Want a once in a lifetime chance to cruise across the Indonesian coast with a load of other backpackers in a 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, visit waterfalls, a pink beach, uninhabited volcanic islands, explore the incredible 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 and arrive in Labuan Bajo, on the island of Flores four days later.
How much does the trip cost?
The cost for the organised tour from Lombok to Flores (or vice versa) is around $140-$170 for Deck Class and $210-$250 for Cabin Class. You may be thinking that the cost is super cheap for a 4-day sailing trip – and that’s because this is not a luxury cruise! It’s a backpacker adventure with basic accommodation, food and facilities. However, if you put aside your airs and graces and go with the flow, the scenery and the camaraderie on this swashbuckling adventure will make it one of the best things that you do in Southeast Asia!
Which company should you choose for the trip?
While there are many many tour companies who run this popular route (the choice can be overwhelming!), the boats used can vary greatly in terms of safety standards and quality. You may agree everything about your trip in a travel agency and then when you arrive at the boat, everything can be different to what was agreed.
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 or Bali, it is difficult to know which particular boat that you are booked onto, until you are there, staring at the boat!
If you’re been 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 fellow 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 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!
Recommended Tour Company
If you’re looking for a recommendation on the best company to choose for this trip, check out this tour by Wanua Adventure.
Wanua Adventures, started in 1994 by experienced boat captain, Mr. Kaharudin, was recommended to us by a fellow travel blogger and they consistently get excellent Trip Advisor reviews.
We searched for a long long time to find a company that we were happy to recommend to our readers, in terms of safety, service and quality of the boat. While Wanua Adventure are not perfect (this is a rugged backpacker adventure not a luxury cruise), from our research, we believe that they are one of the best companies currently offering this trip at a very reasonable price.
What days does the boat trip run?
The boat trip can be done in both directions, from Lombok to Flores or Flores to Lombok.
- From Lombok to Flores, the boat sails three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
- From Flores to Lombok, the boat sails three times a week: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The price is 2,300,000 IDR ($165) US for Deck Class, and 3,000,000 IDR ($215 US) for Cabin Class.
When is the best time to sail Lombok to Flores?
The seas around Lombok and Komodo National Park can be very rough and it’s important to check the weather forecast before sailing as the seas on this route can be very rough. You should NOT ATTEMPT THIS VOYAGE IN THE RAINY SEASON. (DECEMBER – MARCH).
Most boat companies will avoid sailing during the rainy season, but if you hunt around you still might find a company that is willing to allow you on board – we do not recommend it.
Where will I sleep?
When you take the boat from Lombok to Flores, there are two types of accommodation “classes”, deck or cabin.
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. I highly recommend booking a cabin if you like your home comforts!
What to expect?
Included in the price for the Lombok to Flores boat trip are three Indonesian 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 are all included in the price will keep you busy as you sail towards the Komodo Dragons. The evenings are filled with drinking beer, watching the sunset 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 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.
Most boat trips from Lombok to Flores include. If you are booking on location in Bali or Lombok, then you should make sure that the following extras are included in the price.
- National Park Entrance Fees – Be sure to check whether these are included in the price of your tour.
- Pick Up – Will you be picked up and taken to the harbour for the departure?
- Food – 3 Indonesian meals a day and snacks are normally included.
- Drinks – It is wise to ask how much mineral water is available on the boat. Also some boats have unlimited tea and coffee available all day.
- Electricity – Are there charging points to recharge your phone/camera. You don’t want to miss out on taking photos!
- Snorkelling Gear – Is it provided?
- SAFETY EQUIPMENT – Does the boat have enough lifejackets and life rafts in the event of an emergency? When booking a boat trip you should ALWAYS enquire about the safety equipment on board and if there are enough life jackets/boats for everyone.
What should you bring?
- Swim wear.
- Sun protection.
- Light clothing.
- Filtered water bottle.
- A quick-dry travel towel is a good idea.
First-Hand Review by Tapp and Bear Travel – July 2018
We first heard about Wanua Adventure through our pals, Ellie and Will, travel bloggers over at Tapp and Bear Travel. We asked them to write us a short summary of their experience on the boat and some tips for fellow backpackers thinking of doing the same adventure!
In July 2018 whilst backpacking through Indonesia, we decided to embark on the popular boat trip adventure from Lombok to the Komodo Islands and Flores with Wanua Adventure. Eight months down the line and this is still, hands down, one of our favourite experiences of our travels! Not only did we get to see some stunning places, incredible wildlife and meet some amazing people, but we had an unbelievable time aboard Wanua’s boat! The first port of call was to decide which class we wanted to sleep in. There’s the choice to sleep in a private cabin or on the deck with 30-40 other people, and we went for the latter. Yes, it was a bit of a tight squeeze, but the breeze and the views – two things you don’t get in a cabin – made the basic sleeping arrangements worth it; and it was the cheaper option! Other things that were included on our trip were:
- 3 freshly cooked Indonesian meals a day + snacks – there was plenty of food to go around and even enough for seconds!
- 6 bottles of drinking water each and a cool box to keep them in (you can also keep any drinks you buy beforehand in here)
- Unlimited tea and coffee
- National Park and Camera fees – no extras to worry about
- Snorkelling gear for the beautiful reefs we visited on the trip as well as the time spent at Manta Point (one of the main highlights of the trip!) – this doesn’t include fins however, so if you’ve got a pair, bring them! The currents at this particular spot can be pretty strong at times.
- Charging points – but in our case this was one or two sockets in the captain’s cabin, so bring a few power banks if you have them… or take this wonderful opportunity to have a few days off from your phone!
- Buckets of fresh water on board – for you to shower off with after being in the sea, and on our trip we even had a proper wash using them!
- Shuttle bus to the port – we caught this from Bangsal Harbour, Lombok and it was a pretty bumpy ride! We definitely recommend some medication if you get travel sick (trust me you’ll need it!) and do not sit in the back! (I want to add a quick note on travel sickness – if you suffer from this, don’t let it put you off doing this trip! I personally suffer from this pretty badly, and there is one long overnight journey on the boat where it is very hard to avoid, however it’s nothing a travel sickness tablet can’t solve; they even carry a stock of them on the boat for just such occasions!)
- Trips to see waterfalls, a pink beach, stunning view points and Komodo Dragons – the itinerary is packed to the brim with amazing experiences!
- A disco on the last night – the crew (who are all lovely even though they don’t all speak the best english) get out the lights and speakers and throw a party on the final night of the trip! They love to bust out some moves, and it’s a great way to round off the adventure. Just make sure you buy some drinks before you set sail, either from the crew or a shop near the initial meet up point.
If you are looking to take a boat trip from Lombok to Flores and you don’t mind going back to basics for a few days, then look no further for your boat company – we can wholeheartedly recommend Wanua Adventure for this 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.
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 (24 hours!), and then you can take a ferry back to Bali.
Join Over 20,000 Happy Backpackers in Our Facebook Group!
Find travel buddies. Get advice. Have all your questions answered by travellers on the ground in Southeast Asia right now.