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Komodo Islands Paradise: What you MUST do & Where you MUST go
Do check out my separate posts on Diving in Komodo here & the Komodo Dragons on Rinca Island (coming up soon!)
For flights & accomodation to the Komodo Islands, do check out my blog post here
The Komodo Islands are situated near the mainland of Flores, just a short direct flight away from Bali. For more information on flights and accommodation, do check out my tailored blog post here.
The Komodo Islands have always been known for their great diving spots, high chances of meeting with Manta rays AND the chance to meet the great predatory Komodo Dragons that are native to the islands. This UNESCO Heritage Site is the only place where this indigenous species roams about in the wild. It has been on my bucket list for awhile now, ever since I watched that travel vlog from Lost Leblanc on the Komodo Islands. I’ve always liked island life, and more so on the lesser-known ones like these.
Labuan Bajo is the closest town to the Komodo Islands. It is also commonly used as a base for travellers and backpackers to do day trips to the islands. Besides travelling to the Komodo Islands, many travellers venture on to the other villages and towns on Flores (Most of them go to towns like Ende / Maumere. I was short on time , so I didnt, but I highly recommend it 🙂
I travelled during the period of March, which was considered low season. This is because the sunny and nice weather in Indonesia occurs during May to August. The rainy monsoon season occurs during November to February. I was super lucky as there was practically no rain at all during the time I travelled in Indonesia (March).
The number one reason why backpackers flock here is the chance to view the virtually unspoiled and untouched marine life that exists in the waters surrounding the Komodo Islands.
The best chance to get the see the much-anticipated Manta Rays are during January-February. However, lucky me managed to snag a view of 6 Mantas flying overhead at Manta Point during one of my dives. Getting to see Mantas, personally, I feel, depends greatly on your luck. When I dived at Mawan the previous day, I saw none…
There are countless dive shops in Labuan Bajo that offer day trips and liveaboards to the Komodo Islands. I had researched quite a bit as many travel blogs did not seem to have the info on diving that I needed. Some of the more reputable ones include Divine Diving, UberScuba Diving, Blue Marlin Dive, Dive Komodo, Manta Rhei Diving etc. I’m sure there are more but these were the ones I still remember having the most reviews. I went scouting along the main street for dive prices and settled on Dive Komodo, because of the really friendly staff and its reputation as a safe dive shop. It is really important that your dive shop has proper equipment and does not compromise on safety to charge lower prices. As the last time I dived was in September, I did one day of fun dives with my Basic Open Water Licence, and then spent the next 2 days obtaining my Advanced Open Water Diving Licence.
Prices: IDR 1500000 / 3 dives / day (this is the standard day trip price among the reputable dive shops) You can get lower prices as I had seen (IDR 1200000 / 3 dives / day) at other dive shops but I don’t know much about their safety. But I talked to one shop “Divers Paradise Komodo” located just opposite UberScuba Diving, and one staff told me they had just opened. Maybe you guys can give them a chance 🙂
You can replace one dive with a trek to Rinca Island which will give you the chance to meet Komodo Dragons. Rinca is smaller, with the same density of Komodo Dragons as the main Komodo Island, thus the chances of getting to see one are much higher. The price would stay at IDR 1500000.
These prices exclude the additional park fees. Because you guys are diving inside the waters of Komodo National Park, you are expected to pay conservational entrance fees. These are IDR 180000 / IDR 250000 for Weekdays / Sundays & Public Holidays respectively.
You can also do your Basic Open Water Course (3 days IDR 5500000) and Advanced Open Water Course (2 days IDR 5000000) here.
I will write a separate post on with more information on diving and visiting Rinca Island that you can visit here. (Upcoming!)
Here’s a video that I took of the awesome Manta Rays 🙂 Hope you guys enjoy it.
Padar Island Day Trip
This day trip is something I would DEFINITELY recommend to anyone visiting the Komodo Islands. It provides one of the most spectacular views you would ever see in your life, I assure you.
1. Leave Labuan Bajo at 6.30am (Be prepared to wake up at 4.30-4.45am as you meet outside your hostel/hotel at 5.15am) Please tell your roommates about your early alarm, but most probably they have already done / would be doing this trip soon. They will understand.
2. First Stop: Padar Island (1 hour). It was probably the nicest part of my day trip. I arrived at the jetty, and trekked up for around 30 minutes, and was greeted by a breath-taking view of three bays, each surrounding one side of Padar Island. This is the postcard perfect background that you really HAVE to take a good picture of.
3. Second Stop: Main Komodo Island (1.5 hours). The boat will bring you to the main, and largest Komodo Island where the Komodo Dragons roam about. I had already had the opportunity to visit Rinca Island during my dive trips, and as such had already seen the famed Komodo Dragons in all their glory. However, for those who had not seen them on Rinca, their looks of amazement and wonder mirrored mine during my first encounter with the dragons.
Read more about the Dragons in my upcoming post!
4. Third Stop: Pink Beach (30 minutes). Time to relax after the not-too-strenous hike. Alright, so the beach isn’t really pink, but its mostly the coral that makes it “pink”. Essentially, a mostly normal beach, you get either grab your snorkel equipment and view the marine life beneath or head straight to the beach to relax. I did the former. I spotted a few eels and a really nice bright blue clam (wished I learnt free-diving though as I couldn’t hold my breath long enough to snap a nice photo of it).
5. Last Stop: Manta Point (30 minutes) I snorkelled in the waters trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive Manta Rays (they were so much easier to view from a diver’s point of view :p ) I saw 2 or 3 mantas gliding gracefully through the waters. I had only seen them from below, and they looked like black angels from the top. It was so amazing! Whether you see them while snorkelling or diving, they will impress. Really.
Tip: Follow your guide! He will suddenly jump into the water and gesture frantically “Manta! Manta!”. Do follow him, he’s experienced and it’s probably your best shot at catching a view of the mantas while snorkelling.
Tip: Mantas like strong currents as they bring nutrients and plankton for them. Though the currents are strongest down below, it can sometimes be felt at the surface as well. Do take note of your boat, as a few of my fellow tour members had to struggle against the currents to get back onto the boat. You can grab onto a rope from the rear of the boat and slowly inch yourself (from the side) to the ladder at the front.
6. Return back to Labuan Bajo at 5.30-6pm. If you’re lucky, you get to see a sunset 🙂
Price: IDR 500000 for the trip + additional IDR 250000 (park fees, although they are supposed to be IDR 180000). But I checked with people on my boat who booked with different tour operators and the prices were similar.
During my scout for dive shops in Labuan Bajo, there were many tour shops/operators that were offering snorkelling tours as well. It either means that you follow a dive boat out, but you snorkel instead of dive. Or you take a snorkelling boat out. I was not interested in snorkelling though, thus I did not check out the prices. Snorkels and fins are included in the price.
Watch the Sunset
Amazing sunsets can be seen at 630pm during my time in Labuan Bajo and the Komodo Islands. I usually got spectacular views from my dive boats. However, I have heard that tourists flock to Paradise Bar as it boasts an awesome sunset view at dusk.
Scooter: Rent a scooter for around IDR 70000-80000 /day depending on your shop. Please haggle guys. Its Indonesia.
Scooter (Taxi Version): I have never rented a scooter before, maybe in the future. Instead I opted for short rides here and there in the town. For a ride in town, I paid about IDR 20000 – 30000 one way.
Tip: Do not get the scooter taxi from your hostel. Although I loved my hostel (see my accommodation here), I felt that they charged way too much for a scooter taxi (approx. IDR 100000. Yea, like what? 5x the price?)
Walk: Yes I did this very often, on my very own 2 feet, exploring the town & walking back to my hostel. You get to visit many more Warungs (name of local eateries in Indonesia) and get a view of how the locals live. You practically walk down the same paths that they use to go to school/work.
Everyone kept recommending Warung Mama, which was located just down the road from Dive Komodo, on the right hand side of the road. Warungs are meant to be traditional restaurants in Indonesia, which are usually placed along the side of the road. In these days, many of them have expanded to occupy actual shop space, but have still used the term “Warung” to describe themselves. However, they are still the cheapest and offer mostly delicious local food.
Price: Nasi Goreng for IDR 35000 & Watermelon Juice for IDR 20000 which is really expensive for Warungs!
I walked up from Uberscuba and eventually found this cosy Warung that served better and cheaper local food, with a nice ambience. Not so surprisingly, the western food (Eggs Toast) were much more expensive than the local cuisine.
Price: Nasi Goreng (IDR 25000) , Watermelon Juice (IDR15000)
Most times I ate lunch on the dive / day trip boats, as they offer really good selections of food that were included in the price of the dives / day trips. For the dive trips, they cook lunch aboard, which was really great.
If you do want fresh seafood, do walk along this side of the island at night (image below). There will be countless shops each offering their catches of the day for very affordable prices. There will also be minimarts and supermarkets around, where I restocked on my daily essentials like toiletries.
Tip: Go scout around and I am sure you can get better Warungs at better prices.
Overall, Labuan Bajo is not a town known for its food. However, there are still a few hidden gems here and there 🙂
Labuan Bajo is as of now, an unspoiled sleepy town, providing access to one of the most amazing marine paradise on Earth. Mostly untouched by typical tourism, its nightlife has also followed this trend.
Paradise Bar: Playing live reggae music from 9-11pm every day except for Saturday, this bar is the only place where locals and tourists alike come to relax after a hard day of work (or diving! :p ) On Saturdays, this place transforms into a bustling club, with the band playing from 10.30pm-3am. The atmosphere is amazing with everyone literally making merry and enjoying themselves. Drinks are not the cheapest though, but it was definitely an enjoyable time.
Price: IDR 100000 for a Tequila Sunrise cocktail, IDR 60000 for a Vodka Mix Shot. IDR 35000 for a plate of fries.
Have fun in the home of the Dragons!
Remember, don’t get eaten!