When you think of visiting Indonesia you first think of Bali. Maybe you imagine lush rainforests, temples galore, pristine beaches and friendly locals. You probably aren’t thinking of going outside of Bali, and I am here to tell you that you 100% need to! One great place for day trips is on Flores which is a part of the Sunda Islands. There you will find Padar, Komodo Island and the magical pink beach.
To fully enjoy the other islands of Indonesia flying is your best option. You can book a roundtrip flight from Bali’s main international airport to Labuan Bajo. The flight is only about an hour and ten minutes and flights can be as low as $30!! Use SkyScanner to find the best price, I easily found a ticket a week before flying out. I highly recommend flying with Nam air, they serve a small snack, and the plane was much larger and comfortable then the other airlines. I also ended having the whole row to myself which is the best thing to happen when flying!
Once you arrive in Labuan Bajo you will have many options on where to stay. I recommend staying two nights and three days. The first night being your arrival and the second night after your day trip. Any longer is unnecessary unless you have dives or day trips planned, there’s not much going on at Labuan Bajo. Le Pirate is one of the most popular locations for their instagramable aesthetics and affordable price! They have their own land hotel in Labuan Bajo as well as a fleet of “Explorers”, small wooden boats that combine day trips with overnight stays. They launched a new floating hotel called their boatel, a ten-minute water taxi from their on-land hotel. I stayed on their boatel during my time in Labuan Bajo and have done a full review on my stay. If you need other recommendations on other accommodations check out my full travel guide.
I used Ora Dive for my day trip to the islands and they were great! I was so impressed with their service and diligence to make it a great trip. They have two options, a wooden boat which takes about four hours to get to the first stop Padar. There is also the option of a speedboat which is much faster but more expensive. They do custom trips and will work with you on your trip. I originally planned on Padar, Komodo, Pink Beach and Manta Point. However due to boat issues we left late and had to scrap Manta Point, but they did make it worth it. I also ended up being the only one on the boat! People had cancelled before we left so it really worked out, I had the whole boat to myself and got to go at my own pace at each stop.
1st Stop : Padar
Difficulty : Average
Hike Time: 30 minutes to 60 minutes
Cost: No additional fee
If you ever google Padar the most common image you will see are the three crescent shaped beaches. It’s a natural phenomenon because one is white, one is black, and one is pink. It’s a must see if you’re in Indonesia and will be well worth the day trip to get there! If you take a wooden boat (which I did) it’s about 3 to 4 hours to get there. I really recommend brining something to occupy your time with on the boat if you don’t take the speed boat.
Once you arrive your boat will dock on the white beach side. You have quite a hike on your way up so be prepared and its HOT! Bring lots of water, a hat, put on LOTS of sunscreen and make sure to wear closed toe shoes. They are in the process of adding stairs to make the trek easier but as of now it has not been completed. About 1/3 of the way up will have a path and then you will hike the rest of the way up in the dirt.
It can be super slippery and strenuous especially if you get there mid-day (which we did…sigh). The hike is well worth the view, and I encourage you to keep going! There are two viewpoints, one is near a huge tree that offers some shade. It has a rock (pictured below) that sticks out perfectly to get the best shot. If you keep trekking up, you will run into a similar view just higher up.
2nd Stop : Komodo National Park
Difficulty : Easy
Hike Time: 15 minutes to 30 minutes
Cost: 310,000 Rupiah
Just call me the Mother of Dragons, I have dubbed myself a dragon whisperer after my trip to Komodo National Park. Komodo National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s also a must see for any animal lover. It was my second stop on my day trip and all I can say is WOW.
Once you arrive to Komodo National Park you will need to stop in the information center to get a guide. Be prepared to pay for your entrance fee. I paid 310,000 rupiah or $23, which honestly was the most expensive one thing I paid for. The guide will offer you three different routes, short, medium, and adventurous.
They can’t guarantee you will see dragons and recommend the longer trek for more opportunities. Since it was later in the day, and we had one more stop plus a four-hour boat ride we opted for the short hike. I was so lucky to see two dragons within a minute of walking! Then another five minutes and we saw another four. I was very lucky to see so many at one time and without much walking. As I said I am the mother of dragons, and all my dragon babies came to say hi.
It really is worth the stop, Komodo’s are amazing to see in person. They are wild animals though and it’s important to remember they can kill people! Their bite can be lethal so don’t wander off and make sure to be vigilant.
3rd Stop : Pink Beach
My final stop was Pink Beach, and this was a different Pink Beach then the one at Padar. This one is about a 30-minute boat ride from Komodo National Park, and you can snorkel here. The reason the sand is pink is because the coral that breaks off is red and when it dyes the sand you get a pinkish tint. The beach is not as pink as it once was because tourists are taking the sand. Seriously people, do not take the sand! You will have it confiscated once you arrive at the airport!
The snorkeling here is great, there is so much coral and its very active with marine life.
I highly recommend taking a day trip to go and see these amazing locations. It is a different perspective of Indonesia and will be the highlight of your trip.
Total Cost : 1,310,000 (1 million Rupiah with Ora Dive + 310,000 Rupiah for entrance to Komodo)
Duration : 13 hours (can vary)
Level of Activity : Moderate
Drop a comment below if you have ever been to Padar, Komodo Island or pink beach! I would love to hear your thoughts on your trip.