Rinca and Komodo Island in Flores are two of the main options for visiting a Komodo Dragon Island in Indonesia. Both islands are located within the Komodo National Park, a biodiversity hotspot for both marine and land animals.
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 these incredible jewels of Indonesia.
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. The Komodo Dragon Island list includes 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.
Where to See Komodo Dragons
For tourists, the best place to see Komodo Dragons is on Rinca and Komodo Island. 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 Island, there are professional ranger guides who are employed to guide tourists around the islands in search of the dragons. If you visit these islands, I was told that you’re almost guaranteed a sighting.
Rinca and Komodo Island National Park and Entry Fees
The fees for Rinca and Komodo National Park is 150 000 Rupiah, which is valid for 24 hours. The ticket includes other popular islands inside the Komodo National Park including Padar, Rinca and Komodo Island.
As well as the entry fee, you’ll need to pay additional surcharges for certain activities. Being a Komodo Dragon Island in Indonesia, the most popular activity is, of course, spotting dragons. There is a ranger guide fee of 80 000 Rupiah, which is payable per group, so it’s best if you share the cost.
|Komodo National Park Entrance Ticket||150 000 Rupiah per person|
|Komodo National Park Entrance Ticket (Sundays and Public Holidays)||255 000 Rupiah per person|
|Retribution for recreation and sports:||100 000 Rupiah per person|
|Ranger fee Rinca:||80 000 Rupiah per group up to 5 people|
|Ranger fee Komodo:||80 000 Rupiah per group up to 5 people|
|Hiking fee Rinca:||5 000 Rupiah per person|
|Hiking fee Komodo:||5 000 Rupiah per person|
|Canoeing fee:||25 000 Rupiah per person|
|Diving fee:||50 000 Rupiah per person|
|Snorkeling fee:||50 000 Rupiah per person|
|Boat Parking fee Rinca:||100 000 Rupiah per boat|
|Boat Parking fee Kanawa:||100 000 Rupiah per boat|
Organized 3-Day 2-Night Komodo National Park Tour to Rinca and Komodo Island
It’s true, the Komodo National Park isn’t the most budget-friendly place in the world. Since there aren’t really any public ferries to most of the islands, you’ll have to book island hopping tours.
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. Don’t worry, these aren’t the typical hand-held “tour”. They’re mostly just a great way to get to each destination.
While it’s possible to book a trip on the main strip in Labuan Bajo, you can save time and money by booking this high-value and well-reviewed boat tour online for under $100 per day. This includes:
- Accommodation pick up from Labuan Bajo
- AC Accommodation onboard the boat
- All meals
- Snorkeling equipment
- 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
* Like most trips, this doesn’t include the Komodo National Park Entry Fees.
If you wanted to make the most of your time in Komodo, you could also stay in Labuan Bajo and take separate island-hopping trips. However, I found that this is typically more expensive than just booking a 3-day liveaboard trip. Regardless, I’ve detailed how to get to both Rinca and Komodo Island separately below.
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. You can compare cheap flights to Komodo airport on Skyscanner here.
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 1000 wild Komodo Dragons, which can often be found relaxing underneath the homes and warungs in the 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.
How to Get to Rinca Island
Again, getting to Rinca Island will require you to jump on a 1-day tour from Labuan Bajo. Below I’ve detailed one of the best-reviewed options.
Day Trip to Rinca Island from Labuan Bajo
This 1-Day speedboat and island hopping trip goes to Rinca and includes:
- Accommodation pick up from Labuan Bajo
- Rinca Island Komodo Trekking (ranger guide included)
- Kelor Island hike
- Majerite Island Snorkeling
- Kalong Island sunset
* This tour also doesn’t include the Komodo National Park Entry Fee, which will be charged in addition to the tour.
COMPARE ALL RINCA AND KOMODO ISLAND BOAT PRICES HERE
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, besides 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.
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 1500. Like Rinca Island, people live on Komodo Island and largely rely on tourism as an income.
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.
How to Get to Komodo Island
I’m sure you know the story by now. If you want to get to Komodo Island, you’ll need to book an organized island boat trip from Labuan Bajo.
The cheapest, most popular and highest-ranking tour is with Bintang Tours. Unfortunately, many of the destinations on most Komodo Island trips overlap with the tours visiting Rinca Island. Therefore, it might be better to choose one or hop on a 3-day boat trip instead.
Do the Komodo Restaurants Feed the Komodo Dragons? Updated Info 2019
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, who are 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.
Budget Alternative For Travelers in Lombok
By far, the highest value-for-money boat trip around the Komodo National park is with a company called Wanua Adventure. They organize trips from Lombok to Labuan Bajo and reverse over 4-days and 3 nights for only 2.3 Million Rupiah per person.
This is insane value, considering they stop at loads of the Komodo National Park highlights including:
- Komodo Island
- Rinca Island
- Pink Beach
- Long Beach
- Padar Island
- Kelor Island
Best of all, the price includes accommodation, all meals, all National Park fees, and all transport costs. I’ve written a detailed blog article about this trip here. Of course, you’ll need to either be in Lombok or be opening to going there after, since it’s a one-way trip.
Rinca Island Vs Komodo Island
Everybody loves a good show-down. 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.
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 the 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 infects 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 of 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.
- 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 Geographics website.