The first day was spent travelling to the harbour and getting to know everyone we would be sailing with. There were no activities but the scenery was beautiful, we were visited by a pod of dolphins, and a Bintang during sunset topped it all off.
- Drive to the office and restaurant (it took us 1 hour from Kuta Lombok), pay and meet your crew mates. After another hour get on the bus and drive to the harbour for another 2 hours.
- Order drinks and snacks to take on the boat from the restaurant or the local shop. A large beer was 40k, avoid the local wine offered at 150K.
- Lunch and dinner on board.
- Sailing and taking in the scenery.
After a breakfast of pancakes we jumped off the boat to snorkel and walk 20 minutes to a waterfall. It was quite crowded and there was the option to climb to the second level where there was another level and a rope swing. We then headed to Manta Point and we were lucky to spot a huge Manta gliding along the sea bed, it was amazing to swim alongside something so graceful. The rest of the day was spent sailing and in the evening we were able to see an astonishing amount of stars.
- Sail to Moyo Island visit a waterfall and snorkel.
- Manta Point snorkelling.
- Gili LawaDarat Island hike to a view point upon waking.
- Pink Beach.
- Party night and dock overnight.
Our dragon hunting finally arrived!
We visited Komodo first where we were taken on a short hike and we were lucky to see several large dragons and a baby dragon. Our guide was not very informative and he cut the 1.5 hour hike short to 1 hour as we had seen the dragons early on. Some of the largest dragons were outside a hut and were lazing in the sun, we also saw deer and wild boars.
The second stop was Rinca Island, and again the 1.5 hour hike was only 40 minutes due to seeing a large number of dragons early on. The guide was much more informative sharing interesting facts about the dragons and a few jokes. This island had nicer scenery and we were taken to a beautiful view point.
Our trip came to an end with snorkelling at Kelor Island where we saw some of the strangest sea creatures. The current was strong but manageable and the water was crystal clear.
It was then a short sail to the harbour at Labuan Bajo where we disembarked and went on the hunt for a shower and a soft bed. There were several accommodation options along the same road as the popular ‘Le Pirate’ hostel. Cheaper accommodation could be found uphill and these gave great views of the harbour though it did mean a walk to the surprisingly good restaurants on the main road.
- Komodo Island.
- Rinca Island.
- Snorkelling at Kelor Island.
- Arrive Labuan Bajo.
Booking the trip:
We were nervous about booking this trip as we had read some awful reviews online (of course as soon as you read a bad one all the good ones no longer matter…) but as this was the most convenient and budget friendly way of seeing the main sites between Lombok and Flores we decided to take the risk.
There are lots of companies offering this trip but we only considered two agencies as they had the most reviews Pernama and Wanua Adventures (Pernama was out of our price range at 2.5 million IDR).
In October the price people paid on our Wanua boat ranged from 1.65 mil to 1.8 mil depending on where they were picked up and this included everything. There were no other charges to pay at all during the whole trip.
We got to see the boats of other companies as they all take the same route and they all looked of a similar standard. You can book onto this tour from anywhere, on our boat people had come from the Gili islands, Bali and Lombok mainland. We sent a message to Wanua via facebook two days before and they picked us up from Mataram in Lombok.
Life on board:
Safety: There were two inflatable life rafts, a net of life jackets, and a fire extinguisher on board which was reassuring. The crew were very concerned with our safety during the trip making sure we did not swim when the currents were too strong. We think it would have been good if they held a safety briefing for the group before setting off to put everyone at ease and ensure we know procedures if anything went wrong. Flippers would also have been helpful as there was often a current when swimming.
Hygiene: There was a large barrel of fresh water and a bucket which allowed us to wash most of the salt water off our skin but not much else. So bring wipes, hand sanitiser, a spare bottle of water for brushing your teeth (spitting over the side only unfortunately!), and lots of conditioner if you have long hair. There were two toilets (one western and one squat) and there was always toilet paper and they kept reasonably clean. However, these both opened straight into the ocean which we thought was horrible especially when boats docked at beautiful beaches and you could see toilet paper in the water and few other unwelcome floating objects! Ladies, a few sanitary bags will be important if the timing is unlucky.
Food: This was amazing and we were really surprised! Every meal was delicious and different variations of rice, noodles, vegetables, meat/fish or egg and there were enough for the men to have seconds. Breakfast was pancakes or jaffles and they offered crackers twice a day and there was unlimited tea and coffee (no milk). We did bring a few snacks with us and these came in handy between breakfast and lunch as we were always up early and by 9am it felt like lunchtime. There was supposed to be 6 large bottles of water per person but this ran out at lunchtime on the last day and most people had not used their 6 allocated bottles.
Alcohol: Before the trip you meet at a restaurant where you pay and get organised onto boats. This is where you can put in an order for drinks and snacks, there is also a shop nearby where you can pick up what you need. To purchase from the company it was 40k IDR per large beer, you could also buy a local spirit for 150K but we did not think this was good value for money (they call this wine). It was possible to buy extra beer at Pink Beach, it was 50k IDR per large beer. There is one night set aside for a ‘party night’ so it was good to keep some drinks back for this, but usually we had one at sunset. They had a large cooler to keep drinks cold but there was a bit of an issue with the wrong number of drinks having been put on the boat meaning several people did not receive everything the paid for.
Space: There were 21 of us on board plus the crew and we were surprised at the amount of space we had to chill out during the sailing between stops. On the top level there is a sleeping area (during the day the sleeping area was used to nap, get changed and to keep our smaller bags) and a sun deck (there is no shade at all so only suitable for sunbathing and the evenings, a big improvement would be some sort of shade). On the bottom level there is a small space at the front of the boat and then a covered area where we could all eat, put mats down to rest or play games.
Sleeping: Everyone opted for deck class which meant a sleeping mat, a leather pillow and a blanket each in the low ceilinged sleeping area (crawling is the only way, a torch is needed at night). There were small cabins available but we did not think they were much better and they would have been very noisy. We brought silk sleeping bag liners and they were really handy to have as we could use the blanket as an extra cushion and at times it could be a bit chilly. We think the best beds to get are a one or two in from the entrance as it is less hassle to get in and out but you will not be climbed over by everyone or get too cold or wet in bad weather. Be prepared for little sleep however as it is hard to sleep on a moving boat even in calm weather and you wake with the sunrise. Bring a sleeping mask, ear plugs, and sleeping tablets to make it more bearable.
Other: Bags are stored under the boat (you can get them out as needed) so take a smaller bag to keep items you will need regular access too. Bring some smaller change to put in the tips jar for the hard working crew. The snorkelling gear was not very good so bring your own if you can.
Overall, despite the lack of sleep and desperately wanting a shower, we loved this trip and it was a great way of seeing the beauty of Lombok and Flores. There were definitely some things that could be improved but for the cost of the trip we thought it well worth the money.