After 6 months of waiting, we finally did the island hopping in Flores, Indonesia. We went there last June and rent a pinisi – a traditional Indonesian sailing boat – for 3 days and 2 nights, together with my sister’s family and her friend’s family. There were total of 11 people in the group plus our tour operator. It was the first time for all of us and we were so excited.
Location: Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia.
Visited: June 24-26, 2017.
Our Accommodation: a pinisi (traditional Indonesian sailing boat) called Kajoma IV.
Our Activities: Island hopping, trekking, snorkeling.
Tour Operator: Wil Jo (62-8111262222)
Island Hopping Day 1 – Kelor Island
What a beautiful morning to start our island hopping from Labuan Bajo harbor. A dinghy was waiting for us at the harbor with two crews ready to transport us and our luggage to pinisi (the sailing boat). They had to do two trips because of the number of people in our group.
My family went on the first trip and we were surprised once we stepped into the sail boat. It’s clean, spacious, and welcoming. The crews greeted us with big smiles. Immediately we explored the boat with ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ following us to every corner.
After the second group arrived, we assigned the bedrooms between us. We got the one on the main deck while others stayed in the lower deck. The sail boat has four bedrooms with a bathroom in each room. It has hot shower and basic toiletries as well as towels. The AC in our bedroom was cold. It’s apparent they turned it on long before we arrived on the boat. (You must understand most businesses in Indonesia are stingy on this one).
When the boat started leaving the harbor area, Patris, the Dive Master began to explain about the island hopping and what islands we’re going to visit and the activities we’re going to do for Day 1. He also explained about snorkeling with all the equipment needed. It was also the first time for all of us, too. Well, I did it once in 2001, so it didn’t really count.
Our first stop for the day was Kelor Island. It’s an uninhabited island located about an hour from Labuan Bajo harbor. Here we supposed to hike to the top, but due to a couple of people in the group were afraid of heights, we only went half way. Even that, the view was brilliant. White sandy beach met with light blue water that gradually changed to deep blue sea color. Amazing!
We could see a group of people who arrived before us snorkeling around the beach. I heard Kelor Island was one of the spot for it, but we didn’t do any for Day 1. We would do it on Day 2 and Day 3.
Island Hopping Day 1 – Rinca Island
From Kelor Island we continued to Rinca Island to see the Komodo dragon. Rinca Island is one out of 4 islands in Flores where you can see Komodo dragon right at their natural habitat. It took about 1,5 hours to get there.
But first, it’s time to eat lunch prepared by Chef Juna and his assistant. Seafood salad, fried fish, fried chicken, mixed vegetables, and French fries. They’re all delicious. My picky-eater son even ate the fried chicken. He put his thumbs up.
Finally, we arrived at Rinca Island. Because the body of the sail boat was quite big, we couldn’t moor closer to the shore. Just like at Kelor Island, we went to the island with the dinghy. But we didn’t need two trips because there’s no suitcases anymore.
To see the Komodo dragon in Rinca Island, we entered through Komodo National Park called Loh Buaya. The entrance fee was 95,000 IDR (8 USD) for locals and 170,000 IDR (13 USD) for my foreigner husband. We also had to pay 80,000 IDR (6 USD) for the ranger but this fee was per group.
It’s been said that when a woman got her period, she can’t enter the park. Komodo dragon can smell blood from a few feet away. But I’ve read also that it’s fine if the person walks and stands within a circle of others. And that’s what I did. All the way from the U.S. and couldn’t see the dragon? No way!
From the entrance, we walked to the ranger station and the ranger gave us some dos and don’ts while we’re visiting the dragon. I read on the board about 3 trekking tracks on this island but we didn’t do any of it. We just walked to the houses where the rangers live. The ranger has a long stick on his hand with a Y shape on one end. It’s supposed to be their safety tool if something happens. But don’t ask me if it’s strong enough. If you go, just hope everything will be alright.
When we got closer to the houses, we saw one big dragon on top of a smaller dragon. Apparently, it’s mating season in Rinca Island.
“What are they doing?” asked my 10-year-old son in wonder.
I pretended not to hear and let my husband explained it to him.
There were at least 6 Komodo dragons we saw that day. Most of them were small. After taking pictures and watched them for a while, we left the island to continue to the next stop.
Island Hopping Day 1 – Padar Island
Our next stop which was also the last island we visited for Day 1 was Padar Island. It’s one of the must-visit when people visiting Labuan Bajo, Flores. It has a stunning view from the top. Our tour operator said people came here for making pictures. They brought along different clothes with them and some even came for their pre-wed pictures. Crazy! Because the trek was hard. The ground was sandy, rocky, and slippery. And it’s long. My friend from Texas asked if it’s like climbing Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg. I said it’s nothing compare to Padar Island.
But all the hard work was worth it. The view from the top was amazing. I couldn’t stop praising God for his wonderful creation. And we didn’t even go all the way to the top. We stopped at the first viewing post. It was hot and humid and the sun was almost set. If we continued to the top, it would be dark by the time we had to leave the island. Besides, there were a group of people on the next viewing post. I didn’t think there would be enough room for all of us there.
From Padar Island we headed to Komodo Island where our sailboat anchored for the night. I tried to stay up late, hoping to catch the Milky Way. But I was too tired so I went to sleep not long after we had our luscious dinner. Good night Komodo Island! See you in the morning!
How to get to Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia
– If you fly from Jakarta, there’s a choice of nonstop or connecting flight daily to Labuan Bajo, the hub to Komodo Islands. That’s where we started. We flew with Garuda, nonstop from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo for about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
– When you’re already in Bali or Lombok, there are more choices of airlines and times to go to Labuan Bajo.
– For a budget traveler, you can take a combination of ferry and bus from Bali. It takes two days though.