Bali has been done. Tourists have Eat, Prayed, and Loved the heck out of it to the point of overcrowding. As we headed back to Indonesia, we craved an adventure where we could leave the tourists behind and enter unchartered waters that have not yet been tapped by tourists. Therefore, we decided to seek the untethered independence of the open ocean in Komodo National Park.

After 1.5 hours of flying, we raised the window shade on our Garuda Indonesia flight from Bali and we were presented with the most breathtaking views of the East Nusa Tenggara archipelago in Indonesia. Volcanic mountains jutted out from the Flores Sea, creating a view that seemed like a land before time. Upon stepping off of our prop plane at Komodo Airport, we were immediately greeted with photos of large Komodo dragons emblazoned across the airport, foreshadowing the monsters that we were about to view face to face. While the beauty of this archipelago is undeniable, it was evident that the real reason we came here was to walk alongside its deadly dragons, the Komodo dragon.


After landing at Komodo Airport, we were shuttled off to Labuan Bajo harbor where we would board our Rascal Voyages yacht for the next three nights. By sailing through the Indonesian archipelago, we would be able to effortlessly explore a multitude of islands. As we made our way to the yacht, the Muslim call to prayer played over speakers, singing a beautiful, mystical tune for us to commence our journey through these enchanting islands.


The Journey

While there are over 17,000 islands in the Indonesian Archipelago, there are 29 islands in Komodo National Park. For three nights aboard our adventure vessel, we would have the chance to visit three islands; Rinca Island, Komodo Island, Gili Laba Darat.

Komodo National Park sits along the ring of fire and its islands possess a pure beauty that set them apart from any other part of the world. Its jagged hills, magical mangroves, and diverse coral reefs make it a unique archipelago to explore while its turquoise waters that lap onto its white (and sometimes pink) beaches create an idyllic island escape. Its magical sunrises and sunsets seem to last forever as they dip through the jagged mountains on the horizon, turning the sweet Southern Hemisphere sky to colors that resemble cotton candy. Despite being surrounded by water, the interior of the islands is very dry with few trees and little to no shade.


When to Travel

The best time to travel to Komodo National Park is from May – September in their dry season. July and August can bring substantial winds to the area, which can cause rough seas.

How to Get There

The gateway airport to Komodo National Park is Labuan Bajo airport located on the island of Flores. There are various Indonesian airlines that fly daily to LBJ from Jakarta and Bali. If you choose to sail, it would take about two full days aboard Rascal Voyages to reach Labuan Bajo from Bali.

The Dragons

The main reason why we went to Komodo National Park was to see the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon. Out of the 29 islands in Komodo National Park, only five islands have Komodo Dragons on them with Rinca Island and Komodo Island possessing the highest number of dragons.


These monitor lizards can grow over three meters and weigh up to 300 pounds. They live mostly on Timor deer, but they are opportunistic eaters and commonly munch on monkeys and even other komodo dragons. While their teeth and jaw are generally quite weak, it is the multitude of bacteria in the bite of the komodo that actually causes its prey to die. One bite from a Komodo dragon can cause its prey to become infected and fall ill over several days. Once the prey is dying, a swarm of dragons congregate from up to 5 km away to devour the victim. The dragons eat their prey whole, digesting the meat and bones in the acid of their stomach. Due to the calcium in their diet, their feces are actually white in color.

The Yacht

Our Rascal Voyages yacht measured over 100-feet in length and was a Phinisi Boat, a traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing ship, with five guest rooms and ten staff. The rooms and design of the boat were the most beautiful of any boat we’ve ever seen. With professionally designed “tropical-luxe decor,” every design detail was expertly displayed. The rooms were spacious and uniquely decorated, creating a laidback and luxurious feel throughout the yacht. The beds are large and lush, the perfect place to rest your head after a full day of adventures. Plus, unlike your typical tiny boat bathroom, the bathrooms aboard Rascal Voyages were absolutely gigantic.


The Activities

There are a multitude of activities in Komodo National Park including trekking, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. By far, our favorite activity consisted of walking with komodo dragons on Rinca Island. Within minutes of walking onto the island, the world’s largest lizards were displayed out on the ground, waiting to greet us. We met our guides for the morning, two lovely men from the island of Flores, who walked with wooden sticks to protect us from the dragons. As two people who have been on safari where the guides protect visitors with guns, it seemed wild to think that our lives could be protected from the world’s deadliest lizard with these remedial sticks. We trekked around the island, stopping to see dragons, deer, and guinea foul. From the moment we stepped onto Rinca Island, we were transported to a heightened state of awareness, cognizant that at any moment, a Komodo Dragon could attack. These are the travel moments we live for – the travel moments that make us feel truly alive.


On our Rascal Voyages yacht, we were supposed to be able to customize our own itinerary based on the activities that we wished to partake in. Prior to boarding the vessel, we requested to visit two iconic locations: Padar Island and the Pink Beach. While we’re sure that the cruise director had good intentions with his route, he refused to listen to our wishes and instead he customized the route that he wanted to go on. While only two out of six people were scuba divers, the cruise director, an avid scuba diver, insisted that we go out of the way to two different dive sites on two different days (despite one of those scuba divers saying that they’d prefer other activities).


When we spoke with the cruise director about our wishes to go to these two specific spots, it seemed as though we were seriously inconveniencing him. The director detailed that these spots were out of the way (…yet we wondered, were the dive sites on the way?) and that he’d think about it, yet he continued to schedule our days around the scuba dives. With windy conditions and little other activity options, the four remaining non-scuba diving guests were left on the boat with little activity options. For adventurers who boarded the boat expecting constant activities, it seemed like a dreadful waste of time considering that we flew around the world for these specific experiences.

There are dozens of live aboard boats in Komodo National Park, but none offer the (potentially) customizable luxury that Rascal does. Before booking your trip, be firm with what you’d like to see and don’t let the team dissuade you, despite how touristic a certain destination may be.

The Service

With a 2:1 ratio of staff to guests, we always had a knowledgeable staff member to guide us through our trip. The Rascal Voyages team was fantastic in leading our treks, the staff always had cold towels ready for us on those hot Komodo days, the rooms were always clean, and the entire crew was always smiling. Unfortunately, we expected to be tended to with five-star service and the yacht is still working out its kinks with providing its so-called luxurious service. The staff did a great job with answering requests, however they did not anticipate needs or provide services beyond the bare minimum, which is imperative with high-end mega yachts.


The Food

While guests are provided complementary breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the overall cuisine aboard Rascal Voyages was subpar and did not live up to five-star standards. The dinner service always never explained by a chef or steward and unfortunately we were never impressed by any of the lunches or dinners. Breakfasts were made to order from a menu, which was the perk of our dining schedule for the week. However, there were never any snacks available outside of chips and we were grateful that we brought snacks on board to satiate our appetites.

There are adult beverages on board, but they come at a premium price (we’re talking superior U.S. standards). With a $10k/night price tag, we would have hoped that alcohol would have been included or at least available with some sort of package. Before traveling with Rascal Voyages, we would highly recommend working out an all-inclusive or general drinks package so that you don’t have to worry while aboard.

Rates on Rascal Voyages start from $10k/night for a minimum of five nights.

Thank you to Rascal Voyages for hosting us as their guests. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.