Komodo Island in the West Manggarai regency in East Nusa Tenggara province is the only habitat of Varanus komodoensis, or the “komodo dragons.” A species of meat-eating giant lizard which is also known as the world’s biggest lizard. It is called “ora” in local language. About 2,000 of them live here freely, within the boundaries of Komodo National Park. Their original habitat here consists of meadows, white-sandy beaches and tropical forests. They usually feed on weasels, pigs, apes, and even bigger-sized animals like deer, bulls, and horses.
The komodo lizards can grow up to 3 meters in length and about 70 kilograms in weight. It is often thought that they can reach such a gigantic size due to the island having no other kinds of carnivorous species. They’re also believed to be venomous, with such a strong toxics within their saliva.
The Komodo National Park was established in 1980. In the beginning, the establishment of the park was to conserve the komodo lizard. In later development, the purpose has been expanded to protection of the whole biodiversity of the Komodo Island Indonesia and all the surrounding islands. The National Park covers three main islands, namely Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, along with several smaller islands. Its land area is 603 sq.km and together with the water area is 1817 sq.km in total. Beside in Komodo, the famous lizards are also to be found in Rinca Island.
Brief History of Komodo Island
The existence of this giant dragon-like lizard has been rumored by Dutch seamen in Indonesian archipelago (formerly called “East Indies”) in the 1600’s. It was Lieutenant Jacques Karel Henri van Steyn van Hensbroek who for the first time in history came up in 1910 with the scientific proof of the Varanus lizard.
Later 1912, Pieter Antonie Ouwens as the curator of the Bogor Botanical Garden who received the specimen of the lizard from van Hensbroek’s hands, published the first official description of the lizard. It was him also who gave the lizard the name “Varanus komodoensis” in reference to the island it was found.
Right after the story of the komodo dragons was made public, they began to be hunted down by many, either to be killed or taken alive. It was then in 1915 that the Dutch colonial government banned all activities of hunting these animals, in order to protect them from extinction.
The Komodo Island East Nusa Tenggara Indonesia has been declared one of the World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 1986. Also, in 2012 it was officially declared one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature by The New Seven Wonders Foundation.
In latest development, scientists have identified some antimicrobial protein fragments in the lizards’ blood which appeared to have helped them resisting infections. This could lead to development of new antibiotics strong enough to fight antibiotics-resistant bacteria.
What to Do in Komodo Island
With the entrance ticket of IDR 90,000 only per person, you are free to do all these interesting things to do in Komodo island Indonesia:
Beside komodo lizards, there are many other kinds of animals you can find here. The famous Timor deer is one of them. By trekking across the island, there are many chances you will encounter these animals, including the island’s king – komodo lizards. You can begin your trekking activity by climbing up the Mount Ara (538 meters a.s.l.) for about 3-4 hours. Reaching the top, there already awaits a spectacular view of the surrounding islands to feed your eyes, while the tents are prepared for staying overnight.
There are four categories of trekking activities you can choose: short, medium, long, and adventure. For adventure trekking you will be accompanied through the forests, rivers, and hills, crossing many challenging tracks. As for the short, it goes only though a few climbs, and in the medium you’ll be taken across three small hills. More hills and more challenges on the long trek. Up to you which one to choose, according to your physical fitness, of course.
All the trekking tracks cross the Water Hole, the spots where the komodo lizards used to drink and lay to rest. You’ll be accompanied by a ranger, who is a guide and a komodo handler. You’ll also be armed with a two-branched stick, made of a special wood. Whenever you encounter a komodo lizard and suddenly you’re chased or attacked, you can use the stick to press on its neck. The wood material of the stick is said to have special feature able to weaken the lizard and make it stop attacking.
2. Diving and Snorkeling
Beside interesting trekking tracks, the Komodo Island also has amazing diving spots. You can dive literally anywhere around the National Park, and the scenery waiting down there is just similarly awesome. However, it is strongly recommended to follow instructions from your guide on which site to dive, since some diving spots are significantly influenced by currents and seasons, and thus some time not recommendable.
The best times for diving activities are between March and December, because it is within that period that the wind directions, the water temperature, the current strength and the seasons are ideal for the visibility under water. Meanwhile, diving spots in Komodo Island Indonesia has been considered to be among the best in the world. Here are a few of them.
3. Sabolon Island
For diving enthusiasts, the Sabolon Island is the ideal spot to begin with. Uninhabited and pretty much untouched by human hands, this island surely has lots of natural attractions to offer. However, upon arrival here by boat, you’ll have to swim a little bit to reach the shore, since no boat quay is available in this island.
The underwater paradise waiting for you down there is just beyond incredible. Literally hundreds of marine species are there to welcome you. You’ll see various kinds of coral reefs, exotic fishes including rayfishes. Just in case you’re travelling here alone or with your own group, then the island is all yours. You can lie, run around, or play on the beach without worrying to disturb other people. As a result, it’s just such a beautiful island that will blow your mind for sure.
4. Batu Samsia
This is another favorite diving spot where you can dive down several large underwater ridges located between Siaba Island and the Komodo Island Indonesia. Scuba diving here and let yourself swim heavenly in the sea. This place is one of the post spots for snorkeling too. You can encounter and interact with turtles, sharks, and many kinds of little fishes. As a result, the experiences like this would not be the same with another diving spots of the world.
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5. Toko Toko
It is also called the “underwater rocky palace”. Located at the northernmost part of the Komodo National Park, the current is significantly strong in this spot, so you’d have to be very careful when diving here. This spot is mostly recommended for expert divers only. Nonetheless, the underwater beauty waiting down there is no less enticing. Various kinds of colorful coral reefs, and diverse species of fishes swimming around make an unforgettably marvelous view.
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6. Crystal Rock
This spot is ideal for divers who wish to avoid fighting against strong current. The water here is relatively calm, and beautiful coral reefs are just within 5 meters depth. Big-sized tortoises sometimes appear among the corals playing with clown fishes, and even groups of tunas.
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Place You Must Visit Around Komodo Island
7. The Pink Beach
If you like exploring beaches, you will absolutely love the Pink Beach. This unique beach has literally pink-colored sand, which get its color clearer and brighter after being flushed by seawater. Yet the local inhabitants prefer calling it the Red Beach.
According to a scientific research, the pink color of the sand was caused by a mixing of scattered corals and the beach’s sand. This Pink Beach of Komodo Island is one among seven beaches in the world with the same feature. As a result, people around the world love to visit this beautiful beach to feel the sensation and that pink phenomena.
8. The Pink Namo Beach
Together with the Pink Beach of Komodo Island, there is also another “pink” beach back in Labuan Bajo, which are deemed to be the “Real Pink Beach”. Just like the Komodo’s Pink Beach, this one in Labuan Bajo has pink-colored sand. Nevertheless, the Pink Namo Beach’s sand is more pinkish and looks brighter. Thus, people love to come here to take pictures it’s like a great spot for wedding photograph, honeymoon love shoot, or just randomly Instagram photos. This pink beach is absolutely beautiful.
This is also an ideal place to snorkel-dive and to swim. Unfortunately, due to the absence of any professional maintenance of this beach, you still find lots of garbage along the shore.
9. Kelor Island
This island can be reached within an hour trip with an ordinary boat, and about half an hour using a speedboat, from Labuan Bajo. Here you can snorkel-dive, or just enjoy the white-sandy beach and the crystal-clear water. The beaches are sloping, so that you can have such a spacy room to have fun.
Another challenging but exciting activity here is to climb up a hill’s slope with a tilt of more than 45 degrees, so it takes a great effort to reach the top. Nonetheless, when you are finished with climbing, what awaits up there quite worth all the sweat. Standing up on the hilltop, there lies magnificent view for your eyes to feed on.
10. Kalong Island
“Kalong” means “bat”. Thus, as the name implies, you can rightly expect to see bats of various species here. It will be an extraordinarily exotic view to see thousands of bats flying toward the Labuan Bajo when the night begins to fall, with the sunset in the background. This uninhabited island is reachable with a mere 35-minutes sea trip from Labuan Bajo. It is said that, beside a home of bats, the Kalong Island is also a home of pythons. As a result, it’s a great spooky challenging island to stay in. Dare to prove it yourself?
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11. The Manta Point
A Manta rayfish, or Manta birostris, known as the world’s biggest rayfish, can have the body width up to 7 meters from one fin’s tip to the other. Some reports even indicate the width to be more than 9 meters. You can best see a large group of Manta rayfish in this area around November. You can either stay aboard the boat to see them playing around near the water surface, or you can go down diving among them to have a closer and clearer look.
Despite its gigantic size, a Manta rayfish is not a dangerous creature, so it is quite safe to swim and dive close to it. Nonetheless, you should never try to touch a Manta. Their bodies are so delicate and can be easily injured with just the slightest touch, that they are all covered with a kind of mucus. By touching its body, the mucus will be eroded and thus endangering the Manta.
Available Accommodations in Komodo Island
12. Five-Star Hotel
Hotels in Labuan Bajo are the first option of accommodation taken by most visitors. If you have sufficient budget, even 4-star and 5-star hotels with first-class services are available here. The Jayakarta Suite Komodo Flores is one of them. This 5-star hotel is located near the Labuan Bajo port. It has sport and recreation facilities like swimming pools, tennis square, private beaches, etc. Another good option is the 4-star Bintang Flores Hotel, the Laprima Hotel, or the Luwansa Beach Resort.
13. Home Stay
Also in Labuan Bajo, you can choose homestays with the locals in order to significantly cut your accommodation spending.
14. Live on Board
A hired boat is another option. It is called “Live on Board” (LoB). Some of such boats have facilities like bedrooms, toilets, and meal packages. The rent price depends on the boat’s size and the duration of stay. A simple boat with 5-passengers capacity hired for 2 days and one night costs you about IDR 2.5 million, while bigger-size boats usually charge IDR 3.5 million or more. Ideally, hiring for 3 days and 2 nights will give you enough satisfaction of round travelling.
15. The Island Ranger
Homestay with the island ranger is an interesting option. The house stands on stilts, and supplied with limited electricity. The power is usually turned off at 10 p.m.
How to Get to Komodo Island
It is pretty easy to reach this exotic island. First you can take a small plane from Denpasar in Bali, either the Merpati or Trigana Air, to Komodo Airport in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara. Then you can take a ferryboat to Komodo Island. If you prefer to reach Labuan Bajo by sea trip, you can depart from Tanjung Benoa in Bali. Another option is taking a bus from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo. A ferryboat will take the bus, and you just relax in the bus waiting to arrive.
While in Labuan Bajo, you also have the chance to visit other spots of interest in Flores, such as the famous 3-colored Lake Kelimutu. Another one is Gili Laba, where you can climb up to a hill’s top, and after reaching up there you can take some selfie’s with one of the best photo backgrounds in the world. A relatively new tourism site of Labuan Bajo is the Pink Namo Beach.
Another option is travelling through Lombok, instead of Labuan Bajo. This option tends to be less costly, but it takes one day and one night to go, while the Labuan Bajo option usually takes but a few hours.
Several Tips upon Visiting Komodo Island
1. Prepare things like sunblock, sunglasses, hats, etc. which you will surely need in such a sunny place. Komodo Island and the other surrounding islands are mostly dominated by savannas and beaches, while lush forests are rare.
2. When you are going on trekking, try to make as little sudden moves or noises as possible. Komodo lizards have bad eyesight, but on the other side they have very strong hearing and smelling sense, and very sensitive on perceiving moves or sounds.
3. Don’t get too close to those giant creatures. An approximate minimum distance of 8-10 meters is recommended for safety’s sake.
4. If you happen to be chased by a komodo lizard, make a zigzag track while running. It will be difficult for the lizard to follow such tracks. You can also run to safety by going to a higher place. Nevertheless, it is still much better to avoid being chased, since this creature can run as fast as 18 km per hour.
5. Don’t leave your group when encountering the lizard. Try not to wave anything.
6. If a woman in a menstruation period is among your group, make sure to let the ranger know, so that he can give her extra attention. Komodo lizards can smell blood even within a radius of hundreds of meters.
7. Strong-smelling perfumes are not recommended.
8. Most importantly: Stay close to the ranger, and do whatever he instructs, for your own safety and comfort.
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So far you might have a clearer insight to what’s waiting for you upon arrival in the Komodo National Park and the Komodo Island Indonesia in particular. Last thing to say is, an unforgettable experience in this magnificent site will surely remain in your memories for the rest of your life.