The Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park, established in 1980, is located between the islands of Flores and Sumbawa in central Indonesia. In 1991 the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides the three major islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, the park consists of numerous small volcanic islands scattered across an area of 219,322 ha in the Indian Ocean.
In addition to being home to the infamous Komodo dragon, a species of giant lizards only to be found in this region, Komodo National Park has one of the richest and most pristine marine environments in the world including over 1,000 different species of fish and hundreds of species of beautiful reef-building coral and sponges.
Regular sightings of sharks, manta rays, turtles, dolphins and the occasional dugong make Komodo one of the most popular destinations for scuba divers worldwide.
Times to visit
The climate in Komodo National Park is tropical with alternating rainy and dry seasons. The region is considered the driest region in entire Indonesia with only 800 – 1000mm of annual rainfall. Generally, the rainy season lasts from January to March with the rest of the year being fairly dry and arid with temperatures rising up to 33°C. However, the weather is never entirely predictable and varies every year to some extent.
The high season in Komodo runs from April through October with July and August being the busiest months where many visitors arrive for diving trips and on liveaboards from Raja Ampat, Alor and Bali. Apart from the high season, the months of May, June and October are nice times to visit since the weather and diving conditions are still optimal and the park tends to be calmer and less crowded. During the rainy season in January and February some shops and dive operators tend to close and open again in March, so it is advised to check availability in advance during these months.
The coastal town of Labuan Bajo is located on the Western tip of mainland Flores, only a few kilometers by boat from Komodo National Park. It is the central hub for visitors to Komodo National Park, be it for diving or snorkeling trips or for trekking tours to the islands of Komodo and Rinca to see the Komodo dragons. With an abundance of tour operators
in town, other day trips to mainland Flores to see beautiful waterfalls, caves and indigenous villages can easily be arranged.
Labuan Bajo is a quickly growing and developing tourist destination for visitors from across the globe. It offers a wide variety of local and Western restaurants, cafes, boutiques as well as accommodations for every taste and budget ranging from the backpacker dorm to luxury hotels by the ocean (see recommendations for accommodation here). And don’t miss out on the unique sunset views overlooking the national park from one of the hilltop bars or viewpoints.
Komodo National Park is by far not the only attraction the island of Flores has to offer. After your time diving Komodo and trekking with the dragons, Labuan Bajo is the perfect starting point to embark on an adventure in mainland Flores either independently or as part of an organized tour. Floresians are possibly the friendliest, happiest and most hospitable people you could wish to meet and are usually very excited to chat to tourists or anyone offering a smile. Explore the indigenous villages around Bajawa, the tranquil rice fields just outside Ruteng, the beaches in Eastern Flores and of course the mighty Gunung Kelimutu with its breathtaking multicolored crater lakes. The scenic road from Labuan Bajo to Maumere via Bajawa, Ruteng and Ende takes you along volcanoes, canyons and luscious stretches of jungle. It is in a fairly good condition and accessible for scooters, cars, SUVs and trucks. Clean, reasonable priced hotels and homestays can be found along the way.