Established in 1980, Komodo National Park encompasses the three main islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar along with dozens of smaller islands, islets and barren rocks. Originally a terrestrial national park set up to protect the Komodo dragon, over time it expanded to include what lies beneath and it is now a massive terrestrial and marine national park encompassing almost 2,000 square kilometres.
While the Komodo dragons remain the best-known image of the park—they brand the park’s official logo—and are the main reason most come to visit, they are equalled in their beauty by the undersea wonderworld that surrounds the park’s islands.
Within the park’s boundaries, visitors will be able to experience some of the best snorkelling and diving in the entire Indonesian archipelago and enjoy a rugged, stunning landscape that is truly an experience to behold.
Relatively easily visited from Labuan Bajo or one of the islands in the Flores Sea such as Kanawa on either a daytrip or overnight liveaboard, the majority of visitors approach the park to see both the dragons and to enjoy the beaches and snorkelling. Few come just to see the dragons—once you get underwater you’ll see why.
As with many national parks in Indonesia, it hasn’t been plain sailing for Komodo National Park. The fishing boats you see—even the small one- and two-person sampans—are fishing illegally and unfortunately unsustainable practices continue whenever the dive and tourist boats are out of sight. As for outside the park boundaries, in the words of one dive operator in Labuan Bajo, "it’s a free for all and fabulous example of unsustainable and profoundly damaging fishing ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,000 words.)