How to get to Komodo Island

Unless you’re backpacking slowly overland across the entire Indonesian archipelago, Komodo Island is one of those ‘out of the way’ places for most backpackers. Lying far away east from the major Indonesian tourist zones of Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands, the Komodo Dragons are the biggest draw to the area.

Let’s look at this from a regular backpackers perspective, your starting point for a trip to Komodo will probably be in one of the main tourist areas, so let’s look at how to get to Komodo Island from Bali.

Tickets can be purchased in Bali to get you close to the Komodo National Park, and you have options here, these are land, sea and air. Tickets for all these are available at many travel agents around the backpacker area of Bali, Poppies Lane 1 and 2, look in a few ticket offices, shop around and do some bargaining.

Bali to Komodo by Boat

The only option that can take you all the way without stopping at Labuan Bajo is by boat. Perama tours, the most popular boat trip option, have a range of tour options. Their trips can involve stopping to snorkel, and to see sights and activities on the way. For divers, there is plenty of liveaboard trips that will take you to dive spots, and onto Komodo to see the Dragons.

Most boat trips to Komodo from Bali sail to the north, past the Gili Islands, Lombok and Sumbawa onto the Komodo National park near Flores. Keep in mind that this area, mainly the Makassar Strait and the Flores Sea, is notorious for being difficult to navigate.

Due to shallow rocky areas and currents going every direction you can imagine, accidents and shipwrecks in this area do happen, even with the most trusted tour companies. Make sure for yourself the vessel has life jackets and they are easily accessible, not tied down or secured to anything. A waterproof bag is a good idea, you can use it to carry any electronic items, such as your camera. Most guest houses in Bali will allow you to store your big heavy luggage whilst you are on the trip.

There has been two or three accidents sailing to Komodo in the past nine months, you shouldn’t worry about it too much as these tours leave daily. But keep your wits about you, and ask questions before you had over any money.

Flying to Komodo

A flight leaving from Denpasar in Bali will take you to Labuan Bajo Airport, which is a short taxi to the pier where you can take boat trips to Komodo Island, and around the national park. A flight is the simplest and fastest option, prices go from 650,000 to over 1,000,000 Rupiah. I took this flight and it was 950,000 Rupiah.

A Plane at Labuan Bajo Airport

A Plane at Labuan Bajo Airport

The Bali to Komodo Island Bus

The bus is the cheapest and the way to go for the most adventurous. It’s not a straightforward bus ride by any means, multiple buses, ferry crossings and random stops all over the place. I believe the price was 350,000 – 400,000 Rupiah.

The overland bus ticket from Bali will take you to Labuan Bajo Harbour in Flores, which is right in town. Labuan Bajo has guesthouses, internet cafes and restaurants, although all these are very basic.

When taking the bus, three ferry crossings are are required, from Bali to Lombok, Lombok to Sumbawa, and Sumbawa to Labuan Bajo in Flores, make sure to ask if these are included in your ticket and ask them to write it down – they should be.

After you have booked your ticket, ask for the phone number of the company so you can call them at any time, nothing should really go wrong. Your biggest worry on this trip should be stamina and comfort, below I have described in bullet points how this overland bus trip from Bali to Komodo Island goes.

  • Pick up from your guesthouse in Bali.
  • Minibus ride to the the ferry for Lombok
  • Catch the ferry from Bali to Lombok
  • Arrive in Lombok, then a minibus to the big bus station.
  • Get on the big bus across Lombok
  • The bus will drive onto a ferry to Sumbawa
  • The ferry ride from Lombok to Sumbawa
  • Epic bus journey across Sumbawa
  • Stop somewhere in east Sumbawa and change to a crazy minibus.
  • The minibus will evetually take to to the ferry to Labuan Bajo
  • Take the ferry ride to Labuan Bajo.

When I took this journey, it took around 44 hours in total. Not only is each leg of the journey quite long, there’s often a lot of waiting in between each change of transport. I’m glad I took this trip by land, it was a great but draining experience, we flew back even though it was double the price.

Labuan Bajo to Komodo Island

Now you have got yourself to Labuan Bajo, be it by land or air, how to you get to Komodo Island? It’s actually quite simple, and you have two main options. I recommend a a two day tour of the Komodo National Park as there is lots more to see than the Dragons.

  1. Take a walk down to the harbor and ask around, you can negotiate a price with the captain yourself.
  2. Look for a a ticket office in town, they should be able to sort you out.

When I made this trip, we did a two day trip through Komodo, which had these activities included;

  • Trekking on Rinca Island
  • Snorkeling at ‘Red Beach’ (which was spectacular)
  • Watching Flying Foxes in the Mangroves
  • Overnight on the Deck of the Boat
  • Trekking on Komodo Island
  • Snorkeling with Manta Rays (we got lucky on the boat ride home)

This trip cost 2,000,000 Rupiah for the whole boat, there were six of us who met in Labuan Bajo and got together for the trip, making it 400,000 each. You can look around the town for other backpackers and get together to share the cost of the trip.

All food and water was included in the price, the captain stopped at villages for fresh ingredients and cooked for us. These prices are negotiable, we bartered down from 4,000,000 RP and cut the price in half.

Ask a lot of questions when you are negotiating, ask if food and water is included, ask about safety, life jackets and anything else that you are not clear about.

I would not recommended booking a Komodo Island tour together with your flight or bus ticket. As a savvy backpacker it’s better to go down there and see for yourself what’s going on, putting yourself in a negotiating position for the best deal.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, I can see if I can help in any way.

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40 Comments on “How to get to Komodo Island

  1. Hi, Slice, what a very nice information there! You said earlier that it takes multiple buses from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo. But i’ve read a blog that takes only a bus from Labuan Bajo to Denpasar so is it possible that there’s also a one way bus from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo? And i’m planning to go to Kanawa too, is it there any chance to take the trip alongside Komodo& Rinca trip?

    Thank you so much :)

  2. Hi ossakummz, maybe there is a route all the way on one bus, but the usual way is you buy one ticket and get transferred from bus to bus as you travel across the islands.

    I really enjoyed the trip, it does take time but the scenery and ferry rides are great, and it’s a good opportunity to meet some cool people.

    As for Kanawa, I never went myself (I just looked it up – it looks amazing!) but I know where it is. The boatmen down at Labuanbajo Pier will probably be able to help you out with that. People do go there so there’s definitely a way!

  3. Hi! Slice! How much do you think will cost that 2 day trip with drop of not back to LBJ but to Sapa to continiue to Lombok? Was the drive ok with this option or they do not want to hear any thing with one way sail? Do you have any contacts of this captian? How was the sleeping conditions? Was possible to rent for one day more and ask to drop off directly to Lombok?
    Thanks a lot!!

  4. Hey man, that’s one awesome post u’ve got there. anyhow, me n my friend just 2 of us, r thinking of dropping by Komodo for 3 days after hiking Mount RInjani in Mataram, flying into Labuan Bajo. so if i’ve got u right, we should go to the pier, talk to the locals, try to negotiate some sort of deal that includes to and fro boat ride + spend a night sleeping on the boat + food/water, all in a package eh? any recommendations/suggestions?

    • Hi Bernard, I’d definitely recommend that you go to the Komodo National Park, it’s just amazing.

      Yes, it’s as simple as that, head down there, look for the guys with the boats and ask around, I think there’s also a small ticket office close to the bottom of the main street near the internet cafe. Try to go straight with the captains though if you want the cheapest deal, the only thing is their grasp of English usually isn’t so good, you can still negotiate a lot with the ticket office though.

      Don’t miss the snorkeling at ‘Red Beach’ along the way, it’s just teeming with sea life, more than most people see diving. We also saw Manta Rays on the way back, jumped in and snorkeled with them, we saw dolphins jumping on the way to Rinca Island too. I’d definitely recommend the two day trip with the overnight stay on the boat.

      • SLice, can you also share some time frames?

        I am spending only 14 days ( well really more like 13, the 14th is the flight) in Bali and originally waned to visit Lombok for 2-3 days. After doing my research I decided to spend that in Komodo. But…I only have 3 days ( maybe a 4th morning before heading to Denpasar for my International flight)

        I of course prefer to go cheaper ( BOAT) but i amfraid how long that will take?

        Even with a morning flight…do you think 2-3 days are enough? Otherwise I have to skip something on Bali :(

        • Hi Aggie,

          Three days is tight for a visit to Komodo, you won’t have enough time if you go overland or by boat, the trip itself take two days.

          A flight from Bali is your best option if you’re tight for time, the flights don’t take long, but sometimes get delayed (my flight back was delayed 24 hours), so I wouldn’t put the Komodo trip right on the end of your 14 days in case it’s delayed, give at least two or three days before your flight out of Bali, or put it in the middle of your trip.

          The whole boat trip from Labuanbajo (where you take a flight to) to Komodo was two days and one night on the boat, visiting a number of places in the Komodo National Park (it was awesome).

          The first day was an early morning start, the final day we got back when it was dark. So you will need a day either side of the trip to take your flight in and out.

          That’s a total of Four days: Arrive/Komodo/Komodo/Leave. I spent five days, but only because the flight was delayed a day.

          I think It will be possible for a shorter trip, if your boat sets off early, you could possibly visit either Komodo or Rinca island and see the Dragons and come back on the same day, don’t quote me on that, but I think it’s possible. That would make for a three day trip.

        • Hi, I just did a little more research, and it’s technically possible to leave Bali, visit Komodo and go back to Bali on the same day!

          I have never done it so I didn’t know.

          – You leave on a flight to LabuanBajo that takes 1.5 hours

          – Take a speedboat trip to Komodo or Rinca Island that takes 40mins-1 hour

          – Trek on one of the islands for 1.5 hours (see the Dragons)

          – Speedboat back to Labuanbajo

          – Flight back to Bali

          I have a feeling the speedboat will be expensive, but if time is short, it could be worth looking into.

          It will be a tiring day, so you will have a good time relaxing with a few beers talking about the Komodo Dragons when you’re back in Bali!

          • I am looking at this particular option, given that we have such a short time in Bali and have already paid for expensive resort :( came across yours and a few others blogs about Rinca island and it being amazing, so I would love to be able to achieve this in 1 day! I guess the difficult part is finding speed boats to go from LBJ to Rinca.

            Do you recommend just going to the harbour and finding someone?

            Thanks!

          • Hi Bella,

            If I was in your position, I’d start asking around the travel agents in Bali, or even at your resort, they should be able to sort your out with a one day trip.

  5. Some great advice and tips here thanks. Two of us will be heading from Bali to Labuan Bajo this September. Works out a lot cheaper to book our own flights than book a tour through someone.

    We’re hoping we’ll meet some travellers there to help us split the cost, but even if it were just the two of us, it will be still cheaper than a tour.

    • Hi Anthony

      I am not sure about your travel dates but we will in Bali on 4/09 and planing to go to LB on 5/09.
      When will you be there?And having trouble with flights to LB.Which flight did you book an how much did it cost?Thank you in advance.

      Cheers
      Justin

      • Ah, our time slot is just a tad later; we’ll be going on the 9th of September! And unfortunately we can’t make it earlier as we’ve got plans booked in place. We’ve also had problems trying to book a flight, the airlines don’t seem to be replying by email and can’t book online from what i’ve seen. We’re hoping to just book flights when we arrive in Bali, they will be 3 weeks in advance so again, hoping that it wont cost too much. Its resting on a lot of hope and luck right now!

    • Nice one Anthony and Justin, you’re both going to have a great time whatever happens.

      Organising the trip to Komodo yourself can save a hell of a lot of money, as it’s not something that’s readily bookable online, people do get ripped of by custom tour companies. The bast way is to be your own travel agent!

      If you’re stuck for other backpackers/tourists to share the boat with, you can always just linger around the main street and get chatting to people, if you’re lucky you might find a group of 2-4 people to share with.

      What happened to myself and a friend was, we bumped into a Canadian guy who was looking for people to join him, he arranged everyone that was interested to meet in the ‘Gardiner’ restaurant at 6 or 7 PM. We all met up and it was perfect.

  6. What company airlines flys direct from denpasar 2 LabuanBajo??

    thanks…matt

    • Hi Matt,

      Both Trigana Air and TransNusa airlines both fly from Bali to Komodo/Labuan Bajo.

  7. Will be in Bali this 14-22 nov.. thinking of visiting Komodo Island and dive there too…

  8. Hello Slice,
    Your post cleared up a lot of questions, but I had a few more if you don’t mind. I’ll just list them in order for simplicity.
    1) My vacation is from Dec29-Jan5, is Komodo National Park open these days? (couldn’t find the info on their site). Also, is this a good time to go? Is there a “bad time” to go?

    2) I am coming from South Korea. Do you suggest I just get a flight to Bali and figure it out once I get there? Or IF I plan to take a plane, should I just book a plane all the way to Labuan Bajo? I am worried flights might be booked if I wait.

    3) For the boat option from Bali, how much is that? You said it’s a cheaper option. And are the people who sell these everywhere, or is there a specific place to look?

    4) For hotels, should I book ahead of time? (In Bali, and Lubuan Bajo)

    5) If I fly from Bali, should I leave my luggage in a Bali hotel? or should I bring all my stuff (and try to travel light).

    Maybe I have too many questions, but my only reason for visiting Indonesia is that I want to visit Komodo NP, so I don’t want to show up in Bali and miss the opportunity.

  9. Just want to add some info: from denpasar to labuan bajo you can fly with merpati airlines and you can book online not like trans nusa nor trigana. Check: merpati.co.id. But you can only pay with credit card released in Indonesia. I’ll be flying on 28 sep, get promo only less than 40$ Dps-LB return.
    Flying is the easiest way to go especially if you have limited time. Take into consideration also that flight might be delayed like Slice has said. Going overland/by sea will take longer time and can be more expensive, but you can stop and spend time in many different places.
    And don’t book/reserve a trip from unknown travel agent (i heard some scam stories), you’d better ask your hotel reception or go directly to the harbour or any tourist booth when you are in town. Also you must bargain the price.
    I’ve been to Flores one time and done east to west, and can’t wait to go again, this time only over the weekend. If anyone wants to share a boat to go to Komodo island just let me know.

    • Hi, Yumcha, thanks for the additional info on flying from Bali to Komodo, I’m sure my readers will find it useful.

    • Hi, we are a couple arriving on September 29, 2012 in LB at 12 am. We are interested in sharing a boat…

      • Sorry i was already in LB, and phone reception is limited there. Just a bit update for the others, if you want to share a boat you can go directly to the harbour in the morning before 8, you can meet up people who are going to komodo. Or go to Gardena restaurant as it is one of the oldest place in LB with its strategic location close to the harbour it becomes the center of tourists. Otherwise if you want to charter a boat the price is Rp 500-600k depends on your skill at bargaining hehe. Then you will have to pay the entrance fee to the park and the ranger/guide.

  10. hi slice and everyone..thank you very much for your info, . im going to Bali on Nov 22 hopefully arriving @8 am. after that im going to search for flight to Labuan Bajo. I think im just gonna looking for a boat for a 3 D / 2 N trip or 2 D / 1 N trip. fyi, this is will be my first trip to Komodo, so i still really need more info bout the trip.

    if anybody here are going to Labuan Bajo at that time, please let me know,,so that we can sharing a boat and anything.

    contact me @ [email protected]

    @Reik. Who’s the trip ? could you share to us here

    • Hi Ical,

      I’m glad the info helped you, good luck with booking your trip. I’m slightly jealous, I want to go again. Come 22nd of November you’ll be having a great time, enjoy Bali, Komodo and anywhere else in Indonesia you go.

  11. Hi Slice!

    Very useful info! I’m a travel planner and want to plan a trip to Bali and Komodo Island. Would you please answer my below Q:
    1. How is the boat you overnight on its deck? Are there all boats like this?
    2. How much and how far is Labuan Bajo hotel(s) from Komodo Island? Is it better to overnight on boat or hotel? If my passengers are not real backpackers, can they overnight on boat conveniently?
    3. Which airline(s) serving the route Bali-Labuan Bajo? Do you have their website?
    4. Is the possiblity to leave Labuan Bajo to Yogyakarta or Surabaya instead of Bali? Any flight? Any website?

    Waiting for your info,
    Cheers,
    Shahab

  12. Hey Slice,

    Wow, so great you are helping everyone out. Im traveling to Komodo with a friend, do you by any chance remember the boat company that you did the Komodo boat trip with? If it is good, it might be cool to join that same company! Thanks so much in advance for your reply!

    • Hi Katharina,

      I didn’t really use a boat company, it was an individual captain and his mate who had a boat at Labuanbajo harbour. I’m not sure of his name, we called him Captain Cook because he cooked for us. I do know of a boat company called Perama who do Komodo tours, although I’m not sure if they set off from Labuanbajo, I do know their boats set off from Bali though.

      If you head to Labuanbajo, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a cool boat to take the trip on, there’s a small travel agent across the road from Gardiner (restaurant/accommodation) that can sort you out. You could also try having a wander down to the jetty where the boats are and asking around.

  13. Hi Slice,

    your blog is definitely very helpful. Just a quick one…can I purchase the the flight tickets to the national park Komodo/Labuan Bajo at the airport in Denpasar?

    Cheers

    Thais

    • Hi Slice, I was wondering if it is possible to break the journey from bali to labuan bajo or is it necessary to travel the whole way in on leap. I was thinking I may stay on Lombok for a day or two and then continue the trip. If it is possible to break the journy, where else other than Lombok would you suggest?

      • Hi Trev, yes, staying in Lombok will be fine, you could also stop at the Gili Islands e.t.c.. You can breal it up as you like! You can start a trip to Komodo from Mataram in Lombok after staying in Lombok and the Gilis, I know this because I’ve done it!

  14. Hello! Thanks for this post, I hope to go to Komodo soon. I do have a question about the flights. I haven’t found the flights at the prices you suggested. Is there a local website you use to book these flights? I live in Korea, and here, I find it easier to get a great deal on a Korean website then a website like Kayak or Orbitz.
    Thanks!
    If you like travel blogs, try my blog / travel guide:
    juliosworldmarvels.wordpress.com

  15. thanks! good blog!

    question about the bus to komodo from bali that changed to ferry: the ferries are the same company as the the bus? all in one ticket?

  16. wow! thank you for posting this…. this is the best info on how to get to the area and how to figure out logistics that i have found. very clear and precise. thanks so much!!

  17. where can i buy the overland bus ticket from?? were staying in Ubud right now, and no one seems to have a clue what im talking about when i tell them im trying to find a bus ticket that includes ferries from bali to flores

  18. So much great info. Thanks a ton!

    One question: how much did this trip to Komodo cost you all in (airfare, boat, food and water, tip)?

  19. Are their often backpackers at the docks? I will be going alone, am on a budget, but don’t want to risk going all the way there just to find out no one else is planning on going for a few days, and have to leave to get back to Korea/the US without having seen dragons.

    Is it possible to hop on one of the boats more expensive boats you can book online and help them fill up spots for cheap?

  20. try sylvia resort komodo on labuan bajo. resort by the beach . we paid 35 at agoda for the room .
    they heave their own harbor on the hotel with 5 speedboats.
    they have trip everyday for guest . price to go to rinca with speedboat we pay 500.000 / pax which only took 20 minutes lots of fun .

    price for trip to komodo is 750.000 per pax with speedboat. only took 1 hour more fun than took noise wooden boat. minimum two pax

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