Komodo Island, part of the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia, is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its unique biodiversity, including the famous Komodo dragons. The island offers a variety of activities, from trekking and snorkeling to cultural experiences. We've curated our top ten items for a potential holiday in paradise. You'll have opportunities to bliss out, have an adventure, and take in the full glory of Indonesia's island heritage and landscapes. Let's dive in!
Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara comprises 29 islands, including Komodo, Padar, and Rinca. The Padar Island hike is one of the most popular for its 360-degree views, and it only takes half an hour of trekking to see strikingly green hills, bright blue beaches, and different colored sands spread out beneath you. Superlatives don't do the vistas justice, and sunrise here is unmatched. There's less humidity between April and December, which makes for more pleasant hiking, and you'll likely need to book a guided tour led by a park ranger.
The Lesser Sunda islands are blessed with ecological diversity, and spots like Komodo Island don't just show off big predatorial lizards on terra firma—they're packed with colorful marine life and are part of the Coral Triangle. A scuba diving adventure will have you wending your way past manta rays, napoleon wrasse, white tip reef sharks, turtles, pikachu nudibranch, or large schools of fish. Batu Balong is one of the best diving spots in the world, and Crystal Rock is a good option for experienced divers. It has wonderfully clear waters, but a strong current. Liveaboards run throughout the year. April is the best month to go diving.
The traditional villages in East Nusa Tenggara have varying customs. In general, the locals are hospitable and welcome tourists with open arms. Guides will inform you about suitable gifts to take, if relevant. You can give traditional handicrafts a bash or learn about the culture. Bugis people call the fishing village, Kampung Komodo, home. The village sits on stilts above the water, and livestock is a common sight.
Komodo Island's Pink Beach is Indonesia's most famous. Visitors have called it a gentle, healing place, and it's often ranked in the top 15 beaches in the world for its aquamarine water and noticeably pink beach sand, the result of granular coral material. You can hike, snorkel, or simply relax with a bottle of sunscreen in hand. The scene is rather romantic, so it helps if you have a significant other (besties count too) to help you smear the sunblock on your back.
Kayaking on water this turquoise is fantastic, but turning a corner and seeing a hidden cove or a particular bird makes it even better. Sea kayaking near Komodo Island assures a unique perspective that not many people can access—it takes courage to get on a little canoe and paddle into tighter nooks than big tourist boats can manage. Sea kayaking tours often include camping under the stars.
Fun fact—Rinca Island has more Komodo dragons than Komodo Island. A guided tour allows you to observe these magnificent creatures at close quarters without disturbing them or compromising your safety. You'll lose count of the number of Komodos you'll see, but they are, indeed, endangered, with only 1,400 animals in the wild. Tours often include an informative hike that most people can manage. You can't stay on the island for the night, but with mini dinosaurs prowling around able to swallow prey whole, would you even want to?
The Komodo Islands are a photographer's dream. Spectacular scenery is pretty much guaranteed. Because the location does the heavy lifting, you can have fun honing the subtleties of your craft. And with an abundance of beasts, critters, and fishys, your fancy camera lenses may capture the dramatic moments only Mother Nature (and maybe David Attenborough) can produce. If you can get your camera wet, even better. Kanawa Island, for example, is awesome for underwater photography.
You're not in the mood to wake up early and see the sunrise. No biggie. Komodo Island knows that not everyone is a morning person, and you can easily book a sunset cruise on a speedboat or private boat for a group. Tours often include a meal or snack, so you can unwind without inconvenient hunger pangs.
Kalong Island is an oft-visited spot. The nightlife here is not what you might be used to, but it's certainly intriguing. When the sun sets, look to the skies, and you'll see thousands of fruit bats ascend to go hunting. Also known as flying foxes, these creatures live in the mangroves here and make their way to Flores Island for supper.
Festivals such as the Komodo Boat Jousting Festival and the Pasola War Festival are unique and memorable. So are the artisanal products that incorporate skills passed down over time. Komodo Island will give you insight into this sea-centric corner of the planet and send you home with stories and souvenirs.