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Growing Up Troppo – December

Reviews, tips and advice for travelling the world with kids.

by Libby Larsen.

With ancient Komodo dragons and jaw-dropping volcanic islands surrounded by dazzling white sandy beaches, sparkling turquoise waters and coral cays teeming with marine life, the Lesser Sunda Islands that abut west Flores in Indonesia are something straight out of my childhood fantasy. 

Less well known than neighbouring Bali, but equally amazing, these strikingly beautiful islands are fast becoming one of Indonesia’s bucket list destinations. 
The best way to experience the islands is to jump onboard one of the boat cruises that leave from Labuan Bajo, a somewhat ramshackle port town in Flores. You can head out to the islands for day trips but the best way to take in this magical place is to head out on a boat for a few days.

After endless hours of research, searching for a boat company with top-notch safety standards that catered for families, I decided on a three day, two night dragon tour with Flores XP Adventure – and it didn’t take too much to coax our neighbours into joining us. 

The stand out for our kids was the unique opportunity to stay each night of the cruise at the Flores XPirate Camp on pristine Sebayur Island. The camp is totally cool, funky and shabby chic beach style with a whimsical pirate theme twist. They loved all the pirate paraphernalia.

Hands down it was one of the most amazing holidays we have had with our boys. Cruising on a boat for three days with our friends was so relaxing. The landscape is stunning, with islands that rise dramatically out of the water. 

There were so many highlights; I don’t know where to begin! Visiting Komodo National Park and seeing the impressive Komodo dragons – which are the world’s largest living lizard – was amazing. They are a threatened species that are only found on a few islands around Flores, so seeing them is something special. Recent research suggests they may be representative of a relict population of the very lizards that, along with other mega fauna, died out after the Pleistocene.

The snorkeling and diving is world class. We saw blacktip reef sharks, moray eels, sea snakes, loads of tropical fish, green turtles, lionfish, manta rays and more. The beaches are divine – yep, they are the picture postcard ones with blinding white sand and aqua blue water. 

If you ask my five-year old what was the best thing about the trip he’d say staying at pirate island, hanging out with the boat captain, and Max our tour leader. My eight-year old says that snorkeling with me and seeing manta rays was one of the best bits for him. 

The verdict – awesome holiday! We are already planning our next trip away together and are sold on the boat cruise idea – a Borneo river cruise to see orangutans or exploring islands in the Philippines, who knows! 

Libby Larsen Travel is, and has always been, Libby’s passion and she believes that this shouldn’t stop when you have kids. Libby knows that the best travel advice and tipscome from other parents and so she started Growing up Troppo. It has loads of inspiration about hip places to stay, play and eat with kids that, importantly, parents love too. 

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