The Komodo National Park is very high up on the bucket lists of many travellers. Especially scuba divers are flocking in from all over the world to dive on some of the world best dive sites in our oceans. Others are more interested in the animals that live above the water, the Komodo dragons.
But how does a small community like Labaun Bajo and the fragile environment of the Komodo National Park cope with this stream of tourists? In this blog post we will tell you more about the diving trip through the Komodo National Park and how you can explore the beauty of this park in an eco-friendly way.
There are different options to visit the Komodo National Park
You like the beach, get on an island. You love the water and sailing, get on a liveaboard. There is a wide range of tours and trips on offer to visit the Komodo National Park. Depending on what you want to see and do in the park, you have different options:
- Join a day trip for diving, snorkelling, hiking and Komodo dragon watching or a combination of those.
- Book a bungalow and spend some time on one of the islands close to the park. From the island you can go diving, snorkelling, hiking or join a trip to see the Komodo dragons.
- Get on a liveaboard for several days and enjoy the whole beauty of the Komodo National Park. Definitely the best option if you are a scuba diver and want to see the best spots of the Komodo National Park.
Why we have chosen Wicked Diving
We love the water, we love diving and we love a healthy environment. That’s why we did quite a lot of research to choose the right dive centre. We have chosen Wicked Diving for several reasons. One of the reasons is the environmental consciousness of the operation. They have a “Responsible Tourism Policy” where they declare their strategies and plans to protect the environment. And it is not only written on their website or their books, Wicked Diving is doing what they say. We were quite impressed about how the environmental consciousness is lived by the staff on the boat.
Here are a few examples on how they do things different:
- Fuel reduction: Efficient diesel engine for the liveaboard, generator will be switched off during the night, natural ventilation instead of air-conditioning.
- Water usage: Rainwater is collected and free biodegradable shampoo and soap is provided.
- Waste reduction: Reusable water bottles and refill system, no one way cutlery and Styrofoam containers for food. Some day trip operators provide lunch in these containers. Don’t support these operators.
- Beach cleanup: On visits to beaches in the Komodo National Park, rubbish is collected and disposed of in Labuan Bajo. In five minutes, we collected three big garbage bags of plastic on one beach.
- Education: School, college, dive staff and customer education with the objective to foster a love for the oceans and inspire a sense of pride and motivation to care for these fragile environments. Swimming lessons, marine conservation courses and diving lessons are just three of the many examples.
What can I do to protect the beauty of the Komodo National Park?
- Choose a trip operator that is environmental conscious
- Protect the ocean: Practice good diving techniques. Don’t touch corals, don’t take anything out of the ocean, leave only bubbles.
- Reduce the amount of rubbish you bring into the park and take it with you again when you leave.
- Reduce your water consumption and use only biodegradable soap
- Reduce your energy consumption. Switch off the AC if there is any.
- Support local businesses and communities.
- Be a good role model. Don’t throw your rubbish away. When we started collecting rubbish on the beach, some locals joined in and helped collecting rubbish.
- Support marine research and conservation projects.
- Take part in conservation projects.
Labuan Bajo, the hub for the Komodo National Park on Flores
From a small fishing village, Labuan Bajo has changed into a busy and bustling centre of tourism.
There is a wide range of accommodation and many restaurants with European influence. Italian food is very popular and the views over the harbour are beautiful.
Along the main drag you find that almost every shop is selling diving trips through the Komodo National Park. Every third building is a dive centre offering diving trips and all are interested in selling their trips. Many have signs like: “Need more guests for tomorrow’s trip” outside their shops.
The variety of trips is huge. You have to shop around and compare the different options and prices. But don’t forget the quality. It is important to compare not only the price but also the quality of the operator.
We have booked a diving safari for 7 days a week before we arrived in Labuan Bajo. We have spent quite some time and did a lot of research on the internet. We contacted a few dive centres and had some recommendations from friends. For longer trips we definitely recommend to book ahead because these trips fill up in high season.
The Komodo National Park
The Komodo National Park has been founded in 1980 and has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. The national park consists of the three larger islands Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and 26 smaller ones. The island landscape is rugged and of volcanic origin. The climate is one of the driest in Indonesia and the hills are covered in savannah vegetation.
Around 4’000 inhabitants are living within the park spread out over the four settlements of Komodo, Rinca, Keroa and Papagaran. All villages have existed prior to the declaration of the national park in 1980.
The most famous animal in the park is the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard of the world that can grow to a length of 3 m and weigh over 70 kg.
Fringing and patch coral reefs are extensive and the park boasts a very rich marine life including many different corals, sponges, tunicates, manta rays, sharks, eagle rays, pygmy seahorses, clown frogfish, nudibranches, flatworms, whale sharks and many others.
How to choose a diving trip through the Komodo National Park?
Once you get to Flores, because there are so many different options available, it is important to shop around. Check out at least a handful of different options. Many of the bigger operations have websites and you can do your research in advance. If you plan on a multiday liveaboard, it is advisable to book in advance.
Here are some things you should consider:
- Itinerary of the trip
- What are the costs for the trip?
- What is included in the price? National Park Fee, food, drinks, etc.
- What boat will be used for the trip and how many guests will be on?
- How environmental conscious is the tour operator?
Why we had an absolutely fantastic diving trip through the Komodo National Park
The Komodo National Park is an extremely beautiful but fragile place on our planet. The landscape is spectacular and the biodiversity underwater just stunning. We have really enjoyed our diving trip on the liveaboard of Wicked Diving. During our trip we have seen an extremely professional team with great enthusiasm and a good sense for the fragile environment.
It’s our duty to protect this very special place for future generations. We all can help to protect the Komodo National Park.