Attraction Review

Finding Komodo Dragons on Rinca Island

Indonesia is an incredible country, and the only place in the world where you can get close to wild Komodo Dragons, the world’s largest lizard which can reach over 3m in length!

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.

Komodo Dragon on Rinca Island

In this post, we answer common questions about visiting Rinca Island to see the Komodo Dragons:

  • Where is Rinca Island

    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.

    The closest airport to the Komodo National Park is in Labuan Bajo (LBJ). From there, it takes ~2hrs to get to Rinca Island via speed boat.


    How to Get to Rinca Island

    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.

    You’ll find a welcoming fence of skulls when you arrive at Rinca Island

    Entrance Fees to Rinca Island

    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):

     Item  Day  Cost (IDR)
     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.

    Will I See a Komodo Dragon at Rinca

    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.

    Komodo Dragon chilling in the shade


    How Hard is the Hike on Rinca Island

    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.

    Conrast of the dry land and vibrant sky

    Fun times with our Flores friends

    Can I Stay on Rinca Island

    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.


    Rinca vs Komodo

    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;

    Rinca Island is closer to Labuan Bajo than Komodo Island, so it’s both cheaper and easier to visit on a day-trip.

    We were advised that the dragons are however bigger on Komodo, but there are also many more tourists.


    When to Visit Rinca Island

    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

     Months  Info
     January – early April  Wettest months
     April  Hatching Season
     June – July  High Season
     May – August  Mating Season
    September  Nesting Season


    Are There Other Animals on Rinca Island

    Yes! You can encounter other animals than the Komodo dragon, such as: water buffaloes, monkeys, birds, pigs, and deer.

    Muddy Buffalo on Rinca Island

    Deer on Rinca Island

    Rinca Island 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.

By Amy, November 20, 2017 I was born in New Zealand and moved to Melbourne, Australia in my early 20s. There I met my partner Steve. 10 years later, we decided to change our lifestyle and move to Southeast Asia, so here we are!


I was born in New Zealand and moved to Melbourne, Australia in my early 20s. There I met my partner Steve. 10 years later, we decided to change our lifestyle and move to Southeast Asia, so here we are!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *