Rinca is one of only two islands in Komodo National Park accessible for tourists (another one is Komodo Island). It is located quite close to Labuan Bajo (Flores), so most trips to Komodo National Park include only Rinca. Bare it in mind and make sure the tour operator mentions Komodo Island, not only Komodo National Park. Unless you opt for a shorter trip, which makes sense if you don’t have much time or get seasick easily.
The simplest way to see the dragons on Rinca Island is to join an organized trip in Labuan Bajo. There are plenty of one-day trips to Rinca, so don’t make any reservations ahead (through the internet). In Labuan Bajo, you ’ll get a chance of negotiating an offer, even if the trip starts the very next day. You might also charter a boat if you have spare cash, but it doesn’t make so much sense as it’s a short trip (unlike a trip to Komodo Island, in the case of which renting a boat might be a good idea). For more tips see How to travel Flores smart and stay within a budget.
Your boat will dock at the small pier surrounded by mangrove shrubs inhabited by monkeys. Be careful and watch your belongings, especially cameras, as the monkeys are known for being clever thieves.
From the pier, you will follow the path to the concrete gate guarded by huge concrete lizards. Somewhere on the way the ranger will pick you up and take you to the office, where you’ll be asked to pay the park and ranger fee (you won’t pay for the park entrance ticket if you come from Komodo Island – the ticket is valid for both islands if you visit them in one day).
The first few lizards we spotted near the rangers’ headquarters. They come here lured by the smell from the kitchen. The rangers used to feed them. They stopped a couple of years ago but the old habits die hard, and the lizards keep coming back despite the rangers' efforts to stop them from showing up. Sometimes the dragons manage to get an accidental morsel falling from the kitchen, and if you’re lucky to be there when it happens, you’ll witness quite a show.
W H A T T O S E E N E X T
The walking trails on Rinca Island are not as spectacular as ones on Komodo Island, but instead, Rinca has something else to offer we haven’t seen in Komodo – the nesting sites. Some of them empty, but in one we spotted a female dragon digging holes to lay eggs. It was fascinating to watch her performing the rites undisturbed by our presence.
Rinca Island is definitely more crowded than Komodo Island. In Komodo we haven’t seen any other visitors, in Rinca there were plenty of them. Still, we think Rinca Island is a great place to visit, especially that it is said that your chances to spot the lizards are greater in Rinca than in Komodo Island.
To see what else you can do in Flores go to our article What to see and do in Flores, Indonesia.
And if you need help with planning your trip, see our itinerary on How to plan a trip to Flores, Indonesia.