Sailing From Lombok to Komodo Island

Sailing from Lombok to Komodo Island

Sailing from Lombok to Komodo island was high on our bucket list as soon as we arrived in Indonesia.  The surrounding islands have some of the best diving in the world and we were eager for more diving after getting our PADI on Gili Trawangan.  Oh yeah, and Komodo dragons are some about the coolest animal on the planet.  I mean come on, they’re DRAGONS!

Simply flying to neighboring Flores and then taking a day drip seemed a little too mundane for our tastes.  When we heard you could live the pirate life and sail from lombok to komodo on  4-day boat trip, we were eager to channel our inner Jack Sparrow.  

After reading countless horror stories about this trip, we did some serious researching and settled on a touring company called Wanua Adventures. While it was slightly more expensive than other competing tours, they had positive reviews and we were able to book in person at an office on Gili Meno, ensuring that we had an agent to contact should anything be (and I quote… “Unsatisfactory”). This golden phrase is a literal wet dream for the average backpacker. Check out why we think this tour is the best value for your money!

sailing from lombok to komodo island

The Location:

Gili Air/Gili Meno/ Lombok to Lubuan Bajo, Flores

The Cost:

  •  $100-$150 (1.3m 2m IDR) depending on the company and your negotiating skills
  • + $75 for a private cabin
    • -Includes 3 meals a day, unlimited coffee & tea, 6 large bottles of water, snorkeling gear, sleeping mats, blanket and pillow, and transport from Gili’s to harbor where boat leaves on Lombok. In some cases, the price includes the national park fees for Komodo and Rinca islands.  If not included it will cost an extra 300,000IDR ($23USD) so ask about this when you book!

The Cost:

  •  $100-$150 (1.3m 2m IDR) depending on the company and your negotiating skills
  • + $75 for a private cabin
    • -Includes 3 meals a day, unlimited coffee & tea, 6 large bottles of water, snorkeling gear, sleeping mats, blanket and pillow, and transport from Gili’s to harbor where boat leaves on Lombok. In some cases, the price includes the national park fees for Komodo and Rinca islands.  If not included it will cost an extra 300,000IDR ($23USD) so ask about this when you book!

The Description:

Embark on a 4-day/4 night trip, sailing from Lombok to Komodo, before finishing the journey in Flores. These old fishing boats have been converted for tourism and can hold up to 30 people + crew comfortably. The voyage is made on large wooden boats, with varying levels of comfort and luxury. While there are multiple scheduled stops for island trekking, world-class snorkeling, and (wait for it)…. “Hunting komodo dragons”, the highlight of this trip is lounging on the deck of the boat and enjoying the beautiful scenery around you. Expect to make lasting relationships with your new boat friends and unique memories to cherish for the rest of your life.

Sailing From Lombok to Komodo Island:

As with any adventure tour in Asia, you’ll spend the majority of your first day being shuttled from place to place before arriving at the departure point for your trip. Our group was about 50 people total, split between two boats. Fortunately, they packed the other boat a little more tightly than ours, giving us more space for our trip!
 
We’re not entirely sure how they divvy up the passengers because somehow we ended up on a boat with only Spanish and French people, while the other boat held all the Americans, the Brits, and the Aussies. Fortunately, everybody was speaking English easily by the end of the trip so the language barrier didn’t matter anymore. After you get your packs loaded onto the boat, you head up to the deck to meet your crew, fellow boat-mates, and to pick your bed for the next 4 nights.
 
Upon arriving at the docks, you’re probably going to wonder, “How the hell are we all going to fit on this thing?” Rest assured, you totally will and it’s really not so bad once you get going. Each boat has about 4 small cabins on the bottom, with only an elevated bed and room to slide your pack underneath. (We did hear many complaints that these cabins became unbearably hot at night, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for more privacy!)
 
There are two small bathrooms on the bottom, a tiny kitchen, and the common area below the deck. Upstairs you’ll find the uncovered deck (perfect for working on that tan), and the sleeping quarters for the rest of the boat. These are covered and have the option for tarps to be put against the open windows in case of inclement weather. Although we actually found the sleeping mats to be unexpectedly cozy, we were beyond ready for a real bed after 4 nights!
sailing from lombok to komodo island

Our humble abode for the next 4 nights

If you enjoy Indonesian food, this is the perfect trip for you because it’s literally all you’re going to eat for the next 4 days. While it’s super tasty, it does have a tendency to get repetitive (think huge plates of rice). Towards the end of the trip, the creativity dies and you basically eat the same thing for every meal. Fortunately, it’s pretty tasty, so it’s not a big deal. BE WARNED, food goes lightening quick on these group trips. When they announce that food is ready, you better get your butt to the eating area and grab a plate. It’s not that there isn’t enough food for everybody, but with 25 people, you’re counting on the chivalry of your fellow boat mates, and there is no time for politeness. This being said…don’t be that guy, only take what you are sure you can eat!
 
Lastly, as with any open water journey, the sea and weather conditions are a really big deal. As such…. things may change. Scheduled stops may no longer be possible. The safety of the passengers is the crew’s number one priority, followed by an amazing experience. So if things change, go easy on your captain and crewmembers, and channel that frustration into a rain dance! These unscheduled stops aren’t always negative. We spotted a picturesque pink sand bar from our boat one day and convinced the crew that it was a necessary stop. It was a trip highlight and totally worth it! Although your itinerary may change slightly, here’s what you can expect day-to-day on this trip.
sailing from lombok to komodo island

Enjoying an early morning snorkel of the coast of a deserted island.

Day 1:

At 8:30am you’ll take a boat from Gili Meno to Lombok where you’ll meet your new boat-mates and wait for the transport to Gili Bola to board your ship. This takes most of the day, but provides an excellent opportunity to stock up on snacks. We repeat, STOCK UP ON SNACKS! You’ll also put in your order for things like beer and extra water. Keep your receipt and remember that four days is actually a lot longer than you’d think when you’re at sea (in other words…. buy extra Bintang!)
 
By late afternoon you’ll be on the boat and sailing out to your first destination. Just before sunset, you’ll stop for some snorkeling and your first family meal. After the sun goes down there won’t be much light provided by the boat. This is a good opportunity to head upstairs and do some epic star gazing from the deck of your ship before heading to bed.
sailing from lombok to komodo island

You can expect some epic sunrises on this trip.

Day 2:

Rise and shine with the morning light! And we mean, the tiniest hint of light possible because it’s still like 5:45am. This is likely the moment you realize sleeping late isn’t actually a thing on these boats. When that sun comes up, so do you. No biggie though, it’s totally worth it.  The sunrises over the Indian Ocean are absolutely incredible and should not be missed. Additionally, breakfast gets served at an early 6:30am to make time for all the epic activities you’ll have.  In true Indonesian fashion you can expect banana pancakes or toast. After breakfast you’ll sail to Moya Island, jump ship and swim to the beach while the crew delivers your cameras and bag via jiffy boat.
 
Here you can find epic snorkeling and short jungle trek to a beautiful waterfall. (We’re not kidding… this waterfall is stunning and is perfect for the adventure thrill seekers). The waterfall features dozens of small pools with rippling stalagmite sculptures and gentle green cascading waters into the surrounding pools. It truly is one of the best parts of the trip!
 
After a few hours of playing in the jungle and on the beach, you’ll head back to the boat and eat lunch before spending the rest of the day and evening on the boat sailing to your next destination. This is the perfect opportunity to bond with your fellow boaties and to throw back a few of those Bintangs you’ve been hoarding in the cooler. You’ll end the day happy, buzzed, and incredibly tan.

Day 3:

Another early morning… hopefully you made it through the night! We hit some intense waves on night 2 and spent most of the night praying for safe passage. Rest assured, we all survived. Only a few people got sick, and we all laughed about it the next morning. After breakfast, the boat will anchor at Gili Laba, famous for it’s insane peak views. Eat quickly and put on your tennis shoes, because this is a hike you do not want to miss. It’s about 20 minutes to the top, but worth every drop of sweat in the sun. The view from the top is absolutely incredible with stunning scenery surrounding you in every direction. You’ll be able to see the thousands shades of blue in the sea, and the rolling greens and gold of the islands dotting the coastline. It truly is a sight to behold.

sailing from lombok to komodo island

 After the hike you’ll head to Manta point, a world famous dive site for….you guessed it, manta rays! These majestic creatures are breathtaking to see in their element. Although it’s not guaranteed, we found that most of the other boats in the area saw one, and so did we. After some snorkeling, you’ll hop back on the boat and continue sailing to Red beach. This whole area can only be described as idyllic.

Picture tiny pink sand beaches sprinkled amidst the sparking and crystal clear turquoise water. It was so stunning that we literally begged our captain to make an unscheduled stop and let us play on one of the sandbars. The snorkeling here was fantastic, and the opportunity for photos is endless. After nearly two hours of a spontaneous good time, we headed back to the boat and continued our sail to the intended last destination of the day- Red Beach. This unique cove boasts a small and secluded pink sand beach. After some down time, you’ll jump back on the boat and cruise to a beautiful spot for sunset. If you’re lucky, you might catch the daily migration of flying foxes as they leave their surrounding caves and fly into the setting sun.

sunset over komodo island sailing from lombok to komodo island

Beautiful sunset over Komodo Island.

For most of the people on the boat, this is your last night. So after the sun goes down, the party lights turn on. Turn the music up and finish those beers you’ve been hoarding! If you run out, there are even little jiff-boats who have beer and snacks for sale.

Day 4:

Finally, the day you’ve been waiting for… “dragon hunting day”! Pack your camera gear and your running shoes because you won’t want to miss anything (or get eaten by a dragon, because that would suck). Seriously these things are no joke. At about 275lbs full grown, these lizards are basically modern day dinosaurs and are a sight to see. After breakfast, you’ll cruise over to Komodo National Park to begin the search for Komodo dragons in the wild, eager to hunt them down (with your camera, of course).
 
Dragon mating season is from May to August, so we were hoping to see some sort of fierce National Geographic turf war, but alas we did not. After we finished the short trek through the park, we had still not found any dragons. But we were able to see a few near the ranger station. This actually made us pretty uncomfortable, as it was clear these dragons are baited near the station and then a sedated for the tourists to take pictures. For these reasons, we didn’t linger to take pictures, and were anxious to leave.
 
After having a mostly negative experience at Komodo Island, we we’re ready to be done with the animal exploitation experiences for the day. Fortunately, our next stop at Rinca Island soothed all of our woes. Being less known and less visited; Rinca is a good place to see the Komodo dragon in its natural environment. Have your cameras out and ready as you walk with your guide through the national park’s lulling hills, and lush forests. Not only is the scenery gorgeous but there are literally dragons everywhere. Your guide will be excited to tell you all about the Komodo dragons and seeing them in their natural habitat is an experience you won’t forget.
komodo dragon up close sailing from lombok to komodo island

After Komodo and Rinca, it’s time to board the boat, eat lunch, and begin the short trip to Labuan Bajo where you’ll finish your journey. There is just enough time for a cruise, a quick meal, and a snorkel stop (because these guys really love their snorkeling), then it’s time to say goodbye. While most people are eager to leave the ship and shower (ahhhh a real shower!), we were the crazy ones that stayed on the boat that night.

Since you pay for 4 days and 4 nights, sleeping on the boat the last night while in port is totally an option and is a perfect saving strategy for the shoestring backpacker. We nervously left our packs on the boat and headed into town to grab some dinner, with explicit instructions from the captain to be back at 7pm.

Much to our dismay, the boat had moved when we returned for the evening. After a bit of panic, we sorted it out. Luckily most of the companies running these tours have offices blocks away from the port. We were able to have the office call the boat captain who came and escorted us back to the boat for the night. As it was empty, we had the whole place to ourselves and slept comfortably in a cabin free of charge.

Tips for Sailing From Lombok to Komodo Island:

  • Snacks snacks snacks! We cannot emphasize this one enough. It’s not that you don’t get enough food, but after 4 days the variety lessens, and having snacks keeps you from being at the mercy of the kitchen all the time!
  • Try to get on the boat first. This will allow you to pick your beds first.
  • Choose beds carefully! The layout of the ship will vary, but almost all will have you sleeping on the top. We suggest choosing a bed near a window, as it does get pretty hot. The next best thing is a bed near the front or rear exit so that you’re not stepping on other peoples beds each time you pass through.
  • Bring your own snorkel gear if you can. The gear that they provided was adequate in function but definitely needed a clean. There was black mold everywhere and it was always a race to see who would get the few uncontaminated masks. Fins are not provided.
  • Bring an extra t-shirt or pillowcase for your pillow if you can. The pillows provided are kind of disgusting.
  • Be ready for that meal bell! Seriously guys, this boat is where chivalry goes to die.
  • If possible, book in person! When you book in person you are able to negotiate more with price and what is included, specifically the fees associated with the parks. After reading many blogs and speaking with fellow boat mates, we found a lot of disparity on included fees. Additionally, booking in person also gives you a point of contact should anything go wrong, or is not up to the standards that you were promised. In general, face to face is always better.
  • Buy extra beer, if you get crazy you’ll have to keep it with you near your bed, but through out the trip you can sneak them into the cooler! Buying outside of the tour company should save you about at least 1$ per beer.
  • Bring some playing cards and a speaker!
  • Keep any and all receipts, especially those for the food and beer you purchased through the tour. The allocation and tracking of these isn’t the best, so it’s better to have proof and keep track yourself.
beaches of south lombok Sailing from Lombok to Komodo Island

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