There are travelers everywhere! Smoking ciggies, drinking beer, eating crackers or reading a book. We realize that a ‘small group’ on the boat tour is just a matter of interpretation… We started our investigation and figured out that there was not just one group leaving for a boat trip to Flores, it was ALL these people. All right…. let’s make friends with some Spanish girls with more temper than our complete feisty family, and let’s make sure that we don’t end up on a boat with a hundred people. A few hours and an overheated bus trip later, we entered our boat: ready for adventure! With a group of twenty travelers and a local crew of 3 friendly young men we started our trip on a wooden boat for 4 days and 3 nights.
We got on board of the boat somewhere at the East of Lombok and sailed along the North of West Nusa Tenggara (Sumbawa) towards Pulau Moyo (Moyo island). After a hike on the island and another stop at Satonda island, we sailed all the way to Gili Laba and Komodo, crossing the Flores sea on the north side of Sumbawa. We arrived at Komodo island after passing south of Gili Lawa Darat (Gili Laba), at the east side of the well know dragon island. After a short walk on Komodo, we continued our trip towards Rinca island. We went on a great hike on Rinca and spotted some more dragons. Just before getting off at Flores, we made a stop at Pulau Kelor where we enjoyed the stunning white beach! What a great trip…. We got suntanned at the most beautiful white beaches, snorkeled at unique spots and really enjoyed the views of the green rolling hills. What more to wish for?
A life at sea
Before diving into the beauty of the different islands, we share some of our experiences on the boat! There were only 2 facilities: a ‘toilet’ and a kitchen, and no shower. The kitchen was only accessible to the crew. The hold of the boat was used as storage for backpacks, food, water and basically everything else that had to go with us. Most slept on the ‘upper deck’, while some travelers preferred to sleep on the ground deck. Mattresses were provided and were ‘ok-ish’ to sleep on. We found that getting sleep was the biggest challenge on the trip: we often started sailing before sunrise with an engine that makes more noise than 10 roaring lions which was hard to ignore. But hey: it’s also unique to be woken up like this and get to see the sunrise!
After our first night of sleep, I dreamed about chickens. At least, that is what I thought. I heard chickens making noise and decided to do some research. And there they were: at the back of the boat in a sort of wooden cage we carried two chickens along. On day 3 we had chicken for diner. We tried not to think about it to much 🙁
Considering the facilities it was incredible what the crew prepared for us, the food was fresh and good! The boys put a real effort in making lovely breakfast, lunch and diner with lots of veggies and fruit. We got banana pancakes for breakfast, salad for lunch and rice with veggies or fresh caught fish for diner! If you consider booking this trip, we would recommend taking some snacks like crackers and crisps with you though. There is enough food but not a lot of snacks to give you the energy you need between hiking and swimming.
- Bring a book
- Bring games
- Bring snacks
- Try to book (and get on) a small group boat – this means 20 people instead of 50+
- Take pills for seasickness (and sugar/glucose) if you can not handle the constant swaying of the boat. Please take into account that most medication for seasickness will lower your blood pressure. This means that physical exercise will ask more from your body! Take it easy and take sugar!
- Loads of suntan!
Moyo covers 36.000 hectares – or 350 km² – and is one large vulcanic rock. A few years ago, Moyo island was a white and undiscovered spot on the map. Pulau Mojo is what many consider the tropical dream: white beaches with palm trees, turquoise and hidden bays. The 650 mountains are beautifully overgrown by rainforest and the water is shimmering turquoise. The pristine marine and nature reserve is the prime spot for relaxing, diving and snorkeling! During our stop at Moyo island we went for a short hike and a enjoyed the great waterfall! And of course we spent a lot of time watching the underwater life!
Underwater life and hiking
The underwater world of Moyo island is a conservation area and looks spectacular with its beautiful coastal reefs and coral gardens. The area is considered one of the best diving spots of Indonesia. Moyo island is a hidden gem, surrounded by rich reefs with loggerhead and green turtles swimming everywhere. It’s also possible to spot multicolored parrot-fish, shellfish, manta rays, moray eels, barracuda and reef sharks. Spotted all the fish? There are a few hiking options with different lengths and difficulties in the National Park. If you’re lucky, you will spot some local Moyo wildlife! The island is home to wild pigs, barking Rusa deer, lots of birds and long-tail macaques. Don’t skip the Air Terjun Manis (waterfall) that flows its water over limestone terraces.
Rich and famous
Moyo is recommended especially for those travelers with strong financial muscles. The island just has one exclusive hotel: a posh hideaway with elegant luxurious tents, called Amanwana. Amanwana means peaceful forest and is a real private paradise! Interested? Check it out!
Close to Moyo island, there is the uninhabited Satonda island, also known as Mount Satonda. Satonda island was formed millions of years ago, by a volcanic eruption at 1.000 meters on the seabed. Located in the Flores Sea, the island is part of the West Nusa Tenggara province. Satonda island lies offshore of Sumbawa, separated by a narrow strait from Tambora.
The beautiful salt water lake with a 0,8 km diameter, is great for a refreshing dive! Happy local kids waited for our boat to arrive and walked with us down to the black mysterious lake. This ancient lake was formed by an eruption thousands of years ago and used to be filled with only fresh water. However, the story goes that the eruption of Mount Tambora – which is located about 30 kilometers from Pulau Satonda on Sumbawa – resulted in a tsunami that filled the Satonda crater with salty water.
Satonda’s beach is quite unique because a major portion of its sediment consists of pumice. Pumice varies from black to white and is foamy volcanic glass, so light that it can float on water. As the waves move around, the pumice portion of the beach washes in and out as well. It is impossible to wear flip-flops on this beach, because with every step you take, pumice pebbles wash into the space between your feet and your flip-flops.
The island was a perfect stop on our boat trip! Satonda was designated a Marine Nature Park in 1999 by the Ministry of Forestry and is therefore a great spot for discovering fish and coral: Satonda and it’s clear waters form the perfect snorkeling spot.
Gili Laba is a tiny and uninhabited island close to Komodo that offers you the most perfect view of the Flores sea! This was honestly the most beautiful view of the entire boat trip – that is why we chose the view as our featured image for this article 🙂 The beach of Gili Laba is white and clean and the waters are blue and green. The landscape is stunning: rolling savannah hills with varying colors of green, brown and sometimes yellow.
We hiked our way up to the top of the hill in about 30-45 minutes and revived of the hike while overlooking the turquoise waters. This is how we found out that your seasickness medication lowers your blood pressure: dizziness was our closest friend during this hike that sometimes went up 70 degrees. But you will be rewarded for your exercise! After your walk down to the beach again, the gorgeous water is inviting for a cool down and perfect for another snorkeling moment!
Rinca and Komodo islands
On our last day we set foot on Komodo and Rinca islands to meet with the prehistoric komodo dragons. These legendary animals are impressive! We went on a guided hike on Komodo island and were rewarded with stunning views of the island and a baby dragon. On Rinca the dragons are easier to spot, just congregating around the park’s ranger offices.
Komodo dragons are a large species of lizard and live on the islands we visited (Komodo and Rinca) as well as on the islands of Gili Motang and Padar. We wrote a separate article about our Komodo dragon adventure!
After four days and three nights being on the boat, we arrived at Flores. As part of our boat tour, we could sleep on the boat for another night but we decided not to because we really needed a shower! Not to mention the fact that we were pretty seasick and were in desperate need of a stable horizon! Time to start off-boarding and enter Flores, which means Flowers!
This gorgeous island is on the list of becoming Indonesia’s biggest eco-travel hotspot. No surprise, we figured out after spending there about ten days! Flores has the kind of beauty that overwhelms you. It is an island to fall in love with, because of the white sand beaches, excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities, the mystical green hills and a skyline of rough volcanoes. The trans-Flores highway connects the east and west coast of the island and covers 700 kilometers of road. The infrastructure improved over the years and its quality varies from good to bumpy and gravel. Go to Flores as soon as possible, because we think this will become the next Bali which means that it will get spoiled one day – Flores is blooming like never before. Read our articles about Flores: