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I could only afford one night at Le Pirate Boatel during my stay in Flores, but it was worth every overpriced cent. You don’t get much better than a dreamy oceanside bed that you can roll off into the big beautiful blue. Okay, obviously you do get better in the Maldives. This particular oceanside bed is actually anchored just outside the Labuan Bajo harbour, but you get my point.

Le Pirate Beach Club is a hotel chain in Indonesia consisting of four hotels (in Gili Trawangan, Nusa Ceningan, and two in Flores) and a cruise boat, all of which sport their chic blue and white beachy styling. One of the Flores branches is Le Pirate Boatel, a floating hotel concept that I’d read about before leaving for this trip and promptly bookmarked as a must-do spoil. Despite not realistically being able to afford to stay there (I’ll have to make up for it later), I decided that it was worth the splurge and booked myself one night on the boatel. YOLO, right?!

I’m so glad that I did. On the shuttle boat ride over, I met a super cool human who’d had the same idea as me and was also just staying for the night. Once we’d checked in, the self-proclaimed “captain” took us out on the water for a snorkel which was nothing to write home about to be honest, particularly not after the incredible places that I’ve snorkeled on this trip, but it was still fun nonetheless. Obviously the boat doesn’t actually need a captain as it’s permanently anchored, but it’s still a boat and they fiercely observe the standard lingo and I think he just likes the title.

If you’re on a boat and someone doesn’t backflip into the water, were you really on a boat?

We watched the sunset and spent the evening drinking cocktails and sharing tales of life, love, and travels. Everything on the boatel is overpriced in my opinion (as is everything in Flores), but if I wasn’t on a budget as a long-term traveler, it probably wouldn’t have stung quite as much.

The bar closes at 9:30pm which I thought was a bit odd at first as it forces everyone staying on the boatel to retire to their cabins, but the boat isn’t particularly big for a hotel so it makes sense that they restrict the party atmosphere to be mindful of their guests. I chilled in my cabin for the rest of the evening before falling asleep to the sound of the water lapping next to my bed. It was blissful, and ended up being one of the best naps I’d had in a while.

There have been many quiet reflective moments during this trip when I’ve thought of where I’ve been and where I am; who I was and who I’ve become; and the serenity that I’ve found in simply appreciating every scar that I have collected along the way despite how much they may still sting. I embarked on this trip not knowing what to do next with my life and simply embracing who I can be right now, for the time that I can be her. Traveling in this part of the world comes with countless conversations about who you are and what you do, and the latter tends to be thought to define a lot of who you are. I’ve been so many different versions of myself over the last few years, and I could be or pretend to be anyone I want to right now and no one around me would know any better. Perhaps that is why I feel more myself than I have ever felt.

After enjoying the sunrise from the seclusion of my cabin while reflecting on the past few weeks, lazing in my oceanside hammock, and soaking in some rays (which is very unlike me, but when in Rome), I joined my new-found partner in crime for a paddle on the water. Unfortunately we didn’t know at the time that the kayak and SUP would incur an additional charge when we checked out (bit of a fail on the part of the staff and poor form for the hotel IMO, but whatevs).

Set your sights on the horizon… but then come back because that’s way too far to paddle and your arms will be stiff the next day.

Shout out to Brianna Romano for the kayak pics.

While it was obviously great fun being on the water, we actually spent the majority of our time stopping to collect trash floating in the water every few metres. It’s been heartbreaking to see the state of the ocean in Indo. I haven’t had a single trip out, whether it be snorkeling, diving or commuting, where I haven’t collected trash. On a positive note, I’ve met and observed numerous groups and individuals who are tirelessly working to turn that around, but it comes across as an insurmountable battle here. I hope with all my heart that I’m wrong.

I may have to tighten the purse strings as a result, but Le Pirate Boatel was a splendid little spoil, made even better by the exceptional company. It was a super fun 24 hours which we were adamant to enjoy until the last possible second and caught the very last available shuttle boat back to land. While I don’t ordinarily spend my money on overpriced spoils, this particular one was a little highlight that was well worth it.