A sailing trip in the Komodo National park is certainly one of the top tourist attractions in Indonesia. The park, which includes 3 larger and 26 smaller islands, has been selected as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. The combination of surreal nature, the world’s largest lizard aka the “Komodo dragon” and waters with one of the richest marine biodiversity on Earth makes this place absolutely unique. And indeed, it was one of the highlights of our entire Southeast Asia trip.
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The Komodo National Park
The Komodo National Park is home to the world’s famous Komodo Dragons and some of the best scuba diving spots on earth. It’s a perfect destination for adventure travelers because its nature is one of Indonesia’s most beautiful.
Is the Komodo National Park closing?
It has been reported that the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) administration plan to close Komodo Island (not the whole national park!) to the public from January 2020 for one year. This closure is supposed to give nature the opportunity to rehabilitate from tourism and the government the opportunity to improve conservation.
Update: The Guardian reported in October 2019, that Indonesia canceled Komodo Island closure.
Before we start
Before going to the Komodo National Park you should know one thing in advance:
You will be offered “sailing trips” everywhere. This is why we chose to title this blog post
But we want to be completely honest with you:
Real sailing trips are very rare and very expensive in the Komodo National Park. Most companies use this term “sailing” for marketing purposes. Most boats are even built to look like sailing boats but almost all of them are motorized and can’t actually sail.
How to get to Komodo National Park
We did a ton of research on this and found out these three transportation options:
By boat from Bali or Lombok
There are companies running boat trips from the main tourist islands Bali and Lombok to Flores. This can be quite an adventure as this is a multiple-overnight-trip. Unfortunately, we have heard that many of these trips are only rushing through and you nearly no time at all enjoying the beautiful places on the way.
By bus and ferry via Sumbawa
The cross-country route is for those on a very tight budget and goes Lombok-Sumbawa-Flores and takes more than 24 hours in total.
Be aware that the prices of transportation on
We chose the extended version of this option with some stopovers in Sumbawa. Unfortunately, we were so much annoyed by the inclement people in Sumbawa so that we decided to return to Lombok. From there we booked a flight straight to Labuhan Bajo.
This is definitely the most convenient option and the one we recommend (we thought we would never recommend a flight on this blog, but this is an absolute exception). The flight is a real highlight itself as you’ll be able to admire the beauty of Indonesia’s islands from above. The Labuan Bajo Airport (LBJ) is also known as Komodo Airport. You can catch a flight to Komodo from Bali, Lombok, and Jakarta almost every day.
Especially during high season we recommend booking a flight far enough ahead.
Otherwise, you risk your seat or pay a very high price.
From the airport, you can either take a grab taxi or even walk, depending on where you want to go it’s only 15-30 minutes downhill.
Labuan Bajo, Flores
Labuan Bajo is a fishing village located on the northwest coast of Flores. Over the past few years, this village has become the launching point for tourism in the Komodo National Park. For this reason be prepared for a lot of construction, as the former lazy town is expanding to a thriving hub for future adventure travelers in Indonesia.
To be honest, we were a little bit disappointed about Labuan Bajo itself. It’s super dirty, accommodation prices are above the average in Indonesia, and there is not a single beautiful beach with public access. All existing beaches we’ve seen were extremely polluted with plastic waste.
So either you have a bigger budget to sleep in one of the luxurious hotels with private beach access, or you go on a sailing trip in the Komodo National Park directly or you rent a scooter and take a bit longer journey down to the south of Flores island.
Where to stay in Labuan Bajo
We recommend the following accommodations depending on your budget:
Luxury option: Plataran Komodo Resort & Spa
This beachside luxury retreat Plataran Komodo is located in the north of Labuan Bajo and has access to one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire area. Away from the hustle and bustle of the town, you can admire the romantic and tranquil atmosphere with world-class sunsets.
The Plataran Komodo also offers private sailing trips in the Komodo National Park.
Read also our full blog post about the Plataran Komodo Resort & Spa!
Check the rates and availability of the Plataran Komodo Resort & Spa on booking.com!
Budget option: La Boheme Bajo Backpacker Hostel
The chilled hostel La Boheme Bajo is a great cheap option for every backpacker in Labuan Bajo. Catch up with other adventurers, have a chat and take part in some free activities (like beach clean-ups) or paid tours (like snorkel trips).
Free breakfast, WiFi, water, coffee, and tea are included for all guests.
The hotel’s facilities are a spacious common area, self-service kitchen, a TV-lounge and a pool table.
Check the rates and availability of La Boheme Bajo on booking.com!
Komodo National Park
“Sailing” around the islands of the Komodo National Park is the reason why you should make all the way to Flores. The national park includes around 30 islands, the most famous islands are Komodo Island, Padar Island and Rinca Island.
Before you book your trip make sure what is included and what is not.
There are so many different price variations and hidden costs that may ruin your experience if you don’t know about them before.
Sailing trips in the Komodo National Park
To visit the Komodo National Park we recommend booking an overnight tour because in our opinion the park is too big for day trips only.
We decided on a 3-day 2-night sailing trip in the Komodo National Park.
There are more variations in length, but afterward, we can say this was the right choice (even though it is one of the most expensive trips we have done). Even 4 days might be a great option!
We negotiated a lot with different sailing trip providers and we chose the cheapest offer in the end. Our trip was 2.1 million IDR, including food and water, excluding park fees.
There are also vegetarian and even vegan options, as the Indonesian people use to cook animal foods separately. But to reduce food waste we recommend explaining your dietary restriction to the tour company before you leave the harbor.
The sailing trips in the Komodo National Park normally start in the morning at the port of Labuan Bajo. Most companies offer a pick-up and drop-off before and after the trip, either at your accommodation or at the airport.
If you want to leave Labuan Bajo on the same day your sailing trip ends, it is advisable to book a flight with departure time later than 5 PM.
3 days/ 2 nights Sailing Trip in The Komodo National Park
Kelor Island – viewpoint, snorkeling and beach
Pulau Kelor is one of the closest islands to Labuan Bajo and therefore part of almost every Komodo trip. It’s the perfect warm-up for the rest of the amazing archipelago. A short hike up the hill and you can enjoy a gorgeous view above the beach and the turquoise water.
Looking down the hill, on the right side of the sandbar is a good snorkeling spot.
Be aware of the currents.
Rinca Island or Komodo Island – encounter the komodo dragons
Rinca Island and Komodo Island are the biggest in the national park and the standard tour stops for Komodo-dragon encounters.
We have been to Komodo Island.
We’ve got the advice from other travelers, NOT to go on the guided jungle track but only stay at the beach, because the dragons normally come there for sunbathing.
We were confident with our knowledge and plan until the park rangers forced us either paying for the tour (or leave the island). So we did the small track and luckily saw 3 dragons in the jungle. After the tour, we arrived at the restaurant on the island.
Around the restaurant were a handful of Komodo-dragons chilling in the sun.
If you don’t want to pay for the guided tour, tell the rangers you only want to have a drink or coffee in the restaurant. Perhaps you are lucky and they let you go.
Note: even though the Komodo Dragons seem to be used to tourists, keep a safe distance!
Kalong Island – bats flying
As the sun was setting, we stopped nearby Kalong Island.
First: the sunsets are absolutely stunning. Second: the sunset and flying bats are even more stunning adding up to an unreal picture. Thousands of them were spreading out in the dark reddish sky, don’t miss on this fascinating phenomenon!
padar island – Jurassic park in real
Padar Island has become world-famous because of its distinctive and unique shape. The short hike up the hill is revenued with one of the most spectacular views in the world.
Pink beach – expectations vs. reality
There are several beaches in Indonesia that have pieces of dead red corals mixed up with the common white dead corals, which unify to pinkish sand.
Important to know: the Komodo National Park has at least two pinkish beaches. The “Pantai Merah” (also the “original pink beach“) is supposed to be less pinkish than the other one.
We have been at the Pantai Merah and this is how it looks like (in reality and on Instagram):
Don’t have too high expectations about the pinkish color. Most shots online (or on Instagram) are edited. Nevertheless, especially the wet part of the beach has a modest pinkish color.
Unfortunately, we don’t know where the other one is, but we met travelers who reported that some tours go there!
The encounter with manta rays was one of our highlights in the Komodo National Park. Make sure to find out the best times in the years for manta ray encounters.
If you have a drone you can easily spot manta rays from above, as they come close to the surface sometimes. Even in the offseason, you have a high chance to spot some with this trick.
This sandbank of Taka Makassar close to the manta point has stunning turquoise water. We didn’t go on the sandbank
Kanawa Island was the last stop of our sailing trip in the Komodo National Park. It was nice but is not a real highlight after all the other amazing places. It has some good snorkeling spots and a nice beach.
What to bring
Snorkel/mask/fins are usually provided by the boat companies.
What to expect
The sailing trip we booked was not a luxury sailing trip. It was equipped with 3 bedrooms and one toilet/shower (very basic). The boat had an upper deck with lots of space for chilling and a dining area in the back.
The meals were surprisingly big and delicious, the crew was very experienced and we never had concerns about safety.
And that’s it! We hope you enjoyed our Komodo National Park travel guide.
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