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

3 weeks itinerary for Islands of Indonesia

Q: I’m writing you since I’m planning to go on a trip to Indonesia in July/ August.

I might have about 3 weeks to travel. Since I want to make most of my trip, I would love to visit a couple of islands of Indonesia.

Your homepage is already very helpful! But I just wanted to ask whether you could recommend e specific route in Indonesia which involves a couple of destinations and islands (e.g. Sumatra, Bali, Lombok,…)? Can you recommend any route for three weeks?

Thank you so much for your help!

– Simone

Answer:
For 3 weeks you may well cover a good number of islands in Indonesia, but do bear in mind quite a number of flying is needed as Indonesia is spread out far and wide. Try this recommendation of ours for the highlights of islands of Indonesia from Bali, Lombok and Gili Islands to Flores and Nusa Tenggara:

For first 10 days –
Fly into Bali and spend a week exploring Bali and Lombok – combining our 4 days itinerary in Bali with 3 days of Lombok and then another 3 days for Gili Islands.

Next 10 days –
Make way to Flores via boat from either Lombok or one of the Gili Islands or fly from Bali to Maumere and explore Flores, making way towards Labuhanbajo through Kelimutu and Komodo Island.

After that you may find flights out of Flores to either Bali again or Jakarta and then leave Indonesia from there.

If you want to explore Sumatra or Sulawesi I would suggest them as another separate trip as it is on other parts of Indonesia and would definitely require more time to explore. Have a great trip!

Lombok, Indonesia: Rival to Bali

In recent years, Lombok is getting more press and recognition in the tourism industry as a top travel place, where many people are touting it as the next Bali or the alternative to Bali or the Bali before the commercialization. Though Lombok itself may not appreciate such references but it cannot be helped as it is located right next to the famous Bali that needs no more introduction in the world tourism.

That said, Lombok had actually been famous in the circles of independent travelers for many years. Everybody knows this so called best kept secret which is not much of a secret anymore. this is because Lombok has lots to offer from beaches to diving spots to surfing and even a volcanic mountain, Mount Rinjani that is famous for hikers and trekkers.

Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok, Indonesia

The indigenous Sasak takes up 90% of Lombok population and are Muslims with their own culture and language. The name Lombok is actually derived it which literally means straight (ahead). But more tourists said that the name actually means chili as it means so in Bahasa Indonesian. Nevertheless, both holds some form of meaning and relation to this island.

Where is it

Located between Bali (east of) and Sumbawa (west of), Lombok is the best of the both worlds.

Travel Map of Lombok, Indonesia

Travel Map of Lombok, Indonesia

Why go

Gili Meno, Indonesia

Gili Meno, Indonesia

Relatively still unspoiled in comparison to its neighbor Bali, Lombok boasts many natural tourist attractions like beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes and mountains and crystal blue sea.

Besides the local culture from the indigenous Sasak is very much still alive and the way it from old times while the businesses around is still very much run by the local people.

Come here for the famous tourist attractions in Lombok like the three Gili Islands that so many travelers talked about, the magnificent hike up Mount Rinjani, surfer’s paradise at Kuta beach, and beautiful beaches at Senggigi’s long stretch of sweeping bays.

When is the best time to go

Most of the time is a good time to go to Lombok, being like the rest of the Indonesian weather and climate, it is dry and hot with then some rain at certain times of the year.

The best time to go to Lombok would be the dry season if you want to fully enjoy every moment and that is June – February. Though peak season will see many tourists especially during July/August or December/January.

Also, come here during February or March, to catch a glimpse of the first nyale (wormlike fish) at the huge fishing festival. The indigenous Sasak people of Lombok will commemorate a mythical princess who had drown in these waters to escape a politically arranged marriage. This festival is done the same time with the season of these wormlike fish, where they are caught and eaten roasted in banana leaves with much enthusiasm.

Mount Rinjani, Lombok, Indonesia

Mount Rinjani, Lombok

What to see

Mawun Beach – this quiet and beautiful beach is one of the favourites of independent travelers as it has yet been touched by mass tourism with fewer people, clear waters and soft white sands. This is a kind of protected cove that is ideal for swimming as the coral/rocks are far out. Though be careful as the place is quiet, there are reported thefts around when things are left unattended.

Sendang Gile Waterfall, lombok, indonesia

Sendang Gile Waterfall, Lombok

Sendang Gila Waterfall (or Sindang gila), which means slightly crazy waterfalls. If to go with its namesake, it is crazily beautiful with tall and looming waterfalls amidst the jungle backdrop. Unfortunately though the place is now well known thus tourist touts haunt this place.

Air Terjun Tiu Kelep (waterfalls) are your next best choice if you want a less touristy alternative. This waterfall is another 1-hour walk in and it is advised to get a local guide to show you the way as the path could be tricky. Here you will have a deep pool to swim in or for the adventurous to jump off the rocks or use a tunnel with the concrete shoot as a water slide.

Sukarare – for those who are interested in local arts and handicraft, here you can find a weaving village in Desa Sukarana (village). The things here are cheaper in compared to shops in Senggigi.

What to do

Diving – Lombok is one of the best diving sites in Indonesia, having features such as drop-offs, plateaus and slopes among fascinating corals and diverse marine lives. You may find Hammerhead sharks here and other wild marine life.

Diving Lombok, Indonesia

Diving Lombok

Surfing – also another top with being one of the best place to surf in Indonesia, Kuta beach is known as the surfer’s paradise. One of the famous secret yet not so secret anymore surf place is The Desert Point. There are also good surf breaks here in surf spots like Mawi, Mawun and Point X along the southern coast of Lombok.

Surf Desert Point, Lombok, Indonesia

Surf Desert Point, Lombok

Trekking Mount Rinjani – the second highest volcano in Indonesia after Mount Kerinci in Sumatra, is one of the most popular volcano trekking in Indonesia. This is because it offers amazing adventurous hike that promises breathtaking view at the peak. The demanding trek that requires two days to conquer the mountain will make it all worthwhile when greeted by the view at the summit.

What and where to eat

Nasi Campur, Indonesia

Nasi Campur

Lombok work holds similarity to the word chili, and what more than to pay homage to its name and give yourself a taste of it. Be careful you might get burn but it is worth it as it comes in a form of sambal that unsurprisingly the locals know well to make it dangerously delicious. Sambal is a spicy condiment that you may dip with most of your local Indonesian food or it may be also cooked into some dishes already like curry or grilled meat.

Best local dish is ayam taliwang, which is chicken coated with rich red sauce of galangal, turmeric and tomato, and it can be hot or not depdening on where you get it. Generally inexpensive food to eat here is the mixed rice (nasi campur) where you can choose a variety of dishes of meat and vegetables to go with your rice. Sambal would be your universal condiment of choice here.

Where to stay

Your best best for good accommodations in Lombok are at Senggigi beach *. There are many choices for budget or backpackers here. Though there are many travelers who would go to Gili Islands *as a place to stay instead. Kuta beach * can also be a choice where it is more serene and back to traditional village environment.

-> Find the best hotel deals in Lombok at Booking.com *

How to get there

Flights
Lombok has its own international airport (Bandara Internasional Lombok), Indonesia domestic airlines fly from places like Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan. International flights are limited to Singapore by Silk Air and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (with a stop at Surabaya) by Garuda Airlines and Air Asia. There are seasonal charter by Nordwind Airlines to/fro Russia. Take note of departure tax of around 25,000 Rp for domestic and 100,000 Rp for international. Check here for visa requirements to Indonesia.

From the airport to the center of Lombok, you may take the airport bus that serve routes to Mataram or Senggigi. Else you can always opt for taxi, though be careful and look for genuine ones or metered taxi.

Long boats at Lombok, Indonesia

Long boats at Lombok

By Boat
You can take ferries from Bali to Lombok, which departs every hour and take about 4-5 hours at the cost of around 36,000 Rp. There are also fast boat options from Bali to Gili Islands in Lombok.

There are also ferries that connect Poto Tano in Sumbawa to Labuhan in Lombok. Perama tour is the largest orpeator in this where it also serves from Bali.

How to get around

Mawun Beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Mawun Beach=

Bemo – the usual popular land transport for Indonesia, a sort of minivan that normally covers short distances in a place. Here you can go from Ampenan to Senggigi for a bout 5,000 Rp per person. Again take care of your belongings as you use this crowded public transport.

Car – you may hire the usual Bluebird taxi or Express taxi to go around Lombok on ad hoc or you can rent a car which cost from the range of 150,00 Rp to 450,000 Rp depending on type. It would be best to also hire a driver as driving here is quite challenging with ambiguous roads system.

Motorbike – you may also rent a motorbike from various places costing around 50,00 Rp, do take great care when riding around as the roads in Lombok is not well maintained while the motorists can be quite notorious sometimes. You may also hire ojek (motorbike taxi) as you go.

Horse cart – may seem like a novelty but it is quite common here for short distances. It is known as cidomo. Just agreed on a price before climbing up.

Boat – you may hire boats to connect from Lombok to various islands. Traditional fishing boats known as perahu can be chartered or you can talk to the owners directly.

Where to go nearby

Gili Islands – just off the coast of Lombok and not too far west from Bali, these islands are the best bet to get your ultimate remote islands exprience.

Bali – this famous next door island has actually many to offer. Check out our Top 10 Must Visit Places in Bali.

Uluwatu Temple at Bali, Indonesia

Uluwatu Temple at Bali, Indonesia

Flores – Visit Flores for the almost untouched island, where you can trek to see the Tri-colored lakes in Kelimutu, Komodo Dragon, swim in calm pool with waterfall backdrop, enjoy your meal and mingling with locals amidst view of lush paddy fields and smoking volcanic mountain. You can even dive or snorkel off various amazing dive sites.

Sumbawa islands – an island truly off the beaten track to further challenge Lombok in this arena. It is also known as one of the best places to surf in Indonesia and even the world. The place may be lacking in facilities but it made up in natural beauties.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Gili Islands

Travel Tips

Many travelers gave advice to be especially careful of thefts in Lombok. Keep your things well attended and lock your luggage, there are even thefts at the beaches

For women and solo travelers, try not to go to quiet places in the dark.

Language can be tough here as most people speak only Sasak instead of the usual Bahasa Indonesian or what more English.

Also, dress appropriately to respect the custom, especially when visiting holy places, but generally as well as revealing clothes are not recommended. The tip is to carry a sarong or a shawl around all the time so that you can wrap on over swimwear or whenever needed.

Also note that there are no alcohol serve on this island. There are also reported cases of dengue fever and malaria.

Sasak People Wedding, Lombok, Indonesia

Sasak People Wedding at Lombok

In short, come to Lombok to escape the tourist crowds, for the beautiful beaches, the powerful waves for surfing, the untouched sea for diving, magnificent waterfalls and unchanged culture and people under the wonderful weather of sun and breeze.

Photo credits from top: Tanti Ruwani, Burmesedays, yeowatzup, Trekking Rinjani, Jeda Villa Bali, Mike Slagter, Wiendietry Rusli, NeilsPhotography, Madeleine Holland, Jos Dielis melburnian and Tanti Ruwani

Related Articles:
Kuta, Lombok Travel Guide
Top 10 Things to Do in Lombok
Komodo Boat Trip from Lombok to Flores
Weather in Lombok – When to go