If you want to visit Komodo National Park, you have a plethora of options. From doing a liveaboard, to hiring a boat and skipper and doing it private, there is an option for every price point. I believe the best way to see the the park is to do a Komodo National Park speed boat tour. This allows you to see a whole bunch of stuff in one day (which means needing to spend less time in Labuan Bajo).
We booked our fantastic tour through FloresXP which ended up to be the best decision we could have made. They are highly professional and upfront with all prices and other information. You can find the address of their office in Labuan Bajo by clicking the link above, or just searching Google.
Padar Island is where you’ll go to get the most iconic picture of Komodo National Park. As Komodo National Park is mostly still undeveloped, and quite inaccessible you can only go to a small section of it. Padar is where you can get sweeping views of an entire island.
As we went by a fairly new three engine speedboat, it only took us 1 hour to get to Padar Island from Labuan Bajo. Make sure to wear sneakers for this part of the trip as you’re in for about a 20 minute hike up to the top.
There is a step trail going all the way up, so you should feel safe the entire way. At the top you can get the best pictures of the island. Make sure to pay special attention to the three different colored beaches!
There are a variety of pink beaches around the islands and different tour operators go to different places. The one we went to was called Secret Pink Beach located at the Northwest of Padar Island.
I tried to keep my hopes in check because I was worried the beach wouldn’t actually be that pink, however I was pleasantly surprised. The beach (especially near the shoreline) is actually pink! This is due to an organism called foraminifera which has a red body. When it breaks up and turns into sand it gives the entire beach a pink tinge.
Hint: you can see the pink better if you have polarized sunglasses, otherwise the glare from the sun makes it quite faint.
After snorkeling and picture taking at pink beach, we went to Komodo island to see the dragons. Due to the danger, each group of five people is led by a guide from Komodo village. He carried a long staff meant to protect us from the lizards as well as snakes.
The trek was about an hour long, and while we saw a komodo nesting ground, we only saw one young dragon resting under a tree.
However near the end of the trek we were taken nearby the restaurant where two huge dragons were lazing about in the shade. Our guide helped us into position to get our picture taken.
This was also the spot we stopped at to have lunch. I wasn’t impressed with the lunch provided by the tour, but I never really expect the tour lunches to be good anyways.
This Sandbar in the middle of the sea was just so beautiful. Bright white sand and clear turquoise waters made for absolutely perfect pictures.
We only stayed here about a half hour, but that was more than enough to get our snaps and cool off in the water.
Okay, staying true to the name, we did see Manta Rays!!! I was nervous we wouldn’t because the tour guides said we would only see them if we get lucky, but we saw two huge ones (plus a stingray).
This was in the middle of the sea, so there was no beach to swim to if you get tired. Also, the current can be strong so if you are a weak swimmer ask for a life vest.
However this was Cody’s favorite spot (even more than the dragons) and he was free diving all the way to the bottom (at least ten meters) to get awesome pictures and video with the GoPro. Of course I included these in our video (smiley)
We swam around for about 45 minutes which was a tiring but worthwhile endeavor. The mantas were so huge and graceful and it was truly a beautiful experience.
At our last spot we got to snorkle and swim again, but this time with turtles. Cody skipped out on this one as he was dizzy from diving so much with the mantas. No matter, he swam with turtles back when we were in Gili so you can see some of that from my Gili video.
This stop was about a half hour long, and the current was really strong. By the time I got back to the boat I was just wiped out. Luckily as this was our last stop, I got to nap a bit on the way back.
The total price for the tour was Rp.1,150,000 (Tour Price) + Rp.300,000 (National Park Entrance Fee plus other government fees). This ended up being about $104 USD per person.
Most tours do similar stops, but not all of them are good, so if you book with a different tour company make sure you know which spots you will be going to.