Complete travel guide to visiting Padar Island in Komodo National Park, Indonesia. Includes best ways to get to the island, what to expect, and tips for the Padar Island viewpoint hike.
There’s no doubt that you’ve already seen a photo of the iconic, Jurassic landscape atop Padar Island in Komodo National Park. In fact, if you type in “Komodo Island” in Google, it’s probably the image that will appear first.
In this guide, I’ll give you a complete rundown of how to visit Pulau Padar based on my own experience. I’ll also provide tips on the best ways to get there and what to expect once you arrive.
- Where is Padar Island?
- What to Expect When Visiting Padar Island
- The Padar Island Hike
- Photography and Drones
- Best Time to Visit Padar Island
- Are There Komodo Dragons on Padar Island?
- Komodo and Flores Trip From Lombok
- Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo
- More Flores & Komodo National Park Travel Guides
Where is Padar Island?
Padar Island is fairly remote and therefore will require some kind of organized boat trip to reach. By far, the easiest way to get to Padar Island is from Labuan Bajo in Flores. This is the starting point for visiting Komodo National Park in Indonesia.
This is especially true if you want to experience the Padar Island hike viewpoint for sunrise, which offers the best conditions (more info below)
Below I've detailed some of the most popular ways to reach Padar Island from Labuan Bajo, as well as how I got here. To get to Labuan Bajo, you can find cheap flights on Skyscanner from Bali or other destinations in Indonesia, as well as some international routes.
How to Get to Padar Island from Labuan Bajo
For those already in Labuan Bajo, Flores, you have the option of booking a one-day boat trip or a 2-day liveaboard boat trip departing from the main harbor. Unfortunately, there are no public boats going to Padar Island, so booking an island-hopping tour like this is going to be your best bet.
The great thing about booking a one-day trip is that you'll get to the other top highlights in Komodo National Park including Pink Beach and a trip to Komodo Island to see the dragons.
Tips for Booking a Day Trip to Padar Island
There are several of these island hopping tours available in Labuan Bajo. To save money, it's recommended to try to organize these trips with other travelers. Depending on which tour you book, you'll get a fast (1.5 hours) or slow (3 hours) boat. Faster boats are generally better since you'll get to spend more time on the islands.
Trip prices vary greatly depending on the season and demand. If you want to get the most value for time and money in Komodo, I recommend checking out this amazing 3-day liveaboard, which will give you the most comprehensive tour of Komodo National park.
Most day trips stop at other Komodo National Park highlights like Pink Beach, Manta Point, Komodo Island, and Rinca Island, so if you're planning to visit these anyway, you'll save money by going on the same day.
Fees for Visiting Komodo National Park
Since Padar Island is located within Komodo National Park, you will need to pay the National Park fee. The various fees in the Komodo National Park can really add up, especially if you plan on spending a couple of days exploring the area. Visiting Padar Island costs 150,000 Rupiah, which is the day rate for the National Park entry.
Update 2023: There was talks for a long time about a price increase for the Komodo National Park fee of 3.75 million IDR. However, this was scrapped in late December 2022, with the 150,000 IDR National Park fee still valid as of 2023.
Scuba Diving Liveaboard to Padar Island
It's no secret that the Komodo National Park is a diving hotspot. If you're a diver considering a liveaboard, I found that most will include a stop to do the Padar Island hike on their itinerary.
There are a plethora of Dive shops offering liveaboards from anywhere in the duration of 2 to 14-day trips.
Unfortunately, I can't comment or recommend a liveaboard, since I didn't go on one. However, I can recommend iDive Komodo based on their day dives. They have an excellent fleet of boats, professional staff, great food, and best of all, they're local. This means your money is going back into Flores and not overseas to German or Swedish bank accounts.
What to Expect When Visiting Padar Island
The majority of boat trips heading to Palau Padar visit early in the morning for the amazing Padar Island viewpoint hike.
This is the biggest attraction of the island, since it is no longer home to Komodo Dragons like its neighbors Komodo Island and Rinca.
However, that doesn't mean that there's not more to enjoy! The beaches on Padar are absolutely amazing, ranging from pure white to pink sand beaches. That said, the main beach when you arrive on the island is often quite crowded with boats, so its best to explore the opposite coast for snorkeling and swimming.
The Padar Island Hike
While the track up was once a sandy, weathered trail, the Komodo National Park authorities have now built a wooden pathway making the start of the hike much easier. This first section climbs steeply, but is manageable for anybody with a general level of fitness. Next, you'll enjoy a fairly steep ascent to several grassy viewpoint hills where you can catch varying perspectives of the incredible island.
If you've got a camera, or even if you possess a slight interest in landscape photography, then the Padar Island hike will certainly be your type of adventure. I'm not one to usually talk up a viewpoint that's already been photographed millions of times, but this place was so breathtaking that it's hard not to rant.
Maybe it's better to let the pictures do the talking.
Padar Island Hike Height
The highest point at the Padar Island viewpoint is approximately 185 meters above sea level. The path is fairly steep but doesn't require any
How Difficult is the Viewpoint Hike?
Yeah, yeah, but how long is the Padar Island hike? Don't worry, the hike really isn't difficult, and anybody with general fitness shouldn't have a problem. To reach the summit from the beach, it shouldn't take much longer than 20 minutes.
Photography and Drones
There are plenty of opportunities to capture breathtaking photos both during the Padar Island hike and at the summit. If you have a wide lens and you'd like to avoid selfy-stick-wielding tourists in your shots, then I'd suggest grabbing a few shots at the halfway mark or on the first grassy hill below the summit.
Can I Fly My Drone?
Legally, the Komodo National Park restricts the flying of drones without a permit in the entire park, including Padar Island.
That being said, you'd be hard-pressed to visit Padar Island for sunrise without hearing at least a few drones launching.
Best Time to Visit Padar Island
The best time to visit Padar Island and the Komodo National Park is in the Dry Season, between April and November. These months see less rain, with hot but tolerable temperatures.
The busiest time of year is July and August and therefore a great option is to visit Padar Island in the shoulders seasons of April to June and October to November.
During the Wet Season and the first months of the Dry Season, the view from the Padar Island hike is a refreshing shade of green. The later on in the year it gets, the Padar landscape dries to an almost orange color, which in my opinion is still a spectacular contrast with the blue ocean below.
Are There Komodo Dragons on Padar Island?
While Padar Island used to be home to Komodo Dragons, it's no longer the case. The combination of a lack of food and hunting drove the dragons away from Padar several decades ago.
So, you won't need to keep an eye out for any Komodo Dragons on the Padar Island hike. Instead, you'll find Komodo Dragons on the neighboring islands including Komodo Island, Rinca, Gili Montang and Gili Dasami.
Komodo and Flores Trip From Lombok
In my opinion, one of the best ways to reach Padar Island and to explore the other gems in the Komodo National Park is to take a 4-Day and 3-Night boat trip from Lombok. This is only convenient if you're already in Lombok, but is excellent value for money, and one of my favorite tours in Indonesia.
This boat trip stopped at Padar, Rinca Island, Komodo Island, Pink Beach, and Long Beach, as well as some other snorkeling and island waterfall stops along the way.
Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo
There are plenty of great accommodation options in Labuan Bajo. A good tip is to pick a place close to the port, especially if you're planning on taking some boat trips out to Komodo National Park. Below are the three top picks for various budgets.
- AYANA Komodo Waecicu Beach - If you want luxury go no further than Ayana. This 5-star resort has everything from a fitness center, a private dock, and a kids club. It boasts 6 on-site restaurants which serve a range of delicious cuisines.
- Le Pirate Island - Experience Island life on the incredible Le Pirate Island just a short distance from Labuan Bajo. With glamping tents and incredible ocean views, this is one that shouldn’t be missed.
- Seaesta Komodo Hostel & Hotel - Top PickThe best choice for backpackers wanting to watch the sunset whilst sipping a cocktail in the infinity pool. It has everything you would need for a great price.
More Flores & Komodo National Park Travel Guides
I hope that this comprehensive guide to visiting Padar Island has answered all of your questions and made your trip planning a little easier. While you're here, make sure to check out some of my other related posts below for more inspiration!