Komodo National Park had forever been on my bucket list. Even before it became a popular travel destination, I was fascinated by its biodiversity and the famous Komodo dragon – the largest and heaviest lizard on earth.
When my friend Cande (@candela.mont) invited me to join her and some friends on a trip around Komodo National Park organized by Chris LeBlanc (@lostleblanc), it was hard to refuse. We spent three nights and four days sailing on a beautiful wooden boat named Samara (@samara.liveaboard). It was an amazing trip and one that I would love to share with you below.
Before I tell you all about my experiences in Komodo National Park and provide a few tips for your trip, let me introduce myself. My name is Chris Economou and I currently live in Bali. I have adopted the title of a digital nomad for the past two years. I’m the founder of @apperture.io: a boutique digital agency specializing in creating modern and beautiful mobile apps.
I’m also the co-founder of @arrivecollective which is a creative agency that creates content for hospitality and travel brands, and connects them with creators. But most importantly, I’m free to be wherever I want doing what I love. Originally born in Greece, I moved to London almost 10 years ago pursuing a successful career in the tech industry creating apps for brands.
While living in London, I had the opportunity to travel a lot – either for work or pleasure. When I was traveling, I developed a love for photography. Fast forward to 2019 and I was given the opportunity to take a sabbatical from my job, meaning I could travel for six months and come back to my 9-5.
Even though I was content with my life at that time, I saw the sabbatical as an opportunity of a lifetime. It was the first time since leaving high school that I had the chance to take a step back, slow down, travel for six months, and fuel my passion for travel and photography with nothing to lose.
The next six months turned out to be the best six months of my life: giving me a taste of complete freedom, providing me with unrestricted mobility, forcing me to hand in my notice for my job and figure out a way to combine my existing skill set into a viable business. It’s been one incredible journey so far and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
4-Day Sailing Trip in Komodo National Park
As mentioned, we spent three nights and four days sailing around Komodo National Park. On Day 1 we departed from Labuan Bajo, had lunch docked close to Kelor Island, took a trek on Pink Rock Island and enjoyed an iconic sunset at Kalong Island (Bat Island) with thousands of bats flying overhead.
We began the next day with a sunset hike to Padar Island, one of the most iconic places in Komodo National Park. Then we enjoyed the crystal-clear waters docked on the coast of Pink Beach, followed by a short trek on Komodo Island – spotting three Komodo dragons. It was just incredible!
After that we sailed to Manta Point, swimming with manta rays. The day ended by watching the sunset at Taka Makassar – a sandbar in the northeastern area. Since Day 2 was super busy, Day 3 mostly involved relaxing on the boat and snorkeling. Taka Makassar was so beautiful that we returned to it and swam with manta rays and turtles once again!
Highlights of this Amazing Sailing Trip
We had so much fun on this trip that it’s hard to choose a few highlights. But there are a couple of moments that really stick with me. The first was at the end of a full day of exploring, snorkeling and swimming with manta rays. We took some rest on a tiny stretch of sand called Taka Makassar.
It was just seven of us under the Milky Way, in the middle of nowhere. We were talking about life and living in the now. It was this moment of stillness and appreciation that made me so happy. As you can see from the photos, it looks like there was a fire but there wasn’t. It was just a clear sky, a phone light covered by sticks resembling the fire and lots of patience.
Another moment was when my friend Max (@maxwell_grover) jumped off the boat with his clothes on! It was the last sunset of our trip and we were full of joy! The water was still and it was as if the whole setting was taken out of a dream. The photos remind me of the freedom we felt and how jumping into the sea with your clothes on was symbolic of our entire trip!
Best Places to Visit at Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park is home to the Komodo dragon, and overall the park is an oasis of wildlife and nature. From swimming with manta rays, to being dazzled by bioluminescent plankton lacing the waves of the shore at night – Komodo National Park is a nature-lovers and adventurers paradise.
As we took in the stunning landscapes and crystal clear waters around us, one time we spotted dolphins. On another occasion at sunset we paused at the extraordinary sight of thousands of bats flying over our heads. All in all, the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Komodo islands blew us away. Below are my recommendations for the best places to visit here:
- Padar Island: The best place to take an awe-inspiring sunset hike.
- Komodo Island: Home to the largest lizard on earth: Komodo dragon.
- Manta Point: Offering you a once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with huge manta rays.
- Taka Makassar: A picturesque little stretch of sand surrounded by idyllic turquoise waters.
- Kalong Island: Also known as Bat Island, visiting this place is a surreal experience. Kalong Island is an iconic sunset spot where hundreds of bats fly over you during golden hour. I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this before during all of my travels.
Where to Stay/Who to Sail with
Komodo National Park is made up of a collection of islands, so the most common thing is to sleep on the boat at night and explore the islands during the day. Nevertheless, there are a few options to stay on some of the islands – like Plataran Komodo and Le Pirate Island – but they lack the functionality of a boat. I recommend going on a sailing boat if you can.
On our trip we took the Samara boat from Labuan Bajo. The handmade wooden ship and warm hospitality of the crew made a lasting impression. Not to mention the attention to detail and delicious food! I highly suggest booking this boat if you want to have a memorable experience. The more time on the boat the better – we did three days but it left us wanting more.
Tips for Visiting Komodo National Park
Have cash with you, as many parks and islands have an entry fee but only accept cash. Use a lot of sunscreen too. A sun burn might put a damper on your trip and exploration. Make sure the weather forecast is good whenever you go. We had to push the trip back a week and move a week earlier than expected to ensure good weather, but it was worth it.
April to November is the best time of the year to visit Komodo National Park. We were so lucky as we enjoyed four days of complete sunshine. Having good weather and sunshine makes such a big difference to your experience on the islands – plus your photos will look that much better.
Lastly, the best way to arrive at Labuan Bajo is by plane. You can book direct flights from places such as Denpasar and Jakarta and then add on a connecting flight to Flores. Some flights go for as little as 500,000IDR. Thanks for reading and enjoy sailing around Komodo National Park!