We were so excited to venture further than the usual Bali Island holiday earlier this month. My sister had been on Le Pirate earlier in the year and just raved about the incredible water, bays, islands and token pink sand!
Let’s face it when expectation comes into play there is little wiggle room between what you imagine and disappointment.
The journey is an easy, cheap and very pretty 50 minute flight from Denpasar Domestic Airport to Labuanbajo, Komodo Island. From the ultra modern airport you are met by some of the super enthusiastic staff from the le Pirate Group. You are taken to their headquarters straight opposite the port to finalise paperwork before being ferried to your boat. As you will be entering a National Marine Park there is a nominal park entry fee for every day you are in these waters.
Explorer One is quaint and reminiscent of the traditional Indonesian fishing boats with a modern and more comfortable twist. There are two boats in the fleet that cater for overnight trips, we rented one of them. The cost per night is approximately $500 AUD but these vessels sleep up to 8 people in open cabins on the upper deck. I wouldn’t recommend 8 people for the trip as too tight but you could easily do 4 people or at a pinch 6.
A word of advice here – if you are a light sleeper, take ear plugs, as often at night you are moored in a still bay with other boats nearby and we had two with their generators going all night long and sleeping in an open cabin was not much fun!
The main dining and living area is open plan at the front of the boat with clever netted wings on either side of the craft offering additional reading and resting space on comfy bean bags or beds. The toilet and shower are as you imagine for a pretty basic boat, be prepared for a heavy arm workout with the toilet and don’t bother with shampoo as the shower is a trickle, which you need a degree to operate with precision.
On the upside we did go to a simply stunning atoll at East Nusa Tenggara, complete with pale pink sand. These Florinese waters reveal a mesmerizing array of incredible marine life. The reef boasts at least 1,000 species of fish and some 350 reef building corals. I would have to rate my snorkel as the best of my life, with an added bonus of two small reef sharks appearing on cue! We were both mesmerized by the incredible, vibrant corals (no coral bleaching here) and the simply stunning variety of fluorescent fish. The water is warm which is a bonus, as I could stay in for far longer than usual taking in the pure magic of the moment.
East Nusa Tenggara
Later in the day I went with our guide, Joy, to a deeper diving hole and nature turned it on again - incredible fish and coral and the highlight for me, I actually touched a large turtle! Derek and Joy snorkelled earlier in the day amongst many manta rays, large fish and turtles. So if you are really into snorkelling or diving this is an absolute bucket list destination and go before it’s spoilt by too much more development.
The evenings were magical with incredible colours and mesmerizing sunsets, with a backdrop of beautiful islands and some stunning mountains - mother nature at her best!
East Nusa Tenggara
All in all it was worth the trip and we have some beautiful memories but to make your adventure more comfortable do take:
- Your Sea Legs
- Probably more suited to guests under 45 who are pretty fit
- Ear plugs
- Some of your own food (We took some pasta, pre-prepared meals and fruit and nuts, chocolate)
- Underwater camera – worth the effort!
I had no phone connection at all but this can depend on your server.
No need to bother with mosquito repellent as not a mosquito in sight!
Avoid the wet season – best time to go between April and October