There are different ways of getting to Flores (Komodo) island from Bali/Lombok; flight, boat tour, ferries+buses, which one to choose depends on your time and budget. Just be aware that if you travel in the high season (June to August) you have to book your flight beforehand.
Different ways of getting to Flores
Flights to Labuan Bajo, Flores
The fastest and easiest way of getting to Flores and back, in high season (June to August) book you flight beforehand. There are no international flights to Flores though you can fly direct or with one stop from many Indonesian cities. The cheapest option is a direct flight from Denpasar (Bali) which has extensive route of both national and international flights. The cheapest flights are by NAM air, you can get a one way ticket for US$45-55, without check-in luggage. NAM air has connection flights (through Bali) to Labuan Bajo from several Indonesian cities.
Boat trip to Labuan Bajo, Flores
More fun and adventurous way of getting to Flores or back is to do a boat trip. Boats leave every day from a town Senggigi (Lombok), you can buy it on Lombok or Gili islands from a tour agency or hostel. Standard tour is 4 days/3 nights. The price is around IDR 1 500 000/US$115 and includes transport (boat), food (three meals a day), drinking water, exclude Komodo National park fee (IDR 150 000/US$10). Campbell did this trip 2 years ago.
Public transport; ferries and buses
The cheapest and the longest option, takes 2 days one way and involves sleepless nights and some bargaining. We did it both ways, it was easy, no booking or arrangement beforehand though it was a peak season (August).
1st step. Bali (Padangbai) – Lombok (Mataram)
Public ferries from Padangbai (Bali) to Lembar (Lombok) leave every day, every hour or so, 24 hours. It takes about 4-5 hours, IDR 46 000/US$3,5 per person. You arrive at Lembar harbor.
Then take a van (IDR 30 000/US$2,2) or mini bus (IDR 20 000/US$1,5) to Mataram, Mandalika bus terminal (Damri bus service), from where buses to Flores leave. Buses leave every day at 3 pm. If you take an early ferry from Padangbai e.g. at 7 am you have a good chance to catch a bus the same day.
If you prefer more comfortable and fast speed boats you can book an online ticket from Bali Denpasar to Lombok Utara, this trip takes about 3 hours.
Accommodation in Mataram
If you don’t make it the same day there are couple of guest houses in Mataram, in the center, not far from Mataram City Mall, from 100 000 for double. We stayed at Werdhi Guest House, good place not far from Mandalika bus terminal and the mall; rooms with AC, private bathroom, clean, flat-screen TV, wi-fi, good breakfast included in the price. If you don’t mind to pay a couple of dollars more you can stay in a nicer and newer place like Hotel Orizatha; private rooms, big beds, AC, cable TV, wi-fi, good breakfast, nice garden, central location.
2nd step. Lombok (Mataram) to Flores (Labuan Bajo)
Couple of buses and ferries involved.
- Bus Mataram – Bima, including 1 hour ferry (Lombok-Sumbawa), leaves every day at 3 pm, takes 12-13 hours, IDR 225 000/US$16.
- Bus Bima – Sape (switch for a local bus), leaves once all passengers get on, takes 1h30min., IDR 30 000/US$2.
- Ferry Sape – Labuan Bajo, leaves at between 8-9 am, takes 6-7 hours. In total all the way including waiting time is about 24 hours, IDR 60 000/US$4,5. Check departure time for ferries in Mataram as we heard they changed it recently.
Accommodation in Labuan Bajo
There are many options for different budget and travel style. Our advice if you go in season from June to September book your accommodation in advance we didn’t and after spending two days commuting between Bali and Flores we had to walk around with our backpacks trying to find something available. Obviously the best places were fully booked.
Ciao Hostel – maybe not the most budget hostel in Labuan Bajo but it’s a different level of comfort; dormitories with AC or open-air dorms with mosquito net, good hot shower, lockers, wi-fi, very friendly and helpful staff, clean and cozy. The best about this hostel is awesome terrace with stunning views over the harbor and the sea, great place for watching sunset while sipping beer or cocktail.
If you rather stay in a quiet private and budget place World Bnb is a great option; small but cozy rooms, private bathroom, AC, wi-fi, good Internet, clean, friendly staff, free airport shuttle, continental breakfast included.
For a nice private and a bit more luxury place close to the beach check Wae Molas Hotel; big spacious rooms, AC, flat-screen TV, wi-fi, sitting area, electric kettle, private bathroom, outside swimming pool, garden, big breakfast included in the price. There are double and family rooms.
Different options of buying tickets
First option. You can buy a ticket through an agency if you want to avoid any hassle of going to the bus terminal in Mataram. Then expect to pay between IDR 450 000 – 490 000/US$34-37 for a ticket. You can buy it in Sanggigi (Flores) or on Gili islands.
Second. Buy one ticket all the way from Mataram to Labuan Bajo at Mandalika bus terminal (Mataram), includes two buses and two ferries. The price is IDR 375 000/$28.
Third. Buy a separate ticket for each stretch. First at Mandalika terminal buy a bus ticket from Mataram to Bima, 225 000/US$16 (which includes one ferry from Lombok to Sumbawa and dinner). Once in Bima jump on a bus to Sape, IDR 30 000/US$2,2 1h30min. Bus goes all the way to the ferry terminal, where you can buy a ferry ticket, IDR 60 000/US$4,5. In total for all buses and ferries you’ll pay IDR 315 000/US$20, save 60 000 compare to one ticket option. In Mataram they’ll try to convince you to buy one ticket all the way saying it’s very difficult to buy separate tickets, that locals in Bima will try to rip you off, that ferry ticket office will be closed in the morning etc. All nonsense, we did it and it worked perfectly, in fact we went all the way with the people who bought one ticket, just paid less.
It doesn’t matter if you buy your ticket through an agency or at the bus terminal buses and ferries will be the same.
Exploring Komodo and Rinca islands with a tour
There are several tour options that offer multi day packages and day trips;
- Komodo Islands 2-Day Tour
- 2-day Komodo dragon adventure from Bali
- Scuba Diving in the Komodo National Park – 3 dives for Certified Divers
- Snorkeling in the Komodo National Park on our DIve Boat
- Sailing Komodo 3 days 2 Nights – Share Tour
Getting back from Labuan Bajo to Bali
You have the same option as getting to; flight, boat trip or ferry+buses.
First two options work out the same; prices, time etc. In fact ferries+buses to and back are quite the same as well except for times and prices, for some reasons the way back is cheaper.
We did it both ways. At Labuan Bajo if you shop around you can get a ticket all the way to Denpasar for IDR 500 000/US$38 or to Mataram for IDR 350 000/US$25.
We bought separate tickets for each stretch
- Ferry Labuan Bajo to Sape leaves once a day at 9.00 am, you should be at the ferry terminal at 7.30 am. Ticket Labuan Bajo – Sape costs IDR 55 000/US$4, it takes about 6 hours.
- Bus Sape – Bima IDR 30 000/US$2,2, leaves as soon as gets full.
- Bus Bima – Mataram IDR 225 000/US$15, including one meal on the way.
In total we paid IDR 310 000/US$21. As you can see you save only US$4 compare to buying one ticket all the way which might be less hassle though all the transport you use is exactly the same.
Bus arrives at Mataram bus terminal between 7.00-8.00 am. If you want to go to Bali (Padangbai) by public ferry take a bus to Lembar, mini bus costs 20 000/$1,5. Ferry Lembar-Padangbai leaves every hour, price 40 000, takes 4-5 hours.
Handy items to pack for Flores
- Rash vest will be very useful if you’re planning to do any water activity be it snorkeling, going our with a boat etc. (check for men’s options here).
- Snorkeling mask
- Cap or hat
- Board shorts/Bikini
- Beach cover/beach dress
- Beach towel
- Mosquito repellent
- LifeStraw water filter
- Neck bag or waterproof pouch to keep your valuables (passport, money etc.) safe.
- Padlock to lock your suitcase/locker/backpack.
Travel insurance for Indonesia
It’s always recommended to have a travel insurance when you go abroad especially if you’re planning to move around a lot by public transport and to do some outdoor activities like diving, snorkeling, surfing or just driving around on a scooter. Make sure you will be able to get medical assistance any time you need. It’s quite handy to have an insurance in case of a luggage loss, flight delay and other emergencies. It makes traveling less stressful when you know you’re covered in case of any unpredictable emergencies.
World Nomads insurance company operates all over the world, they have special packages for traveling around Asia and for scuba divers. It doesn’t matter where you live or where you are at the moment, it takes less than 2 minutes to get a quote and you can buy it online even if you are already traveling. Note! Make sure to read the small print and be sure you buy the correct policy.
Recommended books and guidebooks
- Lonely Planet Indonesia (Travel Guide). Paperback. 2019
- Insight Guides Southeast Asia. Paperback & Kindle. 2018
- Diving in Indonesia: The Ultimate Guide to the World’s Best Dive Spots: Bali, Komodo, Sulawesi, Papua, and more. Paperback & Kindle. 2016
- Diving in Southeast Asia: A Guide to the Best Sites in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand (Periplus Action Guides). Paperback & Kindle. 2017
- Lonely Planet Bali, Lombok & Nusa Tenggara (Travel Guide). Paperback. 2019
- Lonely Planet Indonesian Phrasebook & Dictionary 7th edition. Paperback.
- Pualu Weh island guide
- Diving Pulau Weh island
- 17 Awesome places in Indonesia
- Indonesian visa on arrival; extendable vs non-extendable
- Komodo island and Flores complete guide
- Diving in Komodo National park
- Nusa Penida island guide, Bail
- Diving around Nusa Penida
- Dive trip in Indonesia; Bali to Sulawesi
- Diving Lembeh Strait, Sulawesi
- Diving the Togean Islands, Indonesia
- Bira island diving, South Sulawesi
- Diving Perhentian Islands
- Sipadan diving guide
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