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9 Things to Do in Labuan Bajo – Gateway to the Komodo Island

A pier with a thatched roof framed by pink and white flowers and surrounded by anchored boats

9 Things to Do in Labuan Bajo – Gateway to the Komodo Island

Best known for its proximity to the world famous Komodo Island, Labuan Bajo has swiftly turned from small fishing village to renowned tourist destination. For many hoping to glimpse the world’s largest reptiles, the town simply serves as the starting point for the tour, but that’s not doing justice to this hidden gem. There are many interesting and unique things to do in Labuan Bajo, so when planning your trip, be sure to set aside some time to explore it.

A group of friends sitting on the front of a large boat with the words "Best things to do in Labuan Bajo" superimposed

Where is Labuan Bajo?

Labuan Bajo is located on the western tip of the huge island of Flores – part of the East Nusa Tenggara province – in Indonesia. This former fishing village lies just 20 miles east of Komodo National Park, making it a popular stop for both local and foreign tourists.

How Long to Stay in Labuan Bajo

We’d recommend staying at least 2 to 3 days in Labuan Bajo to explore the highlights. This doesn’t include a trip to Komodo which would add another 2 to 3 nights.

If you want to discover more of the area, you can easily add another couple of nights allowing you to head further east across Flores.

A pointed thatched roof in the shape of a gnome's hat framed with red flowers

Things to Do in Labuan Bajo

1. Komodo Islands Boat Tour

The Komodo Island trip is the absolute highlight of the area. The island is a national park located to the west of Labuan Bajo. Komodo Dragons are the largest reptile in the world and seeing one of these magnificent creatures close-up is a special and memorable experience.

A large Komodo dragon lying in a shaded area on brown leaves with its eye open

Stepping off the boat at Loh Liang in Komodo National Park is like journeying back in time, to an age when ancient lizards ruled the planet. You’ll follow your local guide on a walking safari to find the Dragons as well as other local fauna like deer, wild boar, and many species of bird.

Some other highlights on the boat trip include the incredible viewpoint at Padar Island, a pink beach, snorkeling spots like Manta Point, and Kalong Island or Koaba Island to witness thousands of fruit bats leaving their roosts at sunset.

2. Rangko Cave

Around 10-15km northeast of Labuan Bajo is the incredible Rangko Cave. The cave is renowned for its striking turquoise waters, illuminated by the sunlight filtering through the cave’s ceiling.

A limestone cave with sharp stalactites filled with a pool of deep blue water

Inside, the cave can get very warm, making a refreshing swim in the clear, cool waters even more enticing. While in the water, be sure to marvel at the intricate limestone formations and enjoy the enchanting play of light and shadows. The best time to visit is during the midday sun when the effect is at its strongest.

Rangko cave is accessible by a short boat ride over to the beach in front of the cave. The boat departure point is marked on Google Maps as “Start Boat to Gua Rangko” (at coordinates: -8.455861, 119.951083). The boat costs 100k IDR (around $6.50) per person and there’s an entrance fee of 50k IDR (around $3.25) per person for the cave.

3. Sunset at Amelia Hill Viewpoint

For breathtaking panoramic views of Labuan Bajo and its surrounding islands, Amelia Hill Viewpoint stands out as an ideal location, especially during sunset. The viewpoint provides a stunning vantage of the surrounding area and the Flores Sea.

A panoramic view of the sea and silhouetted islands at sunset

It’s a perfect spot to watch the sun dropping behind the nearby islands, setting the sky ablaze with reds, oranges, and pinks. This place is a must for any landscape photographers or couples looking for a romantic end to the day.

4. Cunca Wulang Waterfall

Probably the most impressive waterfall in the area, Cunca Wulang, will not disappoint any nature enthusiasts. The waterfall and surrounding area is a haven of lush greenery and cascading waters.

Accessible by a trek through the dense forest, the waterfall rewards hikers with a refreshing plunge pool surrounded by tropical trees. The walk itself is an adventure, with a wooden suspension bridge to cross and a chance to enjoy the local flora and fauna.

The entrance fee is 50k IDR (around $3.25) per person. As a group of five, we paid 100k IDR (around $6.50) for a local guide to take us from the parking area to the waterfall.

There’s a small restaurant, (or warung as they’re known in Indonesia) on the way to the waterfall called Melo Cafe. It’s a great place to stop for a traditional lunch and offers an incredible view over the lush forest stretching to the distant ocean.

5. Batu Cermin Cave – Mirror Stone Cave

A geological wonder, Mirror Stone Cave (or Batu Cermin) earned its name from the sparkle of the calcite walls in the morning sun. This captivating light show gives the illusion of a large mirror reflecting the rays.

The cave is covered in intricate patterns which were formed by the fossilization of coral and other marine creatures. The entrance ticket is 50k IDR (around $3.25) per person and a guided tour costs another 50k IDR (around $3.25) per group, which we’d highly recommend. For a start, the added information enhances the cave experience, and secondly, many of the highlights are easily missed with an untrained eye.

Some of the unique features include the fossilized coral, sea turtle, and small fish, as well as hollow stalagmites that make a loud ringing sound and a snake hiding spot.

6. Rooftop Pool at Lighthouse Bajo – Sunset Drinks and Snacks

Unwind and enjoy the amazing views over Labuan Bajo from the rooftop pool at Lighthouse Bajo. With a refreshing pool, a panoramic view of the surroundings, and ice-cold coffees, this rooftop oasis is an ideal spot to relax and regenerate.

A woman looking out from an infinity rooftop pool with a view of the sea and a lighthouse

Sunset drinks and snacks add a special touch to the experience, where you can bathe in the warm water with a cocktail or beer while watching the fading sun.

7. Explore Labuan Bajo Town

Labuan Bajo Town itself offers a vibrant and culturally rich experience. Wander through the bustling fish market at night, sample local cuisine at eateries, and explore the lively waterfront.

A pier with a thatched roof framed by pink and white flowers and surrounded by anchored boats

The town provides a glimpse into the daily life of the locals, and visitors can immerse themselves in the friendly atmosphere.

8. Bukit Cinta Viewpoint

Meaning “Love Hill” in Indonesian, Bukit Cinta Viewpoint lives up to its name with its romantic vistas overlooking Labuan Bajo and the surrounding islands. The viewpoint provides an excellent backdrop for couples seeking a romantic setting or anyone desiring a peaceful escape.

Bukit Cinta was quieter than Amelia Hill, and although it’s not quite as impressive, it was nice to have it to ourselves.

9. Fried Banana Breakfast – Pisang Goreng

When visiting Indonesia, you HAVE to try the local delicacy of deep-fried banana – pisang goreng. It often comes drizzled in chocolate sauce (we’ve even seen chocolate and cheese) but is delicious on its own.

Green Cherry is a great breakfast spot in town with a rooftop seating area offering amazing sea views. They also have a lot more traditional Indonesian food on the menu like Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles) and a popular refreshing drink on these islands – fresh coconuts. The building itself is really cool and looks like an upside-down boat.

How to Get to Labuan Bajo

The best way to reach Labuan Bajo is by flying to Komodo Airport, which is conveniently only 5 minutes from the town. There are multiple daily flights from Jakarta, Bali (Denpasar), and Surabaya in East Java.

There are taxis available from the airport to town and the standard cost seems to be 70k IDR (around $4.50).

Getting Around Labuan Bajo

The most flexible way to get around Labuan Bajo and the surrounding areas is by scooter or motorbike. There are many places that rent them in town so just wander around until you find a decent one.

A scooter should cost you between 80k-120k IDR depending on size and engine. We went for a middle option for 100k IDR (around $6.50).

If you’d rather not ride the bike yourself then you can use the Grab app to book a bike and rider and you ride on the back. The Grab app on Flores only has bikes though, so if you’re not comfortable riding a bike or there’s a group of you, a driver might be a better option.

You can usually book a driver via your hotel or guesthouse, or you can negotiate with the same taxi driver that you get from the airport. There was a group of 6 of us so we opted for a driver and paid 200k IDR (around $13) for a whole day.

Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo

There’s no shortage of choice when it comes to accommodation in Labuan Bajo. Here are some hotels we’d recommend:

High-End: Menjaga Bay looks like a resort straight out of a Maldives brochure – a long pier with overwater bungalows.

Mid-Range: Meruorah Komodo Labuan Bajo is a beautifully modern 5-star hotel with unbeatable sea views and an infinity pool with the best sunset view in the whole town.

Budget-Friendly: Seaesta Komodo Hostel & Hotel has an incredible pool area with a great menu and live music in the evenings.

Where to Eat in Labuan Bajo

If you’re looking for Western food, then La Cucina is a great little Italian that serves classic pasta dishes and pizzas.

Seaesta have a wide variety including pastas, burgers, tacos, and Asian dishes. The restaurant area is a beautiful setting next to the pool with panoramic views.

As we already mentioned, Green Cherry is a great breakfast spot with local food and incredible sea views.

All these restaurants have vegan and veggie options. Seaesta was particularly good with loads of options.

Labuan Bajo FAQs

Is Labuan Bajo worth visiting?

Absolutely, with its stunning landscapes, marine life, and unique attractions, Labuan Bajo offers a memorable and diverse travel experience.

What is special about Labuan Bajo?

Labuan Bajo’s uniqueness lies in its proximity to Komodo National Park, home to Komodo Dragons, and its captivating natural wonders.

Is Labuan Bajo safe?

Yes, Labuan Bajo is generally considered safe with low crime rates. As with any travel destination, take standard safety precautions.

Is Labuan Bajo expensive?

No, Labuan Bajo does not have to be expensive. Prices can vary widely, catering to different budgets. There are both luxury and affordable options for accommodation, dining, and activities.

Is Labuan Bajo in Bali?

No, Labuan Bajo is on Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara, not in Bali. Both are popular destinations in Indonesia, but they are separate islands.

Are there Komodo Dragons in Labuan Bajo?

No, there are no Komodo Dragons in Labuan Bajo itself. It is, however, the gateway to Komodo National Park, where the Komodo Dragons live in their natural habitat.

Can you drink alcohol in Labuan Bajo?

Yes, although predominantly Muslim, many restaurants and cafes serve alcohol in Labuan Bajo. Supermarkets and wine shops also sell beer, wine, and spirits.

9 Things to Do in Labuan Bajo – Gateway to the Komodo Island

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