4 Day Sailing Journey to Komodo (with kids!)

“OMG, there are TWO of them!”

That is NOT what we said while hiking on Komodo island.

That is what the rest of the 20 young passengers of our boat said when they saw we had, not one, but two children with us. And yes, in fact, these two kids were going on this adventure trip and sharing this boat with them for four days:

Kencana Boat

I laugh realizing that it is unusual for these 20-30 year old backpackers to see a family with such young kids going on a ‘roughing it’ type of trip. We don’t really think twice about it, but I suppose most parents would. I’m glad we are short-circuited parents that way.

We’ll be sleeping on the boat, snorkeling, hiking, climbing mountains and, of course, trekking to see the Komodo dragons. Even the crew members where a little surprised, but open and accepting.

My children earned their chops with our crew when they saw how well Miss I (age 2) snorkeled by herself with no floatation devices and when G (age 4) bravely jumped off the side of the boat, falling two meters down into the ocean with his Spider-man floaty.

G jumping to swim to Pink Beach

G jumping to swim to Pink Beach

The stereotypes of what kids can do got blasted out of the water!

If there is something that we do well, it is defying odds and challenging the status quo.

Journey to Komodo Island

After lazying around on Gili Air for 10 days, we yearned for a bit more adventure. We booked a 4 day sailing trip with Kencana Tours. The following is our experience written day by day.

By the end of the stunning photography, you’ll be wanting to fly to Bali, take a boat to Lombok and jump on board to see the beauty of Indonesian islands. It was 4 grand days of sailing among pristine, “holy crap this is so freakin’ amazing” scenery. It’s not that I’m a great photographer, it’s that the subjects were so dang beautiful:

  • Sunsets that glorified the sky with vibrancy.
Miss I checks her texts in the middle of the ocean.

Miss I checks her texts in the middle of the ocean.

  • Mornings with calm waters, incredible views and crisp, refreshing breezes.
G's GQ Shot in the morning near Gili Satonda.

G’s GQ Shot in the morning near Gili Satonda.

Four days of seeing moss-like green covered mountains that I wanted to climb and slide down straight into the ocean. These weren’t a daily scene, but an every-minute-of-the-day scene.DSC04129

  • Hiking to a remote, fresh water waterfall.DSC03949
  • Snorkeling in heaven


    Photo by one of our fellow boaters.

  • And waking up to this:


To say it was awesome in the truest definition of the word is an understatement. This was our first travels of Indonesia beyond Bali and we fell in l.o.v.e.

With over 17,000 islands, Indonesia has plenty to explore.

Day 1 – The start of the Sail to Komodo

The moon is near full, the waters have been calm and that means no one on our boat has been sick! We’ve just completed the first day of our ‘sailing trip’ with Kencana tours – which isn’t really a sailing trip since a sail has not been lifted once and the motor vibrates loudly.

There is room for twenty people on top sleeping deck, which is surprisingly not so uncomfortable. The thin mattresses on the floor suffice. It’s like camping. The tarp that covers us is low so you can’t stand up fully, just like a small little tent. Some choose to sleep on the main deck of the boat, but slept well towards the back.DSC03868

We sailed for five hours today, anchoring at night near Gili Bolo to sleep without the engine noise or vibration. It’s quiet until Mr. King and G jump into the pitch black waters for a warm swim.

Our day started with a 10 minute boat ride from Gili Air to Bangsal, Lombok. Bangsal port is full of touts and one acted like he was with the tour company, grabbed our ticket and proceeded to take us to his horse cart saying that the bus station were our shuttle was waiting was 1 kilometer away.

“This transfer is not included” he says. A load of bologna, but, hey, we haven’t been in a horse cart yet and since the kids were excited we paid him the $5 (an outrageous amount since the bus station is 1 1/2 blocks away).

We loaded our shuttle bus and drove 40 minutes along the beautiful coast of Lombok to Sengigi, a popular beach town and home to Kencana Tour office. We grabbed a bite to eat, stocked up on snacks for the journey – cookies, lollipops and Pringles. Then we were shuttled another 3-4 hours through the beautiful terrain of Lombok.

More lush than Bali – Lombok

Lombok is even greener than Bali! The houses are different, there are mosques instead of Hindu temples, the woman are covered with fabric and goats run free. At the same time, I was surprised to see certain sections and how metropolitan they were. The infrastructure of the roads surpasses Bali.

Lombok is becoming a hot spot and I can see how it will steal visitors away from Bali with it’s countryside and miles of untouched coastline. It’s also incredibly cheaper.

Shifting Perspectives on Family Travel

The 20 of us passengers talked on the boat. Many of the conversations I had were about the surprise our shipmates had when they saw that we were bringing small children on board.

“How crazy!”

“How adventurous and cool!”.

It’s just the way we roll 😉DSC03885

The number one question we get is regarding educating our children? Surprisingly, when I explained our philosophy, approach, vision and definition of education, it made sense to them. Perhaps it even shifted their perspective as well. We’ve already put the seed of a shift in their mind on what is possible once you have a family. That the adventure of life doesn’t end because there is a little human with you.

Quite the opposite.

Imagine their surprise when G grabbed his floaty and jumped off the side of the boat into the midnight waters to swim with his daddy-o.

I love blowing the lid off of people’s limiting beliefs!DSC03879

Our family are the bookends of this boat. Mr. King and myself are part of the older crowd, while G & Miss I are the youngest. There’s Marc from Spain who has such a sexy accent I have to suppress a giggle every time he talks. (He was actually the oldest and on his last ‘adventure’ before he settles down to have his own kids.) And the rest were 20 something backpackers from all around the world making their way around SE Asia, experiencing different cultures and opening their horizons.

Day 2 – Gili Moyo

We woke up this morning to bio-luminescent jelly fish, tiny ones, flashing blue specks in the water. A quick breakfast of french toast and bananas and we jumped into the waters to swim to the shores of Gili Moyo. We hiked on this deserted island to a beautiful fresh water waterfall.DSC03979The fresh spring water was constantly forming stalagmites. As we sat on the edge of the flat rocks, G pulled a leaf that was stuck against the wall and was starting to have rock form around it.

The girls washed their hair and showered in the fresh water, the only fresh water shower we would have the entire four days. Did it matter much though since we had to jump into the ocean to swim back to the boat? Not sure, but it was fun to act like we were in a 1980’s sexy shampoo commercial for Pert.

Afterwards, we sailed to Gili Satonda and saw dolphins as we anchored. DSC04022

We snorkeled in the deep waters and saw octopus, nemo clown fish, huge blue starfish and abundant, alive coral.Snorkeling in Indonesia
We hiked to a salt water lake that was too warm to swim in and feel comfortable. But the lack of noise was incredible and the surrounding greenery of the steep hills made the lake a peaceful giant.

Back to the boat for an 18 hour, overnight sail to the next island. We saw more dolphins, played cards, the girls braided each others hair and the King’s napped then played the iPad for a while.DSC03881DSC04272

Day 3 – Gili Laba, Pink Beach & Komodos

Mountain Climb on Gili Laba

The morning of day 3 was near perfect blue sky and abundant sunshine. We anchored at a most beautiful spot surrounded by lush islands. Our plan for the early morning was to climb the highest point on Gili Laba. That’s it right in this photo:


It was a steep climb. Mr. King and I each had an extra 30 lbs of child to carry. I was dripping with sweat, soaked halfway up the mountain. Miss I, balanced on my arms, says “Mama, you look like you jumped in the ocean” and then she licks me “mmm. Salty.” My heart was pounding, but my legs remained strong and steady, safely maneuvering the rocks on the way up and, more importantly, down.

It was worth it.

G and Miss I have the honor of being the ONLY young children to have ever climbed Gili Laba mountain! And the view was worth it:DSC04100

There were dolphins playing in this water. We pose for a family picture, tricking G into looking at the camera with shouts of “Hey look! Nick has candy!” It worked, but only for one shot.Kings in Gili Laba, IndonesiaLet me tease you more with our view:DSC04108

DSC04110DSC04115 All this before 10 am.

We rested in the waters below, cooling off  before sailing 1 1/2 hours to Pink Beach. We had lunch and anchored for a three hour snorkeling session.

Pink Beach

Miss I had been looking forward to this beach since we told her the sand was pink. She loves everything pink!

We just jumped into the water and snorkeled our way to shore, Miss I swimming the entire length by herself without floaties. We even followed a turtle for a few minutes, her hand outstretched pointing to it the entire way, so I wouldn’t lose it. She’d come up for air and yell “Daddy, here’s the turtle!” with enthusiasm. I am constantly amazed at her swimming ability. She’s only 2 and can out-snorkel adults!

Snorkeling to Pink Beach.

Snorkeling to Pink Beach.

Pink Beach is gorgeous. It doean’t look pink until you get right upon it. The sand looks pink because of all the red coral bits in it. When the water laps up to shore, the mixing of water and sand makes for a pink wave. It’s beautiful and Miss I thought it to be the best ever!

G tunneled his way in the sand, while Marc and I snorkeled around the cliffs. There was such abundant and varied coral life. We brought back a bunch of stuff for the kids to see: a hollowed out crab shell with it’s eyes still attached, a weird looking conch-like shell that was empty (well…we thought it was empty. We brought it back to the boat to show everyone when the sickest creature poked it’s head out. One of the guys mentioned its extremely poisonous. We laughed at our ignorance! Please don’t take anything out of the ocean!)DSC04130

Trekking with Komodo Dragons

A short 15 minute sail from Pink Beach brought us to the commercial entrance of Komodo National Park…coming up next post about Hiking with Komodo Dragons.

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18 Responses to “4 Day Sailing Journey to Komodo (with kids!)”

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