Labuan Bajo, Flores, is located in a half moon bay surrounded by hills that rise steeply from the shore. The setting is picturesque with breathtaking views at sunset. It’s a large part of the reason why Labuan Bajo is one of my favourite towns in Indonesia. Yet there’s a lot more to the town than the beautiful setting. To help you make the most of your trip to Labuan Bajo I’ve made a list of 15 things to do.
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Of course there are a lot of things to do in Labuan Bajo. However, there are a few things that you really shouldn’t miss. We’ll start the list with the essential guide of things to do in the city, before sharing other ideas with you. Let’s get started!
4 of the Best Things to do in Labuan Bajo
1. Komodo Island
Most tourists come to Labuan Bajo come to visit the Island of Komodo, home to the famous Komodo dragons. To see the Komodo Dragons you will have to join a Komodo Island tour with one of the rangers. There are a number of set hikes to choose from ranging from the short hikes, which take 20 minutes, to overnight hikes where you get to camp on the island. The best time to visit the Island of Komodo is in the early afternoon when the big Komodo dragons are sitting lazily in the shade and the baby dragons are wandering through the wilderness.
2. Padar Island
Padar Island is in my opinion the natural highlight of the Komodo islands. The island is famous for the viewpoint from where you can see the three beaches of Padar Island (one is white, one is pink and the other is a black sand beach). The best time to do the climb is in the early morning for sunrise. Be warned there are Komodo Dragons on the island and they hang around in the shade of the rocks (which is where you will want to be).
3. Manta Point
Manta Point is one of the most famous sites for diving near Labuan Bajo. This is the place where I met turtles talking to Manta Rays… But more seriously it is one of the best Komodo Island diving sites. The reason Manta Point is so popular is the strong nutrient rich current that flows through the strait that attracts large schools of Manta Rays. Manta Point is recommended for divers who have experience with drift dives.
4. Live Aboard
If you are wondering what to do in Labuan Bajo then I would recommend joining a live aboard boat tour around the Komodo islands. There are a number of different options available depending on your budget and interests. If you are only visiting Labuan Bajo for a short stay then I would recommend a 2 day 1 night boat trip. This will give you the chance to visit Komodo Island, swim at the Pink Beach, hike Padar Island and more. There are live aboard packages that fit most budgets. You can book a cabin on a boat in Labuan Bajo.
Fun Ideas for Things to do in Labuan Bajo
5. Rangko Cave
Rangko Cave was one of my favourite places to visit near Labuan Bajo. The cave is filled with clear brackish water and it’s possible to go swimming in the cave. At about lunch time the sun shines directly into the cave lighting it up and reflecting off the water. To reach the cave you need to take a one hour drive from Labuan Bajo to a small village. From the village it’s a 10 minute boat ride to an isolated beach and then a five minute hike uphill to the cave. When I visited I spent one hour swimming around the cave with a torch. It was a really interesting place to explore.
6. Pink Beach, Komodo
Komodo is the largest of the 27 islands in the Komodo National Park and there are a lot of things to do on Komodo. After seeing the Komodo Dragons the next activity on most Komodo Island tours is a visit to the Pink Beach. The beach gets its name from the red grains of sand, which is created from the grains brightly coloured coral, that give the Pink Beach its distinctive colour. Alongside taking photos of the beach you can also go snorkelling through the coral reefs that are located just offshore. It’s a beautiful place to swim through and explore, but watch out for the strong offshore currents. You can find more information about the beach here.
7. Amelia Sea View
Amelia Sea View is a famous viewpoint outside of Labuan Bajo. The hill overlooks a bay on the opposite side of Labuan Bajo. There are no hotel developments yet on this part of the island. This means beautiful views overlooking rolling green grassland with palm trees. It’s a beautiful setting and a nice thing to do in Labuan Bajo for sunrise.
8. Rinca Island
Rinca Island is actually the best place to see Komodo Dragons. Like Komodo, if you want to see the Komodo Dragons you can join a hike around the island. The hikes are a lot shorter than on Komodo Island, because the island is a lot smaller. While there is a small chance to see the Komodo Dragon on a hike around Rinca, you are almost certain to see the dragons by the ranger station. The Komodo Dragons hang around in groups around the kitchen.
9. Paradise Bar
The Paradise Bar is a chilled out reggae bar with beautiful views overlooking Labuan Bajo bay and looking out over the ocean. The bar gets busy with tourists at sunset. In the evening a live band plays covers of famous songs. When I visited there was a nice mix of locals and tourists, which helped to give the bar a nice atmosphere. The food at the bar is nothing special, so I recommend eating at the fish market before or after you visit, but their beers are cold.
10. Speed Boat Tour
If you have a very short amount of time in Labuan Bajo, but you want to see a lot while you are there you can hire a speedboat in Labuan Bajo. The cost of a speedboat with fuel starts at around Rp 10,000,000 a day, which is quite expensive. You can visit up to four sites on a speedboat tour of the Komodo islands. For instance, you can watch sunrise from Padar Island, visit Rinca Island for the Komodo Dragons, go snorkelling at the Pink Beach and go diving (or snorkelling) at Manta Point.
11. Fish Market
There are a lot of really nice places to eat in Labuan Bajo, but if you want to eat freshly caught fish served with delicious sauces then I would recommend visiting the fish market in Labuan Bajo. The market is located along the seafront of Labuan Bajo on the outskirts of Labuan Bajo. The food here is really delicious and there’s an interesting mix of people (you’ll find a mix of expats, backpackers and locals).
12. Batu Cermin Cave
The Batu Cermin Cave is one of the few tourist attractions in Labuan Bajo that is actually close to the city. The caves are located in a natural canyon between steep cliffs. The highlight of the site is the Batu Cermin caves, which means Mirror Rock caves in Indonesian. The caves get this name, because of the crystals in the rock that reflect the sunlight. The best time to visit the caves is between 9-10 am in the morning when the sun comes through a hole in the rock illuminating the crystals.
13. Le Pirate Bajo
Labuan Bajo is developing quickly and one of the most recent hotels to open in the town is Le Pirate Bajo. The hotel is on four floors. Le Pirate Bajo is located along the main street that runs through the centre of Labuan Bajo. On the ground floor is a travel agency, above that is a bar, where some really good bands play, then the third story has the hotel rooms that look like beach cabins and on the fourth floor is a rooftop bar with a pool with great views of the sunset. It’s probably my favourite place in Labuan Bajo and an indication of the way that Labuan Bajo is developing.
14. Cunca Rami Waterfall
The Cunca Rami Waterfall is a day trip out of Labuan Bajo by car. Cunca Rami Waterfall is located in an isolated valley. You need to follow a narrow hairpin track along bumpy roads to get to the nearest village to the falls. Once you reach the village you need to hike for 20 minutes alongside a small river to reach Cunca Rami. The journey is worth it. You can actually take a swim in the lake at the bottom of the falls if you brought your swimming stuff. Keep in mind that it is a good idea to hire a guide from the village for the final trek.
15. Kanawa Island
Kanawa is a resort island. The setting is beautiful with thatched huts to stay in, coral reefs close to shore a wooden pier that stretches out into the ocean. I really loved Kanawa the first time I visited the island. Unfortunately, Kanawa has lost its soul and is in desperate need of investment. The food is poor quality and overpriced. There were no guests when I visited (which really wasn’t a surprise). I hope things change, because Kanawa has so much potential for tourism.
I hope that some of these ideas give you inspiration for your trip to Labuan Bajo. With so many possibilities for things to do in Labuan Bajo there’s lot of potential for a great holiday here. Sure you can start with the Komodo Dragons, but make sure not to miss some of the other highlights like sunrise from the viewpoint on Padar Island. I promise you’ll remember them for long after your holiday!
Booked Your Accommodation in Labuan Bajo? Here are the best 3 hotels in the city for Every Budget:
Have you visited Labuan Bajo? What was your favourite tourist attraction (or what did I miss)? Share your insights in the comments below.