Exploring Rinca Island
The Land of the Dragon
Rinca Island is one of the three largest islands that comprise the UNESCO-recognized Komodo National Park in Indonesia. Apart from the largest and most famous three, Rinca, Padar, and Komodo, there are 26 more islands that complete this National Park. What makes this illustrious archipelago unique and mesmerizing to visitors, is its world-famous animal — the Komodo dragon.
The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in the world and an indigenous species to this group of islands in the Indian Ocean. Although not all the islands within the Komodo National Park are home to this creature, the mighty Komodo dragon reigns as king on Rinca Island.
Rinca Island in Indonesia is small, occupying only 123 square miles of dense forest that gives way to grassy fields, a few scattered watering holes, several very small beaches, and one tiny fishing village. Apart from being the best place to spot Komodo dragons in their natural habitat, Rinca Island rewards its dauntless visitors with panoramic views and an overall one-of-a-kind experience.
Rinca Island Hike
Onboard the Aqua Blu, you arrive at Rinca by taking our tenders from Labuan Bajo, on the near island of Flores. After arriving in Rinca and passing the island’s “Loh Buaya” (Crocodile Gate), our expert guides will bring you through the National Park, embarking on an adventure, and ensuring safety, to spot the infamous Komodo Dragon. The very hot and dry climate on the island makes for a perfect home for exotic but dangerous wildlife. Apart from the Komodo dragon, you may spot wild pigs, buffalos, birds, and several saltwater crocodiles hiding in the mangrove forests of the island of Rinca.
Upon arriving by boat at the island you can choose to take a short, medium, or long guided hike, with the longest duration of the hike being around two hours. Whichever of the offered routes you choose to take, you are sure to find interesting things to see — think of it as an adventure reminiscent of Jurassic Park.
Our excursions are different from others in that we observe the dragons in their natural habitat. The guided groups follow tracks that pass various different terrains near dragon nests. With the mangrove forests surrounding the island as a starting point, the hike will cross through a savannah with scattered palms, after which a sudden appearance of a natural waterhole makes a welcome greeting between slopes and high peaks that offer breathtaking views, allowing you to experience all this island has to offer. Spotting the dragon is not guaranteed, but there is a high chance you will be able to see these fascinating creatures hunting their prey near the watering holes on the island, or bathing under the hot sun. However, the abundance of local wildlife including buffaloes, macaques, birds, deers, birds, and wild pigs will still secure a comprehensive adventure on Rinca Island.
Snorkeling Around Rinca Island
While the savannahs of Rinca Island offer much excitement, the underwater world and coral reefs that surround the island serve up a different sort of adventure. The several small, but stunning beaches on the island are perfect for relaxation, ideal for soaking up the sun after a hike, and provide a great alternative to cool down with a snorkel in the crystal clear waters.
You may want to be on your guard on the beaches of Rinca however, as dragons often like to sunbathe and can impose danger to tourists if they are disturbed. Be aware of their presence as they hunt their prey with double the speed a human can run, and swim twice as fast too. Therefore, it’s always best to have an experienced guide or ranger around you for the entire duration of your visit.
Visting Rinca Island vs Komodo Island
As the namesake of its dragon population, Komodo Island is much more popular among tourists wishing to spot the lizards. Apart from being inhabited by dragons, Komodo Island is the largest of this island group within the Komodo National Park and offers more interesting sights and adventures for visitors. Consequently, Komodo Island is often crowded and due to its larger size, tourists are less likely to get the opportunity to see the dragon in areas where they pass.
Rinca Island, with its more diverse terrain, is lesser-known and therefore less-visited, thus offering better conditions for observing the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat, mostly undisturbed by tourists and other human inhabitants. We would definitely recommend visitors headed on an Indonesia trip to see the endemic Komodo dragon to put Rinca Island on your list.
Aqua Blu takes guests to explore Rinca Island in absolute comfort as part of its Komodo National Park itinerary, available from April to September. Onboard private tenders, visitors will also sail to Horseshoe Bay, a dramatic curvature land south of Rinca, where Komodo Dragons can be seen haunting along the beaches. An unforgettable adventure!