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 ๐Ÿ˜‰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 offย  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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23 Responses to “4 Day Sailing Journey to Komodo (with kids!)”

  1. Mary April 23, 2013 at 3:35 am #

    What an amazing adventure and those photos are just great! We’ll have to talk settings soon:)

    Can’t wait to read about the Komodos!

  2. The Nuts Mr. King April 23, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    Truly an amazing adventure that I would recommend to anyone! Well, maybe not the ladies from Perth!

  3. Curtis April 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm #


    We are back in the Seattle, WA, USA, area for a couple of years, but every time I see pictures of you guys “out there” I want to leave again. Kudos for bringing your children! We have always taken our kids everywhere. I do not understand why people are afraid or feel awkward to bring them. We much more enjoy being together as a family than apart. Thanks.

  4. Pufferfish April 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Holy amazing. Those photos are gorgeous and I’m dying to go NOW! Great for you taking such small children. I agree, your daughter is a wonderful swimmer for that age. Wow.
    I’d love to take my twins on a trip like this. Not so sure my wife would be down for such a rugged trip, but I’d do it.
    Thanks for sharing such a fantastic experience.

    • S King April 23, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

      I have a feeling you could ‘convince’ her. It was a perfect balance of rest and adventure and the kids thrived. They also wanted to watch a movie on iPad to sort of get away from the rest of the troop…a bit of ‘alone time’ ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Lorena April 24, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Amazing view from the top of the mountain and great pictures too!

  6. Amy April 24, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    Oh Sabina, how wonderful! I LOVE your pictures and I am just picturing how Miss I and G blew any stereotypes on children out of the water!

  7. Travel with Bender (Erin) April 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    WOW! That is a truly unique experience… And Mr King why not ladies from Perth? ๐Ÿ˜›

  8. Catherine Forest April 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    Oh, i think I tried to publish my post when your site was down and it never got up… Your photos make me want to go to Bali right away (we are planing a year in the Yukon, my girls and JF are missing winter too much…!). Not sure how we would deal with the time difference in Bali, but you sure make me want to try to be creative!! I really think that what you are doing is the way to spread the word about conscious parenting/unschooling. You are truly inspiring others and showing them that when you are in a real partnership relation with your children, they are pleasant and wonderful persons to be around, that are self-confident and just plain amazing!!

  9. Cindy Fuhrer May 6, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    WOW. Looks amazing.

    Might add it to our list of things to do when we visit Bali again later this year.

    Your kids are amazing, no doubt about that. But it’s easy to see why, with you guys as parents ๐Ÿ™‚
    Definately, living the dream !!

  10. ktut sukarno June 28, 2013 at 3:05 am #

    wooow….. two thumbs especially for your kids, I think they are the youngest backpacker

  11. Herman June 28, 2013 at 7:08 am #

    Should join the other boat and safer at : http://www.lombokkomodosailing.com


  12. Mo July 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Amazing trip, amazing photos, amazing family. I love so many of the sentiments in this and can really relate to the fun of changing people’s views (not that my kids always live up to it!!!!) This is definitely something I ‘d like to add to our Indonesia plans. I went to Komodo 20 years ago nd it was a bit staged – throwing a goat to the dragons to keep them full and ‘amuse’ the tourists – sounds a bit more ‘natural’ now?
    So pleased to have found your blog and spending too much time looking through your great adventures and thoughts:) We are a travelling family too – maybe our paths might cross somewhere in Indonesia. We’re in New Zealand right now.
    Best wishes to one nomad family from another. Mo (mmbzl.com)

  13. CM July 18, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    Beautiful, magnificent views …They brough tears to my eyes. I want to take my kid – me! On this journey. Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. Ariana August 12, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    Oh what a stunning and beautiful scenery! Your children are gorgeous, so young yet so adventurous. Miss I is so sweet when she licks your sweat. You have a wonderful experience together with your family. Thanks for the post!

  15. Christina @ Mr and Mrs Romance August 27, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    Your photos are amazing and I’m so impressed by how your travel with your family. Really inspiring x

  16. Brandie February 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful post. I did this trip solo about 15 years ago and was thinking it would be great to take my 5 & 7 year old on this July when we are in Indonesia. You have just convinced me to do the trip!!

  17. Dina April 21, 2014 at 3:42 am #

    Thank you for such an amazing post about sailing trip to komodo, i will go there next month and when i search about komodo, i found your blog and read it, what a journey! And your kids, woww, i bet they will grow up amazingly. I will use the kencana adventure also, any suggestion or tips maybe?
    well say hi to G and Miss I. Thanks for the inspiration. And maybe you can visit east of Indonesia for any other amazing view, Mollucas and Raja Ampat maybe, they have a breath-taking view ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Dina June 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Thank you very much for your story about traveling with children to Komodo. I really need your advice. I’m a single mom with a 10 month old son, he did not go, but he is very active. What do you think, should I go to the same trip? Journey will begin very soon. June 25. If you advise me to go, can you tell me if I take the crib playpen for my son so that I could at least go to the bathroom without him, without fear for his life. 2nd question. Did the sail boat have small boat to take people to the beach or people were swimming to the beach themself? The third question. Is there a possibility to wash with soap water bottles, cups and spoons for baby on the boat? I look forward to your reply! Thank you very much!

  19. Shivani June 21, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    The story of a 4 day journey was really awesome. It makes me more crazy about travelling to these adventurous trips over out there. Lovely blog!! The pictures with two cute kids was really amazing. We provide information on travel places from Pune, be it beaches, hill stations. Check the link mentioned in the signature for more information.


  20. Dea May 17, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    I was about too curious with camera and filter that you used for taking this pictures? The scenery was so magnificent! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • S King May 26, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

      Hi Dea,

      I have a Sony Nex-7. No filters ๐Ÿ™‚ The scenery was THAT amazing!


  1. Hiking with Komodo DragonsA King's Life - April 23, 2013

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