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.
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 to 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).
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.
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.
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 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:
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.
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 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. The 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.
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.
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 for 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. Afterwards, 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 with sharing the history of the National Park and information about the Komodo dragons while keeping us safe.
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.
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.
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!
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Pin #1 photo credit: Taylan Alpan vua Scopio Photos
Pin #2 & #3 (top photo) photo credit: Anais Hubeaux via Scopio Photos