After spending a ridiculous amount of time reading reviews for 1 day tours and intro scuba dives, I decided to book Red Whale. They were fantastic and lived up to everything we would hope! For an intro scuba dive we had 2 instructors to 2 divers which made us feel very safe. All the equipment was in good shape and Lydia is a real pro! The one day tour was awesome and you get to see all the sights in record time. Hugo (the guy with the fuzzy bush head) is a great guide and really makes it a fun trip. The dragons on Komodo island were a little bit of a disappointment because they were just inactive and sitting under a porch at the park's cafe, but overall you see very beautiful sights..
Overall I highly recommend Red Whale and highly recommend planning Labuan Bajo into your travel plans to Indonesia!
Best option to explore Komodo National Park main highlighrs are to go with Red Whale. Even though they are quite pricey compared to any other local companies, but the price is really worth it. They are very well-prepared and organized, have plenty of food, clean equipment, taking care of plastic and rubbish, really nice tour guides speaking a very good English and entertaining you throughout the day. Thank you guys, definetly the highlight of my Indonesia trip!
It was important to me and my husband to have the chance to visit Rinca Island in the early morning, when the resident Komodo dragons would be most active. None of the scheduled group day trips that we could find offer this option, so we contacted Red Whale about a private trip. From the correspondence with Dyah at the office, I received great information and very reasonable options. She even gave me great advice about not flying in to Labuan Bajo on the 4 pm Nam Air flight which is often delayed or cancelled. We reserved Red Whale III for our chosen date with a 50% deposit, paying the balance when we checked in the afternoon before our tour. At that time, we were warmly welcomed and given additional information and options. Early the next morning, we were picked up promptly at our hotel and whisked to the dock where the boat and our wonderful crew of four (!) took us aboard, gave us an orientation and made us comfortable for the ride out to Rinca.
Just as we had hoped, we got to the island before it was too crowded with other tourists and went ashore with our affable guide, Hugo and his intern, Mili. A Komodo National Park Ranger, Safiano, met us and we began our "trek." It wasn't long before we encountered dragons beside the trail, most of them on the move, plus some large females at their giant mound nest sites. What a thrill! We also saw water buffalo, deer, monkeys, wild horses and orange-footed scrubfowl. The ranger seemed used to visitors just wanting to see things and move along, not stick around to observe behaviour, so we felt a bit rushed to grab a few photos keep going, but it's no reflection on Red Whale. At the end of the trail, back at the park buildings, we encountered what I called the "welfare Komodo dragons" hanging around the kitchen. The rangers pretty much insist on you getting your picture taken with them and you can tell that these animals are quite habituated to humans. Nevertheless it's still quite an experience to see such "mini-dinosaurs" up close.
After leaving Rinca, we turned our attention to the water. Our next stop was to try for a snorkeling encounter with manta rays. Imagine our surprise and delight, when the boat stopped and we found ourselves surrounded by many mantas right at the surface! We jumped in and had the most wonderful time "flying" through the water with these graceful giants. Hugo and Mili led us through the area, pointing out incoming mantas as well as the odd shark or turtle. When the manta rays thinned out, they invited us to hop back in the boat to find another group of them, which we promptly did, giving us another opportunity to experience another close encounter of the best kind.
Exhilarated, we move on towards Turtle Bay, where we chillaxed on the boat with the tasty packed lunch and enjoyed the sunshine, beautiful views and bird sightings before jumping in again to snorkel. At this site we saw many cool fish and beautiful corals, then, following Hugo's lead, found numerous turtles. It was remarkable to watch them ascend from the bottom, where they can rest nearly hidden from sight, into the light and up into the air to breathe. The water was noticeably cooler here, but we were warmed by the excitement.
The trip back into Labuan Bajo was relaxing and beautiful; we enjoyed much of it from the foredeck. We really enjoyed the whole crew, their skill, attention to safety details and environmentally-friendly practices like refillable water and food containers. We felt cared for by new, very competent, friends all that wonderful day.
Red Whale offers many standard outings as well as the option to charter different size boats; I recommend this company for whatever excursion in the area suits the needs of your party. You will be very well accommodated and have a memorable time.
We did a one day excursion to Komodo, Pink Beach, Padar etc. with Red Whale fast boat. This was one of the highlights of our Indonesia holiday. The pre-departure briefing was already a foretaste of the very professional service. We had a fantastic day and the crew was really wonderful. And the boat is spick and span and very comfortable. We really like the way they used re-usable water bottles instead of the the horrible single use plastic bottles that have now become the curse of Indonesia.
I cannot recommend Red Whale highly enough - they are excellent.
I did the Padar Island, Pink Beach, Komodo trek day. It was a lot of fun and Hugo and his crew were awesome. We saw and snorkled with tons of mantas. We saw a handful of dragons on Komodo too, which was my main purpose for going on the group tour.
It was a comfortable boat and a good experience.
If I were to go back to LBJ and my main purpose was to see dragons I would find a tour to Rinca instead. I spoke to an Aussie couple at the airport that did this tour and one on Rinca and they said they saw over 20 on Rinca and it seemed less staged. But if you also want to see Padar, Pink Beach and snorkel with mantas and turtles this is for sure the way to go.
My only other small complaint would be lunch, the chicken was lukewarm and the my neighbours fish didn't look too great. I just ate the rice and peanuts. I would say either keep the food really cold or make sure it is served hot. I also tend to be more conservative with what I put in my body when traveling on the road so I don't get sick.