Komodo Boat Trip from Lombok to Flores

As a thrifty backpacker, the adage, “You get what you pay for,” often does not apply; only suckers pay the full asking price. I always make sure to shop around and try to find a place that’ll provide me deliver the best service for the most affordable price. This was the goal I had in mind when I decided I wanted to visit Komodo Island; home to superb beaches, amazing underwater life, and of course, the elusive, Komodo Dragon.

When looking for a boat trip that would take me from Bangsar in Lombok to Labuan Bajo in Flores, with stops at Komodo, Rinca, Moyo and Laba islands, I managed to find a trip vis-a-vis Komodo Adventures and Beyond for 1,750,000 RPH (around $150USD). The price included breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, free coffee and tea, six 1.5L bottles of water, plus all of the Komodo Island fees and transport from my hotel in Senggigi.

Scary Komodo Dragons at Flores

Komodo Dragons – the least scary thing I encountered on my trip at Flores.

After asking to see photos of the boat, which looked simple yet sturdy (this was no cruise trip I know) AND which also included a Western style toilet (a luxury on this side of the world) I agreed to join the tour and handed over the money. The next morning, a van came and picked me up and brought me to the port, we waited a few hours at Lombok Café for a briefing. Everyone at the restaurant was super nice; it seemed almost too good to be true.

Captain boat Lombok Flores

Komodo adventures and beyond with only one captain!

As soon as the brief started, something felt wrong. Since it was the day after Ramadan, the man giving the briefing told us that despite there being two ships, there would only be one captain because no one else wanted to work that day. We all nervously laughed, thinking it was a joke, but nope, he was serious. After his speech, we made our way to the harbour where we were greeted by an unfamiliar looking boat.

Komodo Boat from Lombok to Flores

Our “cruise” boat from Lombok to Flores

Unlike the images I saw the day before, the boat was essentially two stories of poorly constructed wood tethering on the edge of collapse. The first floor included a small front area, a covered space in the middle with two benches, the captain’s room, plus one cabin and a squatty potty at the back. Upstairs was a covered platform about four feet tall with 20+ mats strewn across the floor; this was apparently our sleeping space. Never one to be deterred, I decided to grin and bear it and enter the boat—after all, it’s about the journey and not the vessel, right?

Komodo Boat from Lombok to Flores

Sleeping condition on the boat trip to Komodo

After 4 very long days living in close quarters on the open water, I’m happy to say I survived. The conditions on the boat did not get any better. The engine broke down on our first night, plenty of people got seasick due to the choppy waters, the food was ALWAYS a variation of mie goreng or nasi goreng, and we never did end up getting a captain which meant we had no idea what was going on most days.

Food onboard Komodo boat trip

Food onboard Komodo boat trip

Despite all of this, seeing the komodo dragons up close, snorkeling with huge manta rays, seeing dolphins, laying out on a pink sand beach, and sleeping under the stars with good people made it all worth it—plus I picked up a few new Indonesian words after becoming friendly with the crew, who while spoke no English, always had big smiles on their faces.

boat crew sailed from Lombok to Komodo Island

Happy boat crew that sailed from Lombok to Komodo island

Here are some helpful tips on how to decide what company to use and what to pack when you brave this adventure:

  • Ask friends for a tour recommendation While I cannot recommend my tour company, komodo dragon, Wanua Adventure seems to be a safe bet. Since our captain never showed up due to an engine problem on the other boat, the captain of the Wanua boat came over and decided to explain the agenda for each day since all the boats more or less have the same schedule.. very nice guy!
  • Ask about how many people will be aboard the ship. We only had 13 people on our boat, which is far less than some other boats that try and squeeze 30 people aboard. Not only is this completely unsafe, but it also means a lot of people are not fed and that there’s not a lot of room to relax.
  • Make sure the komodo park entrance fee is also included in the cost of the cruise. I’ve heard about people having to pay an additional $25 because the fee was not included in their deal.
  • Pack a separate bag filled with your essentials to bring to the sleeping deck. Luggage is stored under the boat and a pain to get to. In addition to sleeping clothes, a bathing suit, a towel and your toiletries, I suggest packing a sarong to use as a cover while you sleep, ear plugs or music to help drown out the noise of the loud engine, baby wipes since there are no showers, and a portable charger due to the high probability the electrical outlets on the boats will either be taken or not working. And if you want, take cards, a wireless speaker, a guitar if you can play, etc. for entertainment on the boat.
  • Bring motion sickness tablets. Even if you don’t end up using it, someone aboard will most likely need them and you’ll have a friend for life.

Our own private beach during Komodo boat trip

Our own private beach during Komodo boat trip

The safety of a boat trip/tour to Komodo has been criticised numerously, there are reports of accidents, so proceed with caution. Decide if this is the adventure for you and use our tips above to make an informed decision. Happy and safe travels!

Related articles:
Komodo National Park, Flores
Flores Travel Guide

Kuta, Lombok Travel Guide

Long overshadowed by Bali, its popular neighbor to the west, Lombok is quickly becoming the next hot spot for travelers visiting Indonesia. With its pristine beaches, amazing waves, friendly locals, and dramatic landscapes, Kuta, Lombok is the perfect base to explore the southern part of this exquisite island.

Unlike the city in Bali, which shares the same name, Kuta in Lombok is far from overdeveloped and overrun by tourists. It maintains it’s natural beauty with cliffs and mountains reaching the coasts to create inspiring views. Kuta is more than just beautiful though; it boasts some of the best surfing in the world and has a rich, vibrant culture thanks to very friendly locals, the Sasaks.

Selong Belanak, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Soaking up the sun at Selong Belanak, Kuta, Lombok

Whether you’re looking to kick back and relax or be more active and adventurous, here are some of my suggestions when you are in Kuta/ Lombok:

What to Do in Kuta, Lombok

Surf – Kuta is a surfer’s paradise. There are over 17 different surf breaks that can be accessed from Kuta including baby waves for beginners to epic barrels for pros.

Mawun Beach, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

All alone! Mawun Beach, Kuta, Lombok

The best beginner beaches are Selong Belanak (40km away), Tanjung Aan (5km to the east of Kuta), and Mawun Beach (12km away). Gerupuk (10km away) is good for both beginners and intermediate surfers, though you’ll need to take a boat to reach the spot. Pros flock to Desert Point, a legendary left-hand wave, though it only appears a few times a year.

Tanjung Ann, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Tanjung Ann.. only a short ride away from Kuta, Lombok!

Wander and explore Kuta and the rest of Lombok
 – If surfing is not your thing, the beaches listed above are all lovely to spend a day soaking in the rays. You can also spend some time snorkeling in Gili Naggu or Seger Beach or zip to the famous Pink Beach, which gets its color from the pink coral.

Pink Beach, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Pink sand! Pink Beach, Kuta, Lombok

Hopping on a scooter is always my favorite way to explore any place I visit. You can stop by local Sasak villages including the pottery village of Penujak and the weaving village of Sukarare. Keep an eye out for the bulls that will wander slowly across the road in front of you! You can also easily book a trip to climb Mt. Rinjani or to Flores via Komodo… if you dare!

South of Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Exploring south of Kuta, Lombok on a scooter


Check out our Top 10 Things to Do in Lombok for more ideas.

Eat and Drink in Kuta, Lombok

Gado-gado at Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Local specialty, gado-gado (mixed veggies with peanut sauce!) at Kuta, Lombok

Still, in its tourism infancy (which is a plus in our opinion!) the center of town is mostly made up of locally owned warungs, homestays *, and surf shops mixed in with a few restaurants serving Western cuisine.

To stock up on food after a long day of surfing, sitting in the sun, or scootering around the island, all which can be equally exhausting, I love grabbing some local food at Warung Flora, Nana’s Restaurant and Nugget’s Corner. If you’re looking for something more Western, but just as tasty, El Bazar Cafe & Restaurant is our top choice, though Riviera Bar & Restaurant and Warung Drifters are up there too.

Nothing beats the view from Ashtari. The cafe is located up on the hill above Kuta with panoramic views over the bay. They host a morning yoga class held on the patio and in the evening, it’s magical to sip on a drink while enjoying the sunset.

Views from Ashtari, Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Views from Ashtari, Kuta, Lombok

After dark, I love going to Sunset Café, Reggae Bar, Gecko Lounge and Bar, and Surfers Bar for drinks and live music. Ask a local/fellow traveler where the hot spot is that night since there tends to be trade-offs depending on the night.

Beers at Sunset Bar, Lombok, Indonesia

Beers at Sunset Bar, Kuta, Lombok on a scooter

Safety and Travel Tips for Kuta, Lombok

While Kuta, Lombok may be a slice of paradise, one should be aware of the perils coming through some of the port entries. There are rumors of Lombok being an unfriendly, dangerous island, which is in large part due to the terrible experiences people have had with the Bangsal Harbor Mob, a very unfriendly welcoming party waiting to prey on tourists arriving from the Gilis at Bangsal Harbour.

NEVER let anyone carry your bag, even if they claim to be a taxi driver or a restaurant worker. I’ve witnessed people being driven about 100 meters and asked for $20USD for the “trip” and traveled with a girl whose bag was driven around the island and held at ransom.

Some guys will also be walking around with receipt books identical to the tickets you may have purchased on Gili. Our suggestion is to either enter through a different port or have your hotel arrange everything beforehand in order to avoid stress and confusion.

Silly times at Reggae Bar, Lombok, Indonesia

Silly times at Reggae Bar, Kuta, Lombok on a scooter

I promise, though, once you make it past the harbor, you’ll enter paradise and you won’t regret your decision! If you have been to Kuta or anywhere else in Lombok, share with us your favourite things to do, food to eat, hang out places or general advices to travelers looking to spend some fun times in Lombok.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Kuta, Lombok *

Related articles:
Top 10 Things to Do in Lombok
Lombok: Beaches, Surf and Diving that Rival Bali’s
Trekking Mount Rinjani, Lombok

Top 5 Things to Do in Canggu, Bali

While backpackers looking to party flock to Kuta to spend a hazy night gouging themselves at Sky Garden, and yogis looking to eat, pray, love may find themselves physically and spiritually in Ubud, I found myself instead in a next upcoming hotspot of Bali – Canggu.

Full of cute cafes, fun bars, trendy shops, and decent surfing waves, Canggu is attracting a beautiful crowd looking to escape the cluster of neighboring Seminyak and Kuta. The town is much more mellow, dotted with lush, green rice patties, along cobblestone roads filled with surfers on scooters. It has a small town feel with all the luxurious amenities.

Scooters through Canggu Shortcut, Bali, Indonesia

Scooters through the “famous shortcut” in Canngu, Bali

Here’s our top 5 things to do in Canggu during your visit in Bali:

Eating heathy and local around Canggu

Good coffee and beautiful, bright nalu bowls (Bali’s answer to acai bowls!) are reason enough to make your way to Canggu. Like other places in Bali, there are plenty of affordable healthy eats – it’s probably one of the easiest places to be vegan throughout all of Asia. Some of my favorite haunts include Crate for nalu bowls, quinoa salads and peanut butter shakes from Peloton, a matcha green tea latte and sweet potato toast from Avocado Cafe, and poke bowls with large chunks of freshly caught tuna at Poke Poke. If you’re looking for something more local, there are plenty of Warungs (local food stalls) including my personal favorite, Warung Heboh where it’s buffet style and you pay by item rather than weight which means you can pile heaps on for a cheap and filling meal!

Coffee, desserts, avocado toast at Crate, smoothies, juices, salad at Peloton in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

From left: Coffee and desserts and avocado toast at Crate; Smoothies, juices and salad at Peloton in Canggu, Bali.

Party, drink and live band in Canggu

While Canggu’s nightlife may be a bit more subdued than in other parts of Bali, you can still have a great out and get up early to surf, depending on how many Bintang beers you’ve had the night before. One of my favorite places to drink has to be Pretty Poison in Canggu. Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, there’s an emptied out swimming pool in the back where skaters show off their tricks to an adoring and attractive crowd sipping on their beers and cocktails. Other must visits include Old Mans, which turns into a party after dark, live rock band included on Friday nights, and Deus, a restaurant/bar/motorcycle shop with a big backyard that gets filled to the brim on Sundays as visitors sway to the live reggae band. There’s also free tacos and tattoos on Tuesday. For a fun day party, Finn’s Beach Club is a trendy and affordable alternative to the more popular Potato Head Beach Club, while the Lawn by Old Man’s Beach is a cheap and great place to curl up on a bean bag. and buy a beer while chatting with the friendly staff who occasionally break out their guitars to serenade lucky guests.

Live Band on Friday nights at Old Man's in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Live Band on Friday nights at Old Man’s in Canggu, Bali

Chill with spa and massages at Canggu

If you’re still feeling stressed or just simply looking to pamper yourself, there are a few good places for massages, facials, and other spa treatments in Canggu. While prices may vary, Goldust is a popular spot that comes highly recommended. While it’s a bit pricier than other places in Canggu, the bit of extra cash you spend goes a long way in terms of luxury. Always #TreatYoSelf, especially when on holiday.

Goldust, best spa and massage in Canggu Bali, Indonesia

Goldust, best spa and massage in Canggu, Bali

Shopping at markets in Canggu

If you’re looking to take home something unique and fashionable from Bali, Canggu has a decent amount of boutiques and markets filled with trendy goodies. Old Man’s Market which occurs on the last Saturday of every month is a top hit with fashionistas. There’s also a Sunday market by People’s Café with clothes and jewelry made by local artists. And nothing is better than bringing home a bathing suit, the perfect souvenir to remember your wonderful time in Bali.

Jewelry shopping at Sunday's Market in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Jewelry shopping at Sunday’s Market in Canggu, Bali

Surf at the trendiest spot in Canggu

Of course, no trip to Canggu would be complete without surfing. While Canggu is a becoming a trendy spot amongst beautiful sun seekers, it’s first and foremost a town for surfers. You can take a cheap lesson or rent boards in various sizes right by the beach. The best surf spot for beginners would be Old Man’s beach, while Echo Beach and Berawa are also nice for more seasoned riders. While it’s not exactly empty, the water isn’t as crowded as other neighboring areas.

Surfing babes and new friends at Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Surfing and new friends at Canggu, Bali – what else do we need?

With its burgeoning popularity, new hot spots for eating, partying, drinking, shopping and massaging are likely to pop-up in this little slice of paradise. What’s your favorite places and things to do in Canggu? Do share with us!

-> Find the best hotel deals in Canggu *

Related articles:
Top 10 Things to Do in Ubud, Bali
Top 10 Things to Do in Kuta, Bali
Top 10 Things to Do in Seminyak, Bali
Top 10 Things to Do in Sanur, Bali

Indonesian Visa on Arrival, Extension and Long Term: Free or Fee?

So AFTER booking my ticket to Indonesia, like every irresponsible backpacker, I wondered to myself, “HMMMM.. do I need a visa?” Unlike my other trips to Indonesia which were short and sweet thanks to the *generous* 10-day vacation policy in the US, I figured I’d stay longer than 30 days, which is what is allotted on a visa free visit.

Luckily for most people, entry into Indonesia is pretty hassle free, if you’re planning to stay for less than a month. Indonesia allows nationals from over 168 countries to remain in the country Visa Free for a maximum of 30 days.


Gili Trawangan Island, Indonesia


Gili Trawangan, a paradise I can easily stay for more than 30 days

Indonesia Visa Free vs Visa on Arrival

Since I wanted a chance to explore this culturally, biologically and ethnically diverse archipelago made up of 17,000 islands and stretches 5,120 kilometers (just saying… there’s a lot to see!) AND also visit family, I was left with two options: paying for a visa on arrival (VOA) or doing a visa run because you cannot extend the length of your stay if you enter visa free. There is also the option of applying for a social/cultural visa if you’re the type of person who plans ahead (more information at the end of the article!)


Family and friends, Indonesia


Family and friends during my last visit to Indonesia

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a visa run, it’s when you hop across the border to another country and then re-enter the country, which you left in order to restart the number of days you’re allowed to stay. While a visa run may tow the line of questionable practices, I hadn’t heard of people running into issues, so I figured it was a viable option. Since I’m currently ballin’ on a budget, I tallied up the cost and decided the cheaper option would be to purchase a VOA at the airport.


Getting Visa on Arrival in Indonesia aiport

Follow these signs in Indonesia aiport to get your Visa on Arrival… easy enough (NOT!)

Getting the visa on arrival seemed pretty easy; I thought all I needed was a valid passport, $35, and a smile to enter (okay, maybe not a smile, but you should do it anyway because you’re in INDONESIA!) However, I found out later that the extension process was a lot more tedious and needed to be done at least two weeks in advance.

Indonesia Visa extension

Two weeks? Why? Well, apparently, I needed to visit three times: once to complete the forms, another time to pay and take my photos and fingerprints, and finally to pick up my passport with the visa extension. On top of that, there are a limited number of offices that you can process the visa extension, including three in Bali, which are almost, always full of people.

Visa, Indonesia


I finally got my Indonesian Visa!

Another option I discovered was that I could get some immigration agent to handle the visa process for about $50. I would still need to start the process about 10-15 days before the visa expired, but I could leave my passport with the agent, enjoy gallivanting and soaking up some sun rays in the other islands, and come back to the office where everything would be completed. And since time is money, it didn’t seem like such a terrible idea. I was left debating whether it would be cheaper to do a visa run OR to pay an agency, and decided to go back in time, and channel my former agency role by making an excel sheet for my budget.



Options to extend my Indonesian Visa: Agent vs Flying in and Out


Options to extend my Indonesian Visa: Hiring an Agent vs Flying in and Out

The best option became pretty obvious; it was cheaper for me to fly from Lombok to KL then to Medan, in order to restart the 30 days. I was a little upset for spending the initial $35 for a VOA (that equals to 10 Bintangs!!!) but I had no one to blame but myself for only doing half the research. But hey, you win some and you lose some, and now I’m on my way to Lombok and Flores before heading to Sumatra. Can’t wait to share more stories with you!



Post visa woes: 
Babe on bikes, exploring Bali

Post visa woes: 
Babe on bikes, exploring Bali on scooters….the easiest and most adventurous ways to get around

Indonesia Long Term Stays Visa

If you are planning ahead (good for you!), below are the two types of most common visas for non-professional longer term stays. You should note that the date of arrival in Indonesia is counted as day one of the permitted stay and the date of departure is also counted as a full day even if the flight leaves just after midnight.

Visa on Arrival

As the name states, this is a visa you can purchase when you arrive in Indonesia at designated entry points by paying US$35 (as of 2016).
Single entry visa
Good for up to 30 days
Can be extended ONLY ONCE for an additional 30 days for another US$35 (as of 2016)
You can also apply for this visa at your respective country’s Indonesian embassy or consulate

Social Cultural Visit Visa

This visa requires a letter of sponsorship from an Indonesian citizen
Good for up to 60 days
Can be extended up to four more times, for a maximum of 180 days total
You must apply for this visa outside of Indonesia
Valid up to three months from date of issue
If you want to extend this visa, you must apply for the extension in the same district stated by your sponsor’s identity card
Here’s more information on Social Cultural Visit Visa

If you do happen to overstay your visa, you will be fined Rp 200,000/day for every day, then deported once you have paid the fine. The maximum fine for overstaying a visa is Rp 25 million and 5 years in jail, so just don’t do it!

Related articles:
Indonesia Tourist Visa Requirement
Indonesia Travel Tips and Information
Do I need a Travel Insurance for Indonesia?