Komodo National Park was high up on the bucket list when we arrived in Bali for our 3 month stay & boy was it worth it!! It was an incredible 4 days of wildlife encounters & unbelievable landscapes. Best part about it is that visiting Komodo National Park is only a hop, skip and a jump from the nearby, popular island of Bali. Have 3 or 4 days up your sleeve? Take the short flight, book a boat and live this epic adventure…you won’t regret it!!
TO GIVE YOU A LITTLE PRE-TRAVEL INFO:
- The closest airport to Komodo National Park is actually just outside the National Park itself, in a town called Labaun Bajo on Flores Island. This is where everyone comes in and out of while visiting. The flight takes 1 hour from the Bali International Airport.
- The NP is made up of 29 islands. 3 larger and 26 smaller.
- Yes the Komodo National Park is home to the rare and GIGANTIC Komodo Dragon (the largest living lizard). The Komodo dragons live 100% wildly on 5 of the islands.
- The Komodo dragon is most definitely not the only wildlife to be found in the NP (you’ll learn more about this below)
- It is a totally affordable, safe and breathtaking few days visiting the NP, but some of the itinerary planning can get confusing, so read on below and hopefully I’ll answer some of your questions!
You have 2 choices here team:
1. Stay in Labaun Bajo and take daily boat excursions to the islands & spots you wish to visit. You can book these anywhere in Labaun Bajo, every second shop offers day trips to the most popular areas of the National Park.
2. Get on the boat life buzz and spend 2 nights / 3 days on the ocean, travelling to all the best spots on an organised boat trip.
In our opinion, option 2 is definitely the way to go! We did this and loved it! We didn’t have to lift a finger, all food was included, the activities were organised and the whole experience was carefree. Plus we got to travel with 14 other people + 6 crew who made the trip that much better.
Because we didn’t want our Komodo trip to feel too rushed, we decided to stay 2 nights on land in Labuan Bajo first. This gave us a chance to explore the town, witness a few incredible sunsets and give us taste for the local way of life here.
Accomodation in Labaun Bajo
Look no further than Selini On The Hill. An absolutely enchanting bunch of huts, perched atop a hill with views across the ocean, neighbouring islands and town below. The bohemian style vibe and lush interiors really made this accomodation a dream, plus for only $74nzd per night it’s a no brainer really. The two nights spent here were slow paced & a little romantic 😍
WHAT BOAT COMPANY TO BOOK WITH?
We booked a few weeks in advance through the website BaliLivin. At first I wasn’t sure how legit things were, you text a WhatsApp number to confirm your booking, pay via PayPal before any instructions are sent through, then get put into a Whatsapp group with other people on your trip to await further information. The Indonesian way of life, so chill but it works out perfectly and the company was epic! On the cheaper side of things, we paid around $240nzd each for our 2 night, 3 day trip.
BaliLivin is the company that organises the tourists, the actual boat company we went with was AnjaniTrip. If you’re more comfortable booking directly with the liveaboard company then totally go for it. As mentioned, the boat housed 14 people, all food was included (expect lots of Mie Goreng and other EPIC Indonesian food), the rooms have AC (you will be so thankful for this!) & everything you need to survive life at sea is supplied, including snorkelling set, mineral water, tea & coffee and camera gear for you to get all the best pics (think drone, GoPro, DSLR camera).
7 THINGS TO EXPECT WHILE VISITING THE KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
There are definitely more than 7 things to experience on your 2 night / 3 day excursion, but I thought I would chat through the most life changing so off we go…
1. Seeing the Komodo dragon on Rinca island
This was of course, a highlight of the trip. Day one on board, we headed to Rinca Island in search of the Komodo Dragon. I was genuinely nervous, Bryn not so much, but it definitely didnt feel like a walk through the park knowing the 2000 wild Komodo’s we’re out there.
Fun (or scary) facts about the Komodo Dragon:
- Their saliva is toxic. One bite and you’ll be lucky to survive. The toxins slowly kill you over the course of a few days, the Komodo stalks you until you’re dead then boom. Eats ya
- They can smell blood, no joke ladies, make sure you’re not on your period!
- The pregnant mothers dig an L shaped, 2m deep nest to lay their eggs. WHY? When the eggs hatch, the mothers go against all motherly instincts we’ve come to know and feast on their babes. WTF RIGHT?! The survivors who can climb their way out of the mothers death trap, scuttle up nearby trees where they live for 4 years before venturing back down.
- The Komodo Dragon can grow up to 5m long
- The park rangers claim the Komodo Dragons on the island are 100% wild. And I think this is true to an extent, but it seemed awfully orchestrated that 6 large Komodos happened to be resting just off the main tourist trail for everyone to see.
2. Sunrise hike up Padar Island
Seeing the magical viewpoint on instagram, I was super excited to experience it for myself. Up at 4:30am, our boat was literally the first to drop us at Padar Island. A walkway & your trusty phone light leads the way as you wander up in total darkness. This alone was an exciting experience. The walk to the peak is a short 20 minutes, so take is slow and enjoy the way the surroundings change colour as the sun starts to rise. We actually watched the sunrise from a lower point which had breathtaking views and no other tourists. Everyone rushes to the top, so our advice is to wander off track a little, find somewhere quiet and watch the magic happen.
3. Swimming in the clearest waters you’ve ever seen
Without a doubt, the waters of Komodo National Park are some of the clearest we’ve ever seen. During your sail, you’ll have plenty of time to swim, snorkel and enjoy this crystal clear big blue. We took a few epic photos on our GoPro Dome which yes was a total prick to use, but the shots are so epic!
4. A purple sunset with a crazy ass batt phenomenon at Kalong Island
Not really sure what to expect here. The crew parked our boat near an island full of trees and shrub. It was an amazing sunset, the sky was clear and we all sat around chatting, beer in hand watching the sky turn from orange, to red to purple. Next thing we knew, the island or Kelong had come alive with thousands…no MILLIONS of bats fleeing the island, heading over our boat to the neighbouring island. This is a phenomenon that happens at sunset and was mind blowing to see. The batts honestly just kept coming.
5. Swimming with giant mantarays at Manta Point
The most hectic but amazing experience ever and definitely the highlight of the trip! Hectic because Manta Point is situated in the open water that has a STRONG current sweeping through. Your boat, along with about 5 others, trails through the water with everyone on board searching the ocean for the majestic creatures.
When they’re spotted, the crew yell and point “MANTA, MANTA, MANTA” to which you throw yourself off the moving boat and into the fast current to join the mantas. Sound hectic?! It was hectic! Probably a little unsafe too, but it was absolutely amazing in every way. I loved the unorganised chaos, everyone flapping about in the water trying to catch a glimpse of the giant manta, but mostly I loved the moment when the mantarays would swim right underneath you, around you and beside you. Never had I seen such a gentle but wild animal so close. EPIC!!
6. Pink Beach
An amazing island that literally has pink sand beaches! This is caused from red coral that has broken down over hundreds of years, causing little specs of pink sand to get mixed in with the normal sand. Again, we were luckily the FIRST boat to arrive at pink beach and I think my toes were the first to hit the sand…I was in awe. Total awe. I genuinely couldn’t get over the pink sand and aqua water, these candy floss colours are a perfect pair and the empty beach was just insane. I’m really not sure how busy this beach gets during the day (we must have arrived around 8am) but for us, it was literally perfect.
Side note: apparently as of recent, this beach is seen to have loads of plastic washed up on it’s shores which is heartbreaking. What are you doing to be more sustainable? An important question to ask ourselves. For us, we don’t consume any single use plastic, we’re both dairy free and I (Leah) no longer eat meat.
7. Swimming with sea turtles
Another special encounter with a magical ocean animal, this time the sea turtle. I’d never seen one up close so I was super keen to jump into the freezing waters where the sea turtles like to roam. We swam around for less than one minute before we spot a turtle and gently approached. He was so chill, moving so slowly, we even managed to dive down closer to get a better look. We probably saw 3 other sea turtles, but none as close as the first, the whole experience was just the best.
So team, thanks for reading and I hope a sail around the Komodo Islands on now on your bucket list! If you’re already planning a trip, I hope this got you super excited, just writing this and re-living the memories made me want to jump on a plane and go back ✨
Leah | FREE & ADDICTED