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Komodo NP

Posted on 20 Jul 2023 | 10 comments

For most people if you mention Komodo they automatically think of the Komodo Dragons. And rightly so. They are world-famous and can only be found on 5 islands inside the Komodo National Park, close to Flores. And Flores is one of Indonesiaโ€™s 17,000 islands, a bit further east than Bali.

We wanted to see the Komodo Dragons so we booked a flight to Labuan Bajo, a lovely little relaxed town on the west coast of Flores. We spent quite a few days there, enjoying the ability to just walk everywhere, have amazing breakfasts at the new local cafรฉ called Mimaora and fantastic fresh fish dinners from the local market stalls at night. Jude also indulged in some hour-long massages that cost a tenth of what you pay in Australia, and we spent several hours (4!) in the post office sending two small boxes back to Australia with our cold weather gear we no longer needed (down jackets, gloves, woolen hats etc).

our fish is being cleaned and prepared by the guy on the right, before grilling it on the bbq. We had several dinners at these local market stalls in Labuan Bajo on Flores, Indonesia

To see the dragons you must join a boat trip. But instead of doing a day trip we decided to book a liveaboard. Liveaboards are boats where you literally live on board the boat, the term is used mostly to describe a diving trip on a boat for several days (or weeks) and we had found a 4-day trip that would allow us to do 13 dives, snorkel and go to see the dragons. Perfect.

our dive boat, we lived here for 4 days and 3 nights whilst cruising around in the Komodo NP, Indonesia

Jon and Tom during our games of Cards against Humanity in the evenings

one of 13 dive site briefings (Mawan Island) by Fabi, one of our dive masters

Jude stepping in for her last dive from the liveaboard, this is dive site Pengah Kecil in Komodo NP, Indonesia

The dives were amazing, with probably some of the best, healthy coral in the world that we have seen. We were even lucky enough to see several manta rays including a very large one (at least 4m wingspan), and Jude was spoilt as one choose to swim right next to her for quite some time and on another dive (where they normally don’t ever see mantas) she had 2 of them join her out of the deep blue!

the manta ray that came up next to Jude and swam right beside her for a few minutes

One of the night dives, a muck dive, was just incredible with the number of interesting things we saw, Yuven (our dive master with an amazing knack to spot even the tiniest nudibranch and even a seahorse) kept hitting his tank to alert everyone to yet another find. Jude struggled to keep up with taking photos of everything. Jude even saw quite a few orangutans on her dives too. But these are not apes, they are crabs, but they look equally cute!

the lights under water are from us on the night dive at Sioba Besar, Komodo NP in Indonesia

our first ever seahorse spotted on the Wae Nilu dive site at night in Komodo NP, Indonesia. It is a great seahorse (hippocampus kelloggi), they can grow up to 28cm, one of the largest of 54 species of seahorses

an orangutan under water! This is an orangutan crab (achaeus japonicus) on bubble coral (plerogyra sinuosa). Wwe saw quite a few of them as Yuven was excellent in spotting them

After returning from 4 days on the diving liveaboard, we joined another boat, shared with 15 others, sleeping dorm style with 14 people in one area on deck. We literally started with a private vessel to see the orangutans, then a shared liveaboard with private cabin, and finally this shared boat with no privacy whatsoever (only in the toilet, showers were outdoors and shared too).

our lounge, we spent many happy hours here, chatting with new friends and enjoying the scenery

sleeping arrangements for the 3 nights from Flores to Lombok – luckily nobody snored!

This vessel would take us from Flores all the way to Lombok, a journey that would keep us another 4 days at sea. With this boat we visited several snorkeling spots, Padar island to walk to a very pretty (but busy) viewpoint for sunrise, we watched the Sunda flying foxes (acerodon mackloti) leave the mangroves of Koaba Island en masse for their daily trek to Flores to find food, and we visited a famous Tiktok / Instagram pink beach we thought was totally underwhelming… (but at least the snorkeling was ok).

an early morning start to hike to the viewpoint on Padar Island. You can see 3 different colour beaches in this photo (black, white and pink)

enjoying one of many swims during our boat trip from Flores to Lombok

And yes, we saw dragons! Despite the fact it was mating season when we were there and they can be hard to find during this time (we heard several stories of people not seeing any on their visit), we saw quite a few of them. During our time on the diving liveaboard we visited Rinca island. Despite locals being very much against it, they built a boardwalk here so you can see the dragons from above. A bit of a Jurassic Park experience. It’s not very nice, but we did see them. But we were lucky we saw a large male when we went for a normal walk through the forest after the boardwalk, it made for a more interesting sighting.

Jon and Jude with one of the male komodo dragons on Rinca Island in Komodo NP, Indonesia

Then, on the boat from Flores to Lombok, we stopped in at Komodo island, the biggest island in the Komodo NP. As we arrived at the large jetty we walked straight to the shade on the island. On our approach a lady pointed out there was a dragon on the beach! So we quickly walked over and enjoyed some time with this dragon before we did our hike in the forest with a guide. We saw several more dragons on our hike, in total on both islands we probably saw about a dozen.

a komodo dragon on the beach on Komodo Island, the biggest island in the Komodo NP, Indonesia

We’ll leave you with a small selection of under water photos from the 13 dives, mostly from a few of the many nudibranchs, but some other critters too. Enjoy!

a flamboyant cuttlefish (metasepia pfefferi) on the night dive at Sioba Besar in Komodo NP. They are quite small, maximum size is 8cm

a beautiful blue velvet headshield slug (chelidonura varians) on the night dive at Sioba Besar in Komodo NP, Indonesia

a turtle at the Tatawa Besar dive site in Komodo NP, Indonesia

a yellow-lipped sea krait at Castle Rock in Komodo NP, a sea snake that spends time on land as well, only coming into the water to hunt

a small frogfish, not sure what type, on the night dive at Sioba Besar in Komodo NP, Indonesia

a sarasvati anemone shrimp (periclimenes sarasvati) on a magnificent sea anemone (heteractis magnifica) at Crystal Rock in Komodo NP, Indonesia

a beautiful spotted eagle ray (aetobatus narinari) swims next to us for a while at Manta Point in Komodo NP, Indonedia.

beautiful red knotted fan coral (melithaea ochracea) at Castle Rock in Komodo NP, Indonesia

a male ribbon eel (rhinomuraena quaesita) at Mawan Island in Komodo NP, Indonesia Males are between 65 and 97cm long, the yellow females can grow up to 130cm

a lot of excitement as we spot a dugong just after we come up from our dive

we saw several sharks on the dive at Crystal Rock in the Komodo NP, including these 2 white-tipped reef sharks (triaenodon obesus)

a Nembrotha cristata nudibranch at Pengah Kecil in Komodo NP, Indonesia

a lined nembrotha (nembrotha lineolata) nudibranch at Penga Kecil in Komodo NP, Indonesia

an unknown nudibranch at Pengah Kecil in Komodo NP, Indonesia

a nembrotha aurea nudibranch at Pengah Kecil in Komodo NP, Indonesia

a nudibranch at the Wae Nilu dive site in the Komodo NP Indonesia, Possibly a phyllodesmium, but we are not sure.

an unknown nudibranch at the Wae Nilu dive site in the Komodo NP, Indonesia

Komodo NP entry fee

There have been a lot of news articles on the BBC, CN travel and other news outlets about the increase of fees for Komodo NP, some even suggesting the government will raise the entrance fee to USD1000 per person to visit the dragons on Komodo Island and possibly a different price for visiting some of the other islands where you can see dragons as well. Many articles suggest the increase would take affect from 1 Jan 2023. We weren’t charged these prices, but still paid the ‘old’ price of 150,000Rp per person (about USD10).

If you have always wanted to see the Komodo dragons we suggest you go sooner rather than later to avoid any potentially dramatic price increases they have been talking about for the past 4 years.

10 Comments

  1. Great material. I enjoyed reading about our trip and seeing the pictures. Anna was thrilled to see herself in one of them. Miss you guys. Greetings from Germany. Anna-Maria and Christian

    • ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks! now she is famous! ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a great trip on the boat, we enjoyed it a lot. And making new friends makes it even better! Big hugs from both of us! xx

  2. Magic!!! Thanks for sharing

    • ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜ thanks, our pleasure!

  3. Great photos J&J

    • Thanks J&C ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜

  4. Love those nudibranches! And the orangutans!! Thank you for sharing all your fabulous photos and the stories behind them.

    • Thanks Kathryn! And thanks for reading ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ˜˜

  5. Looks terrific Jude. We saw lots of amazing fish etc snorkelling on our trip unfortunately no underwater camera on hand. Cheryl tried scuba diving for the first time (2 dives) but wasnโ€™t convinced, however loved the snorkelling.

    • thanks Guy! Great to hear you saw loads of beautiful fish too, it is so peaceful under water. Did you dive together when Cheryl tried the diving?

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