Updated May 18th, 2018.
Want a once in a lifetime chance to cruise across the Indonesian coast with 20 other backpackers in a party boat? Opt for the boat from Lombok to Flores as opposed to the treacherous 24-hour bus ride. This four-day/three-night adventure will leave you with memories and Instagram worthy pictures to last a lifetime!
Swim with manta rays, snorkel with Nemo, explore Komodo National Park, and the reason most people go on this trip, get up close and personal with a Komodo dragon! From crystal clear waters to the closest things to a real life dragon you can find (which only lives on this one island – nowhere else in the world!) there will never be a shortage of activities to keep you entertained.
How to get from Lombok to Flores by boat?
The three-day/four-night journey is part of an organised tour, which can be booked in travel agents across Bali and Lombok. Most of the boats leave from Senggigi, Lombok’s main port town. You can easily grab a ferry over from Bali, the Gili Islands, or take a taxi from anywhere on Lombok to the port, without any advance booking.
Where will I sleep?
When you take the boat from Lombok to Flores, there are two types of accommodation “classes”, deck or cabin. I highly, highly, recommend booking a cabin if your budget allows for it, as no one will deny the deck is cramped and uncomfortable.
On a budget trip, a deck spot should cost you between 1.5-2 million rupiahs ($70-$150 USD) (depending on your negotiation skills!), and a cabin between 2-2.5 million rupiahs ($150-$180 USD). With a deck sleeping arrangement, you will be on the floor on the deck with a mat, pillow, and blanket, sleeping alongside 20 fellow passengers!
This can be an incredible experience for some – those who enjoy camping you will feel right at home. Those who require a little more comfort may want to go for the cabin option, where you’ll get your own little room, which is no bigger than the size of a double bed.
What to expect?
Included in the price for the Lombok to Flores boat trip are three meals a day and all activities. You will eat family style breakfast, lunch and dinner, all prepared fresh on the ship.
Activities such as exploring untouched islands and swimming with manta rays will keep you busy as you sail towards the Komodo Dragons. The evenings are filled with drinking beer and hanging out with the rest of the passengers.
Expect that at some points there will be rough seas and some people will get sick so bring your motion sickness medicine. Additionally, on some boats, there are no showers, one “hole in the ground” type “squatty potty” and minimal sanitation.
Bring your moist towelettes and a couple extra bottles of fresh water to rinse off, and maybe wash your hair on the side of the deck throughout the trip.
Where to next?
After four days, the boat will drop you off in the small fishing village of Labuan Bajo on the western coast of Flores Island. Take some time to explore the seaside town before continuing on to see the rest that Flores has to offer (pink beach anyone?).
Many people fly from Komodo Airport back to Bali. Flights are not cheap but almost everyone agrees to fork up the extra money as opposed to taking the bus, or a return boat. If you can stomach it, a bumpy bus journey will be a way cheaper option to get you back to Lombok, and then you can take a ferry back to Bali.
SEA Backpacker Note: Safety on board
If you’re interested in doing this trip, you may have decided to check out a few of the reports of the various boat companies that can be found in forums online and on Trip Advisor. You’ll quickly learn (as we did) that the reviews are dappled with disaster stories and tales of the dangerous nature of the voyage!
This article, by travel blogger, Adventurous Kate, talks about how she was shipwrecked in the middle of the night whilst travelling on the ‘Hunt a Komodo By Camera’ tour that is offered by Perama Tour and Travel. Many other reports talk of a lack of basic safety equipment such as life vests, lifeboats, as well as overcrowded boats, poor facilities and rough seas!
It seems that some of the larger boats are much more equipped in terms of safety, than the smaller ones, but when booking through a travel agency in Lombok, it is difficult to know which particular boat that you are booked onto, until you are there, staring at the boat! (Also – it’s important to check the weather forecast before sailing as the seas on this route can be very rough.)
WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS VOYAGE IN THE RAINY SEASON. (NOVEMBER – MARCH)
Do you still want to book this trip?
Over the years, we’ve received loads of emails from travellers who simply can’t find a way to book this trip online! As you can see in the comments below this article, people got rather annoyed that the author of this article failed to mention the company with whom she booked this adventure.
We have been in touch with the author, Jennifer, and she could not remember the name of the “shack at the side of the road” (as she called it) that she booked with, in Kuta, Lombok. Furthermore, she added “looking back I wouldn’t recommend any of my friends or family to ever sail with that company because in hindsight I see how dangerous and poorly prepared that boat was.”
We searched high and low to try to find a company that did this particular route, and that adheres to appropriate safety measures for a sea passage of this kind. In all honesty, it has been a frustrating process and, even now, we are not confident with any one of the companies that we have spoken with to recommend them to you. All we can do is present our findings and ask you to make your own decision about whether or not to undertake this adventure…
The boat companies we found operating this route…
OPTION 1: Komodo Cipta Wasata – 4 Day, 3 Night Trip
- START: Senggigi, Lombok
- FINISH: Labuan Bajo, Flores
- DEPARTURE DAYS: Leaves Monday and Thursday
COST: 1,900,000 IDR per person (Approx $140 US) *Deck Only
The most responsive company that we contacted was KCW (Komodo Cipta Wasata Tours) who are a travel agency, based in Bali, ran by Indonesian local, Benny Douk. First of all, he gave us the itinerary and price for this trip that we have listed on our website. This particular trip has only deck sleeping arrangements, no cabins and the price is $140 USD per person. The price includes all food during the trip, coffee, tea, snorkelling equipment. (An absolute bargain!)
When we enquired with Benny about the safety equipment on board the vessel, he very honestly replied:
“Sailing Boat Lombok – Komodo – Labuan Bajo is budget boat trip and suitable only for a backpacker. If you asking about safety, I can say it’s not safety boat tour. The wooden boat is deck boat and sleep on Mattras. Yes, you are right its look like a worry when you search on Trip Advisor!”
Then he added: “If I can suggest for Lombok – Komodo – Labuan Bajo, go on Phinisi cabin boat 3 Days 2 Nights. Big boat and comfortable.” Which brings us on to our second option…
OPTION 2: Komodo Cipta Wasata – 3 Day, 2 Night Trip (Phinsini Cabin Boat)
- START: Senggigi, Lombok (Meeting at 11 am, Departs 3 pm)
- FINISH: Labuan Bajo, Flores (5 pm)
COST: Private cabin class: 6,000,000 (price per two people) (Approx. $430 US). Sharing cabin class: 2,500,000 (price per person) (Approx. $180 US). Deck class: 2,250,000 (price per person). (Approx. $165 US).
This trip departs Lombok at 3 pm, sailing first to Kenawa Island, where you will trek to the top of the island to the viewpoint. You will spend the night on the boat. On the second day, you will visit a waterfall on Moyo Island and the visit the tiny Kilo Island.
You will enjoy sunbathing and watch the sunset from the boat, where you will spend another night. On the third day, you will land at Komodo Island and set off trekking to see the dragons, as well as visiting the famous ‘Pink Beach’ to do some snorkelling. You will arrive in Labuan Bajo on the third day around 5 pm.
The price includes all food whilst you are on the boat (Indonesian buffet style), coffee and tea, 1.5 litres of bottled water per day, snorkelling gear and snacks. The price does not include alcohol and entrance fee and tax to Komodo Island and Rinca island National Parks.
Entrance Ticket to the National Park = 225,000 IDR (16 USD) per person, Tourist Tax Rinca 50,000 IDR (4 USD) per person, Tourist Tax Komodo 50,000 IDR (4 USD) per person.
- 3 toilets with showers
- Life jackets
- Deck class: foam matt, pillow, and blanket
- Private cabin: double bed, fan, pillow, blanket, chair & table
- Sharing cabin: bunk bed, pillow, & blanket
- Simple fishing equipment
- Double engine: Yanmar GUHTE 330 HP and Mitsubishi 120PK
- Electric engine: Yanmar 8 HP (triple)
- Pump engine: Yanmar 8 HP
- Length: 31 meters
- Width: 6,8 meters
- Boat Crew: 6 People
- VHF and SSF Radio
- Navigation: Garmin GPS & Marine Compass
- Safety: Inflatable life raft 4, life raft 6, 70 life jackets, leading buoys, & canoes.
- 2 sails (Phinisi)
OPTION 3: Perama Tour & Travel – 3 Day, 2 Night Trip “Hunting Komodo By Camera”
- START: Senggigi, Lombok
- FINISH: Labuan Bajo, Flores
COST: Cabin – 3,300,000 IDR. Deck – 2,200,000 IDR.
When you read on forums, one of the companies that are sometimes suggested as the safest option for this trip is ‘Perama Tour & Travel’. They are a big company that operates throughout in Indonesia and supposedly have the largest, safest boats who do this trip. They offer a 2-night, 3-day trip from Lombok to Labuan Bajo, Flores which they call “Hunting Komodo by Camera”.
You can check out their reviews on Trip Advisor. Mixed reviews, some good, some not so good. Despite being mentioned as one of the safest companies, they were famously involved in a shipwreck a few years back (you can read this blog by Adventurous Kate) but thankfully, no one was harmed.
You can check out their itinerary for this trip on their website here.
Which option do we recommend?
We strongly urge you to do your own research and assess all of the information online before booking this trip, as the safety standards are not up to the same standard as other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand and Malaysia.
Due to safety concerns, we have made this trip unavailable to purchase on our website. We hope to be able to experience this trip for ourselves in a few months time and will hopefully be putting it back online then. If you have recently done this trip and have some comments to make regarding safety, please get in touch with us via our contact form our comment below.
In the meantime… Check out more trips & tours around Flores!
Original article by Jennifer Poole.
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