t get too excited just yet. Ferries serving this route usually take around 36 hours – though that does mean saving on accommodation for one night.

Another thing to be aware of is that the trip can be treacherous. It is a long, long journey through shallow and rocky waters. So, unless you’re an avid traveler, this is not a  recommended option. On a positive note, it is much cheaper than flying and it can all be part of the adventure.

It is also important to remember that these ferries leave Bali every two weeks for Komodo National Park, so make sure to plan your arrival to Bali well in time for your departure.

Read also: Important facts you need to know about Komodo dragons

From Labuan Bajo

The only way of getting to Komodo Island from Labuan Bajo is by boat, unless you can afford a helicopter. The boat ride usually takes around 2 hours.

Another option is to charter a boat in Labuan Bajo and have your own private cruise around Komodo Island. This is an ideal way of making sure you get to see exactly what you want, discover the archipelago and also have a chance to snorkel in the stunningly crystal clear waters surrounding the island. If you’re a scuba diver, you can go out on a dive boat and travel around Komodo.

Climate

Komodo's climate is most certainly tropical. During the rainy season from December to March, you’ll see between 79-100 centimeters (31-39 inches) of rainfall. The rest of the year is usually dry and arid. During the rainy season, the air temperature varies between 24-31 degrees Celsius. Throughout the dry months, the temperatures range from 25 to 34 degrees Celsius.

Water temperatures fluctuate between 27 to 30 degrees Celsius, providing the perfect environment for swimming, snorkeling and diving all year round.

Colorful starfish live in a seagrass meadow in Komodo National Park.Colorful starfish live in a seagrass meadow in Komodo National Park. (Shutterstock/File)

Best time to visit

Komodo Island is a tropical island that has two seasons, wet and dry.

December to March is rainy season. If you’re planning a trip during these months, it may be a good idea to check if certain boat/ferry companies are running, as some choose to close shop through these months.

April to June marks the end of the rainy season, when the plants flourish and the island comes alive with color. If you’re a diver and hoping to dive with whale sharks, then this is the time to visit. The weather during this period is a bit cooler, and you might experience a rainy day here and there.

July to August is high tourist season. The island is usually full of tourists and the weather is extremely hot.

September to November is usually the best time to travel to Komodo, as it still has fabulous weather, just fewer tourists. 

Read also: Five things to see in Labuan Bajo besides the Komodo dragon

Scuba diving

If you are a scuba diver, why wouldn’t you dive in one of the most beautiful dive locations in the world? Diving in the Komodo marine reserve is pretty much possible all year round. However, March through to October is the best time for optimum diving conditions.

The best season for diving with the majestic manta ray is during the rainy season from December to March. Be sure to do some research and contact dive companies if you’re planning a trip during that time, as some dive boats do not go out during rainy season.

Underwater visibility is at its best from November through January.

Pink Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Komodo National Park. Pink Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Komodo National Park. (JP/Markus Makur)

Liveaboards

If you’re an avid diver hoping to explore all that Komodo has to offer, why not hop on a liveaboard? Not only is this a great way to view the island from the water, you also get to visit some of the most beautiful dive sites in the world.

The well-known Arenui Dive Boat was built in 2007 and is a 43-meter luxury phinisi, a traditional Indonesian schooner. This liveaboard offers trips during the perfect diving seasons for Komodo and Raja Ampat – that is, the best diving conditions available.

The MS Wellenreng Dive Boat is another liveaboard option on a 22-meter phinisi that sails around thousands of Indonesia islands, including Komodo, Alor and Raja Ampat.

Snorkeling

Snorkeling around Komodo Island is as spectacular as you could imagine. With brightly colored coral and an incredible array of marine life, it should come as no surprise that nearly all of the dive companies offer snorkeling trips to this area. However, it is important to note that anyone going out snorkeling should be a strong swimmer, as conditions can change quite quickly.

Read also: Tourism to Komodo Island must be controlled: Official

There are a few options for snorkeling at Komodo Island: you can choose to snorkel as part of a group and select one of the many dive companies on the island, or you can choose to stay on a liveaboard and snorkel from there. Or you can charter a boat and sail around the island, picking the best spots to jump off the boat and snorkel with your friends and family.

If you do choose to go snorkeling with a dive company, make sure that they go to Pink Beach (see below), as this is where some of the best snorkeling can be had.

Popular areas

When visiting Komodo Island, there are a few sights that must be on your list.

Pink Beach

Komodo Island is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands in East Nusa Tenggara.Komodo Island is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands in East Nusa Tenggara. (Shutterstock/-)

Pink Beach is one of seven pink-sand beaches found throughout the world. If you’re traveling to Komodo, you simply must not miss one of the true natural wonders of the world.

Microscopic animals called Foraminifera produce the red pigment in coral. When the minuscule red coral fragments mix with the white sand, it forms a light pink color that gives the beach its name.

Komodo National Park

Komodo National Park is a must-see. It was founded in 1980 to protect the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, and in 1991, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in order to protect marine life and other local creatures. The park was also selected as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Make sure you do not miss this fascinating place.

Hiking

If you are an avid hiker, there are a couple of mountains on Komodo Island that you should not miss. These include All Satalibo and Regata Hill; both epic hikes that provide an amazing viewing point to look out over the island. They also make for fantastic photo opportunities.  

The island landscape is stunningly beautiful, so if you like to become one with nature, make sure you don’t miss these incredible hikes.

Read also: Foreign tourists dominate visitors to Komodo National Park

Wellness and yoga

If you’re looking for an experience like none other and want to combine yoga, wellness for your mind, body and soul, as well as adventure, why not opt for a yoga retreat to Komodo Island?

Book Yoga Retreats boasts perfect, tailor-made retreats to suit your every need. 

Where to stay

The majority of travelers visiting Komodo stay in Labuan Bajo on Flores. Accommodation varies dramatically in this area, ranging anywhere from hostels to hotels to luxury resorts.

The Sudamala Resort, for instance, has its very own island with bungalows that front the water and picturesque scenery.

Where to eat

As Labuan Bajo is an up-and-coming place, this small town may not be the best destination for foodies, but the prices are great.

With its recent growth and growing popularity as a tourist destination, Labuan Bajo has been facing increasing demands for food and accommodation. Several restaurants have opened up, providing deliciously fresh produce. Here are some of the top restaurants:

Cafe.In.Hit

This shop has the best coffee in town, so if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up, definitely drop by here for a cuppa.

Bajo Taco

This is your place to find great Mexican fare all the way in Labuan Bajo. Not only does Bajo Taco serve great food, it also offers a great view of the sunset from the beach.

Bajo Bakery

Serving the best cakes in town, Bajo Bakery is great for a little treat on your way to or from a dive trip or a day trip to Komodo. (kes)

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The editor-in-chief of divein.com, Torben Lonne has spent the last year-and-a-half traveling all over Indonesia to find the best dive spots. He believes the archipelago has so much to offer divers and travelers that have yet to be published in any guidebook.

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