The Komodo National Park is home to almost 6000 wild dragons that have claimed this stunning part of Indonesia as their home. We chose to visit Rinca Island to see these magnificent creatures and let our inner-Attenborough nerd out.
Rinca Island is the second biggest island within Indonesia’s Komodo National Park. It is the closest island from Labuan Bajo where you can see the Komodo dragons.
Along the main strip of Labuan Bajo, you’ll find travel agents lining the street offering trips to Rinca.
The cheapest tours are 1-day trips. These trips often include snorkelling stops, time on uninhabitied islands, lunch & snacks. These trips cost around ~IDR 400k per person.
If you have more time, consider a 2-day trip to both Komodo and Rinca for double the price. These include a night on the boat and often incorporates stops at Pink Beach and Manta Point.
We’ve always found the advertised price for trips like these are always inflated. For a better deal, negotiate with the travel agent in person.
On top of the price of your tour, you need to pay for your daily park entry fee at the National Park office when you arrive on Rinca.
Foreigners are charged the following per calendar day (rather than a 24hr period):
|National Park Fee||Monday to Saturday||150 k|
|National Park Fee||Sundays & Public Holidays||220 k|
|Dive Fee||All||25 k|
|Snorkelling Fee||All||15 k|
We visited on a public holiday, and also snorkelled on the same day that we visited Rinca Island, and therefore paid 235k each.
Also, when we visited, two National Park guides were assigned to our group of 8. Before arriving on Rinca Island, our boat staff suggested that between us, we should tip the guides 100k per guide (which worked out to be 25k per person). This however is not mandatory, and up to you.
Yes, sightings of Komodo Dragons on Rinca are (almost) guaranteed. The population here is more dense than Komodo Island, and there’s less cover for the dragons to shelter under. When we visited, about a dozen dragons were sheltering in the shade from the basecamp buildings.
It’s a National Park, and thus, people are not supposed to feed the dragons. When we arrived our National Park guides threw some meat out to the dragons which encouraged them to move around. Moments after feeding the dragons, our guide was adamant that they never feed them. Come on man! We just saw you doing just that *facepalm*. As you can imagine, it’s this easy access to food that makes sightings of dragons extremely likely.
Easy peasy!… but HOT!
We visited at midday and it was sweltering hot, so make sure you’ve got some water*, sunscreen and a hat.
You don’t need to be fit to do the Rinca Island trecks, of which there are three that you can choose from – easy (30 mins), medium (1 hr), and hard (2 hrs).
Our group chose the hard option. I’m not sure if it was because our guides couldn’t be bothered, but the lead guide said there was nothing to see on the longer trek and took us on one of the easy trek instead. This shorter trek still ended up taking 1hr because there we stopped for some long chats for most of it!
One of these stops was at a nesting location where we were informed about the mating, nesting, and hatching process.
The second stop was on at a rotunda at the top of the hills, where we were rewarded with amazing views of the surroundings. By this time there was a lightning storm brewing on the East of the island – which looked and sounded incredible – but also made us glad we weren’t on the longer route!
*there a small shop near the ticket office where you can purchase water & sunscreen.
Yes, there’s some very basic rooms near the National Park office where you can stay. When we visited (Nov 2017) there were more buildings under construction too.
To be honest, unless your crazy obsessed with dragons, we’re not sure why you’d bother staying here. It’s vary bare-bones and there’s only a tiny shop providing snack food options. Once you’ve done a trek, there’s not much else to do here. Instead, we recommend making the most of being in the heart of Flores and stay on a live-aboard or in Labuan Bajo.
We didn’t visit an area of Komodo Island where there were dragons, so can’t provide an opinion on which Island is best. However we can tell you;
We were advised that the dragons are however bigger on Komodo, but there are also many more tourists.
It depends on what you prefer! We visited Rinca Island in mid-November. This time of year is much less touristy, which is nice not having to deal with crowds. It is also the end of dry season, so we found the land itself was quite desolate and made us wonder what it would be like after wet season when the plants are lush with life. Here’s what to expect what to expect throughout the year
|January – early April||Wettest months|
|June – July||High Season|
|May – August||Mating Season|
Yes! You can encounter other animals than the Komodo dragon, such as: water buffaloes, monkeys, birds, pigs, and deer.
We visited Rinca Island as part of an incredible 4-day 3-night tour with Le Pirate. You can discover more about what they offer here.