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Rinca & Komodo Islands in Komodo National Park: Travel Guide

Rinca & Komodo Islands in Komodo National Park: Travel Guide

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

A useful and up-to-date travel guide to visiting Komodo Island and Rinca Island in Flores, Indonesia.

Rinca and Komodo Island in Flores are two of the main options for seeing wild Komodo Dragons in Indonesia. Both islands are located within the Komodo National Park, a biodiversity hotspot for both marine and land animals near Flores.

Seeing the incredible Komodo Dragons in the wild is a top item on many people’s bucket lists. This travel guide aims to help those planning a trip to Rinca and Komodo Island and to give tips and insights into how to get here, what to expect, and photos to inspire your visit.

Things to Know About Komodo National Park

  • Komodo Dragons only reside on five islands in the Flores Sea, including Flores, Gili Montang, Gili Dasami, Rinca, and Komodo Island. The most common places to spot them are on Rinca and Komodo Island on a day tour, overnight boat trip, or liveaboard.
  • Both Rinca and Komodo Islands offer almost guaranteed sightings of Komodo Dragons through ranger-guided tours.
  • Labuan Bajo in Flores is the primary gateway for visiting Komodo and Rinca Islands with many trips departing from there daily. You can also visit via the famous 4-day Komodo Boat Trip from Lombok (more info below).
  • Entrance fees to Komodo National Park change all the time. Currently, you'll pay 150,000 IDR on weekdays and 225,000 IDR on weekends.
  • Rinca Island is closer to Labuan Bajo and offers a more rugged experience, while Komodo Island is known for a larger dragon population.
  • Padar Island, popular for its stunning viewpoints, does not house Komodo Dragons but was a highlight of the park for me, especially for the sunrise hike to the summit.

Getting to Labuan Bajo – You can grab a cheap domestic flight to Labuan Bajo (also known as Komodo airport – LBJ) with daily connecting flights to Denpasar in Bali for $50-$80.

Juvenile komodo dragon in komodo national park

Where do Komodo Dragons Live?

One of the most commonly asked questions about Komodo Dragons is where they live, and where to see them. The answer is that Komodo Dragons only live on five islands in the Flores Sea in southeastern Indonesia including Flores, Gili Montang, Gili Dasami, Rinca, and Komodo Island.

Although their populations were once more widespread in the region, a combination of hunting and lack of food has made Komodo Dragons extinct on the other smaller islands such as Padar Island.

Based on my experience traveling through Indonesia, I recommend tourists to visit Rinca and Komodo Island for the best opportunity to spot wild Komodo Dragons.

To better protect the dragons, both of these islands have established strict environmental and ecological restrictions as part of the Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On both Rinca and Komodo Islands, there are professional ranger guides who are employed to guide tourists around the islands in search of dragons. If you visit these islands, I was told that you're almost guaranteed a sighting.

Wild komodo dragon in rinca island
Komodo dragon in komodo national park

How to Get to Komodo & Rinca Islands from Labuan Bajo

Due to the distances involved, and the amount of attractions to see, most tourists who plan to visit both Komodo Island and Rinca Island book the top-reviewed 2-day boat trip from Labuan Bajo as we did.

This is a very comfortable trip and the most immersive way to experience the incredible Komodo National Park.

However, travelers short on time, or those who would prefer to see the Komodo Dragons on a day trip can also book the very popular Komodo National Park day trip. This is an island-hopping boat tour running daily and stops at the best attractions and beautiful nearby, including:

  • Komodo Island - to see the famous Komodo Dragons
  • Pink Beach - for snorkeling & swimming
  • Padar Island - for an epic viewpoint hike
  • Manta point - for a chance to swim & snorkel with Mantas
Komodo islands boat trip from lombok, lombok to flores with wanua adventures

Alternative: 3-Day 2-Night Komodo National Park Tour to Rinca and Komodo Island

It's true, Komodo National Park isn't the most budget-friendly place in Indonesia. Since there aren't really any public ferries to most of the islands, you'll always have to book island hopping tours.

However, if you're already in Labuan Bajo, then arguably one of the best value-for-money options is to take an organized liveaboard island hopping trip over 3 days instead of the typical overnight journey.

This includes:

  • Accommodation pick up from Labuan Bajo
  • AC Accommodation onboard the boat
  • All meals
  • Snorkeling equipment
  • Snacks
  • Rinca and Komodo Island Komodo Spotting
  • Padar Island hike
  • Pink Beach Komodo
  • Manta Point snorkeling
  • Gili Lawa Sunset Viewpoint
  • Long Beach
  • Kanawa Island
  • Siaba Island
Padar island hike viewpoint, komodo national park, flores

Rinca and Komodo Island National Park and Entry Fees

The fees for visiting Komodo National Park in 2024 is 150,000 IDR per person on weekdays and 225,000 on weekends. The ticket includes all the popular islands inside the Komodo National Park including Padar, Rinca, and Komodo Island.

When we visited the park for the first time in 2019, these fees were considerably lower. There are also additional fees that have been established in 2023. These are as below:

ActivityEntrance Fee (IDR)
Soft Trek400,000 per person
Medium Trek425,000 per person
Long Trek450,000 per person
South Padar Island400,000 per person
Bird Watching750,000 per person
Sport Fishing800,000 per person
Film Shooting750,000 per person
Photography550,000 per person

Most of the boat trips will ask for this payment on top of their fees. You should also know that if you want to see Komodo Islands, then you need to pay a ranger fee, which is 80,000 IDR per group.

Update on the proposed fee increases: Although there has been an increase on weekends in 2024, this is much more affordable than the controversial plan to raise the fee to 3.75 million IDR, which was canceled in January 2023.

Pink beach komodo national park, flores

What to Expect Visiting Komodo National Park

Interested in knowing what it's like to visit the natural wonders of Komodo? Below I've detailed my experience with photos and some useful information for your trip.

Visiting Rinca Island

Rinca Island, pronounced "rin-cha" and also known as Rincah and Rindja, is a large, mostly grassy island beside Komodo Island. While people live on Rinca Island, life can be quite difficult due to a lack of infrastructure and education.

Rinca Island is also home to over 1,000 wild Komodo Dragons, which can often be found relaxing underneath the homes and warungs in the village.

Komodo dragon at rinca island
Komodo Dragon resting at a local warung in Rinca Village

Where is Rinca Island?

Rinca Island is the closest Komodo Dragon Island to Flores and the main fishing and tourism port of Labuan Bajo. Although the main dock where you'll arrive is much further to the west, the northeastern tip stretches out so far that the island's mass is technically only 300 meters from Flores.

Map showing the location of rinca island in komodo national park
Rinca Island map beside Padar island and Flores

What to do on Rinca Island

By far, the most popular thing to do on Rinca Island is to take a guided Komodo Dragon spotting tour by a professional ranger.

The ranger will point out wild Komodos and will show you the nearby Komodo Dragon nest on the hike to the nearby hill.

While it is possible to walk around yourself, it's important to remember that the rangers rely on tourism income, it's only 80,000 Rupiah for a group, which should hardly make a dent if you share the cost. Furthermore, there have been Komodo attacks on tourists in the past.

Rinca island viewpoint hike
Sunset Viewpoint on Rinca Island
Rinca island landscapes

Visiting Komodo Island

Komodo Island is the largest Komodo Dragon island in Indonesia and also the most famous. It's also home to the most Komodo Dragons, with a total number of nearly 1,500. Like Rinca Island, people live on Komodo Island and largely rely on tourism as an income.

Komodo dragon in komodo national park, indonesia

Where is Komodo Island?

Komodo Island is located west of Padar and Rinca Island. It is the furthest Komodo National Park island away from Flores and Labuan Bajo.

Map showing the location of komodo island in komodo national park

Do the Komodo Restaurants Feed the Komodo Dragons?

I've already covered this in another blog post, however, I feel like it would be relevant here too.

It’s true that the Komodo dragons were being fed up until 2009. However, this was stopped with the introduction of a new conservation law. The introduction of this law is strictly enforced by the national parks, which is responsible for protecting the dragons.

It’s important to remember that Komodo dragons are large reptiles, and therefore need to minimize movement throughout the day to conserve energy. They are drawn to the restaurant by the smell of food. However, dragons only actually eat once a month, therefore you’ll just find them lazing around rather than hunting most of the time.

The Komodo dragons need to rely on their natural hunting behaviors in order to get food on Komodo Island.

Close up of a komodo dragon

Rinca Island Vs Komodo Island

Everybody loves a good showdown. But honestly, by now you're probably trying to weigh up which Komodo Dragon island in Indonesia you want to visit.

Truth be told, the Komodo dragons at both Rinca and Komodo Island look exactly the same and you're almost guaranteed to see them at both destinations. Furthermore, the islands are very similar in terms of landscape and things to do. The only real difference is that Rinca Island is located closer to Labuan Bajo than Komodo Island.

Still, since you'll most likely be booking an island trip that visits Rinca or Komodo Island anyway, this doesn't really matter.

Rinca island sunset viewpoint
Wild komodo dragon in komodo national park
Juvenile Komodo Dragon

What About Padar Island?

Padar Island is the other popular location to visit in Komodo National Park. However, as breifly mentioned above, there are no Komodo Dragons here.

Instead, this island is popular to visit for a sunrise or sunset hike to the viewpoint, which is one of the most stunning locations in Indonesia.

We visited Padar Island on the way to Komodo from Lombok on the epic 4-day boat trip. This is one of my favorite experiences in Indonesia over the years and I highly recommend it!

Padar island hike viewpoint, komodo national park, flores

Komodo Dragon Facts

Most of you guys are probably reading this because you're curious about the Komodo Dragons. So, after a bit of research and speaking to several park rangers, here's a summary of my limited knowledge on the subject.

Are Komodo Dragons Venomous?

The saliva of Komodo Dragons contains highly septic bacteria as well as venomous proteins that infect bitten prey. Komodos often hunt by biting a wild deer and waiting for it to slowly die before eating it.

Are Komodo Dragons Dangerous?

As you're probably already aware now, Komodo Dragons are very dangerous. They have been responsible for several human deaths and injuries.

What do Komodo Dragons Eat?

Komodo Dragons typically eat large game such as deer, water buffalo, and carrion.

Komodo Dragons Speed

A Komodo Dragon's maximum speed over land is 20 km/hr

Are Komodo Dragons Endangered?

Komodo Dragons are not officially endangered but are listed as vulnerable The World Animal Foundation estimates that there are only 6,000 Komodos left in the wild.

Wild komodo dragon on komodo island

Komodo Dragon Facts

We learned many facts from our local wildlife guides when exploring the islands. Here's what we learned.

  • Komodo Dragons can swim, however, spend most of their time hunting and basking on land.
  • There have been several Komodo attacks on humans recorded.
  • Those unfortunate enough to be bitten by a Komodo Dragon will require a strong course of antibiotics to prevent infection spreading
  • A typical adult male Komodo Dragon weighs between 79-91 kilograms. However, the biggest ever recorded was 3.3 meters long and 166 kilograms
  • Komodo Dragons can eat 80% of their weight in one sitting

You can read more facts and information about Komodo Dragons on National Geographic's website.

Komodo dragon claw in komodo national park, indonesia
Wild deer on komodo island, komodo national park

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 bedroom with ocean views

1. AYANA Komodo Waecicu Beach Luxury

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 cuisines.

Le pirate island adult only tent accommodation

2. Le Pirate Island Unique-Stay

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

3. Seaesta Komodo Hostel & Hotel Budget

The 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 & Indonesia Travel & Adventure Guides

I hope you've enjoyed this comprehensive travel guide to visiting Komodo National Park, namely Komodo Island and Rinca Island to see the famous Komodo Dragons.

For more useful and inspiring travel guides, take a pick from the list below! If you're planning to visit Labuan Bajo, make sure to check out this secret sunset spot, and the famous Batu Cermin Cave.

Rinca and komodo island: komodo dragon island in indonesia - travel guide
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

Komodo Tours

Saturday 2nd of October 2021

Olly, this is some great information. I am happy I found it. I am a local in Flores and we give tours to tourists now. If you come back please look us up and we would love to show you places you may have missed.

Olly Gaspar

Monday 4th of November 2019

Hey, any specific questions you have?

Jane Goodall

Friday 1st of November 2019

They have two penises too!! Aaand fight to the death!! ?‍? That's insane all of the park fees vs the boat trip!

Olly Gaspar

Friday 1st of November 2019

Haha forgot those two!