Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Pirates Life for Me

Are you ready to board the most dangerous pirate ship in the world? Hopefully you won't walk the plank before you reach your destination.
It was a warm night on Gili Air. I decided last minute that I wanted to join a pirate expedition to Komodo Islands. After being told by several agencies that I would have to wait for a couple days I finally found an agency with a boat leaving tomorrow. I handed over 170,000 IDR ($135 USD, which was to include all park entrances).

I went to bed early under my bug net and my dreams were filled with scenes from Pirates of the CaribbeanIn the early morning I packed my bag and set off across the small island of Gili Air to meet the ferry that would take me to Lombok. In Lombok I found a man who took me on the back of his motorcycle to a parking lot where I was to load onto a bus with my new pirate family.

Day 1

It was evident from the start that this lot of pirates was going to be dangerous. I loaded onto the bus with new pirate recruits from all over the world. We headed on our journey across Lombok to the port of Labuhan Lombok. Here we met our home for the next 4 days: Floressea Kencana. The large wooden ship hailed two large masts. The exterior was stained wood with a red tint. It had three levels: the hull which consisted of the engine room, small basic cabins and a storage room; the main deck with kitchen, cabins and a large covered deck with seats along the edge, and an open small deck at the bow; the top deck had a small covered deck towards a he stern, several higher-end cabins and the helm where the captain could be found. 

As we boarded we were handed a small packed lunch of Mi Goreng. From that point on all the food we ate would be cooked directly on the boat. We set sail to our first destination: Kenawa Island. Here we donned flip flops and hiked up to the top of the small hill in the center of the island. Once done with our short hike we spend a couple hours bathing in the clear waters surrounding the small island. Kenawa was a very peaceful island with very few people.
We headed back to the ship for our overnight cruise to Moyo Island. This was the hardest night to fall asleep. The rocking of the boat was soothing but the winds were strong along the deck. I tucked the thin blanket around me as I lay on the questionable thin vinyl covered mat that was distributed to us before dusk.

Day 2

In the morning I was awoken by the call for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of dry pancakes or sandwiched banana in toast. Tea and coffee was set out periodically through the day for extra hydration and energy. Soon after eating we anchored off the island Moyo. Here we put on walking shoes and climbed into the thick forest to find the natural freshwater waterfalls. Here clear water fell over smooth rocks and tumbled into natural pools below the shade of the densely grown forest.
We walked back out to the beach for snorkeling where the fresh water river met the open ocean. After several hours of sunbathing and swimming we headed back to the pirate ship to take us closer to Komodo Island.

During the day as we sailed onwards we relaxed on the deck soaking up the sun, getting to know each other over tea and coffee. The second night was much better. The rocking of the boat soothed me and the thin vinyl mat seemed to grow more comfortable.

Day 3

The following day we woke for our Komodo Island trek. Immediately when we landed on shore we saw one of the monstrous Komodo dragon lizards strolling along the beach. Guides with long sticks walked with us as we learned about the deadly beast. Just a couple weeks before a man was killed after being bitten by one of these huge lizards. The bacteria in their mouths sufficient to kill large animals with one infectious bite.

Later that day we headed to Pink Beach, where we were able to relax after a long hike on Komodo Island. Here crystal clear water lapped against the pink sand created by fragments of red coral washed on shore. We enjoyed a couple Bintags and snorkeled with cuddle fish and clown fish. From here we headed to Labuan Bajo where we were to dock for one night. For the first time we were able to eat dinner off the ship. We headed first for ice cream at La Creperie. Then we headed to the open air fish market for grilled red snapper coated with a sweat sauce. After a satisfying meal, we headed for drinks and dessert at Bajo Bays Fisherman’s Club, where they also have free wifi.

Day 4

In the morning we embarked from Labuan Bajo to Rinca. Rinca is the second island inhabited by the Komodo Dragons. Similar to Komodo Island, we were led by guides with long sticks on a trek through the island.
As a reward for our search for Komodo Dragons, we headed to Manta point to snorkel with manta rays. With goggles and snorkel on we waited for one of the ship guides to yell jump. On command half of the boat jumped into the strong current below. Large waves and strong currents pulled us away from the ship. We searched keeping our eyes peeled for the infamous manta ray.

The waves were strong and it took a lot of effort to stay afloat in the deep water. Many gave in to exhaustion, boarding the small dingy to take them back to the ship. When I was almost about to give in, one of the girls in out small group began to scream and point. Only ten meters below us on the ocean floor a massive manta ray swam effortlessly against the current. Like a majestic bird its large wings beat slowly. I swam hard trying to keep up. In a matter of minutes she was gone. Satisfied I boarded the last dingy back to the pirate ship.

We headed back to Labuan Bajo on a small boat, stopping at Angel Beach for a short swim and snorkel. Sad to part with the Floressea Kencana pirate ship and my new found sea legs a group of us headed to Centro Hostel only a block from the marina. This hostel boasts one large room with over 50 bunk-style beds and very little privacy. After a refreshing shower we headed to Bajo Taco for fish tacos and milkshakes. The view of the sunset from the third story balcony over the Labuan Bajo harbor was an excellent way to wrap up the day. Despite being exhausted we headed to Paradise Bar for live music and drinks before returning to the crowded dorm.

Day 5

The next morning we decided to head off on our own small pirate ship to Padar Island. We hired a small boat for $12 each or 100,000 INR ($77) for the 8 hour trip to Padar Island. We awoke as the sun just peaked over the ocean. Our guide arrived at our door to let us know he could not find petrol for the boat. After he ran around town for over an hour trying to find petrol our chances of leaving for Padar Island seemed bleak. Finally he returned with cookies and bananas and told us our boat was ready.

Known as one of the wonders of Indonesia, Padar Island boasts one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. After the three hours boat ride on the obnoxiously loud wooden boat and a 30 minute hike up the steep mountain in the humid heat we arrived at a breathtaking view. Three coves of aqua blue water each with different color sands were partitioned by jagged mountains covered with soft yellow grass. After several pictures we headed back down the mountain and back to Labuan Bajo.
Overall I was sad to leave my seafaring life back to the realities of life in the USA. Overall Komodo Island pirate cruise was worth it and I would do it over any day. It’s no wonder why Komodo Island is one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the world.


  • Make sure that you have in writing on your receipt that the amount you paid covers both entrances for Komodo Island and Rinca Island.
  • Sleep on bottom deck when moving to avoid wind and upper deck when at port or anchored for ventilation. Scope out our sleeping area early.
  • Don’t spend extra for the cabins in the hull, they get very hot from the engines and most likely you will move your mattress up to the deck for fresh air.
  • If you get motion sickness bring medications. More than 75% of the passengers got sick the first night.
  • Take a life jacket to Manta Point if you are not a strong swimmer.
  • Sunscreen. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow what an action packed and fun filed itinerary and that too at such an affordable cost. What a great find. Thanks for sharing your experience.