How to Organise a Boat Trip to Rinca and Komodo

In Labuan Bajo we traipsed around the travel agencies in the blistering heat. Everywhere was too expensive and no one wanted to barter, yet they all wanted to fill the last few spaces on their excursion boats.

We didn’t want to share our tour to Rinca and Komodo Islands with ten other people and sleep on the deck listening to others’ snores or share one toilet. We wanted our own boat to take us to Rinca and Komodo Islands.

how to organise a boat trip to rinca and komodo

Looked like we were going to have to go to the port and find a fisherman…

We had forgotten that it was Sunday, as it’s quite easy to do when you’re on holiday.
The main street in Labuan Bajo was dead; many tour places weren’t even open and the ones that were open seemed to be manned by Sunday staff, ie a person just looking after the shop who doesn’t really know or care about the business and who plucks high prices out of thin air just to make you go away.

We had only just landed in Labuan Bajo from Bali and we needed to get this sorted as we wanted to leave the following morning.

After more than an hour of getting nowhere we were frustrated with all our fruitless efforts and were suffocating with the heat so we stopped at a bar for a drink.
Casually asking the kid in the bar if he knew of anyone with a boat who might take us for a two day/one night cruise around Rinca and Komodo Islands was the best thing we could have done.

Here’s how to organise your trip to Rinca and Komodo Islands:

You go to Bar Matahari in Labuan Bajo and find the young lad with the frizzy hair (actually you could go to any bar and find any boy looking to earn a few thousand rupiah on a Sunday afternoon). You tell him how much you want to pay and where you want to go.

We were willing to pay 2.2million rp for both of us for a private boat with cabin to take us to visit Rinca and Komodo Islands with meals included.

The boy then gets on his motorbike and heads to the port while you enjoy a cold beer and the view from the bar.

We had arranged to meet our young travel agent later but as it happened we bumped into him at the port just after he had found us a boat. We were down there talking to fishermen and doing a bit of investigating ourselves but to little avail.

Our new friend took us to inspect the boat he’d found. It was large for just us with a nice outer deck with a big table and benches. The cabin had two double bunk beds and the western-style toilet was also just for us.

We agreed that we would sail the following morning at 8am and that we would visit Rinca Island. After lunch we would go to the Pink Beach for snorkelling and then we would anchor close to Komodo Island to sleep.

The next morning we would continue to Komodo Island to visit Komodo National Park and then we would sail to Kanawa Island where we would be dropped off.

We were originally planning to go back to Labuan Bajo to spend the night and go to Kanawa the following day but after checking out the accommodation options in Labuan Bajo we decided to extend our stay in Kanawa and arrive one day earlier than planned.

We were to pay 2.2million rp to the boat crew as agreed and this would include our meals, which turned out to be elaborate feasts.

We closed the deal by paying 1 million up front and went off to celebrate with a large Bintang.

The price paid might sound like a lot, especially compared to our three-night boat trip in Kalimantan but these are the prices on Flores Island. The best deal we had found at one travel agency had been the same price but with no cabin, instead sleeping on deck. And most were charging much more.

Why did we wait to book this tour on arrival instead of booking online beforehand?

Pretty much the same reason we didn’t book our accommodation beforehand in Labuan Bajo either: because we couldn’t find anything worth taking! Either the prices were too high or the itinerary wasn’t what we wanted or it was a shared boat or it had to be confirmed upon arrival anyway…

The truth is that we had forgotten that we were arriving in Labuan Bajo on a Sunday. Nor had we realised just how difficult it would be to do business on a Sunday.

You will always eventually find what you need and money talks. People want to work and you are offering them work. If you don’t find what you want immediately, don’t panic; shop around, go to the port if necessary and speak to a few boat captains.

Stay tuned to find out how we got on on the actual cruise itself…

Filed Under: asiacruisesfeaturedIndonesiaNusa Tenggara


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  1. Brad says:

    Hi Lisa,
    great Blog, so many usefull information!
    Do you still have the contact of the boat you used for your Komodo tour? Did the boat had an ac, or is it not that hot during the night?
    Looking forward to hear from you :).

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Brad, thanks a lot. I’m really glad you’ve found my blog useful. You must be planning quite an exciting adventure yourself. I’m afraid I don’t have any contact details for the boat. The best thing you can do is ask around when you arrive at Labuan Bajo. Stay away from the travel agencies and speak to the local workers and fishermen.
      There was no A/C on the boat; I think there was a fan in the bedroom but it was a very basic affair – making for a greater experience in my opinion. There wasn’t really any need for A/C anyway as we had the breeze by day and it was cooler at night.
      Best of luck, Lisa x

  2. SHAKTHI says:

    Great post and very informative. We are a lifestyle blogger mainly into travel and food.

  3. giicko says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience. I wanted to ask you if I wanted to spend the day on Kanawa Island and then head back to Labuan Bajo to spend the night there. I read tons of negative reviews on the single accommodation on Kanawa and I want to avoid that.

    So basically I wanted to go around morning time and leave after sunset. How does this work? I understand that there is daily boat that leaves around noon but what about the way back?

    Thanks a lot.

    • Lisa says:

      Hello, I might be mistaken and you should certainly check with management at Kanawa Island, but the way I understood it when I was there is that the island is private and is only open to guests, meaning that if you are not staying there you are not welcome to visit. I could be wrong.
      I am also quite sure that there was just one boat per day leaving Kanawa at 8am and returning at around noon. Meaning you would have to stay overnight on the island before you could leave the next morning or would have to arrange your own boat.
      I hope this helps.
      By the way, the accommodation in Labuan Bajo was the worst I experienced in Indonesia so you might want to take your chances with the Kanawa single room and save yourself the hassle.

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