Visiting Komodo National Park

Komodo National Park: Planning Your Visit

In Indonesia, Wildlife by Erik @ DIY Travel HQ3 Comments

Komodo National Park is the only place in the world to see Komodo Dragons in the wild – from entrance fees to how to get there, find out everything you need to know to plan your visit

Now that you have learned a bit more in our DIY Travel HQ Komodo Dragon Fact or Fiction general knowledge test, let’s explore how to see them in the wild at Komodo National Park.

Firstly, no matter what you try to do, in order to see the world’s largest lizards, you’ll inevitably end up at the Komodo Dragons base town of Labuan Bajo.

You can get to Labuan Bajo by land, sea & air from Bali, Lombok & elsewhere in Indonesia.

How to Visit Komodo National Park

There are four key ways to see Komodo dragons in their natural habitat and all involve heading to Komodo National Park, which is only accessible via sea:

  • As part of a sailing cruise from Lombok
  • On a diving trip
  • On a snorkelling trip
  • Travelling independently by renting a boat

The Indonesian government recently ended the three day park permit, and replaced it with single entry tickets.

The entrance to Rinca Island

The entrance to Rinca Island

Komodo National Park Entrance Fees

Here is what you can expect to pay, for every day you plan to be in Komodo National Park (eg. snorkelling, diving, seeing Komodo dragons):

  • Monday to Saturday Park Entrance Fee: 150,000 IDR / $11.25
  • Sunday Park Entrance Fee: 225,000 IDR / $16.85
  • Komodo and Rinca Trekking Fee: 65,000 IDR / $4.85
  • Trekking Guide (up to five people): 80,000 IDR / $6.00
  • Diving Fee: 25,000 IDR / $1.85
  • Snorkeling Fee: 15,000 IDR / $1.10
Komodo Rinca Island Visitor Centre

Sign up & pay more park fees here

If you joined the multi-day sailing cruise from Lombok, then a trip on land will surely be on your itinerary.

Most dive shops also offer the option to visit Rinca Island instead of performing a third dive.

This is a great option if you are short on time, or want to avoid the park fees on a separate day. The downside is that most dive operators schedule this in the late afternoon when Komodo dragons are least active and/or in their burrows.

Several will still be lounging around the park ranger’s kitchen, but this is only marginally better than seeing them in a zoo:

Komodo Dragons In Front of Kitchen

Komodo dragons in front of ranger headquarters/kitchen

Depending on how many dives you sign up for, the cost to visit will be 350-400,000 IDR / $26.25-$30.00 excluding the exuberant park fees. Divers Paradise Komodo requires the additional trekking fee, but will pay for the guide – see out post on Diving in Komodo National Park, coming soon.

The other two options are to join a tour that will include visiting Rinca Island and snorkeling for 350,000 IDR / $26.25, or getting a group together and renting a boat for 700-800,000 IDR/ $52.45-$60.00 at the wharf with a similar itinerary. Both prices exclude the park fees.

Komodo Rinca National Park Guide

You can only visit Komodo/Rinca Island with a park guide

Komodo National Park: Rinca Island

Although you may have dreamt of visiting Komodo Island to see your first Komodo dragon in the wild, virtually all tours will go to Rinca Island instead. Both islands have similar Komodo populations, but Rinca is much smaller and has no local villages.

You would have to walk for the better part of a day to find a Komodo dragon on Komodo Island, but can spot several within minutes on Rinca. If possible, visit Rinca in the morning and opt for the longer walk that is included with your fees:

Rinca Island Landscape Views

The landscape of Rinca Island

Komodo Rinca Island Landsape

View of Rinca Island, overlooking the park headquarters

You may even spot several Komodo dragons outside the ticket office in the trees or nearby before you start.

A handful will probably be sitting outside the park headquarters’ kitchen.

Take time to admire them before starting the tour as these may be the only dragons you see, especially if you’re on an afternoon tour:

Komodo Dragons Rinca Island

Almost guaranteed to see these “resident” dragons

Armed with only a stick, a guide takes you on a tour around the island while another watches your back.

Along the way you may spot deer or water buffalo, and see a burrow used by a Komodo dragon:

Rinca Island Komodo Dragon Burrows

Komodo dragons dig holes to sleep & rest in under the hot afternoon sun

Towards the end of the tour you reach a grassy hill where Komodo dragons frequent in the morning, but only offers stunning views in the afternoon.

View from Rinca Island

View from Rinca Island

This concludes your tour of Rinca Island. On the way to and from the boat, you may see monkeys playing in the mangroves as well.

No matter how you choose to visit Komodo National Park, you will never forget seeing these ferocious animals in the wild.

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*** The Final Word: Visit in the morning when the Komodo dragons are much more active & abundant ***

Do you agree that Komodo National Park is overrated?  

3 Shovels

Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of public transport

Visited in October 2015


  1. If I ever find myself in Indonesia, I’ll be sure to check this out! Thank you for the rundown!

  2. I just found this sight and love it. I’m currently making my way to East Timor. So you seem to recommend Rinca over Komodo? I’ll be in Labuan Bajo in two days. Any specific tour operators you like?

    1. Hey there, thanks. Rinca has a higher concentration of Komodo dragons and you’re almost guaranteed to see them, even if it’s just at the Ranger Station. But it looks like Komodo Island is set to close in 2020 so it might be a good chance to visit them now while you can! Either way, go in the morning when the dragons are most active. We only did one tour in Labuan Bajo, it was a dive trip that included Rinca but we only got there in the afternoon. If we’d known that, we probably would’ve set aside another day to see the dragons in the morning. Good luck!

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