Our cruise started out on Gili Air at about 7:30 in the morning. We walked about 1/2 mile to the port in Gili Air to cross in a long boat to Lombok. It was quite warm even though it was early in the morning and of course lots of whining from the kids. Once the death march was completed, we got on our boat, it only took 15 minutes to cross the water to Lombok. We walked up to the office to register and of course we found out that we were 2 1/2 hours early. ugggg We made the best of it and did school for the day.
After a few hours they finally called us and lead us and thirty of our closest friends down to the boat. There was three cabins on board and then the other 25 people slept in the deck level. We were happy to have cabins at least for the girls. We were travelling with another family a mom (Karen) and her two kids. We tried share our space with them as much as possible as they had three deck spots. We were all pretty happy to have each other, the remaining passengers were twenty something travelers from various different countries and then two folks that were a bit older.
We settled in for our four days aboard the boat and got to know some of the people. Our meals were served in a family style type presentation on the floor with people grabbing food at the same time, it was a bit of a free for all, especially after a couple of days in when everyone was hungry. Caroline and the twins of course wouldn’t eat any of the food except for rice. We did get tempe, noodles and lots of cabbage. I think on day four we might have gotten some chicken. It was good food but to have it everyday it got pretty old.
The first day we spotted some dolphins an hour or so after departing, and we figured we would would see lots but we never saw any more. We took the route to the north of Lombok and Sambawa islands in the Flores Sea. The seas were very calm and only one person that I saw on the boat got sick and none of our family. We stopped before sunset to go snorkeling and get off the boat and stretch. After that and dinner we motored on into the night until about 2:30am in the morning, we were all fast asleep by then.
We were woken up by the sun the next morning for the second sunrise in a row. This one was equally amazing, we went for a swim and then set off toward Sambawa island. We stopped in the mid morning to climb up a water fall, it was another sticky falls, so the kids were able to climb to the top. It was actually very interesting spot where you could see stromatalites and close by there was pyroclastic debris. We hiked around for a bit saw some butterflies and then swung into a water hole. Afterwards we snorkeled around the boat, saw some amazing coral and a sting ray with blue spots.
We got back on board and headed out to the east; we motored on all afternoon and all night until arriving in the morning at Komodo Island. We ate breakfast and then went for a hike on Laba island just north of Komodo, the boat wasn’t able to get close to shore so we had to swim and put our shoes on at the beach which caused a lot of consternation from the girls but we finally got on our way. The hike to the top to the overlook wasn’t more than a half mile but it was very steep. After lots of whining from the girls we made it up to the top and took in the amazing views. We made our way down to the bottom with a feeling of accomplishment.
After our hike to the top of Laba island we putzed around in the bay and looked at the coral near the island. We also noticed that there was activity in the bay lots of fish jumping in certain areas and figured it was a bait ball with larger fish or dolphins rounding up smaller fish until they are trapped and start leaping out of the water. We weren’t close enough to see the aggressors but the fish were going crazy.
Our next stop was Manta point, a shallow channel where Manta Rays tend to congregate due to abundant food sources. Our boat moved to the middle of the channel and everyone waited until we saw one of the huge beasts, upwards of 10 feet across, they are other worldly; so amazing to see in the wild. Everyone on the boat jumped in and we all swam after the rays, they are deceptively quick and once they decided to leave they were gone, but after chasing a pair they decided to do a quick dance around each other. Back near the boat there were a few more Mantas and after about 30 minutes everyone had seen them and we decided to move on to the pink beach.
We stopped at pink beach which was located in a small cove just outside the main channel, it didn’t look altogether pink but it had some of the best coral for snorkeling that we have seen in a while. I swam over to the beach with Julie who has taken over as our intrepid explorer. I inspected the sand and it looked like there was lots of grains of pink and red coral that were giving the beach it’s slight pinkish hue. At least 4 people asked me what made the beach pink so I gave them my opinion. It certainly wasn’t the dark brown volcanic rocks surrounding the beach.
After a few hours of snorkeling we headed to our anchorage for the night just off Komodo Island, it was 1:30pm by the time we got there and we felt like it was way more than a full day. Since we were parked next to Komodo Island I was scanning the shore constantly for dragons, and at one point we saw a pig come to the water but no signs of dragons. Our last night on the boat is typically what they consider their party night, they put on really loud music but nobody was in the mood for partying after such a long day. The kids actually did the limbo for a while but no dancing. I also had a headache and convinced the boat crew to shut off the music by that time the kids were heading to bed.
The next day we went to Rincon island (part of the Komodo national park) to see the Komodo dragons. Our tour guides had lowered our expectations saying they didn’t see any dragons last trip, so we felt lucky when we saw a big one in the first 10 minutes of our walk. We continued on a several mile hike and saw 3 dragons, then as we were ending our trek we ran into a pack of about 13!! They were huge with really long tongues, they were very docile and never charged anyone but they were impressive. It is one of those places that you want to go since you were a kid and now we were there. The latest thinking on the bite of the Komodo is that their mouths are still full of bacteria that causes a deadly infection but they also have a gland in their mouth that produces a toxin that makes their bite especially dangerous. The kids liked seeing them although Julie had a massive fit in the morning, likely due to the limited food options, the twins also abandoned the longer trek for the short one.
Every body did great on the trip but being on a boat for four days with limited food options and being cooped up was tough for us, not to mention that I cracked my head no less than 5 times a day on the low ceilings. We loved the trip but we were glad to get off on Flores and needed some serious recuperating time.