When you decide to visit Flores you need to organize a komodo tour. In fact, 2 of them. In this article, we will explain what is the best komodo tour to see komodo dragons. It will include the famous pink beach, Komodo National Park and incredible views from Padar Island. You will see why we included Flores into our ultimate 2 week itinerary for Indonesia.
Apart from relaxing in Bali or on the Gili Islands, Flores is definitely worth a visit. If you want to see very unique animals, amazing landscapes or spend a few hours on a deserted island, you will need to go there.
WHERE CAN YOU TAKE A KOMODO TOUR?
You will need to fly to Labuan Bajo (pronounced Labuan Badzo) in the west of Flores. We flew from Bali and it was a 1-hour flight. The airline was called NamAir and it was only $90 return per person. Make sure to get a window seat. Flying over Indonesia is an amazing experience.
From the airport, it takes only 15 minutes to get to the city and we paid 50.000 RP for the taxi (3€). The “city” is very small. It has an industrial harbor, a few restaurants and hotels, a lot of dive shops, and tourist offices. It is a very basic tourist town. Plenty of options for you to book a komodo tour in order to get to the islands around the west coast of Flores.
KOMODO TOUR 1: EXPLORE RINCA ISLAND
The first tour we took was to Rinca Island, where you can see komodo dragons, with a stop on Kelor Island and Bidadari Island.
Have you ever heard of Komodo dragons? Well, there are only a few places where you can find them. And, Indonesia is the only country where they live.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR KOMODO TOUR
There are millions of tourist offices in Labuan Bajo. So you don’t have to worry about pre-booking a tour on the internet, it is usually more expensive anyway.
We booked our tour in the tourist information office (easily found on Google Maps). Lonely Planet gave them a good review so we thought it is a good idea to go there. And, it was a great idea. The service was outstanding and Emanuel, who organized everything for us, was incredibly helpful.
One of the best tours of all time. We decided to book a private boat as it gave us more flexibility. We choose to see Rinca Island first as many travelers have seen most of the dragons on Rinca Island. You are almost guaranteed to see some there.
Thinking of visiting another island in Indonesia? Then, you have to visit the Karimunjawa Islands. Check our guide and how to get there.
HOW MUCH DOES THE KOMODO TOUR TO RINCA ISLAND COST?
The private boat to Rinca cost us 1.5 mil RP (100€), including snorkeling gear, lunch box, and water. It is a 2 hours boat ride from Labuan Bajo. The tour included 2 more islands which we could pick on our own. But Emanuel advised us to see Kelor and Bidadari Islands. A very good choice.
FIRST STOP ON OUR TOUR: RINCA ISLAND
We got to our boat around 7 am and captain Jack (really) and his assistant Johannes were waiting for us with a big smile. We introduced ourselves and headed to our first stop: Rinca Island, to see the Komodo dragons. The boat is a typical Indonesian boat and it is a very, very loud one. The engine makes so much noise, that when we were on the beach or in the city, we really thought that helicopters are in the air.
Once you arrive in Rinca, you will walk to the place where they sell tickets and where you will need to take a local guide. You cannot walk on your own, as it is dangerous. Dragons can attack you, and that’s why your guide will have a stick to protect you.
HOW MUCH ARE THE TICKETS TO THE NATIONAL PARK?
It is difficult to say how much the tickets are, as prices seem to differ for each traveler. We paid 300.000 RP per person. This includes tickets to the park, 80.000 RP fee for the guide, fees for taking pictures, an additional fee to make videos and more. Overall, just lots of different fees. Luckily, there is no fee for breathing there.
We read some of the reviews and also met a few people and all of them paid different prices. What I really didn’t like about Indonesia is that there are very rarely prices displayed, and you never know how much things cost. It seems like that tourist officers can ask for any price, depending on their mood, or whatever price comes to their minds first. That was the same in grocery stores and practically everywhere else.
SEEING KOMODO DRAGONS
Captain Jack told us that we can spend 1.5 hours on Rinca Island. So, I didn’t want to spend our precious time arguing with the ticketing officer. Our guide armed with a wooden stick was very knowledgeable and explained to us everything about the komodo dragons. We walked a bit further from the ticket office and headed to the kitchen. And here they were 🙂 5 huge dragons lying on the ground.
They are attracted by the smell of the kitchen and that’s why they like to hang around there. They seemed a bit drowsy, but the guide explained that they are just pretending to sleep. Dragons are very patient animals and waiting for their victims to be distracted and then attack.
Very important: Do not walk away from your guide. You are really safe and he knows where to go and he is there to protect you. There were few people who walked away from their guides to take a selfie or picture and were attacked by dragons.
On this island, you will also see other animals like bulls and monkeys: Komodo dragons’ favorite dishes. After a detailed tour and seeing several dragons we had this beautiful view from Rinca Island.
SECOND STOP: KELOR ISLAND
After 45 minutes on the “helicopter boat” we arrived at our second stop. It was a very small and deserted island with a white sand beach and perfect turquoise waters, called: Kelor Island. As we had only around 1 hour, we wanted to climb up to the hill for the view. It is not very easy to climb up as it is steep and just a dirty, dusty path but we didn’t mind. The view was so amazing and it reminded us of the stunning Karimunjawa Islands. You can also snorkel here and enjoy the warm water of the Java Sea.
THIRD STOP: SECRET PINK BEACH BIDADARI ISLAND
Can you imagine that there is a secret pink beach? Yes it is and it is located at Bidadari Beach was the last stop on our komodo tour. After the first stops, we were so happy and overwhelmed that we were sure that it couldn’t get any better. But there it was, our last stop, a pink beach.
To be precise, a pink sand beach and barely tourists. It was definitely the cherry on top. You can see so many tropical fish, just 2 meters away from the shore. Snorkeling is truly amazing in Flores.
We do highly recommend to take this komodo tour, and especially to take a private boat. We enjoyed it a lot, the fact that we were alone, without waiting for others was really pleasant. Besides, to see dragons and the beautiful islands made our day unforgettable.
SEE MORE: HOW TO FIND SECRET PINK BEACH NEAR LABUAN BAJO?
KOMODO TOUR 2: VSIT FAMOUS PADAR ISLAND AND KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
Be Aware: There are news that Komodo National Park will be temporarily shut down for tourists. Allegedly over 40 Komodo Dragons were stolen and sold on the black market. We are not 100% sure as there are many conflicting stories. So please make sure to check that before you visit. However, even without the Komodo dragons there is plenty of other exciting places to see in Flores. (last edited: May 2019)
The second tour which is definitely worth to visit is to go to Komodo National Park with a stop at Padar Island and snorkeling with manta rays. We decided not to take a private boat and we paid 450.000 RP together for a full-day tour.
Padar island was our first stop and it takes 3 hours to get there. You will have around 1 hour to climb up to the viewpoint and come back to the boat. Padar Island is a very special island. Why? From the top of the island, you can see 3 beaches with differently colored sand: pink, white and black.
SECOND STOP: KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
Komodo National Park is one of the most famous parks to see komodo dragons. It has the same system as Rinca Island. That means you need to buy an entrance fee which varies from 250.000 to 350.000 RP and you need to have a guide to walk around the island. In 1991 the national park was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
THIRD STOP: SNORKELLING WITH MANTA RAYS
On the way back to Labuan Bajo we snorkeled with manta rays which was an unforgettable experience. Not to mention a beautiful sunset.
OUR TIP: If you are into scuba diving, then Flores is the perfect place for you. The Java Sea is full of great corals, manta rays and of course other tropical fish. You can do a discovery dive and also get your open water certificate. If you would like to get your open water certificate read HERE to find the perfect place to get certified.
You can also go for boat trip and spend a night on board a traditional Phinisi boat which is definitely something we would like to do next time we visit Flores. You can also have a look at this blog which describes sailing around Flores.
ABOUT KOMODO DRAGONS
Also known as Komodo monitor they are the largest species of lizards and can be found on the Indonesian islands: Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Padar and Gila Motang. They have been on the planet for over a million years and unfortunately face extinction today. However, the national parks are doing a great job of protecting them. Komodo dragons are also the heaviest lizards on Earth. They have long, flat heads with rounded snouts, scaly skin, bowed legs, and huge tails. They can grow up to 3 meters and weigh up to 80 kilos, male dragons even up to 100 kilos.
WHY KOMODO DRAGONS ARE DANGEROUS?
Their saliva with 50 strains of bacteria is very poisonous and a stricken animal usually dies off blood poisoning within 24 hours. Komodo dragons are truly the kings on the island and dominate their ecosystem. They literally will eat anything but only meat, so basically all types of invertebrates, birds, mammals, including huge buffaloes and, yes, humans. They can run up to 18 km per hour in very short bursts. So you really don’t want to mess with them 😀 We saw in total 7 Komodo dragons.
WHERE TO STAY IN LABUAN BAJO
STAY IN THE HOTEL “LE PIRATE“
We stayed in a cute hotel called Le Pirate which is right in the heart of the town, only 10 minutes away from the airport. They have super cute rooms, also a restaurant & bar, a rooftop sky bar with live music, an outdoor cinema and a plunge pool.
So if you fancy some pirate fun, then this is for you.
Check all the hotels in Labuan Bajo.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT FLORES?
The best time to visit Flores is during the dry season which starts in April and ends in September.
Enjoy your trip to Flores. We hope that you will see lots of dragons and enjoy the views.
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