Indonesia Travel Guides

Labuan Bajo: Travel Guide

Sandwiched between West and East Nusa Tenggara, to the East of Java and Bali, the bustling port of Labuan Bajo is the entry point for all visitors to the Komodo National Park. This rather ramshackle town is set to see the next big boom in tourism for Indonesia for those with an interest in over and underwater wonders. In truth, it retains a feel of tradition and isolation engulfed by uninhabited islands, rich oceans and prehistoric creatures.

Our Labuan Bajo travel guide is here to help circumnavigate your trip to the amazing Komodo National Park. This incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site has some of the worlds best dive sites in easy reach, and the Komodo Dragons right on your doorstep (don’t worry, we don’t mean literally!) it is a nature lovers paradise. The locals are more than willing to help arrange trips and tours, and if you are coming to scuba, there are tons of great dive operators and livaboards to choose from.

Food and lodgings are affordable and varied, although be prepared for things to be a little more on the rustic side as Labuan Bajo is still developing. It’s hot, dusty (and a bit dirty) but that’s not why you came here. Just wait and see what the surrounding nature has in store for you…

Our 3 favorite things to do in Labuan Bajo

  1. komodo national park snorkelling

    Snorkel and Dive – Komodo National Park is home to some of the most pristine and diverse coral reefs in the whole world. It is certainly one of the best places we have ever explored underwater. Check out our post on Komodo’s best snorkel spots. Are you ready for a fish explosion?

  2. Komodo Dragons, Pink Beach Snorkelling and Padar Island Day Trip – An excellent way to experience 3 wonders of the world all in a days work. Hike to the top of Padar Island for ‘that’ iconic view, trek through Komodo Island in search of Dragons, and finish the day by relaxing & refreshing at Pink Beach. This trip costs around 300,000 IDR per person. More information here.

  3. komodo flying foxes kalong island

    Watch the Flying Foxes at Kalong Island – If you find yourself craving more ‘David Attenborough’ moments, we highly recommend chartering a small local boat to take you over to Kalong Island just before sunset, and watch this spectacle of nature begin. It will blow you away. Expect to pay around 500,000 IDR pp.

Other things to do in Labuan Bajo

  • Hike Rinca Island – Here you have a chance to hike through more undoubtedly beautiful landscapes, you might get to see some Dragons on the loose!
  • Kelor Hike and Snorkelling – Tiny Kelor Island is a delight both above and below water. Take a short but sweet hike up to the spectacular viewpoint which looks over the abundant reef below.
  • Kanawa Island Day Trip Want to snorkel ridiculously clear turquoise water, and chill on the beach after? Come spent the day at Kanawa Island.

Top 5 Komodo Dive Spots

  1. Batu Bolong – Possibly the most iconic dive site in Komodo, not to be missed!
  2. Castle Rock – White and black tip sharks patrol this area, which is often visited by eagle and manta rays, and sometimes even dolphins.
  3. Tatawa Kecil – Grey sharks, giant trevallies and tuna are a common sight here.
  4. Crystal Bommie – Expect giant trevallies and schooling fish surrounding several impressive pinnacles in crystal clear waters.
  5. The Cauldron – Follow a wall covered by corals and crinoids down to the cauldron where you will enjoy an amazing view of sharks and big pelagics.

Top 5 Komodo Snorkel Spots

  1. Batu Bolong – Enjoy an overwhelming fish explosion at Komodo’s famous site.
  2. Pengah Reef – Rich hard and soft coral gardens cover almost every inch of this abundant reef teaming with life.
  3. Tatawa Kecil – Probably the anthias (small colorful serranide fish) capital of the world! The big stuff can only really be seen here at depth.
  4. Kanawa Island – Shallow, crystal clear waters and beautiful corals make this one of Komodo’s most relaxing snorkel sites.
  5. Manta Point – This exhilarating drift is your best chance to see huge manta rays glide gracefully over the reef, sometimes even hundreds at a time.

If you would like more in-depth reviews of some of the best snorkelling sites in Komodo, you can read about our personal favorites here.

Where to stay in Labuan Bajo

If you want to be within in walking distance to the harbour; the jumping point for all day trips and liveaboards then your best bet is to stay in the centre of Labuan Bajo. There are a lot of options available, but be prepared for standards of accommodation to be pretty low.

A bed in a hostel dorm room starts at about 130,000 IDR per night. Starting prices for budget hotels are around 370,000 IDR per night. If you want a little more luxury, then it is better to stay further outside of Labuan Bajo centre, as there are a number of nice resorts and hotels to choose from if that’s your thing.

Top tip – The hillside resorts & hotels benefit from amazing sunset views over the harbour and National Park. Many resorts also offer a complimentary shuttle service into town.

Hotels we recommend

Komodo Lodge, Jl Mutiara, Kampung Ujung, Labuan Bajo

Komodo Lodge is situated in Labuan Bajo town centre and is just a short 5-10 minute walk from the harbour, and close to all amenities including the fish market.

Prices start for IDR 370,000 per night.

This price includes a good breakfast, AC, WiFi, friendly staff and cosy clean rooms. Komodo Lodge is also part of Grand Komodo, a highly rated liveaboard company that have a beautiful fleet of sailboats travelling to many remote parts of Indonesia, including Raja Ampat.

Make your reservation early, as this place is small and often fully booked since it is one of the ‘nicer’ affordable hotels in town.

Komodo Boutique Hotel, Jl Raya Sernaru, Labuan Bajo</h3
Komodo Boutique Hotel is around a 10-15 minute drive from Labuan Bajo centre. If you wish to be away from the dusty streets and hustle and bustle at an affordable price, this is a great option.

Prices start for IDR 370,000 per night.

This price includes a very large comfortable room, AC and hot water, WiFi and a small breakfast. They also offer a complimentary shuttle service into town, and the airport which is super helpful!

Where to eat in Labuan Bajo

Fresh Fish Night Market, Jl Soekarno Hatta

The night market on Labuan Bajo’s main road, Jl Soekarno Hatta, is seafoodie heaven! There is more than just the catch of the day here though. Plenty of stalls set up for the evening selling an array of Indonesian classics such as Bakso, Ayam Goreng and Nasi Campur. This is a great place for people watching – both tourists and locals alike.

Warung Mama, Jl Soekarno Hatta

Traditional Indonesian fayre, served in Masakan Padang style. Try the beef rendang, it’s to die for. Prices are very reasonable…depending on how high you fill your plate!

How to get to Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo travel guide Komodo national park map

The easiest way to get to Labuan Bajo is to fly via Bali.

There are regular and inexpensive flights from Denpasar with all Indonesian airlines, but bare in mind that small planes are often full, especially in peak season, so better to book in advance. The flight is very scenic so be sure to get a window seat to get a glimpse of the spectacular views!

How to get to Labuan Bajo Harbor / Town Centre

The taxi ride from Labuan Bajo airport to the ferry harbour takes around 15-20 minutes and costs around 100,000 IDR.

Top tip – If you don’t have a lot of luggage you can get a lift on the back of a motorbike (ojek) for about 20,000 IDR. Also check with your hotel, as they may offer an airport pick up service.

How to get to Komodo National Park islands

The most accessible way of getting to the the islands will be through many of the tour operators on Jl Soekarno Hatta, who can organise trips for you.

Top tip – Private boats to Komodo Island, or any other surrounding islands such as Rinca or Padar, can be chartered much cheaper directly from Labuan Bajo harbour. You can charter your own liveaboard as well.

Labuan Bajo to Komodo Village

There is a public boat service between Labuan Bajo and Komodo Village. This is a very simple means of transport, but certainly a good way to get in contact with the friendly locals.

The public boat runs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, departure between 10 am and 12 am from Labuan Bajo to Komodo Village. From Komodo Village to Labuan Bajo the boat runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, departure between 10 am and 12 am.

Time: Around 4 hours
Price: IDR 50,000 per trip/person

Best time to visit Labuan Bajo

The best time to visit Komodo National Park is between April to December during the dry season. Expect wind, heavy rain and big waves during January, February and March. Boat trips may be subject to weather conditions, and hiking trails may be inaccessible.

Best time to dive Labuan Bajo

The best diving conditions are from March to October. Visibility is good from November to January. The best time to see Manta rays is during the rainy season from December – February but check with your dive operator first, as not all go out during rainy season due to conditions. Between January – March the sea can be very choppy.

Money Saving Tips

  1. Charter your own liveaboard – Read our article about how you can charter your own liveaboard to explore Komodo on a budget.
  2. Stay at a hostel or homestay – Nobody comes to Komodo to chill around the hotel pool all day, this is a place for adventurers! To keep your costs down, consider staying at a hostel or homestay instead. It’s only a place to rest your head right?
  3. Speak to the locals – Many of the locals in Labuan Bajo have their own boats, and would love to take you out to nearby islands on day trips. Create your own itinerary and negotiate a good price. This is by far a more unique and relaxing option than a group tour full of tourists.
  4. Book in advance – Make sure you book your flights and hotel in advance, as these can be expensive or worse, completely sold out.

Did you find our Labuan Bajo travel guide Helpful?

We hope you found our Labuan Bajo Travel Guide useful. Please give us a shout if you have any questions or recommendations in the comments below. We will be updating and adding to this guide on a regular basis. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our Labuan Bajo Travel Guide then please let us know in the comment section below.

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