I cannot in all honesty tell you Labuan Bajo is “undiscovered,” like many blog posts will claim. I don’t want you to get there and then be shocked when you are not the only tourists there! But, what I can tell you is that the small town of Labuan Bajo and the entirety of Flores island is “under-discovered” and under-appreciated for everything it has to offer! And it is a place you will never forget. You will not be the only tourists there, but you can undoubtedly find a little slice of the island just for yourselves.
Used mainly as the launching point for the majority of tours to the Komodo National Park, many people neglect everything amazing there is to discover right in and around Labuan Bajo! We cannot let this tragedy continue! we have compiled a complete guide to Labuan Bajo (sometimes spelled Labuhan Bajo) for you to take advantage of. One needs at least 3 days to discover everything that the town of Labuan Bajo has to offer, so we have created a short itinerary for you to take advantage of the island in only a few days. But we offer a second option of a longer trip to take in more of the beautiful island of Flores and its surroundings.
The predominantly Muslim town of Labuan Bajo has a relaxed, sunny vibe with endless water activities and up and coming restaurants that would be a shame to miss.
The geography continues to confuddle me still, but if I understand correctly, Labuan Bajo is the smallest of the major cities in Flores. Flores is the name of one of the largest islands in the East Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. Sumba, Solor and Timor are other islands also belonging to East Nusa Tenggara province.
Now do not get us wrong! You should definitely take at least a day to see the Komodo Dragons. This is one of the last places these fascinating beasts can be found in their natural habitats and to be in their presence is a thrilling and fearsome experience. One you simply cannot pass up if you are visiting Indonesia. There are countless tour offices selling day tours to Komodo National Park, which includes both Komodo Island, the more well-known site to spot the dragons, as well as Rinca Island where you will see just as many, if not more dragons, but we have heard they are smaller sized.
Where to Stay
Labuan Bajo has something for the traveller on any budget, whether you are looking for basic or luxury accommodations. As always, we recommend using Agoda for finding the accommodation that suit you and your budget best, but here are some suggestions to get you started!
La Boheme Bajo
For only $19/night CAD you can get a double room in La Boheme right on the main street of Labuan Bajo. The Hostel has an attached bar with a pool table. This is currently the best rated hostel by guests under $20 on Agoda. This would be a great accommodation for the more budget conscious, but social travellers.
CF Komodo Hotel
For only $23/ night CAD you can get a higher up room with great views of the sunset over the island. The staff are very friendly and since the Hotel is higher up on the hill, overlooking town, they offer free nightly drives to and from town, in addition to free airport pickup and drop-off!
Sylvia Hotel and Resort
Still a reasonably priced luxury resort at $60/ night CAD. You will have access to the private beach we mentioned earlier as well as an assortment of pools on the property. Sylvia Hotel and Resort is ranked #1 resort in Labun Bajo on Agoda. From the pictures you can easily see why.
Bare in mind that these prices are in Canadian dollars, and they are also subject to change depending on the time you visit. In peak season, prices are likely to increase.
Option 1: Three Day Itinerary
- Arrive in Labuan Bajo airport and find your way to your accommodation. Finding or hiring a driver should be easy from the airport.
- Venture into town. Explore the main street Jl. Soekarno Hatta, where you will find your tour operators for Komodo Islands and Scuba diving. Book your Scuba tour for the next day, and your Komodo tour for the day after that. While exploring your tour options, make sure to check a few different tour operators along the main street of Labuan Bajo, and never accept the first price they offer. They intentionally jack up the price because they expect you to bargain it down. Expect to pay around 350,000 IDR for a one day tour.
- Grab brunch at La Bajo Flores Coffee. The food is a little more expensive than what you will pay for a simple Indonesian dish, but they have amazing brunch and some of the best coffee we had during our entire month in Indonesia.
- Grab your swimsuits and head north over to Waecicu Beach for the afternoon, bring some beers, and watch the sun go down. You can either arrange transport to drop you off and pick you up at the beach or rent a motorbike for the day to get here. Definitely not walking distance from town, (but is walking distance from Sylvia Resort!)
- Head back into town for dinner at the Night Market. Here you will find some of the cheapest and freshest seafood on in Labuan Bajo. Eat like the locals!
- Grab something from the grocery store to eat for breakfast in the morning, since most things will not be open when you leave for your tour tomorrow!
- Head back to the hotel and rest up for an early morning.
- We recommend doing scuba diving this day and to see the komodos the day before you leave, to give your ears a break from the depth before flying again. While diving you have the opportunity to swim with sea turthes, manta rays and an array of coral and other aquatic creatures. You will arrange with your tour operator whether they will pick you up from your accommodation or if you will meet them at their business or by the boats.
- Your tour will serve you lunch on the boat and will return in the late afternoon, at which point you can head back to your accommodation to rinse off the salt water.
- Head to Mediterraneo for dinner, our favourite restaurant on the island with a mouth-watering blend of- you guessed it- Mediterranean food with Indonesian ingredients. It is very reasonably priced for the quality and the large portions you get. We recommend the blue cheese dish for an appetizer. Their specialty is wood oven pizza which I’m sure they do well, but was unavailable due to construction when we went. Instead, we tried the Barracuda for a main, with roasted vegetables, which was to die for.
Time for the komodos! Again be prepared for an early start, many boats leave between 6 and 7am. You can choose between 2 different day trips to Komodo National Park. The first option goes to Komodo Island, Padar Island and a snorkelling spot, the other option goes to Rinca Island, snorkelling and a private beach island. You will definitely see Komodos no matter which tour your choose.
- You will find a day tour where oftentimes your first stop is Komodo Island to see the dragons.
- After exploring Komodo Island and encountering these giant lizards, you will take a short boat ride to Padar Island. Here you will catch sight of the infamous rose-hued sand of Pink Beach (Pantai Merah).
- After seeing the sand up close, you will be led on a short hike to a spectacular viewpoint where you can catch a glimpse of all 3 beaches below you, each with their own unique colour of sand.
- By this time you will be ready for lunch served on the boat or on the beach. Afterward you will have the opportunity to snorkel around some of the best spots around Komodo and Flores Island. Kelor Island is a popular stopping spot, but the stops often depend on which tour company you decide to go with.
- Alternatively, you could opt for the day trip that goes to Rinca Island. You will definitely get up close (but not dangerously close) with some Komodos here. It is a long, gorgeous, but at times rough boat ride to the island, so if you have issues with seasickness like me, bring some Gravol.
- After tracking the komodos along one of 3 different lengths of hike through Rinca Island, you will emerge at the top of a large hill with an amazing viewpoint of the bay.
- Next you will return to the boat for a modest lunch. Do not forget your hats and sunscreen because much of the island is similar to desert climate.
- In the afternoon you will explore a couple different snorkelling locations around the Flores. Followed by a breath-taking private beach with the purest, white sand and clear, blue waters.
5. Both tours will return in the late afternoon. Right in time for you to head back to town for some well-deserved dinner. We recommend checking out any one of the many restaurants overlooking the water so you can get a nice ocean breeze. You’ll need it after a long day in the sun.
The next day you will head back to the airport having absorbed as much fun, sun and seafood that you possibly can in Labuan Bajo.
Option 2: One week Itinerary
For those of you who would rather relax a little more and have the opportunity to take in even more of Flores and Labuan Bajo we have a week long itinerary that lets you run on island time.
Day 1: Only book your accommodation for your first night, as you will be doing some multiple day excursions away from town. Otherwise, your day one is the same as the 3- Day itinerary. You will also need accommodation in town for the night between Day 3 and 4.
Day 2- 4:
- Instead of trying to squeeze all your diving into one day, with this option you can do a SCUBA tour on a live-aboard boat. You will find many operators for your 3 day; 2 night SCUBA adventure. Everything including your transport, food and accommodation is included in your tour! Diving locations and prices will differ depending on the company. It will be cheaper to book once you are in Labuan Bajo, but if you want to know some reputable companies before you go check out TripAdvisor.
- Coming back in the afternoon of Day 4 you will have the same itinerary as the end of Day 2, so head over to Mediterraneo for dinner!
- You will need accommodation in Labuan Bajo overnight on this night before another 2 day; 1 night excursion the following day.
Day 5-6: Instead of having to choose between Komodo and Rinca Island, here you will get to experience both islands of Komodo National park in a 2 day, 1 night excursion! For more details of the tours, see the options on Komodo Island and Rinca Islands above. Returning in the late afternoon on Day 6, this will correspond to the end of Day 3 in the 3- Day Itinerary.
Day 7: Use this day to spend by the pool, or ocean, or explore some of the other amazing things Flores island has to offer like hiking Gunung Inerie, the highest mountain in Flores or visit the Cunca Wulang or Cunca Rami waterfalls near Labuan Bajo. Take advantage of the beauty of Flores on your last day, soak up some sun and as much of the Labuan Bajo vibe as you can.
Follow this itinerary to get the most out of your trip to Labuan Bajo. We know this will be a memorable one.
If we missed any of your favourite places in Labuan Bajo, tell us about it in the comments! Perhaps we’ll have to make an edit 😉