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.
- First, Where do Komodo Dragons Live?
- How to Get to Komodo & Rinca Islands from Labuan Bajo
- Rinca and Komodo Island National Park and Entry Fees
- What to Expect Visiting Komodo National Park
- Visiting Komodo Island
- Rinca Island Vs Komodo Island
- What About Padar Island?
- Komodo Dragon Facts
- Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo
- More Flores & Indonesia Travel & Adventure Guides
First, 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.
Where to See Komodo Dragons in Indonesia
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 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.
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
Alternative: 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 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
- 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
Rinca and Komodo Island National Park and Entry Fees
The fees for visiting Komodo National Park in 2023 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.
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.
Although there has been an increase on weekends, this is much more affordable than the controversial plan to raise the fee to 3.75 million IDR, which was canceled in January 2023.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
Related:4 Day Komodo Boat Trip from Lombok
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.
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.
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.
As you're probably already aware now, Komodo Dragons are very dangerous. They have been responsible for several human deaths and injuries.
Komodo Dragons typically eat large game such as deer, water buffalo, and carrion.
A Komodo Dragon's maximum speed over land is 20 KM/hr
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 Geographic's website.
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 Pick 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!