There are so many reasons to visit the Komodo Islands in the Indonesian archipelago, but not least of these is the fact that it is soon to be closing for 2020. The reason for the closing is to protect the island and promote the health of the Komodo dragons. The good news is that the boat tours will still be running and you will have the chance to see these ancient creatures on Rinca Island. So if you are in the area and can make it to this national park region this year, do it! Otherwise, be sure to check Indonesia’s tourist info before booking anything over the next 12-15 months.
There are a few different ways to experience these Islands, but we chose to do the 4 day and 3 night tour with Wanua Adventures. These folks offer tours that start in Lombok and end in Flores or the opposite. We chose the opposite. Their boat handles the trip very well, the food is terrific and they offer a variety of flavors as well as veggie options. Our only complaint would be that we saw other boats that had some bean bags and tables and stools for their guests to enjoy and ours had some simple pads that we had to get by organizing as guests and essentially demanding them! Once we got these it did make the long boat rides where you have a chance to read, sunbath and meet the other travelers just that much more enjoyable.
We arrived in Flores the night before departure and it is pretty obvious that most people come here solely as a starting point for the Komodo tours. From what we have seen this island has much more to offer and if you give yourself a couple of extra days to explore, you won’t be disappointed. We rented motorbikes and got out of the city to find a more quiet spot to have a beverage and enjoy the sunset. When we got back into town, we stumbled upon a local market where there are booths selling all sorts of local fresh fish, so we grabbed dinner there and enjoyed the sites and sounds of the streets.
-We will add that the boat tour offers everything you need unless you want some extra snacks and alcohol. We stocked up on these and they had the capacity to store and cool them for us on the boat, so we would recommend doing this the night before departure.
Day 1 of the tour starts at 7am at the harbor. The loading process is efficient and before you know it you are causing along at sea enjoying the sites and dreaming of jumping into the water as the day heats up. Another suggestion we would give the tour is to allow for a 30 minute stop on the way to that first island to let the guests jump in for a cool down swim. Regardless of that, the 90 minute boat ride is calming and gives you a chance to get to know your fellow passengers. Before you know it you arrive to Rinca Island where you have an hour or so tour of the island and get to see your first Komodo dragons! The guides offer a lot of great info about the island and lives of the dragons, and their English is good enough to answer quite a bit more if you think to ask it.
After a short hike around to catch some views from the island, you are back on the boat and heading to Pink Beach for a chance to snorkel, bask in the sun and cool off. There are some scenic points that you can hike to for photo opps and views, but we mostly hung out in the water and were able to buy a cold beer from a local on his “cool beer” boat. Next they rounded us all up on the boat, fed us a great lunch of local food and we set out for THE Komodo Island.
This stop was a highlight as we saw a bunch of dragons, were able to get in close for some great photos and even saw an adolescent climbing around on a tree, which we were told is pretty rare. Our expectation of these huge reptiles was based on our viewing of Planet Earth. We realized that we would not likely get to see them running or hunting, but we were hopeful. What you will more than likely see is them hanging in the shade, not moving much and simply taking it easy. That is ok, because these beasts can be dangerous to encounter and all you have between you and them is a guide with a pronged stick if they attack!
One of the things that we found most enjoyable with this trip was the time at sea on the boat. There are long hours between sites and we enjoyed relaxing in the sun, playing games, reading, and having sunset dance parties with the crew and guests! You pass by some beautiful islands, active volcanoes and scenic beaches. We saw dolphins playing with the cursing boat and fishing and enjoyed the sites and sounds of the ocean.
Day 2 of the trip includes an early morning wake up for a boat ride to shore and a moderate hike up to catch the sunrise. This is a beautiful location that offers 360 degree panoramic views of 3 distinctly different beaches. After a nice breakfast, you spend the rest of the day checking out some different beaches, snorkeling and cruising on the boat. Our favorite beach was Long Beach due to its perfect white/pink sand and healthy reef. Honestly, some of the best snorkeling any of us had encountered on this globe. A nice dinner at sunset and lying on the boat star gazing ends day 2.
On day 3 you wake up at a desolate beach where you can hike in to a waterfall that you climb to get to a rope swing and sitting pools. It is nice to get a change of scenery and walk through the jungle, but don’t get your hopes up for an adrenaline rush swing on the rope…trust us. The rest of the day is spent mostly on the boat. There are a few stops to swim and for lunch as well. The last part of the day is a boat ride through some rougher seas with bigger swells, nobody got sick to our knowledge, but the ocean is noticeably rougher for this 2-3 hour stretch. The day ends with a dance party on the beach where the guests and crew all have some drinks and reflect on the past few days.
On the last day of the tour, you return to the same island where the dance party was to hike up to the high point and check out the sunrise. It is a nice final group activity to partake in as everyone recalls the fun from the night before. After a couple hours boat ride following the sunrise, you arrive on the east end of Lombok. Everyone is typically going to different places following the tour so the travel arrangements are made. The “4th day” is not really anything besides getting you to your next spot. Most people were put into small vans where you set out for a 3 hour ride to the other side of the island.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the Komodo Island tour. As long as you keep your expectations of what you will see with the dragons in check and enjoy the relaxation and down time, we feel you will get the most of this journey. Seeing these prehistoric animals is such a thrill and you can’t help but think of all that has happened surrounding them as they continue to inhabit these islands. Put this on your bucket list, but be sure to check before booking to be sure that the tours are running and you will be able to see everything you want see while there.