Komodo, Rinca, and Padar Island are the main islands of Komodo National Park. Famous for some of the world’s best dive sites and their popular inhabitant – the Komodo dragon – the area attracts thousands of tourists each year.
Komodo Island is the most visited place in Flores. Rinca, a smaller island where the Komodo dragons can also be found, is a good alternative to crowded Komodo Island.
Despite the invasion of tourists, you can still find some quiet and remote areas on these islands, particularly on Rinca and Padar. The islands’ interiors consist mostly of dry forests, where you can also encounter other animals than the Komodo dragon: water buffaloes, birds, pigs, and deer. The islands also offer unique beaches and good options for trekking.
TREKKING ON KOMODO AND RINCA ISLAND
On Komodo, you can choose between different trekking routes, depending on your time and physical condition. All of them start from the ticket office at Loh Liang. A short trek takes around one hour and goes along flat trails within the dry forest. This option is suitable for visitors who do not have much time, for families with small children, or for people who prefer a relaxed and non-strenuous hike. The medium trek takes about 1 1/2 hours. It passes a waterhole where the Timor deer and wild pigs often come to drink.
Sometimes, dragons can be found there lying around and waiting. You will climb Sulphurea Hill and Frigate Hill, where a magnificent view across the islands, bays and beaches awaits. The longer trek takes about 2 1/2 hours and leads you up another hill. You will pass the location where Komodo dragons used to be fed in front of enthralled tourist crowds. If you are up to a real workout, you may book a 4 – 8 hour hike in advance which will lead you up Mount Ara or to the island’s northern shore.
Treks on Rinca Island start from the ticket office at Loh Buaya. You also have the option to choose between three trails. The shortest trek takes 30 minutes. It is an easy, shaded walk that passes an artificial waterhole before ascending to a small hill with a view over the bay. The one-hour medium trek winds between dragon nests and out into the sunshine across an exposed savannah that is studded with lontar palms. For the best opportunity to see dragons and their prey, choose the two-hour trek past a permanent waterhole and across steep, exposed slopes that offer breathtaking views.
Padar Island features a natural phenomenon that you should not miss: a pink beach. This peculiar beach gets its color from red coral fragments. It is definitely a great place to spend some time by just laying back or enjoying the underwater world with your snorkeling equipment.
Another pink beach smaller in size can be found on Komodo Island as well. The shallow reef begins just in front of the beach. Being deep enough to snorkel at low tide and not too deep at high tide, it is one of the best snorkeling spots in the park.
Labuan Bajo is the closest town to Komodo National Park. It offers abundant tourist facilities, e.g. restaurants, stores, ATMs and banks, money changers, and pharmacies. There is a wide range of accommodation, ranging from simple guesthouses to star-rated hotels along the beach front. The numerous dive operators and travel agencies are happy to help you in planning your dive trip or your journey to Komodo National Park and the island’s interior.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are innumerable tour operators in and out of Flores offering Komodo or Rinca tour packages. Many local guides and boat captains are waiting to take you there from Labuan Bajo.