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Komodo Islands Boat Tour From Bali I 2024 ULTIMATE Guide

Taking a Komodo Islands Boat Tour from Bali is the best activity you can do on any trip to Indonesia.

Typically visited on multi-day tours through the Komodo Islands Archipelago, Komodo Cruises do not set sail directly from Bali, but from the islands of Flores and Lombok.

I live in Bali when I’m not traveling, and I’ve taken a cruise through the Komodo Islands multiple times. I even lived in Labuan Bajo, “the Gateway to the Komodos” for an entire month. At this point, I’m an expert on anything and everything Komodo and Flores-related.

How to visit the Komodo Islands is confusing for first-time travelers to Bali – Here are the main things you need to know:

  1. Classic Komodo Boat Tours depart and dock in Labuan Bajo, Flores.
  2. You can reach Labuan Bajo from Bali via a short flight.
  3. Ultra-cheap “Backpackers” Komodo Boat Tours depart from Lombok.
  4. There are many different types of Komodo Boat Tours for any style of traveler.
Komodo Islands Boat Tour

🏆 The BEST Komodo Boat Tour!

If you’re looking for a tour recommendation, I suggest this tour which has both luxury & budget options.

Blogger Katie Caf poses for a photo at Kelor Island viewpoint in Komodo National Park.

All About Komodo National Park

Komodo National Park is a famous UNESCO world heritage site in Indonesia that became popular around 10 years ago with travelers looking to go beyond Bali to find pristine beaches and adventure. 

Komodo National Park is composed of almost thirty separate islands, some huge and some super tiny. 

Each island in Komodo is incredibly distinct and worth a visit, and while you could just pick one island and stay as there are a few Resorts in Komodo National Park, most people choose to go “island hopping” and stay overnight on a boat instead. 

This is what I did on two separate trips to Komodo, and to be honest both trips were the best experience of my life up until this point. 

I might be biased because before going sailing in Komodo the “best experience of my life” title went to the Nile River Cruise I took in Egypt, so maybe that’s just me and I love boats – but everyone I talked to after our trip agreed!

Sailing in Komodo National Park was the best thing they did in Indonesia, if not in their entire lives. 

I’m so excited to share everything about my Komodo Islands Boat Tour with you all because it was an endlessly special experience that I loved SO MUCH that I had to immediately do it again! 

Indonesia's Pink Beach is just one of the many stops you'll make on a Komodo Island Boat Tour.

Which Komodo Boat Tour Is Right For You? 

🚨 NOTE! In this guide I’m going to be talking about two separate Komodo Boat Tours I took – One sailed from the island of Lombok, through Komodo National Park, and then landed in Labuan Bajo which is the port city in Flores. 

I’m calling this boat tour the “Backpackers’ Komodo Boat Tour” in this guide, it’s not the official name but it’s definitely the “backpackers option” because it’s super cheap!

The other Komodo Boat Tour I took was much more luxurious, even though it was still really cheap (by Bali standards). I’m calling this one the “Classic Komodo Boat Tour” or “Luxury Komodo Boat Tour” because I had a proper bed and cabin, and in the “Backpackers’ Boat” I was sleeping on a mat on the floor with 30 other people.

Which Komodo Boat tour is right for you? Keep reading till the end of this guide to find out! 

They’re both an AMAZING choice depending on your budget, how many days you can spend in Komodo National Park, and whether or not you feel like partying or relaxing. 

🚢 The 5 Different Types Of Komodo Boat Tours 🚢 

There are almost 30 islands in Komodo National Park, and a bunch of different tour options of different cruises you can take that suit every budget. Here are the main Komodo cruise types and their differences: 

1. Backpackers Boat Tour From Lombok To Flores 

The Boat Trip from Lombok to Flores is affectionately known as the “Backpackers’ Boat”. It’s dirt-cheap (like $45 per person, per day, all-inclusive), 4 days/3 nights, and you sleep on a mat on the floor with 20-30 other people. 

While it’s super cheap and no-frills, the backpackers’ boat is FUN. Everyone is drinking, jumping off the boat, and making lifetime memories. I recommend this boat to solo travelers or people who want to socialize because you get super close with your fellow passengers over the 4-day cruise! 

A komodo boat tour sailing through Komodo National Park.
(Photo by Canva)

2. Classic Komodo Boat Tour To/From Flores

I’m not sure what to call this one, so I just called it the “Classic” Komodo Boat Trip! 

Taking a 3-day/2-night cruise on a 14-person boat with a proper bed (and AC!) is the standard Komodo Boat Trip most people take. 

I was lucky enough to be able to take a 🛳 Luxury Komodo Cruise that embarks and lands in Labuan Bajo, Flores, as well as the backpackers’ boat that travels over open water from Lombok to Flores – and they’re both amazing experiences in their own way! 

You get way nicer food, a real bed, AC, and an overall more luxurious experience taking a Luxury Komodo Cruise over the Backpackers’ option. I recommend this boat tour to couples, honeymooners, or people who don’t necessarily want to “party”, but are still on a budget – since the Backpackers’ Boat from Lombok to Flores is also known as the party boat! 

a luxury Phinisi boat sailing through Komodo Islands national park.

3. Luxury Komodo Sailing Trip On A Phinisi Boat 

A Phinisi is a traditional Indonesian sailing boat that dates back at least 100 years. 

Today, they’re motor-operated rather than actual sailboats just like the other Komodo Cruise ships – but the Phinisi boats are the gold standard for luxury cruising in Indonesia. 

If you take a Phinisi Boat tour of Komodo National Park you’ll go to mostly the same stops as the cheaper cruise ships, but you’ll do so in style! The Phinisi boats are gorgeous and I highly recommend taking one for your Komodo cruise if you have it in your budget. ⤵

💡 Note: This Tour is actually the best price I’ve ever seen for a luxury Phinisi Boat Cruise!

A scuba diver in Komodo National Park with a manta ray on a Komodo Boat tour from Bali.
Photo by Johnny Africa on Unsplash

4. Diving Liveaboard Boat Trip 

Full disclosure: I don’t know how to dive. I keep meaning to get my certification… and I just never get around to it. However, I have some friends who did a Diving Liveaboard trip in Komodo National Park and said it was amazing

I’m SO jealous because typically the liveaboard trips are longer than the typical boat tours of Komodo National Park – they also go to less touristic places, and overall are just kinda of reported to be better

So, if you know how to dive I highly recommend taking a liveaboard Komodo Cruise. ↴

5. Take A Private Komodo Boat Tour 

If you’re traveling with your family or a larger group I would recommend chartering a boat for a Private Komodo Cruise for a more customized experience. 

You can choose to charter the boat for up to 12 people for a 3-day tour.

a komodo dragon sleeping at Komodo national Park in Indonesia

Is Komodo National Park Closing? 

🚨UPDATE! 🚨 Since I wrote the draft of this post, the Indonesian government has decided to scrap the idea to raise prices to Komodo Island! The entrance fee remains 550K ($35) for foreigners and 250K ($16) for Indonesians! 

There have been some issues in the past few years about the future of tourism in Komodo National Park. 

In 2019 Nine men were arrested for stealing and trafficking Komodo Dragons to sell overseas, which is both highly illegal and terrible for the natural Komodo Dragon population. 

The Indonesian government first planned to completely shut Komodo Island off from tourism as a response, and the locals who live off of the tourism generated by the park protested. 

The new plan is to raise the cost of entrance to Komodo National Park from what it is now, around 550K ($35) for foreigners, and 250K ($16) for Indonesians, to around 3.75 million Rupiah ($244). 

Locals from Labuan Bajo and the Komodo Islands who depend on tourism have been actively protesting the price hike, as they see it as a direct attack on their economy – as of right now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens! 

What does seem certain at this time is that even if they increase the admission price to Komodo National Park, the Indonesian government seems to have lost interest in closing the islands for tourism completely. 

Map of Komodo, Lombok, & Bali showing where Komodo Island is located in Indonesia.
Map of Komodo, Lombok, & Bali. (Photo by Google Maps).

Where Is Komodo Island Located?

Komodo Island is located in Komodo National Park, which is a cluster of islands off the coast of Flores.

Flores is an island in the Indonesian Archipelago that belongs to the East Nusa Tenggara Province. You can see on the map that Komodo & Flores are far east of the island of Bali, where most travelers fly to.

The islands of Lombok and Sumbawa lie between Bali and Komodo National Park, making overland transport between the two islands difficult.

Padar Island, Komodo National Park

How To Get To Komodo From Bali

Depending on Which tour you take, your Komodo sailing trip will either be departing from the island of Lombok or the island of Flores. 

  • The “Backpackers Boat” departs from Lombok, and most travelers choose to visit the Gili Islands first as a stopover from Bali. 
  • The Classic Komodo Cruise departs from Labuan Bajo, in Flores. The only way to get there from Bali is by flying. 

Keep reading for how to travel to the starting locations for each Komodo Tour from Bali.

the ferry from Bali to the Gili Islands and Lombok is the first step to take for a Komodo Cruise from Lombok to Flores.
🚢 The Fast Boat from Bali to the Gili Islands & Lombok

For The Backpackers’ Boat: How To Get To Lombok From Bali 

My favorite way to get to Lombok from Bali is to take a fast boat to the Gili Islands from Padang Bai ferry port in Bali, spend a few nights in the Gilis, and then from there you can travel on to Lombok. 

It’s a short 10-minute ferry from the Gili Islands to Senggigi Ferry Port in Lombok, and then from there, you drive roughly 3-4 hours across the island to Kayangan Sea Port.  

The Komodo Boat Tour company arranges the shuttle from Senggigi Ferry Port to Kayangan for you, and some companies also arrange the ferry ticket from the Gilis to Lombok (but that ticket is only a few dollars either way). 

If you want to go straight to Komodo without stopping in the Gilis first, you can take a fast boat straight from Pandang Bai in Bali to Senggigi ferry port in Lombok, where you get picked up by the boat company. 

Hanging out on the back of the boat

For The Komodo Cruise: How To Get To/From Bali To Flores

There is currently no direct ferry option from Bali to Flores, where the Komodo Boat Cruise embarks from, so your only way to get from Bali to Flores & Komodo is by flying there.

Flights from Labuan Bajo, which is the port city in Flores where your tour ends, to Bali run every day at 1:30 PM. Tickets are around $50 each way, and it’s only a 1-hour flight back to Denpasar Airport (DPS) in Bali. 

🚨 Note!! Regardless of which Komodo tour you take, the Backpackers Boat or the standard Komodo Cruise, you will need to fly back from Labuan Bajo to Bali – so budget for at least one flight!

a komodo boat tour setting sail from flores.
(Photo by Canva)

When Is The Best Time To Visit Komodo National Park?

Indonesia doesn’t have winter, spring, summer, and fall – instead, they only have two seasons: the dry and the wet.

You’ll want to visit Komodo National Park during the dry season which stretches from April – to October.

I sailed in Komodo at the beginning of the wet season in November and didn’t have any problems with the weather personally, but the people who sailed the weekend before me in mid-November had it rain the whole weekend! 

So it’s better to go in the dry season if you can. 

Blogger Katie Caf wearing a black shirt and red shorts waves an Indonesian Sarong on top of Padar Island in Komodo National Park.

Do You Need A Tour To Visit Komodo National Park? 

YES – You 100% need a tour to enter Komodo National Park. It’s actually illegal to visit the Komodo Islands without a guide, plus they can only be accessed via boat. So, it’s not a DIY kind of tourist location and you need a tour. 

A boat tour that sails for multiple days from flores to Komodo National Park in Indonesia, pictured at sunset. Many people choose to sail the komodo islands as an add on tour on their trip to Bali.
(Photo by Andrew Liu on Unsplash)

How To Book A Komodo Boat Tour

How to book a spot on the different tours that visit Komodo National Park:

How To Book The Backpackers’ Boat

The Backpackers’ Boat sailing trips that go from Lombok to Flores do not have an online booking option. They operate through word of mouth and usually only accept cash. I recommend the company Wanua Adventure, which you can email to reserve a spot. 

📧 >>Reservation@wanuaadventure.com

When I did my Backpackers’ Boat trip from Lombok to Flores they had me pay in person on the first day of the tour. There were ATMs on the Gili Islands so I didn’t have to worry about not having cash. 

💰 The Komodo Tour from Lombok to Flores costs 2,800,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($185) in total, and includes entry tickets to Komodo National Park.

You have the option to book a general admission spot, which is basically just a mat on the deck, or a private cabin.

The private cabins only cost $30-60 more than sleeping on the deck with everyone else, but they’re right above the engine and can get really hot and noisy.

Note – There’s no AC on the Backpackers’ Boat!

How To Book A Classic Komodo Cruise

The classic Komodo Cruises that start and end in Labuan Bajo, Flores, can be booked online ahead of time. 

These tours can be “Open Tours” which means you’re just booking a spot. Usually, the open tours have up to 12 passengers on a boat. 

Or, you can book a 🚢 Private Boat tour where you charter the entire boat and crew for larger groups or families.

As a solo traveler, I just booked a spot on an “Open Tour”.

You have the option to get a room with bunk beds, usually a room of four, or a private room for a higher fee.

💰 The luxury Komodo boat tours aren’t fixed rates and vary in price by the type of boat and room you book.

My Luxury Komodo Cruise was only around $250, only $50 more than the backpackers’ option, but it was a 2-night tour instead of 3, and I was sharing a room with three friends.

Explore The Different Komodo Boat Tours You Can Book Online ⤵
👉-> Click Here to Explore Komodo Sailing Trips! <-👈

🚨 Note: Most of the tour companies related to Komodo Cruises are actually travel agents that work with independent boat owners – So make sure you see photos of the actual boat you’ll be staying on before you book!

💡 Tip: You need to bring cash to pay the entrance fee to Komodo National Park! It’s currently 550K Indonesian Rupiah ($35) per person.

Snorkeling on the Backpackers' budget Komodo Boat tour from Lombok to Flores.

About The Boat From Lombok To Flores – The “Backpackers’ Boat Tour”

So, the boat from Lombok to Flores is bare-bones, with absolutely no frills – I can’t state this enough! There’s no AC, you sleep on a mat on the floor with 20-something other people, and the toilet has to be flushed with a bucket of water, (there are also only two toilets, for 30-some people!). 

That being said, it’s a lot of fun, and no one on the tour is there for the quality of the boat. If you want a luxury Komodo Cruise, there are a ton of options that depart from Labuan Bajo, but the cruise that departs from Lombok and sails over open waters is just for backpackers! 

💡 Tip: If you want something more luxurious, I recommend taking the 🚢Komodo Island Cruise that starts and ends in Labuan Bajo! I did both this one and the backpackers’ boat from Lombok to Flores. 

You can take a Backpackers’ / Budget Boat tour of Komodo for as little as $50 per day! (Photo by Frans Daniels on Unsplash)

“Backpackers’ Boat” 4-Day / 3-Night Boat Trip Itinerary

This itinerary changes depending on whether you depart from Lombok or Flores! Coming from Lombok, which is the most common route, it goes like this: 

Day 1

  • Set off from Lombok ferry port
  • Hike to Kanawa Island’s viewpoint 
  • Watch the sunset on Kanawa Island from your boat 

Day 2 

  • Wake up at 6 AM to snorkel with the wild whale sharks! 
  • Free swimming and jumping off the boat 

Day 3 

  • Go to Komodo Island to see the Komodo dragons in the morning
  • Go swimming at Pink Beach in the afternoon 
  • Hike to Padar Island’s viewpoint for sunset 

Day 4 

  • Go snorkeling in the morning 
  • Climb to the viewpoint at Kelor Island
  • Dock at Labuan Bajo 
Watching the sunset from the deck of the budget Backpackers' Boat from Lombok to Flores.

10 Reasons You Should Take A Komodo Boat Tour from Lombok To Flores • Backpackers’ Boat

I have been full time traveling for over a year at the time of writing this and there have been so many “Instagram vs. Reality” disappointments that I felt myself getting kinda jaded. 

I’m happy to report that not only did the Komodo National Park sailing trip live up to my expectations, but it also surpassed them.

The trip to Komodo from Lombok is now my favorite tour I’ve ever taken in a year and a half of full-time travel! 

Every. Single. Day of the 4-day tour was a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience – I’ve never done anything like it before, and it’s left me with a need to start exploring Indonesia’s other amazing islands outside of Bali stat.

Here are ten reasons you should take a Komodo Sailing Trip from Lombok to Flores on your next trip to Indonesia! 

Swimming With The Wild Whale Sharks in Komodo National Park on a Komodo Boat Tour.
Swimming With The Wild Whale Sharks in Komodo National Park.

1. You Get To Swim With Wild Whale Sharks (!!!) 

Swimming with the wild whale sharks was the highlight of the whole trip for me, and the reason I originally picked the tour that goes from Lombok to Flores over the one that sails around Komodo National Park (and then I turned around and did that one right after!). 

At 6 in the morning, the whole boat wakes up to the most GORGEOUS sunrise and a giant whale shark swimming around the boats. 

Our tour guide was honest with us, these are wild animals – sometimes they’re there, sometimes they’re not. Occasionally there will be up to 5 whale sharks at once, other times none! 

Swimming With The Wild Whale Sharks in Komodo National Park on a Komodo Boat Tour.

I think we were pretty lucky because there was one whale shark present for our encounter, and one was honestly enough for me! 

Even though whale sharks are considered “gentle giants”, I think having a 5 swimming all over would have been kinda intimidating because they are huge.  

The whale shark was very curious and was swimming up to get fed and then going all around the boats and people snorkeling. 

🚩 Ethical Issues – In reference to animal welfare, whale sharks are fed for this experience. I’m always conflicted about “animal encounter” things.

It’s slightly comforting that Whale Sharks aren’t predatory animals, they filter plankton and other super small fish, so by feeding them people aren’t necessarily making them unequipped to survive in the wild – but it’s still something to keep in mind when deciding to participate in the activity or not! 

The Pink Beach in Komodo National Park. The Pink Beach gets its name from its pink sand, which is colored by ground up coral.

2. Snorkel On The Famous Pink Beach 

I’ve been all over the world at this point (sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe that’s true!) and with complete honesty – the Pink Beach at Komodo National Park is the BEST snorkel spot I’ve been to so far! 

Most people come to Pink Beach to take photos on the famous pink sand, and I’ll admit that’s all I did the first time I went to Pink Beach – but since I did two Komodo cruises I decided to just swim the second time around. 

The coral was super colorful – I saw parrotfish, one giant pufferfish, and lots of clownfish in their anemone (just like in Finding Nemo!). It’s amazing!! 

I’m sure if you’ve been to one of Indonesia’s other famous spots, like Raja Ampat, Pink Beach might not be so impressive – but to me, it was an amazing experience. 

The Pink Beach in Komodo National Park is actually pink. 

Everyone gets disappointed when we first see the beach because it looks like normal white sand from the boat, but as you get closer you can see the whole strip of beach by the water is bright pink! 

If you want to find a good snorkel spot at Pink Beach, once you dock you’ll want to go towards the right of the beach. If you want to see where the sand is the pinkest, go left! 

🛶 When I took the nicer Komodo Cruise my second time going they had kayaks available for us to use at Pink Beach and it was so much fun! 

the sleeping quarters on the komodo boat trip from lombok to flores that most backpackers choose to take. you sleep on mats on the floor.
people hanging out on the deck on the backpackers komodo boat trip from lombok to flores in Indonesia.

3. Get Really Close With 30-ish People 

I do need to mention that if you take the backpacker’s Komodo Cruise from Lombok to Flores through Wanua Adventure you will be probably sleeping on a mat on the floor with roughly 30 other people. 

There are around 6 private cabins available on each boat for a small additional fee (I think it was around $30 per person to get a private cabin), but they’re right above the engine and most people actually report a better sleeping experience in the common room. 

There’s no AC, and while the cabins and common room are unbearably hot in the daytime, you’re going to be doing activities outside of the boat anyway! 

The good thing about the kinda cramped conditions on the boat is that it allows you to make friends fast with your boat mates. That’s why I recommend taking the Backpackers’ Boat from Lombok to Flores to solo travelers! 

sleeping room on a boat from lombok to flores with mats on the floor. The "Backpackers" Komodo Boat Tour from Lombok to Flores is cheap for a reason!
The “Backpackers” Komodo Boat Tour from Lombok to Flores is cheap for a reason!

4. It’s An Extremely Cheap Trip (Even By Bali Standards!) 

💰For my 4-day / 3-night Komodo Islands Cruise from Lombok to Flores, I only paid 2,800,000 Indonesian Rupiah ($180 USD), or roughly $45 per day. This included all meals, accommodation, tour guides, activities, and the 550,000 entrance fee to Komodo National Park. 

Of course, it was so cheap because I was sleeping on a mat with 30 other people, the toilet flushed with a bucket, and we were eating mostly rice, tofu, and cabbage, but still!!!! Taking the backpackers’ cruise from Lombok to Flores is a very affordable option.

💡 Budget Tip: My Komodo boat trip from Lombok to Flores actually included a ferry ticket from Gili Air and Gili T, and then cross-island van transportation to the port in Lombok where the tour set off – making it the perfect addition to any Bali > Gilis > Komodo itinerary. 

Komodo Boat tour at sunset at kanawa island.

5. You Can Sleep Under The Stars On The Open Ocean 

So, the sleeping arrangements on the backpackers’ boat aren’t ideal – I’ll admit that. I was sandwiched between my one friend who was elbowing me in the face all night and another traveler who I didn’t know that well (but who had no qualms about taking up half my mat as well as his own!). 

The mats have 0 space between them, so unless you sleep like a mummy with your hands crossed over your chest or by your side it can get a little cramped. 

After the first night, people started bringing their mats outside to sleep on the deck, which freed up some (much-needed) space in the main room for everyone else and was also a super cool way to spend the night.  

💸 When I took the nicer Komodo Island Cruise a few weeks later I had a proper comfy bed with AC, but no option to sleep under the stars. If comfort is a priority for you I would recommend booking a 🚢 Luxury Komodo Cruise for the same price!

backpackers jumping off the boat on the komodo islands boat tour from lombok to flores.
Jumping off the boat!

6. They Let You Jump Off The Boat! 

My favorite part about the backpackers’ cruise from Lombok to Flores is that they didn’t really care what you did. Is that bad to say??? Haha. 

Basically, it went like this: 

“Can I jump off the boat?”


“Can I jump off the roof of the boat?”

“Go for it”. 

On some nicer (i.e. more expensive) boat tours, they might be fretting about the passengers’ safety, worried about bad reviews, etc, but on the backpackers’ boat, they just didn’t care

Blogger Katie Caf steering the boat on the komodo boat tour from lombok to flores.
They let me steer the boat!!! (I’m not actually sure if the steering wheel did anything though 😂).

As long as you weren’t going to do something really stupid or dangerous, the tour operators were chill about things like jumping off the boat, which wound up being one of the most fun memories from the trip! 

a komodo dragon on the beach on komodo island. Komodo island is one of the stops you will make if you take a boat tour of komodo national park.

7. See Komodo Dragons Up-Close 

This is part of every Komodo tour, and I’m going to be 100% honest – It’s the most disappointing part of the trip. 

I’ve been to Komodo Island to see the dragons twice now and I can say with complete and total honesty that it’s the worst activity you do on a Komodo Island Cruise. 

People come from all over the world to see the dragons, but they’re mostly just sleeping on the beach while throngs of tourists line up to pose behind them for a photo op. 

tourists vying to take pictures of a komodo dragon on komodo island. Komodo island is one of the stops you will make if you take a komodo boat tour.

The locals on Komodo Island have really leaned into tourism, so after your photo opportunity you get harassed endlessly to buy some dragon-shaped trinkets, overpriced Bintangs, or t-shirts that say “I survived Komodo Island.” 

It’s a cool experience to tick off a list, but if you’re going to do a Komodo National Park boat trip, do it for the amazing nature, swimming with whale sharks, giant manta rays, and seaturtles – the Komodo Dragons are kinda just there

someone drinking a bintang beer at Komodo Islands national park, in Padar island, Indonesia.
The Backpackers’ Boat (AKA The Party Boat!) has a lot of Bintang moments

8. Enjoy Ice-Cold Bintangs In Beautiful Places!

Okay, so the super-cheap, super-dinky boat that goes from Lombok to Flores is known as the “Backpackers’ Komodo Cruise” as well as the “Party Komodo Cruise”. 

Enjoying an ice-cold Bintang while playing cards on the roof of the boat with Komodo National Park on either side is a fantastic memory I have of the trip. 

🍻 Fun Fact: Bintang beer is essentially just Heineken beer that’s produced in Indonesia.  

Blogger Katie Caf posing for a photo at the top of the viewpoint at Padar Island in Komodo National Park.

9. Hike To The Viewpoint At Padar Island 

Very few places in the world actually look as amazing as the photos on Instagram, but Padar Island is one of them! 

We got to climb to Padar Island’s viewpoint, which is about a 20-minute trek straight up, at sunset on our second day. 

The view from the top of Padar Island is AMAZING, I really can’t overstate it. 

💡 Tip: Pack decent shoes for this! People who just bought flip-flops were struggling on this half-hour hike.

sunset over Kanawa island in Komodo National Park.

10. Watch The Sunset At Kanawa Island

Visiting Kanawa Island was our first activity on the tour. We climbed to the viewpoint at Kanawa Island and then watched the sunset from the boat. 

Kanawa Island at sunset looks unreal, like a screensaver that’s an AI-generated photo of paradise. 

Blogger Katie Caf and two friends hanging out on the deck of the boat and playing card games on their komodo boat tour from lombok to flores.
The Backpackers’ Boat from Lombok to Flores I took was with the company TravelWise, but I would recommend Wanua Adventure.

REVIEW: My Experience Sailing from Lombok To Flores With TravelWise 

🚨 Note! I didn’t receive any payment or compensation for either of my Komodo Tours, I paid for them both with my own money – so you can trust my review in this guide is my own opinion.

The backpackers’ boat is supposed to be a less glamorous and rough time, but there were a few times during our tour that just made me sigh.

For example, there weren’t enough cups on board – there were only like 8 cups for 30+ people. 

So, in the morning everyone would want coffee and tea they put out for the passengers, but you couldn’t have any… because there were no cups. 

Similarly, there weren’t enough (working) snorkels for all the passengers – which really sucked because snorkeling was a huge part of the trip! 

We also had a bit of a problem with the alcohol people brought to the store in the cooler.

Travel-Wise was having people operate on the honor system, as in “if you put 10 beers in the cooler, please just only take out 10 beers”, which is a bit hard to uphold with 30+ people drinking on a boat. 

On the last day, some Dutch passengers were very upset when they found out someone had drunk their Bintangs.

On the other boats, there was a system where you write your name on your items in the cooler that seemed to work better. 

food on the backpackers komodo boat tour from Lombok to Flores.
The food on the tour I took with TravelWise was kind of a joke!
people hanging out on the deck on the backpackers komodo boat tour from Lombok to Flores.

I was talking to a friend who did the tour with Wanua Adventure, and he said that his tour had none of these problems. 

It’s hard to know which company to go with because there’s very little written online about the Backpackers’ Boats that sail from Lombok to Flores. They’re not advertised online and mostly operate through word of mouth. 

For the reasons I listed above, if I were to do the tour again I would choose to go with Wanua Adventure. 

Blogger Katie Caf wearing a long sleeved rashguard swimsuit on Indonesia's famous Pink Beach. A rashguard comes in handy while dealing with the sun in Komodo Island National Park.

What To Bring On Your Komodo Boat Tour

✅ Bintangs! They don’t sell alcohol onboard the ships, and it’s quite a party boat – so you’ll want to bring your own Bintang beers and other drinks if you want to enjoy them onboard. I also recommend bringing a Sharpie to write your name on them so they don’t get confused with other passengers. 

✅ Reef-Safe Sunscreen – I can’t overstate how crazy sunny it is in Komodo National Park, you’ll want to bring some high-strength sunscreen from home. They sell sunscreen in Labuan Bajo, but it’s insanely expensive and they don’t have any reef-safe options (which you’ll want! to protect the wildlife in Komodo).

✅ A Rashguard – Similarly to the sunscreen, you’ll want a rashguard for swimming in Komodo. Rashguards are great for the environment because they are reusable and don’t pollute the ocean.

✅ Snacks – The food on the boat wasn’t great, I was skipping the breakfasts they were providing because I thought they were kinda nasty (one day was just pineapple on wonderbread covered in cold margarine 🤢). I recommend bringing some good snacks with you! 

✅ A Towel – There’s a shower on board but towels aren’t provided. I’ve been using this 🧖‍♀️ Microfiber Camping Towel for two years and it’s big enough to use as a beach towel! 

✅ Flippers + snorkel set – If you’re taking the Backpackers’ Boat from Lombok to Flores they had terrible snorkels! And no fins. Sometimes the current is strong in Komodo and pretty much everyone wishes they brought their own fins.

✅ Proper shoes!!! You don’t need trekking shoes for the Komodo Island Nature Walk or the trek up to the viewpoint on Padar, but I really wouldn’t suggest only bringing flip-flops! The people on the boat who only brought flip-flops were really struggling on these small hikes.

The deck on a luxury komodo National park boat tour that departs from labuan bajo, flores.
The second Komodo Boat Tour I took was much more luxurious and featured nice common areas like this where you can hang out with your fellow passengers.

All About The Second Komodo Cruise I Took – The LUXURY Boat! 

Want to travel the Komodo Islands in style with a proper bed, luxurious meals, and a private photographer to capture all your memories? Well, then THIS part of the guide is for you! 

I was in Labuan Bajo, the gateway to Komodo Island National Park, for over a month, and during that time I tried out the backpackers’ boat mentioned earlier in this guide, as well as some of the more luxurious Komodo island cruises that depart from Flores. 

Keep reading to learn about the Classic 3/day-2/night Komodo Cruise! 

two girls kayaking at Pink Beach in Komodo National Park, in Indonesia.

9 MORE Things You Can Do In Komodo National Park On A Luxury Cruise 

There was some overlap in the two tours I took, they both went to Pink Beach, Komodo Island, and hiked up to the viewpoint at Padar Island. 

Here are 9 more things you can do in Komodo National Park, that were included with the second (“luxury”) cruise itinerary.

Taka Makassar Sandbar
Taka Makassar Sandbar (Photo from Canva).

1. Visit Taka Makassar Island 

Taka Makassar is technically a sandbar in the middle of the Komodo Sea, and it would be paradise – IF it weren’t for the 100 other people there when we went 😅. 

Our boat pulled up at the same time all the other tours did, so it was a bit too crowded to be enjoyable. 

But I’ve seen some people take private tours to Taka Makassar that make it look like a true paradise! 

Watching The Bats Make Their Sunset Migration At Kalong Island from a komodo boat tour docked offshore.

2. Watch The Bats Make Their Sunset Migration At Kalong Island 

Every day at sunset the bats fly out from Kalong Island, where they all nest as a herd, to go hunt for the night. 

It’s truly an amazing experience to watch the hoards of bats fly out into the sunset! 

Around 6 PM you see the cruise ships, tiny fishing boats, and luxury Phinisis all dock to watch the migration.

At first, the migration just looks like a flock of birds, then when you look closely you see the distinct outlines of the bat wings 

While that sounds kind of intense, our guide told us that there are two types of bats on Kalong Island. There are large bats and teeny tiny ones. The large bats look scarier, but these are just harmless fruit bats.  

It’s the tiny breed of bats on Kalong Island that actually drink blood (creepy!), but they never attack people, just animals. 

💡 Note: If you’re afraid of Bats, don’t worry! The boats are parked at a distance. 

Giant Manta rays in Komodo National Park. The Manta Rays swim in an ocean corridor about 10 Meters under where the boats are docked from Komodo Boat Tours.
The Manta Rays swim in an ocean corridor about 10 Meters under the surface so you can observe from a distance – they are HUGE! (Photo from Canva)

3. Swim With The Giant Manta Rays (!!!!) At Manta Point

Having the opportunity to swim with the Giant Manta Rays at Komodo’s Manta Point was the main reason I decided to take a second boat tour of the islands. 

When we set off to do this excursion on the second day, the guides were trying to prepare us from disappointment in case there weren’t any mantas around. They are wild animals after all, and while the tour operators know their migration patterns it’s not a 100% guarantee you will see them. 

I’m happy to report that this experience completely surpassed my expectations. 

I was swimming along with at least 10 giant manta rays in an ocean corridor where they flock. 

(Photo by DisneyPixar)

Have you ever seen Finding Nemo? That movie was one of my favorites as a kid – there’s one scene where the main character Nemo and his little friends are off to school, and the “school bus” is a giant Manta Ray where all the little fish hop on. 

One of the coolest things to see was that this scene from the movie was based on real life!

There were a ton of tiny little fish swimming under the Giant Manta Rays in Komodo National Park – just like in the movie! (Although it was too far for me to see if any of them were Clown Fish, like Nemo). 

🚨 NOTE!!! This activity is best for strong swimmers! You’re given fins and a life vest, but the current is very rough where the Manta Rays swim. It’s not dangerous, but if you’re not a strong swimmer you might only get a glimpse of them. 

🚩 Ethical Issues – The Manta Rays at Manta Point in Komodo National Park aren’t fed, and you’re observing them from a good 10-20 foot distance, so swimming with the Manta Rays was an ethical animal encounter! 

two girls kayaking at Pink Beach in Komodo National Park, in Indonesia.
This photo isn’t edited! The water actually is that blue. 
two girls kayaking at Pink Beach in Komodo National Park, in Indonesia.
I LOVED Kayaking at the Pink Beach!

4. Go Kayaking At Pink Beach

This was a fun add-on to the nicer Komodo Cruise I took – Not only did they have working snorkels (the luxury!) they also brought some kayaks for the guests to enjoy. 

My friend and I took out the kayaks at Pink Beach and there was no tide on the crystal-clear blue water, making it super easy for us to explore the whole bay. 

We kayaked around all the boats docked at Pink Beach and the photographer on our tour took some gorgeous drone shots of us while we were out having fun that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life <3. 

a wild sea turtle in komodo national park in Indonesia. sea turtles are one of the animals you can see while snorkeling on your komodo boat tour.

5. Spot Seaturtles While Snorkeling <3 

This isn’t so much an activity as just something you’ll run into if you spend time swimming around the Komodo Islands. The wildlife in Komodo National Park is so vibrant.

However, even though on our last day on the Backpackers’ Boat we stopped off at “Turtle Point”, I had way better luck spotting seaturtles at the snorkel spots the second boat tour took us to. 

Our guide was great about pointing out wild seaturtles to us, I think we saw three (!!!) while snorkeling from Manta Ray Point to Taka Makassar Island. 

Bioluminescent Plankton is just one of many things you can see in Komodo National Park in Indonesia on a Komodo Boat Tour.
Bioluminescent Plankton (Photo by Canva)

6. Experience The Glowing Bioluminescence While Night Swimming

Again, this isn’t even a part of a Komodo Tour – it’s just another AMAZING thing you will experience in Komodo National Park! 

Some people on the tour asked if we could go night swimming since the boat was docked. The guide replied, “Sure, but just so you know the water might glow”. 


Our guide was super nonchalant about it but apparently, there’s a ton of bioluminescent algae in Komodo National Park that is very safe but makes the water and sand glow in the dark. 

I had experienced the bioluminescent algae in the Gili Islands a few years ago and didn’t even know it occurred outside the islands. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see it in Komodo!  

Blogger Katie Caf on the bow of the boat posing for a photo on a komodo boat tour from Bali, Indonesia.
This picture was taken by our private boat photographer!

7. Take Photos With Your Private Photographer!

One of the super-cool things about taking the nicer and more luxurious Komodo Boat Tour was that it included a private photographer who would take pictures of us on the tour.

Most of my photos in this guide are from the second Komodo Cruise I took because we had a photographer following us around!

💡 Tip: If you’re taking a nicer Komodo Boat Tour make sure it includes a photography service! Most of them do.

The viewpoint at Kelor Island is one of the stops you make on a Komodo Boat Tour.
The viewpoint at Kelor Island

8. Hike To The View Point At Kelor Island

This was the last stop for both the Backpackers’ Boat and the Luxury Cruise, (but after partying for 4-days straight no one on the Backpackers’ Boat had the energy to hike to the viewpoint!).

Kelor Island is just 15 minutes away from Labuan Bajo, and on our last day, we stopped there to snorkel the coral reef and hike to the viewpoint.

While it’s only a 10-minute hike up to the top of Kelor Island, once you get there the view is literally a screensaver. It was the PERFECT way to end our trip!

a plate of crawfish and corn being served on a komodo boat tour. indonesia.
The food on the luxury Komodo Cruise was 5-star!

9. Eat Really Good Food!

The meals on the luxury Komodo Cruise I took from Labuan Bajo were all next-level. We had fresh fish, fruits, and vegetables, all presented and plated in a very high-end way.

It honestly blew me away how nice the meals were on the Luxury Komodo Cruise. After the first Komodo boat tour I took where the food was comically bad I didn’t know what to expect!

I was beyond impressed with the quality of food on the Luxury Komodo Cruise!

💡 Note: Most of the tour companies related to the Luxury Komodo Cruises are actually travel agents that work with independent boat owners – So make sure you see photos of the actual boat you’ll be staying on before you book! Experiences may vary depending on your boat!

Blogger Katie Caf posing for a photo at Padar Island Viewpoint at sunset in Komodo National Park

Komodo Boat Tour: FAQs

Common questions people have about Komodo National Park: 

Is Komodo Open For Tourists?

As of right now Komodo Island and Komodo National Park are 100% open for tourism, but there’s a bit of a push and pull from the Indonesian government (who wants to massively raise admission prices to the national park) and the citizens of Flores (who depend on the tourism to live). 

Because of this struggle between the people and the government, protests from the citizens of Labuan Bajo blocking the airport and roads are becoming more common. 

Can You Do A Day Trip To Komodo Island?

You can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Unless you have other overland activities planned in Flores, like visiting Wae Rebo and Bajawa, it wouldn’t be worth the flight to Labuan Bajo from Bali. 

Instead of a day trip, I recommend taking at least a 2-night/3-day tour of the islands by boat – it doesn’t cost much more than the day trips and it’s way better value for the money! 

A komodo dragon on the beach in komodo national park.
You wouldn’t want to stay overnight on Komodo Island because the dragons are very dangerous and roam the island freely!

Can You Stay Overnight On Komodo Island?

While there are some resorts You Can Stay In Komodo National Park, which is made up of 30 different islands, you can’t actually stay on Komodo Island. 

Instead, most people book a boat tour and sleep on the boat while sailing in the park. Some of the more luxurious boats are like floating resorts! 

Looking To Stay In Komodo? Search For Resorts In Komodo National Park Here!  
👉-> Click HERE to Explore Resorts in Komodo! <-👈

How Many Days Do You Need In Komodo?

I took a 3-day/2-night sailing trip to Komodo National Park as well as a 3-night/4-day and I think the longer the better. 

I see some diving liveaboard cruises advertising 7 days and I wish I knew how to dive so I could take that as well! There’s so much to do in Komodo, you’re not going to get bored! 

Can You Do A Day Trip From Bali To Komodo?

Unfortunately, no – you cannot do a day trip from Bali to Komodo. This is because the gateway to Komodo National Park is on the island of Flores, and the only way to get there from Bali is by flying. 

At a minimum, you need to spend 2 nights in Flores to Visit Komodo National Park, but I recommend budgeting for three to four nights. That way you can arrive in Labuan Bajo, which is the port city where Komodo cruises depart, and then take a 2-night sailing trip to Komodo National Park.  

Is It Safe To Visit Komodo Island? 

Thousands of tourists visit Komodo Island every year with no mishaps, but you do need to remember that Komodo Dragons are wild animals and can be unpredictable at times. 

There are always local guides present around the animals at Komodo Island, and they’re all Komodo Island natives who know the animals and how they behave. 

That being said, there have been some mishaps, with the most recent attack being on a young boy in 2007. Before that, there hadn’t been an attack on a human since the 1970s. 

Komodo Dragons on the beach on Komodo Island, in the background you can see blogger Katie Caf posing for the photo with the dragon.
A Dragon on the Beach on Komodo Island

Is It Worth Visiting Komodo Island?

It’s 100% worth visiting Komodo National Park for its gorgeous nature and vivid wildlife.

Komodo Island however is a bit of a tourist trap, where the only thing to do is take a picture behind a very sleepy-looking Komodo Dragon. 

If you would like a more authentic Komodo Dragon experience, I’ve heard good things about visiting Rinca Island, which is another island in Komodo National Park where the dragons naturally live, and it’s less touristy than Komodo Island. 

🌟 The Loccal Collection is the best hotel in Labuan Bajo!

Labuan Bajo Guide 

Labuan Bajo is the gateway to Komodo National Park where you will be starting or finishing your trip before flying back to Bali. 

Full disclosure, I was supposed to stay in Labuan Bajo for two days after my first Komodo Boat Tour ended, but I wound up staying a whole month because I fell in love with the town and the island of Flores! 

Labuan Bajo is a sleepy port city, but it’s a great break from the hustle of larger cities in Bali – plus there’s a ton to do from sailing Komodo to exploring the island of Flores overland. 

🏨 Where to Stay In Labuan Bajo 

Seaesta Komodo Hostel & Hotel is one of the best hotels and hostels to stay at in Labuan Bajo.
Seaesta Komodo Hostel & Hotel
Loccal Collection Hotel is one of the best hotels in Labuan Bajo.
Loccal Collection Hotel

RELATED ARTICLE 🏨 Best Hotels In Labuan Bajo, Flores

Labuan Bajo has become famous in recent years for having these gorgeous all-white Santorini-Inspired hotels.

The best hotel in Labuan Bajo is Loccal Collection, but if you’re on a budget Seaesta Hotel & Hostel is also amazing! 

Fresh fish is caught daily & grilled to order at the Labuan Bajo fish market.
Fresh fish is caught daily & grilled to order at the Labuan Bajo fish market.

Where To Eat In Labuan Bajo 

After a lot of trial and error, my favorite cafe in Labuan Bajo (where I’m sitting and writing this post right now) is Bacarita Cafe. It’s in the center of town, kind of hidden above the Starbucks. 

They do great coffee, western, and Indonesian food, there’s wifi, and the prices are really good! 

I also loved eating at the Labuan Bajo fish market come nightfall. Lots of fish vendors line up their stalls and you order whole fish, which they then grill or fry fresh to order and serve with rice and sambal. My favorite was the grilled squid! 

Other Activities In Labuan Bajo & Flores 

I was in Flores for over a month and here are some other amazing activities I did while in and around Labuan Bajo: 

Rangko Cave is a half hour outside of labuan Bajo, the town that you will be dropped off at after you finish your Komodo Islands Boat Tour.
Rangko Cave

Visit Rangko Cave: Rangko Cave is a half hour outside of the town of Labuan Bajo and a very memorable experience. It’s a salt-water cave so you can float without effort, which made me love it even more than the Cenote caves I swam in Mexico.  

Rangko Cave has crystal-clear blue water you can swim in, and the only way to get there is by taking a tiny boat from mainland Flores so you do need a tour to visit. ▶ Click Here to Book a Tour of Rangko Cave!

💡Tip: In the afternoon, the sun aligns with Rangko Cave to light it up naturally from within. Amazing, right? Well, that’s what everyone else thinks too! 

We got there at 10 AM and even though it was kinda dark we had the cave all to ourselves until 11 AM when the other tourists started flooding in and the small cave quickly felt crowded. 

Sunset Tour to See The Famous Kalong Bats

Take A Sunset Tour to See The Famous Kalong Bats: Watching the sunset bat migration out of Kalong Island from our boat tour in Komodo National Park is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in Indonesia, and I’ve done some crazy things here!

🦇 Not Planning to take a whole multi-day boat tour? You can visit Kalong Island independently! ▶ Click Here to Book a Sunset Boat Tour of Kalong Island!

Wae Rebo Traditional Village is just one of the many amazing things you can do on the island of Flores after taking a Komodo Boat Tour.
Wae Rebo Traditional Village

Trek To Wae Rebo Traditional Village: Wae Rebo is most usually visited on 2-day overnight trips since it’s a difficult location to reach. You need to drive 4 hours outside of Labuan Bajo (over super bumpy roads), and then hike 1.5-3 hours uphill to reach the traditional village. Once you get there, you can experience one of the most picturesque traditional villages in Indonesia. ▶ Click Here to Book a Tour of Wae Rebo!

Cunca Wulang Waterfall in Flores is one of the many activities you can do after taking a boat tour of the komodo islands.
Cunca Wulang Waterfall

Visit Cunca Wulang Waterfall: Full disclosure – Cunca Wulang is the most unhinged waterfall I’ve visited in Indonesia. You need to hike for around 20 minutes to a rope bridge (which is kinda falling apart), but the reward is a gorgeous waterfall with a natural pool you can swim in! 

I think Cunca Wulang’s infrastructure suffered during the pandemic, and it wasn’t really kept up with – but if you’re into an adventure, the reward at the end of the path is a truly gorgeous waterfall with a natural pool you can swim in! ▶ Click Here to Book a Private Tour That Includes a Trip to Cunca Wulang Waterfall!

Two girls hanging out on the bow of the ship on the Backpackers' Komodo Boat tour from Lombok to Flores!
Hanging out on the Backpackers’ Komodo Boat tour from Lombok to Flores!

Komodo Islands Boat Tour: Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this guide to visiting Komodo National Park in Indonesia as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Just to recap, there are around 30 islands in Komodo National Park, and most travelers choose to visit via multi-day sailing trips that stop for day trips to different islands. 

Boat tours to Komodo depart from the islands of Lombok and Flores in Indonesia, in this guide I talked about the two that I took.

One, the “Backpackers’ Boat” which runs from Lombok to Flores and sails through Komodo, and the other more Luxurious Komodo Cruise that starts and ends in Flores. 🚢 I Recommend This Luxury Cruise for the same price as the Backpacker’s Boat!

If you’re interested in taking the backpackers’ boat, I recommend Wanua Adventures. For all other Komodo Cruises, you have the option to book online through Klook, which is a popular tour provider in Indonesia. 

I hope you have an amazing time on your Komodo Sailing Trip! It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience I recommend to everyone planning a trip to Bali & Indonesia. 

Looking for more information on Indonesia?

I fell in love with Indonesia in 2019 and I’ve been traveling back ever since! If you’re planning a trip to Bali & Indonesia and looking for more information, consider reading some of my other posts:

– ULTIMATE Guide To Taking A Komodo Island Boat Tour
– How To Get From Bali To Komodo Island
– How To Visit Wae Rebo Traditional Village
– Best Places To Stay In Labuan Bajo For Every Budget
– Guide To Visiting Cunca Wulang Waterfall From Labuan Bajo
– Bali Travel Tips: 50 Essential Dos & Don’ts
– How to Learn to Ride a Scooter
– Complete Transportation Guide for Getting Around Bali
– BEST Things To Do In East Nusa Tenggara & Flores

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