Labuan Bajo is a fishing town located at the western end of the large island of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia. It is the gateway for trips to Komodo National Park, Komodo Island and Rinca Island, home to the famous Komodo dragons. Scuba diving is by far the most popular reason to visit this area as it provides some of the top dive sites in the world. Tourism has exploded for the area in the last 5-10 years and the area is quickly being developed in an attempt to support the rapidly expanding tourist activities. Getting to Labuan Bajo is fairly easy by plane. You can take a cheap flight from Denpansar and it only takes about one hour. In this guide to Labuan Bajo, you’ll find some insight into our lodging, where to eat, things to do in the area.
During the majority of our time in Labuan Bajo, we booked a private room at Danke Lodge on AirBNB. It’s a new guesthouse with very nice and friendly owners and staff. Although it is not located in the town center, Danke offers free transportation (drop off and pick up_anywhere in town. The included breakfast wasn’t very good, but good enough for you to start the day. Both the room and bathroom were very basic and clean but everything you needed. Most importantly, the AC and WIFI worked well. You can also rent motorbikes for about 75K IDR/$5USD per day, but this wasn’t really necessary since we had free rides from our accommodation.
Additionally, we chose to stay two nights on Le Pirate Boatel which we honestly loved. Aside from it being a little hot in the room during the day (only one small fan per room), we really enjoyed our time here. Everything from jumping off the second deck into the water, watching the sun rise from our bed, and sunsets on the netting in front of our room, it was a great experience. The sunsets in Labuan Bajo were definitely some of the best ones we have ever seen!
If you’re looking for other budget friendly options, check out:
- Green Hill Bed Station – $13USD per night per bed in dormitory style bunk bed hostel, breakfast included and good reviews.
- G-Rima Homestay – $15USD per night for a private room, free breakfast and very good reviews.
- Bajo Nature Backpackers – $8USD per night per bed in dormitory style bunk bed hostel, breakfast included and good reviews.
Here are some things to do during your time in Labuan Bajo:
Scuba Dive in Komodo National Park – Scuba diving is by far the main activity in the area given the world renown dive sites within Komodo National Park. These dive sites offer an AMAZING array of available marine life and for the most part pristine coral reefs. Given its location and not as popular tourist location, most of the coral reefs are in pristine condition. The vast amount of sea life you can see here is truly remarkable and this is a must visit for any avid diver.
Dan did nine fun dives throughout three days and would have loved to dive every day we were here! The currents can be very strong and difficult at times so always exercise caution and stay close to your Dive Master! There are a ton of dive shops along the main street in town and Dan chose iDive and LOVED it. Truly great people, beautiful dive boats, AMAZING dive sites, delicious food for lunch and a great all around diving experience.
Take a boat trip – While walking through the main street in town, you will also see a ton of vendors for daily boat trips. We decided to take a boat trip that visited Komodo Island, Pink Beach, Taka Makassar, Padar Island and Manta Point. We chose to pay a little bit more ($1.2M IDR per person/$87 USD) for a speedboat in order to spend a little more time at each of the stops. On our boat, there were only about 10-12 people and included goggles/snorkel/fins, bananas, lunch, water, and soft drinks. In addition to the boat fee, you must pay Komodo National Park fees. This is calculated based on how many people are on your boat. We paid 360K IDR/$26 USD per person. You can also choose a cheaper boat option with a more basic/slower boat and is half the price of what we paid. In addition, we also opted to pay 1M IDR/$73 USD in order to fly our drone on this trip. If you have a drone, you must tell your guide beforehand so he can alert the National Park and register the drone with them.
Komodo Island – The obvious headliner of the day trip is to see the famous Komodo dragon in the only place they exist (Komodo Island, Rinca Island and Padar Island). While we were happy that we did see three including a baby, this was very underwhelming and probably our least favorite stop from the entire day. It may have been the time of year that we were there as we were told mating season was over so they are not as active. However, this was more or less walking on a set trail in hopes of spotting a Komodo in its wild habitat.
Padar Island – This island offers an incredible hike to the top of a viewpoint where you get truly stunning views of the island and the surround landscape. The hike is not too difficult with steps for the majority of the way, but the final part is slightly rocky so please exercise caution if climbing. We can say without a doubt that the view is 100% worth the hike in this situation.
Pink Beach – We loved this clean and gorgeous beach and wish we could have spent more time here. You can snorkel in the crystal clear water or just get some rest and relaxation on the beach. The pink color of the sand actually comes from red coral which changes the sand to pink as particles of it wash onto the shore. With the continued bleaching of corals, pink beaches like this one might not be around for much longer unless we as a society make drastic changes to help conserve our environment and planet.
Taka Makassar – This is an amazing sandbank that you also get to spend time on. You truly feel like you are on a tiny little sand bank in the middle of the sea because that is EXACTLY where you are. Dan was able to capture some pretty cool drone footage here and we really enjoyed the beautiful blue water surrounding the sand bank.
Manta Point – Obviously Manta Rays are a wild animal and so spotting them on an excursion is by no means a guarantee. We were lucky enough to see about 10 the day we did our trip and this dive site is not far from the Taka Makassar sandbank which is nice.
If you’re traveling anywhere in Asia, TripAdvisor is without a doubt the best place to check out restaurant reviews. Dan’s TripAdvisor page has a more robust amount of reviews and pictures of our meals. Labuan Bajo is only recently being developed and so the amount of bars, restaurants and guesthouses will only continue to increase with its popularity.
Artomora – Located on the second floor overlooking the main street, we came here for lunch. The restaurant had a modern but rustic vibes and serves very good local food. We definitely recommend going here for lunch or dinner.
La Cucina – If you’re looking for very good pizzas and Italian food with homemade pasta, look no further! We came here twice and enjoyed our meals very much. We both ordered pastas dishes and definitely enjoyed them. The pizzas also looked very appetizing. We highly recommend this spot!
Burger Time – Good burgers, hot dogs and french fries, if you are in the mood for that! We came here twice. The bread rolls that everything is served on are really tasty! You can also order rotisserie chicken which looked super tasty.
Happy Banana – We came here because we had heard good things about the sushi and the rumors were correct. We were definitely craving good sushi so it was a nice splurge meal for reasonable prices. We started with edamame and then shared a few rolls and sashimi.
Unfortunately, we don’t know of any volunteer opportunities in the Labuan Bajo area. If you do, we would love to feature it on our page. Reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram (@jetsetforgood).