Panorama of Labuan Bajo, Flores.

Bali to Komodo Island

Looking to travel from Bali to Komodo Island? I’ve made that amazing journey to Komodo so I’m super-excited to share all the details with you.

Komodo dragon in the sun with young boy in the background.
The mighty Komodo Dragons on Komodo Island.

Hey fellow travelers! If you’re like me and love a good adventure, then this guide on getting from Bali to Komodo Island is perfect for you. Both destinations offer unique experiences: Bali with its vibrant culture and idyllic beaches, and Komodo Island with its fascinating wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. I’ve been lucky enough to make this trip, and I can’t wait to share my experiences and tips with you to make your journey just as amazing!

Travel Options for Bali to Komodo Island

Direct flights

In my experience, the most convenient way to get to Komodo Island was to fly from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) in Denpasar to Labuan Bajo Airport (LBJ) on Flores Island. I flew with Indonesia’s national carrier, Garuda, but other airlines like Citilink, Lion Air, Batik Air, AirAsia, and Wings Air also offer this route. The direct flight took about 1 hour and 15 minutes. I booked tickets directly from Garuda Indonesia’s website and it was super-easy, but you could also use sites like Skyscanner and Google Flights. The cost of the return flight for one adult is about US$120.

Please note that there are currently no international flights that land in Labuan Bajo; the airport cannot accommodate large aircraft.

Garuda plane going to Komodo Island.
Flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo, Flores.

Connecting flights with layovers

In my opinion, there is no advantage to having a layover or stopover when flying from Bali to Komodo Island. The direct flight is just over an hour in an easterly direction. If you really want to stop somewhere, you could layover on the island of Lombok, which is also east of Bali. However, any other layover (eg, Surabaya or Jakarta) would be taking you in the opposite direction!

Additionally, it’s now very reasonably priced to fly directly to Labuan Bajo. Years ago when I first made the trek, you could save a little bit of cash by taking a circuitous route and traveling through Surabaya, but that certainly is not the case anymore.

Boat with people on board watching the sunset.
From the boat, watch tens of thousands of flying foxes leave Kalong Island at sunset, Komodo National Park.

Public transport: bus and ferry

The public transport route from Bali to Labuan Bajo and Komodo Island is VERY long – and not for the faint hearted! The journey takes somewhere between 24 and 36 hours depending on where you have to stop along the way and whether your connections line up nicely. (Hint: they probably won’t!) It’s a looong trip that is divided up into sections, but I don’t know if that makes it better or worse! On the plus side, you will meet lots of local people and you will have the opportunity to practice your Indonesian language skills. (Or else you will become very good at playing charades!) And the scenery you will see along the way is stunning. Are you ready?

  1. Catch the ferry from Padang Bai, Bali, to Lembar, Lombok. The ferry crossing takes about 4.5 hours and costs approximately US$4. Ferries run every hour through the day and night, on the hour.
  2. Take the public bus from Lembar to Mataram – to the Mandalika bus terminal. The bus rides takes about 1 hour and costs approximately US$1.
    (Note: Depending on the time of day you leave Padang Bai, you might need to overnight in Mataram.)
  3. Take a public bus from the Mandalika bus terminal to the Kayangang Harbor on the east coast. The bus takes about 3 hours and costs approximately US$2.
  4. Catch the ferry from Kayangang Harbor to Poto Tano Harbour (that is, from the island of Lombok to the island of Sumbawa). The ferry crossing takes about 1.5 hours and costs approximately US$1.50. Ferries run 24 hours a day.
  5. Take a public bus from Poto Tano to the small city of Bima, Sumbawa. The bus takes about 8 hours and costs approximately US$4.
    (Note: Depending on the time of day you leave Bima, you might need to overnight in Sape.)
  6. Take a public bus from Bima to Sape (on the Sumbawa eastern coast). The bus takes about 1 hour and costs approximately US$1.
  7. Catch the ferry from Sape to Labuan Bajo (that is, from the island of Sumbawa to the island of Flores). The ferry crossing takes anywhere from 5 – 8 hours and costs approximately US$9. The ferries only run twice a day, the first one departing Sape at 8am. Interestingly, the ferry passes right by Komodo Island on its journey east to Labuan Bajo, Flores!

Private boat charter

If you’re up for a more luxurious experience, private boat charters are available from Bali to Komodo. Prices vary depending on the size and amenities of the boat. I have not done this route myself, but I have met some lucky travelers who speak very highly of the comfort and flexibility of their private charter. I’d love to do the route one day, but right now it’s way over my budget!

Planning Your Komodo Island Tour

I recommend that you decide what type of Komodo National Park visit or tour you want to do – and lock it in with the tour company – *before* you book travel to Labuan Bajo. Book your travel around your tour!

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Komodo Island is definitely in the dry season (April to November) when the weather is more predictable and the seas are calmer. However, please bear in mind that it’s Komodo dragon mating season between June and September. During mating season, the giant lizards spend less time lazing out in the open so they’re harder to spot. So if you can manage a trip in April, May, October or November, then lucky you!

Note: Although January typically provides the best opportunities to see the dragons, it is also the middle of the wet season which means seas are rough and transport to the Komodos is not guaranteed.

Pink Beach on Komodo Island.
Picture-perfect Pink Beach in the Komodo National Park.

Must-see destinations

Wow – where to start?! I think we need a list:

  • Komodo dragons – The main reason we all want to go! The dragons are HUGE and AMAZING and you will never forget seeing these amazing beasts!
  • Pink Beach – Don’t don’t miss the famous and Insta-worthy Pink Beach (or Pantai Merah in Indonesian) – it’s absolutely spectacular. The pink color comes from both microscopic organisms called Foraminifera whose shell is a pink or red, and from crushed pieces of pipe coral which are also a reddish-pink color. Visit in the late afternoon – when the sun is low in the sky – for the pink hues to appear at their best.
  • Rinca Island – Pronounced “Rin-cha”, Komodo dragons, pink beaches, and a local fishing village are all features of both Rinca Island and Komodo Island.
  • Padar Island – A short-ish but steep hike up to some spectacular views over the islands that make up Komodo National Park.
  • Manta rays – It’s possible to see and snorkel with these graceful and gorgeous creatures all year round, but the closer it is to rainy season, the better your chances will be.
  • Komodo Village – Home to most of the people who are lucky enough to call Komodo National Park their home. The vast majority of the villagers are fishermen, although some are very skilled carvers, creating wooden Komodo dragon artefacts you can buy to take home as souvenirs.
  • Taka Makassar – A small, arc-shaped sand bank that pops out of the water. The natural shape of the island often offers a protective home to the magnificent manta rays. Dive with them for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
  • Kalong Island – Thousands of flying foxes swarm off the island at sunset each evening in search of food. It’s an incredible sight to witness from the deck of your live-aboard boat.
  • Kanawa Island – Beautiful bougainvillea-covered island that makes the perfect stop for snorkelling. Bring cash (Indonesian Rupiah only).
  • Batu Bolong – Awesome spot for snorkelling where you can spot turtles, octopus, and pretty colored coral.
  • Wae Rebo – If you’ve got a few extra days available, consider making a side trip to trek to the traditional village of Wae Rebo.
Aerial view of Taka Makassar island in Komodo national park, Indonesia.
Aerial view of Taka Makassar island in Komodo national park, Indonesia. Empty paradise small white sand island

Length of visit

When considering how long you want to spend cruising around the islands of Komodo National Park, there really is something for everyone and every budget.

  • One day trip. There are day trips that depart from and return to the harbour in Labuan Bajo with prices starting from US$125 per person. These quick tours will take you to see the Komodo dragons on Komodo Island or Rinca Island, you can hike up Padar Island to catch the views, visit Pink Beach, and snorkel at Manta Point or Turtle Point. Included in the price is lunch on board the boat, drinking water, a local guide, and snorkelling gear. Some boats are air conditioned but expect to pay a little more for such luxury. Please note that National Park entrance fees, personal expenses, and gratuities are not included in the price.
  • Two-day-one-night trip. There are many local charter boats complete with expert local guide and crew that will suggest a route that suits your group and the season. You can be sure to see all the sights of the one day trip (above), but you will have the added benefit of not being rushed, and the experience of sleeping overnight on the boat. The boat crew will include a chef who will prepare all your meals on board – usually freshly caught! Food, drinking water, and snorkelling gear will be included in the cost, but not National Park entrance fees, personal expenses, or gratuities.
  • Three-day-two night trip. This is my preferred option because you really have the chance to relax into your surroundings and experience the delights of the area. Your day will start early with breakfast on board the boat, and the experienced crew will take you around to all the sights you and your guide have decided to see. You will have plenty of opportunities to snorkel, hike, and visit some of the lesser-visited islands – and all at your own pace. If the manta rays or turtles aren’t visible the first time you try to see them, you will have plenty of opportunities to double-back and try to see them again. These cost of these trips starts at around US$325 for shared accommodation on an un-airconditioned boat and go up from there.
  • Multi-day trip. You can craft your own adventure for as many days as you have available. Prices start at around US$525 per person but will depend on the number of people in your group, whether you want to share the boat with other guests, if the boat is air conditioned, and how long you want to cruise for. The sky is the limit!
Tourist ship in the water area of Komodo National Park.
Komodo Island, Indonesia. Tourist boat in the waters of Komodo National Park.

In my experience, most of the Komodo National Park boat tours follow a very similar route, almost regardless of the length of the tour. However, The length of the boat tour seems to determine how long you get to stay in each location, and whether you have time to visit some of the lesser-visited islands.

Permits and fees

Remember to budget for the Komodo National Park entrance fee and additional costs for trekking or ranger-guided tours. The Komodo National Park entrance fee is currently around US$35 per person* which goes towards upkeep of the park and paying rangers to look out for the dragons.

*There has been talk about raising the Komodo National Park entrance fee to approximately US$175 per person. The plan has stalled for now, but please do keep an eye on local information so that you don’t get an expensive surprise.

Ethical and sustainable travel

Komodo National Park is a phenomenally beautiful natural environment that deserves to be respected. Please follow local guidelines to protect the Komodo dragons and their habitat.

Packing Tips and Essentials

Clothing and gear

My strongest suggestion is to pack light – just hand luggage, if possible. You’ll only need lightweight clothing (tee-shirts and shorts), swimsuit (or two!), sneakers for hiking, sandals or flip flops, a waterproof bag for electronics including chargers, a hat, sunscreen, a sarong (the most useful item when traveling in Asia), and personal toiletries including seasickness tablets and anti-diarrhoea tablets. I also take a summer dress that rolls up neatly that I can pull out if I go out for a nice dinner.

Important documents

Bring your passport, necessary visas, travel insurance documents, plus any required proof of vaccination requirements.

Don’t forget to leave a photocopy of each of these documents with a trusted friend or relative at home – every time you travel.

Health precautions

Check with your doctor for any required vaccinations and pack a small first-aid kit.

Additionally, the protocols and restrictions around COVID-19 are subject to change at short notice, so please keep an eye on official travel sites for the latest requirements.

Looking out the front of the boat at Komodo Island.
Spectacular views from the boat over the Komodo Island National Park.

Questions

How do I get from Bali to Komodo Island?

Getting from Bali to Komodo Island, an area known for its breathtaking nature and the unique Komodo dragons, involves a couple of steps, but rest assured, the journey is part of the adventure and well worth the effort!
Your first step is to get to Labuan Bajo, a small town on the westernmost tip of Flores Island, which serves as the main gateway to Komodo National Park. There are daily flights from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as Denpasar International Airport) to Labuan Bajo’s Komodo Airport. These flights usually take around 1 to 1.5 hours, with several airlines like Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, and AirAsia offering this route. Make sure to book your tickets in advance, especially during the high season.
Upon reaching Labuan Bajo, the next part of your journey is by boat. There are several tour operators in Labuan Bajo that offer day trips or multi-day tours to Komodo Island. Depending on your preferences and budget, you can choose from a variety of options, including speed boats, sailboats, or even luxury liveaboards. The boat trip generally takes about 2-4 hours, depending on the type of boat and the weather conditions.
Please note, the travel plans can vary significantly depending on the season and weather conditions, so always allow for possible delays or changes in your itinerary. Also, it’s advisable to have travel insurance that covers this kind of travel. And don’t forget your camera – the journey offers some truly stunning views!
Keep in mind that Komodo Island is a protected area and there are certain rules for visitors to follow. Make sure to respect the natural environment and the unique wildlife that resides there. Safe travels, and enjoy your adventure to Komodo Island!

Can you do a day trip from Bali to Komodo Island?

While it’s theoretically possible to do a day trip from Bali to Komodo Island, it’s not generally recommended due to the considerable distance and travel time involved. To give you some perspective, here’s a rough breakdown of the travel times:
First, you’d need to catch a flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo, the closest town to Komodo Island. This usually takes about 1-1.5 hours. Add in the time for check-in, security, and potential delays, you’re probably looking at around 3-4 hours in total for the flight portion of the trip.
From Labuan Bajo, you then need to take a boat to Komodo Island. The boat trip can take anywhere from 2-4 hours one way, depending on the type of boat and the weather conditions.
As you can see, just getting there and back could potentially take up most of your day, leaving very little time to actually enjoy and explore Komodo Island and the surrounding National Park. Additionally, the last flights back to Bali typically leave in the afternoon, which further limits your time on the island.
Instead, most travelers choose to stay at least one night in Labuan Bajo and take a full-day or even multi-day boat tour to Komodo Island. This not only allows more time to experience the island and its famous dragons but also offers opportunities for other activities like snorkeling, hiking, and visiting other nearby islands.
Remember, travel isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about experiencing and enjoying each destination. Rushing a day trip to Komodo Island might end up being more stressful than enjoyable. So, if you can, consider allocating more time for this once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Are the Komodo Islands worth it?

As a travel enthusiast, I’d be inclined to say that yes, the Komodo Islands are definitely worth a visit! There’s so much more to these islands than just their famous inhabitants, the Komodo dragons.
The Komodo National Park, spanning across several islands including Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers an incredible variety of experiences. From hiking up the scenic hills of Padar Island for a breathtaking panoramic view of the turquoise sea intermingling with the rugged landscape, to snorkeling or diving in the clear waters bustling with a rich diversity of marine life, including manta rays and vibrant coral reefs – it’s an adventurer’s paradise!
And, of course, there’s the unique opportunity to witness Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. These fascinating creatures are found nowhere else in the world. The park rangers provide guided tours, ensuring you can observe these incredible animals safely.
The islands also offer pristine pink sand beaches, one of only seven in the world! The pink hue of the sand, a result of red coral fragments mixed with white sand, set against the backdrop of clear blue waters, makes for an enchanting sight.
So, if you love nature, wildlife, and adventure, the Komodo Islands offer an experience that’s hard to match. As always with travel, it’s essential to respect local rules, the environment, and the unique ecosystems you’re privileged to witness. As the saying goes, “take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
It’s also worth noting that getting there requires a bit of time and effort, including a flight from Bali and then a boat trip. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for many, the journey is part of the adventure and well worth it in the end. Remember to plan well, take your time, and soak in every moment of this extraordinary adventure!

Can you get Komodo dragons in Bali?

No, you cannot find Komodo dragons in Bali. These unique creatures are native to the Komodo National Park area, which includes the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Gili Motang, and a few others in the Lesser Sunda region of Indonesia. These islands are a significant distance east of Bali.
It’s quite a journey to get from Bali to where the Komodo dragons live, but it’s a fascinating one, encompassing a flight and a boat trip. The journey allows you to experience other elements of Indonesian culture, landscape, and wildlife along the way, making it not just a trip to see the Komodo dragons, but a broader adventure.
Komodo dragons are a protected species and efforts are made to keep them in their natural habitat, limiting human interaction to ensure their survival. It’s essential that we respect these efforts and visit them responsibly under the guidance of park rangers, rather than expecting them to be brought to more touristy areas for convenience.
So, while you can’t see Komodo dragons in Bali, a trip to the Komodo Islands provides not just an opportunity to see these unique creatures in their natural habitat but also an enriching travel experience that goes beyond the typical tourist paths.

Summary of traveling From Bali to Komodo Island

In conclusion, traveling from Bali to Komodo Island can be an unforgettable experience, whether you choose to fly, take a ferry, or embark on a multi-day boat tour. My personal journey was filled with incredible memories, and I hope my tips and experiences help you plan your own adventure. Trust me, the trip is well worth it, and you’ll come home with stories to share for a lifetime!

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