Finding Komodo Dragons – One Day at Komodo National Park

by Jackie
Published: Updated:
Komodo National Park's Padar Island

How many days should you spend at Komodo National Park? Only one day! We’re here to share with you that a day trip at Komodo National Park, Indonesia is doable, affordable, and a must-visit in your Indonesia itinerary. Plus, Komodo is truly a picturesque place to visit!

Most of the Komodo National Park tours depart from Labuan Bajo, and head to Padar Island, Komodo Island, and Pink Beach (or Manta Point). Due to the harsh waves, our one day Komodo tour included hiking up Padar Island, hanging out with the famous Komodo dragons at Rinca Island, and snorkeling in the beautiful waters at Kelor Island.

Why didn’t we spend a longer time here? During our research, we read that we needed at least 3+ days to explore the park and also the neighboring islands of Flores. With our limited time in Indonesia, including 4 days in Bali, we only had a one day window for a quick visit to Komodo. Seeing the Komodo dragons has been on our bucket list for years as it’s one of the top adventures in Indonesia.

We know, there is a lot to do in this area especially diving on Komodo Island, snorkeling, and even cruising around Komodo on a wooden yacht. Yet, this guide will share with you how to enjoy the one day at Komodo National Park.

In this post, you’ll learn how to spend one day at Komodo National Park. Click on the hyperlinks below to jump to the various sections.

*Disclosure: We have affiliate links in this post. If you click on them and make a purchase, we receive a small commission. There is no extra cost to you.

What is Special About Komodo National Park?

Komodo National Park is located between the Sumbawa and Flores islands. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site as of 1991. It’s known to have Komodo dragons, the giant carnivorous lizards, living on the islands – Rinca Island, Komodo Island, and Padar Island. There are over 2,500 Komodo dragons living throughout the National Park.

The Komodo dragons are huge and can grow up to 3 meters (10 feet) in length. Since the Komodo dragons do not have any predators, they’re free to eat whatever is on the island, such as boars, water buffaloes, monkeys, and other Komodo dragons. Yes, they are cannibals! The younger dragons live on trees and eat insects until they are large enough to walk along the lands.

When you’re visiting the National Park, remember to stay at a far enough distance so you don’t look like lunch or dinner to the Komodo dragons. Or, stay behind the guides who have the Y-shape stick to guide the dragons in another direction. If you do get chased by one, go in a zig-zag way as the dragons use their tongue to determine the smell. They’re also pretty fast as they can run up to 20 kph (12.4 mph).

How To Get to Komodo National Park

From Ngurah Rai Domestic Airport in Denpasar, Bali to Komodo National Park is just a short airplane ride away. Labuan Bajo is the closest island to the National Park and the main hub for the Komodo Island tours. Flights leave Bali (airport code: DPS) to Labuan Bajo (airport code: LBJ) every day.

Travel Tip

It’s recommended to arrive in Labuan Bajo a day before your scheduled day trip and leave the morning after your trip. There aren’t any late evening flights available.

The airlines that head to Labuan Bajo are Garuda Indonesia, Wings Air, and Nam Air. It’s a short 1.5-hour flight one-way.

We used Garuda Indonesia due to flight availability. We almost missed out on this trip as Mount Agung in Bali erupted and the Bali airport shut down for 1.5 days. Our flight to Labuan Bajo was delayed by a full day. After talking with Garuda Indonesia and requesting to extend our travel days without any additional cost, we were on our way. The cost of the flight was $225 USD round trip per person, which is on the higher end compared to the lower-cost airlines of Wings Air and Nam Air.

If you’re coming to Labuan Bajo from other Indonesian cities such as Lombok and Jakarta or Singapore, check out these tips on how to get to Komodo Island.

Now that you’ve arrived in Labuan Bajo, head to the main port area at Jl. Soekarno Hatta to book a tour for the following day. In order to get to the Komodo National Park, you’ll depart from the port either in your speedboat or wooden boat.

Labuan Bajo Accommodations

Labuan Bajo is a small island and the majority of the action, including accommodations, takes place near the port. It’s a central location and within walking distance to various tour operators and restaurants. You have your choice of hostels, guesthouses, and hotels. Check out Labuan Bajo accommodations and reviews here.

If you stay outside of the main port area, it’s a 10-15 minute car ride to town. We stayed at Danke Lodge which was perfect for the short trip. Jimmy, the guesthouse owner, and his assistants were friendly and made our stay enjoyable. Room and bathroom were clean and a good size. One of the best features that they offered was a complimentary pick up to and from the airport and also to the main town. Plus, they had an on-site restaurant which we ate at for the first evening. Check out availability and reserve a room at Danke Lodge here.

Komodo National Park One Day Tour and Cost

There are many tour operators to choose from in Labuan Bajo. We did not pre-book a tour before landing here. During our research, previous visitors mentioned to not reserve tours in advance and to find an agency in the main town, along Jl. Soekarno Hatta, on the day of arrival and/or to bargain with the boat owners on the dock.

It was challenging to find tour information for one day on the Internet as most of the options were for 2+ days. For over 2 days, you get to sleep and receive meals on the boat. Check out the tour options below:

Tour Cost

We reached out to a few tour operators (ORA Dive, Top Komodo Tours, Komodo Mas Tours) via email that provided one-day Komodo tour information. The cost piqued my curiosity and was shocked to see the responses. The main route is from Padar Island – Komodo Island – Pink Beach (or Manta Point).

  • Wooden boat: Prices ranged from 3.5 million IDR ($230 USD) for two people and private tour. Wooden boats go a lot slower on the waters.
  • Speedboat: Prices ranged from to 9.5 million – 10.5 million ($640 – $710 USD) for two people and private tour. Speedboats can reduce your time on the water by an hour or two depending on the waves.

Considering that the typical price is 400,000 IDR – 450,000 IDR ($27- $30 USD) for one person on the wooden boat if booked at Labuan Bajo, it was a huge discrepancy! We paid 450,000 IDR per person for our tour via Harmoni Hostel and Tour Agency.

Heading to Komodo National Park on Wooden Boat

Wooden boat

About the Tour

The agenda is Padar Island, Komodo Island, Pink Beach, and Manta Point. Tours start from 5:30am to 6:00am and leave from the port. It includes water, breakfast, boxed lunch, and fins and snorkel gear. A travel guide is not included until you go to the Komodo National Park. Lunch is typically rice with chicken and vegetables. Vegetarian options are available if shared with the tour agency ahead of time. Vegetarian option is rice with egg, tempeh, and vegetables.

There will be at least 13-14 people on board – the captain, captain’s helper, and 10-12 other guests if sharing a wooden boat with others.

Due to the choppy waves in the morning, the captain changed the plans to visit Padar Island, Rinca Island, and Kelor Island. It was a bummer that we didn’t get to go to Komodo Island and Pink Beach, yet it’s about our safety first! (If you’re looking for another location for pink beaches in Indonesia, check out the South of Lombok.)

Padar Island

Padar Island is a must-see when visiting Komodo National Park. It provides a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding bays and different colored sandy beaches. How can you not fall in love with the mesmerizing turquoise water?! We can see why this place is splashed over Instagram and social media.

To see this view, you’ll need to hike up a small hill. This bucket list hike is about 1 mile (1.6 km) round trip and is steep as you get closer to the summit area. It took an hour since we took photos along the way. The area does get crowded, so hopefully, your boat leaves the port as early as possible to avoid the crowds and the heat!

We would have loved to stay longer on Padar Island (or even as a day trip itself) to explore the various beaches.

Komodo National Park's Padar Island summit to see the beautiful waters

Padar Island is a must-see at the Komodo National Park!

Travel Tips for Padar Island

  • Bring a hat, water, and sunscreen as there isn’t any shade along the course. At the bottom of the hill, there are a couple of sellers selling coconuts and drinks if you’re thirsty.
  • The route isn’t technical so a decent pair of walking shoes is enough. Do not attempt if wearing sandals or flip-flops unless you’re used to wearing these types of shoes for hikes.

Rinca Island

Now we’re off to Rinca Island. Rinca Island is closer to Labuan Bajo compared to Komodo Island so you’ll spend less time on the boat and more time with the dragons. One of the differences between Rinca Island and Komodo Island is that the Komodo dragons on Rinca look slightly different and are a little bit smaller. Komodo dragons are easier to spot on Rinca as well due to population density.

Komodo National Park's Rinca Island to see Komodo dragons

The Komodo dragon is huge!

All visitors must have a guide and pay an admission fee at the payment counter.

  • The Komodo National Park entrance fee is 225,000 IDR ($15 USD) + additional fees per person on Sundays and holidays. We paid 315,000 IDR ($21 USD) on a Sunday.
  • It’s cheaper on the weekdays at 150,000 IDR ($10 USD) + additional fees.

Entrance fee includes the general fee, snorkeling, guided tour, and other additional fees. Check out the admission prices here. Fees may vary depending on activity.

If you visit both Rinca and Komodo Island, you do not need to pay the same admission fee twice.

The guided tour has the choice of the short, medium, or long trek. We chose the medium route which lasted an hour. The tour went through the main village where many of the Komodo dragons hung out. Afterward, the tour went through the forest area and we took a mini hike up to the top of the hill to see the view of the waters. It’s recommended to wear closed-toe shoes, especially when hiking on the hill. Our guide was informative by sharing the history of the National Park and information about the Komodo dragons while keeping us safe.

Komodo dragon on Rinca Island

This is a young Komodo dragon, around 3 years old.

In total, we saw 8 to 10 dragons during the tour. This was awesome since we visited during mating season. On Komodo Island, you may be lucky to see 1 or 2 at this time so we were thrilled to see that many dragons! It’s such an amazing experience to see the Komodo dragons up close and to check off an item on our bucket list.

Kelor Island

It’s time for snorkeling and a great way to end the day! Indonesia has some of the best areas for snorkeling. Kelor Island is a small island that has a beach, blue waters, and a hill to go hiking.

The water was peaceful and warm with the corals and the colorful fish. We must have disturbed the fishes’ home as a few seemingly cute fish got aggressive and bit us on the leg a few times. We were pretty tired from snorkeling so we didn’t hike up the hill to see the views from the summit.

Snorkeling at Kelor Island, Indonesia

Beautiful fish family at Kelor Island

After our snorkeling session at Kelor Island, it was already 5:00pm and time to head back to Labuan Bajo. We returned our snorkeling gear and lunch containers, ate dinner in the main town (highly recommend: Warung Mama for affordable Indonesian food), and rested to leave the following morning. What an eventful day!

Budget for the Komodo National Park

Interested to know how much we spent? Here is a consolidated view of our budget for the trip. Depending on your choice of accommodations, prices may fluctuate. If you stay longer, have a private boat, and/or include diving excursions, then prices will be higher. Cost below is for one person as of July 2018.

  • Airfare – 3,330,000 IDR ($225 USD)
  • Hotel for 2 nights – 330,000 IDR ($22.50)
  • Dinner for 2 nights – 100,000 IDR ($7)
  • Komodo National Park Tour Fee – 450,000 IDR ($30)
  • Komodo National Park Ticket Fee – 315,000 IDR ($21)
  • Total budget: 4,495,000 IDR ($302.50)

Wow! We had a wonderful time during our one day at Komodo National Park from seeing the Komodo dragons, hiking, and also snorkeling. The day trip went by quickly. We accomplished a lot and would love to come back to visit Komodo Island and Pink Beach.

Definitely add this place to your travel itinerary if you’re visiting Indonesia. From what we’ve said before, you can visit Komodo National Park in one day! It’s worth the experience and to see the Komodo dragons!

Would you like to visit Komodo National Park in the future? What would you like to see and do here? Let us know in the comments below!

Like what you read? Pin this post to read again later!

At the summit of the hill of Padar Island, you'll see three beautiful turquoise lakes. Padar Island is one of the top places to visit in your Komodo Islands itinerary.

Pin #1 photo credit: Lloyd Evans via Scopio Photos

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Madhu September 15, 2018 - 7:24 pm

Wow, such stunning pics. I wanted to visit Komodo National Park when we went to Bali but didn’t have much information. Thanks for sharing the tips and will keep this in mind for the next visit.

Jackie September 17, 2018 - 10:12 am

Hi Madhu. We hope you can visit Komodo National Park on your return trip to Bali. It’s a stunning place even with our short one day adventure there.

Val September 16, 2018 - 12:29 am

The Komodo National Park is so cool! The beautiful blue water reminds me of places in BC Canada where I’m


Jackie September 17, 2018 - 10:11 am

Thanks Val for the kind words. You’ll love visiting Komodo National Park. The turquoise water is out of this world. Would love to see the waters in your area too!

Celia September 17, 2018 - 12:13 pm

What an incredible place with lots of outdoor activities to do. I think I’d have a heart attack if I was chased by one of the komodo dragons though! Haha. Beautiful photos also – especially of that view over Padar Island.

Jackie September 18, 2018 - 3:40 pm

Celia – You’ll love visiting Padar Island and Komodo National park! Luckily we didn’t get chased by a Komodo dragon. The big one was too focused on food getting cooked for lunch.

Bekah September 19, 2018 - 12:53 am

Komodo dragons were my favorite animal when I was a kid! They are so huge and scary but simply amazing. lol, that game show!

Jackie September 21, 2018 - 10:17 am

We have a fascination with Komodo dragons too. Can you imagine getting chased by one like on the game show? Definitely check them out on a future visit to Komodo National Park.

Riana Ang-Canning December 21, 2018 - 10:24 am

Wow! What a bucket list item. Would love to see komodo dragons one day. Thanks for this detailed guide!

Jackie December 21, 2018 - 11:57 am

You’re welcome, Riana. We would love to go back to spend more time in Komodo National Park.

Federica December 21, 2018 - 5:50 pm

Where you scared at Komodo park of the dragons? Have you seen them at a close distance?

Jackie December 21, 2018 - 8:32 pm

Federica – We weren’t scared of the Komodo dragons – more like in awe of them since they were HUGE! The guide ensured that we were a reasonable distance from them in case the dragons attacked.

Heather Wicksted December 22, 2018 - 12:12 am

Komodo Dragons are something that has always intrigued me… we have seen them in zoos but I would LOVE to see one or two up close and personal. I can’t get over how inexpensive your trip was… I knew Indonesia was an affordable destination but I figured that hanging out with the Komodo’s would cost a lot more. I have now lost the rest of my day to internet searching the following: flights to Indonesia from Canada, diving adventures in Indonesia, length of time to spend in the area, do I ever need to come home! Thanks for the inspiration!

Jackie December 27, 2018 - 3:08 am

Heather – Your comment made our day! We love your enthusiasm for the Komodo dragons and Indonesia. We’ve heard that diving in Indonesia and around the Komodo National Park is amazing. Can’t wait to hear about your future trip!

Namita December 22, 2018 - 1:59 am

I’ve been planning an Indonesia trip so this post comes in very handy and at the right time! And I love that very useful tip you provide about running in a zigzag manner if chased by a komodo dragon 🙂 Always good to know I suppose! The colour of the water as seen from Padar island is so inviting, I think I might go there to enjoy more of that. Thanks for the fun and informative post!

Jackie December 27, 2018 - 3:09 am

You’re welcome Namita. We love Indonesia and have plans to go back in 2019! The waters in Padar Island is stunning. We wish we had the opportunity to snorkel around Padar Island.

Elizabeth December 22, 2018 - 2:57 am

You have so many great adventures and I am enjoying reading more about them! It sounds like a really fun day. Part of me would like to go to Komodo National Park and part of me wants to stay as far away as possible, lol! The video you included is equal parts hilarious and scary! Kelor Island sounds a little more up my alley 🙂

Jackie December 27, 2018 - 3:11 am

Thanks Elizabeth! Go see the Komodo dragons! They are so cool to see in person.

Kathleen December 22, 2018 - 6:27 am

Your photos are so amazing. I love the blues of the water. Too bad you didn’t get to Komodo Island. Maybe you will go again. I didn’t know there was such a thing as Komodo National Park. How interesting, exciting and terrifying all at the same time. That video is so funny!

Jackie December 27, 2018 - 3:13 am

Kathleen – The video cracks me up every time I see it. If I was by myself, I’ll probably run away from the Komodo dragons as fast as I can. Luckily the guides protect us from any danger.

Jean December 22, 2018 - 10:38 am

Oh those choppy waves worry me. Still sounds like you had an epic adventure., even if you didn’t get to see the Pink beaches.

Jackie December 27, 2018 - 3:15 am

Jean – Luckily we didn’t get seasick from the choppy waters!

David December 22, 2018 - 6:34 pm

The panoramic view at Padar Island is fantastic! Komodo National Park is always somewhere that’s been on my must visit list. I don’t like the idea of getting chased by one but nice to know I have to run zig zagged if I do!

Jackie December 27, 2018 - 3:17 am

David – Hope you can go to Komodo National Park in 2019! It’s quite exciting to see the dragons in person.

Nicole Hunter December 24, 2018 - 5:46 am

We spent four days in Komodo National Park in March and absolutely loved it. Your photos brought back so many memories, all of them wonderful. I loved Padar Island and snorkelling in the waters all over the place. We swam with giant manta rays and will never forget that. We also hiked with the Komodo dragons on Rinca. I have to say that stressed me out a little bit – but so glad we did that!

Jackie December 27, 2018 - 3:21 am

WOW – Four days at Komodo National Park sounds amazing, especially with swimming with the manta rays. We need to do a return trip to see more of the park!

Komodo Tours August 23, 2020 - 5:49 am

Jackie, you summed it up so well. I am a tour guide on the local island and you know some things that I need to learn. I am researching to do a better job with my guests. Thank you very much for teaching me some new things I can share my local culture with so much. Thank you again.

Jackie August 23, 2020 - 6:44 pm

You’re welcome! Glad you learned a few things from our post. We would love to go back to Komodo National Park to see the Komodo dragons again.


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