Komodo Islands Itinerary, Flores + advice, diving and costs

The below Komodo Islands Itinerary is based on my own trip to the Komodo Islands in August 2018 and the extensive research I did beforehand! I hope it helps.

Komodo National Park is a  series of islands famously home to the Komodo dragons and a UNESCO world heritage site. When you visit, you’re likely to want to see the three largest islands: Rinca and Komodo Island (home to the dragons) and Padar Island (which has a stunning viewpoint). But there are also many smaller islands which you can visit or snorkel/dive nearby.

Getting to the Komodos: The closest main town is Labuan Bajo, which thankfully is a town well set up so you can base yourself here, and it also has an airport with regular flights directly to Bali – as well as to other places in Flores, if you want to also check out the East of the island. Read more about planning a trip to the rest of Flores here.

There are so many options for boat trips – many which are quite pricey – so it can be overwhelming to choose the best Komodo Islands itinerary. A lengthy day trip or overnight tour is integral to seeing the islands however, so you are very likely to end up booking one! Shop around and ask your accommodation and other travellers for recommendations if you’re not sure how to pick.

Travelling on a budget? One way to save money is to sleep on the deck rather than a cabin (as I did) and choose a 2 night trip rather than a longer one. This also seemed more cost effective to me than the day trips – which were of course cheaper, but seemed to jam a LOT into one day. And remember the costs DO include the nights’ accommodation and all meals aboard – add this on to day trip costs when comparing.

There are also multiple options for diving and snorkelling day trips  – I’ve posted more about diving in the Komodos below.

2 DAY, 1 NIGHT BOAT TRIP KOMODOS ITINERARY

I chose a boat trip for 1 million. The cost included: 1 night’s accommodation (this was VERY basic – just sharing mattresses on the deck with other passengers) and all meals on board plus tea, coffee, water. If you’re on a budget, ask in advance if you can take your own drinks for the cool box.

Additional costs were: the national park fee (for me this was 310K IDR and entrance to Kanawa Island (10K IDR).

The boat trip Komodo Islands itinerary was as follows…

DAY ONE

RINCA ISLAND

On Rinca Island we did a 2 hour hike that I swear was actually an hour including photo stops? Some reviews complain that you see the Komodo Dragons right at the beginning in the village and the hike is pointless, but I loved the scenery here and the hike was pretty easy, just hot. If you do hate walking, shorter hikes are available.

You will be lead by a guides the entire time who carry big sticks to scare aware any aggressive dragons!

Komodo dragons are the world’s largest lizard, growing up to 3 metres/10 ft! They eat deer water buffalo, birds, wild boar on the islands – and yes they have been known to kill humans. They have a long tongue which they use to smell, taste and detect their prey – this long, thin tongue can detect prey from a range of almost 10km. 

KOMODO ISLAND

Another place to see Komodo dragons! We did another shorter hike and and spotted more monsters.

Someone took a photo of me with the dragons. The next day she accidentally threw her phone off the boat. Hence why I have no photos 🙂 

PINK BEACH

I was warned beforehand to lower my expectations of how pink Pink Beach would be… which is probably a good thing. Where the sea hits the sand, it is definitely very pink, but at a distance most of the beach looks like white sand. Close up and at certain angles it looks pinker than others, but either I was unlucky or the typical insta photos I’ve seen of this place are edited a fair bit.

A lot of the group snorkelled directly from Pink Beach too.

Pink Beach is one of only 7 pink beaches on the planet. The colour comes from Foraminifera – microscopic animals which produce a red pigment on the coral reefs.

komodo islands itinerary pink beach
Pink Beach is a common addition to a Komodo Islands itinerary… even if the beach isn’t THAT pink!

SUNSET AND DINNER ON THE BOAT

I was feeling introverted and sat on the opposite end of the deck from the rest of the group. I just looked up at the stars after the sunset and listened to locals playing guitar on a nearby boat. Dreamy.

DAY TWO 

PADAR ISLAND

I began the second day of my Komodo Islands itinerary with a fantastic viewpoint. I enjoyed the hike up Padar to see the gorgeous 3 bays, although it was a touristy spot. It is the third largest island in the Komodos.

komodo islands itinerary padar island
I looked for a Komodo Islands itinerary which included Padar Island so I could see this gorgeous view.

SNORKELLING

The snorkelling was great – perfect visibility and lots to see. Remember marine life is wild so big animals can be hit and miss, and enjoy the huge schools of fish and beautiful coral.

KANAWA ISLAND/SNORKELLING

Since I was feeling under the weather and my priority was to feel well enough to dive the next day, I didn’t join everyone snorkelling on the second spot. The great thing? I had the beaches to myself! I just wandered round for an hour, half-dancing to my favourite playlist, on what felt like a private beach.

DIVING IN KOMODOS

If you like to dive, it’s a must on any Komodo Islands itinerary!

I talked to various dive schools before making a decision of who to dive with and this is what I found out 🙂

If you are there for a short time, there are two key areas to dive – around the central little islands closest to Labuan Bajo, or  North of Komodo Island. The second area is apparently suitable only for 30 dives plus due to a current, and it is common that they ‘clip you in’ on one of the dives so you can watch the show!

Diving in the Komodos is said to be some of the best diving in the world, due to it’s biodiversity and coral reefs. It is possible to see big animals (green turtles, reef sharks and occasionally mantas) as well as miraculous schools of smaller fish.

In the other area, it is suitable for newbies and a great place to do your PADI Open Water too, due to the high standard of many of the dive schools. I dived here and LOVED it. I saw more enormous green turtles than I could ever have imagined, and it’s possible to see mantas and reef sharks here too.

General cost for a 5* dive school  – 2 dives is 1.3mil, 3 dives is 1.6mil. Prices should include all equipment, wetsuits, snacks, drinks and lunch. Overnight options are also available, as are options for various other day trips.  

I dived with Divine Diving who were fantastic! The quality of their boat, equipment and guides was really great. I felt really comfortable with them, despite my anxious personality, and really loved by dives.

scuba diving komodo islands itinerary
Do you scuba? Is diving going to be part of your Komodo Islands itinerary?

LABUAN BAJO

Labuan Bajo is a fishing town with great cafes and restaurants and many little shops. Prices for food can range from 25IDR to 100 IDR, depending on what you’re after. I didn’t check out the fish market as I’m veggie but I heard it was great and cheap/

There are many hotels and hostels here too, so it is a great place to base yourself.

There is also plenty to see on land, such as waterfalls and caves! You can go caving at Batu Cermin caves or at Rangko Cave, which has an underground lake I believe you can swim in. You could include these in a day trip with Cunca Rami waterfall, which  was recommended to me by local

Though I spent my spare day on a swing on an empty beach. 🙂

Are the Komodo Islands on your bucket list?

10 days in Flores itinerary – Maumere, Ende, Komodos

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Twenty-something hag, travelling solo and no clue where I’ll end up. My motto? Scared of everything - doing it anyway.

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