One of the most underrated holiday destinations in Indonesia, Labuan Bajo, is for the adventure-seeker in you. Labuan Bajo is a fishing town located along the eastern coast of East Nusa Tenggara.
The town of Labuan Bajo is a launching pad for the amazing islands nearby. The best time to visit this magnificent holiday destination is from June to September as temperatures during this period would be just right for a great vacation. It won’t be too hot, and you won’t have your plans affected by heavy rains (especially during the December monsoon season).
Get ready your sunblock lotion, your wet suit and your sense of adventure for an epic vacation. ? There are no reasons for you not to visit this beautiful region of Indonesia and we hope these 9 reasons are enough to make you consider Labuan Bajo as your next holiday destination!
The most popular option to fly into Labuan Bajo is via Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali. You can also travel to Labuan Bajo via various cities in Indonesia namely Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and Lombok International Airport on the island of Lombok. Airlines which connect these Indonesian cities include Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, Wings Air and Nam Air.
Labuan Bajo is located in the eastern region of Indonesia. The journey from Ngurah Rai International Airport, for example, takes approximately an hour as you fly above the island of Lombok and the Western region of Nusa Tenggara. Your flight will arrive at Labuan Bajo’s main airport, Komodo Airport. ✈️
Just like any other city in Indonesia, shops in Labuan Bajo accept the country’s currency of Rupiah. However, do take note, things found in Labuan Bajo may be a little bit pricier than that of other cities in Indonesia, given its more remote location.
1. Experience living out at sea
The only way to get to the other islands around Labuan Bajo is by boat and there are many tour agencies that provide packages for tours around the islands in the Flores region including Komodo Island. One such tour agency is TimeTravellers.id. The assigned tour guides will bring you around the Flores region, visiting many islands along the way.
The tour packages include accommodation and Halal meals (by request) on board the boat. Living on a boat for a few days, away from civilisation is an amazing experience especially if you are used to city life. Experience the simple life on the boat with “kampong-style” meals and basic facilities. Some boats will even bring you to a fishing area where you can fish for your own meal. ?
#HHWTTip: If you suffer from sea motion sickness, do purchase motion sickness medication from a pharmacy before boarding the boat.
2. Walk alongside Komodo dragons at Komodo National Park
Visit Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, which spans throughout three major islands in the region – Komodo, Rinca and Padar. Named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and a Man and the Biosphere Reserve, conservation efforts have been underway to protect the entire biodiversity of the national park including the vulnerable Komodo dragons and their habitats.
Travellers can still visit Rinca or Komodo Island but only with the supervision of a park ranger. For safety reasons and to prevent any illegal activities, the park ranger will be with you throughout your visit and will guide you into the Komodo dragons’ habitat. It is truly an experience of a lifetime as you get to walk alongside Komodo dragons in the park but do pay attention to the ranger's instructions to prevent any mishaps or accidents (while attacks by Komodo dragons on humans are rare, it is still necessary to take the relevant precautions).
Note: For female travellers who are on their menstrual cycle and anyone with an open cut or a wound, do inform and consult with your rangers beforehand, as Komodo dragons have an acute sense of smell and are highly receptive to the scent of blood ?
3. Hike up Padar Hill for breathtaking views
Padar Island is a must visit for those who seek a good workout! Heads up though, it’s not exactly a “walk in the park” hike ? The uneven terrain may prove to be a challenge for some and on a hot day, it can be extremely taxing on the body. Do have plenty of water on-hand to hydrate yourself and dress light, preferably with hiking boots.
The hike up Padar Hill may be an exhausting one but it is worth every single drop of sweat! The view from the summit is so stunning, you would forget that you were even tired in the first place ?
4. Sink into the sand at Pink Beach
Get out your suntan lotion! This secluded beach has a rather unique feature. From an angle, the sand on the beach is pink and makes for great photo opportunities ?
Locals call it Pantai Merah (which technically translates as Red Beach) because micro-organisms called Foraminifera produce the red pigments, which get deposited on the beach through the waves. Lay out your mat and just “chillax” on this amazing beach or go for a refreshing swim ?
Bring out your snorkelling gear too as there are coral reefs out in the sea but do take note, the currents may be a little strong, so please exercise the necessary precautions such as wearing a life jacket or avoid going out very far from shore.
5. Snorkel above beautiful coral reefs at Kanawa Island
Labuan Bajo is surrounded by beautiful islands, but its treasure lies beneath the surface of the ocean. Beautiful coral reefs can be found off the shore of various islands around the Flores region namely Kanawa Island.
The resort island may be a little remote, but it boasts beautiful aquatic life underwater. There are different species of fishes and corals around the island.
Credit: @_banglim on Instagram
Do note though, you'll have to wear proper aquatic shoes (or flippers) when you are swimming or snorkelling around as there are many sea urchins on the ocean floor, some of which can be poisonous.
6. Swim with the rays at Manta Point
Swim (or snorkel) in the open ocean at Flores’ hidden treasure, Manta Point (or Karang Makassar). If you are a confident swimmer, jump into the deep, open ocean from your boat and swim around the area to search for manta rays.
Credit: David Petit on Flickr
Scan the sea floor as you snorkel and you might be lucky enough to see a couple of these majestic creatures. Do not touch them though as it may be harmful to the manta rays. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot humongous manta rays that are much, much bigger than you.
7. Go caving at Batu Cermin Cave
Just a fair warning, this trip is not for the claustrophobic and nyctophobic (those who fear the dark!). Once an underwater cave, Batu Cermin Cave (which translates to Mirror Rock Cave) is a short drive from the town of Labuan Bajo and a 10-minute drive from Komodo Airport.
The giant cave is full of fossils of prehistoric aquatic life and exquisite limestone formations. Sunlight shines in via a small hole located at the top of the cave, reflecting off the limestone formations, thus giving its name. The dark and humid conditions of the cave make it a perfect home for bats and unique insects ?
8. Watch the migration of bats at Kalong Island
A once-in-a-lifetime sight, a trip to Kalong Island (or Bat Island) is a must. Catch the beautiful sunset behind the mangroves of Kalong Island and if you are there at the right time, you may be able to catch the migration of the flying foxes.
It is like something out of a nature documentary, all that’s missing is a Sir David Attenborough commentary in the background. Ready your cameras as your boat docks in the middle of the ocean for this epic spectacle ?
9. The warm hospitality of the locals
Despite being predicted to be the next tourist hot spot in Indonesia, Labuan Bajo has a rather small population and traffic isn’t as bad as the other cities in Indonesia. The locals live a slow-paced, simple life without the pressures of a bustling city.
Credit: Anton Muhajir on Flickr
The locals in Nusa Tenggara are generally very friendly and are willing to go out of their way to help a person in need ?The locals speak their native language (such as Manggarai) but due to the high influx of tourists, most of them, especially the boatmen, can speak Bahasa Indonesia or English.
Credit: Jorge Lascar on Flickr
Most tour agencies hire locals to bring you around and they are the ones who will liaise with the boatmen with regards to your itinerary, including food preferences for your daily meals. Just like me, take this opportunity to make new friends, spend some time with the local boatmen (or tour guides) and learn more about their culture.
We hope this list is enough to tempt you to make Labuan Bajo your next holiday destination, a destination with amazing views, epic activities and a #YOLO experience.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets now for an unforgettable vacation in the sand, sun and sea.