Not long ago, Komodo Island was the stuff of legend for travellers and naturalists. Only a lucky few, mostly scientists and bonafide explorers, ever had an opportunity to travel there. At first glance Komodo island is like something straight out of King Kong, which isn’t a coincidence. The original films were inspired by Douglas Burden’s expedition here in 1932. It’s easy to see where he got his inspiration. After all, in addition to the stunning deserted landscapes of Komodo, there are dragons there. Komodo dragons, to be precise.
Komodo dragons are basically giant lizards- the largest in the world. Reaching lengths of over 3m and a weight of over 75kg. While they may not have wings or breathe fire, coming face to face with one of these beasts will surely be a not-soon-forgotten experience.
The great thing about Komodo Island is that, these days, it’s surprisingly easy to get there. A short flight from Bali will land you directly on this fabled island. And, if coming face-to-face with Komodo Dragons doesn’t sound like reason enough to go, the island has other surprises in store for visitors. It’s also home to deserted beaches of pink sand, colourful fishing villages and some of the densest coral reefs in the world. Combined, it was enough to qualify Komodo Island as being named one of the New Seven Wonders of the Natural World in 2011.
Visiting Komodo will involve acquainting yourself with Labuan Bajo, the bustling tourist centre of the Komodo area. Interestingly, it’s not actually on the island of Komodo but a rather dusty village at the tip of Flores. While Labuan Bajo isn’t much to behold in its own right, there are a number of small islands just off its coast that are worthy of mention. Bidadari, Seraya and Sabolo Islands are all renowned for the spectacular underwater worlds found surrounding them.
Of course, the real reason most people visit Komodo is to get up-close and personal with Komodo Island’s famous inhabitants, Komodo dragons. Komodo Island and its neighbour, Rinca Island are the only places on earth where these lumbering reptilian giants exist. Despite their rarity, the arid landscape of Komodo makes them relatively easy to find. With guided tours of the island, you can easily find yourself peering straight into their eyes (from a careful distance, of course) within the space of a few hours.
Rinca Island, Komodo’s largest neighbour, is also worth a visit. In addition to having Komodo dragons of its own, the undulating hills of Rinca and its spectacular coral-studded coastline are, arguably, even more dramatic than Komodo’s. If you’re heading back to Komodo at dusk, vast swarms of Flying Foxes will join you on the commute from a massive colony living on Kalong Island, which sits between Rinca and Komodo. At more than a meter wide, they’re the largest bats in the world so the sight of thousands of them flying at dusk is impressive to say the least.
One of Komodo’s biggest attractions is Pink Beach. It’s one of only seven beaches in the world to hold the title of actually being pink. The colouration is due to the abundance of similarly coloured coral that wash up onto the beach and, after eons of wave action, are reduced to the sugary consistency they have today. Numerous reputable sources claim that the snorkelling here is some of the best in the world.
If Komodo Island isn’t already off-the-beaten path enough, those looking to go further have a range of options for more trekking in and around Komodo. Popular trekking excursions in the area include hikes to Mount Mbeliling for sights of Cunca Rami WaterFall and Crater Lake.
How to get there:
By Plane: The best way to get to Komodo is by air from Bali. Daily flights operate between Denpasar International Airport and Lubuan Bajo Komodo Airport. From Labuan Bajo, speedboats take you to Komodo Island itself.