Labuan Bajo: de uitvalsbasis om Komodo National Park te ontdekken

Labuan Bajo, the charming port town on the west coast of Flores, is booming. Labuan Bajo is not going to stay small, as Flores is hot and happening. All adventurers kick off their island trip here, mainly to visit the beautiful Komodo National Park. The town itself is not very remarkable, but the surroundings are truly one of the most beautiful places in Indonesia. Flores has truly captured our hearts, and it all started in Labuan Bajo.

Why such a hype? Well, Labuan Bajo is not only the kick-off spot for your Flores adventure but also the place to be for diving enthusiasts and a gateway to the fantastic Komodo National Park. Picture this: snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs, diving with giant manta rays, dolphins, spotting the legendary Komodo dragons, and experiencing the most breathtaking viewpoints in Komodo National Park. If you’re into diving in Flores, you won’t believe your eyes. Besides beautiful coral, we found this to be one of our best diving experiences ever.

In short: we are incredibly enthusiastic about Labuan Bajo, an absolute must-visit in Indonesia. Book that flight, secure your hotel, and let yourself be enchanted by the magic of this piece of paradise on earth. Read on quickly for all our tips.

Komodo National Park

This national park, located in Indonesia, is world-renowned for its unique flora and fauna, including the legendary Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on Earth. The park spans an area of approximately 1,733 square kilometers, featuring three major islands: Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, along with numerous smaller islands. The diversity of landscapes is truly impressive, ranging from dry savannas to lush forests and enchanting coral reefs. The park was established in 1980 to protect the endangered Komodo dragon, and since 1991, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Travelers visiting Komodo National Park can enjoy hiking tours on the islands, snorkeling in turquoise waters, diving in world-class dive sites, and admiring breathtaking views from the viewpoints on Padar Island.

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Labuan Bajo
Manta rays in Komodo

What to do in Labuan Bajo

During the day, there are few people in the town as there is so much to see and do in the surrounding area. Labuan Bajo serves as the base for numerous diving trips and day tours. As you stroll through the small port town, you’ll come across one dive school or tour operator after another.

Book a Multi-Day Boat Trip through Komodo National Park

When it comes to exploring Komodo National Park, you’ll undoubtedly encounter Le Pirate Explorer as the top choice. Whether you opt for a day trip or a multi-day journey of 2, 3, or more days, this boat trip promises an unforgettable experience. From snorkeling in crystal-clear waters to hiking on pristine islands and witnessing the most enchanting sunsets, this boat trip has it all. It’s the ultimate BAREFOOT luxury. The pirate isn’t very cheap, but there are plenty of alternatives available nowadays. You can find various options on Viator. You can also often arrange the boat trip on the spot, excluding the Le Pirate boat trip.

It’s a fantastic experience, but it’s also possible to explore Komodo National Park without a multi-day boat trip. In one or two day trips, you’ll visit mostly the same spots. The major advantage is that you have more time at each location, and you’ll visit attractions like Padar Island and Pink Beach at different times than most day trips, making it quieter.

Diving in Komodo

Komodo National Park is one of the most beautiful dive spots in the world. What makes this area so special is not only the extraordinary biodiversity but also the unique conditions that have preserved the coral reef. The strong currents in Komodo National Park make dynamite fishing impossible, maintaining the coral in fantastic condition. Thanks to this pristine environment, you’ll find the most beautiful creatures here, including the majestic mantas gracefully gliding through the water. But you’ll also encounter sharks, Napoleon wrasses, hammerhead sharks, and impressive schools of barracudas. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dugongs.

Although the strong currents pose a challenge and are more suitable for experienced divers, it doesn’t mean that beginners are excluded. There are numerous dive schools in Labuan Bajo that cater specifically to beginners. Just choose a good, reliable dive school, and you can embark on the adventure with peace of mind. We were also beginners when we immersed ourselves in the waters of Komodo National Park, and it was truly one of the most breathtaking experiences we’ve ever had. Diving in Flores remains one of our most beautiful experiences to date.

Our favorite was Manthai Rhei Dive School. Not only for their expertise, but the boat and the food were also truly fantastic. Highly recommended!

Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo
Komodo Island

Komodo Island

If you’re going to Flores, you’re going to Komodo National Park. Here, you’ll find the gigantic Komodo Dragons, the Komodo varan. The Komodo varan is the largest lizard in the world and is only found in Komodo National Park. The Komodo varan can grow up to 3 meters long. Although they are calm during the day, they remain predators. Due to the highly venomous bite of the Komodo Dragon, it is almost always fatal.

Yet these giant lizards freely roam the islands, creating a unique and sometimes surreal experience for visitors. Although the Komodo varan is one of the main features of the park, we found this island to be a bit touristy. However, it remains a unique and beautiful experience that you definitely don’t want to miss.

Komodo Island

Rinca Island

On Rinca Island, the Komodo dragons are also present. Honestly, we found this island much more beautiful than Komodo Island itself. For us, it was the perfect spot to see these giant lizards in action, although the chance of spotting them is slightly smaller on Rinca.

During a visit to Rinca, you’ll take a delightful walk across the island, and then, as the icing on the cake, you’ll reach a viewpoint that is simply breathtaking. Seriously, the view is indescribable. So, if you thought Komodo Island was already top-notch, wait until you see Rinca.

Rinca Island
Rinca Island

Padar Island

The cherry on top of the already breathtaking Komodo National Park? That’s undoubtedly Padar Island. Seriously, it doesn’t get more beautiful than this. Most day tours combine Rinca or Komodo Island with this gem, absolutely a must-visit.

Yes, it requires some climbing to reach the top, but once you’re there, you have a view that is almost impossible to describe. Find a quiet spot, take some time for yourself, and let the impressive panorama of Padar Island sink in.

Padar Island

Pink Beach

Pink Beach may not have been as pink as we expected, but it was one of the most beautiful snorkeling spots in Indonesia. Swim among colorful corals while the most stunning fish swim alongside you. Here, we saw clownfish, pufferfish, and the largest moray eels we’ve ever seen.

Pink Beach is already beautiful, but the underwater world here is an explosion of color and life. So, put on that snorkel, jump in the water, and experience an underwater adventure that transforms Pink Beach into one of the most unforgettable places of your Indonesian journey.

Pink Beach
Pink Beach

Hotspots & food in Labuan Bajo

While the port town may not win any beauty awards, it does have a lot of charming restaurants and cafes. We’ve compiled a list of the beste restaurants in Labuan Bajo for you:

  • Mimamori Cafe Labuan Bajo: A cozy small coffee shop with delightful breakfast options
  • Happy Banana: For sushi and healthy food
  • Le Pirate: This place is packed every evening, and for a good reason – it offers a beautiful setting and excellent food
  • Molas Cafe: If you have a bit more budget, you can enjoy delicious meals at Molas Cafe
  • Carpenter Cafe and Roastery: Perfect for a good cup of coffee
  • Lighthouse Bajo: Great view, especially during sunset
  • Hong Signature Restaurant: For the best seafood
  • Copper Bonnet Bistro & Bar: Cozy dining experience
  • Warung Warung: A charming warung with tasty local cuisine
  • Warung Brothers Bajo: A delightful warung with delicious food and a fantastic view

Best time to travel to Labuan Bajo

The best time to visit Labuan Bajo is from April to October. During these months, the weather is perfect for snorkeling, diving, and encountering the magnificent Komodo dragons. If possible, we would recommend avoiding the months of July and August due to the crowds. From November to March, Flores experiences the rainy season. Especially in the rainiest months, such as December and January, there is a chance of heavy rainfall. April and May are our favorite months to travel to Indonesia. It is still very green, and there is less chance of rain.

Komodo Island

Transportation in Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo is best explored at your own pace. Rent a scooter for €3 to €8 per day and discover the hidden gems of the island. However, the most beautiful part of Labuan Bajo is undoubtedly the Komodo National Park. This part can only be visited with a boat trip. You have the choice of a day trip or multi-day excursions. This is essentially a must when you are in Labuan Bajo.

It is also possible to arrange a taxi at your accommodation or, if you want to travel further across the island, take a bemo. The Bemo is a small van and can be best likened to the city bus in the Netherlands.

Komodo Island

Which budget do i need in Labuan Bajo?

Your budget for Labuan Bajo and Komodo depends on how extravagant you want to make it. If you opt for a fancy dinner, you might spend around 40 euros, but staying in a homestay or hostel and dining at a local warung can be more than enough for the entire day with the same amount. The budget needed for a visit to Labuan Bajo is highly dependent on your preferences and choices. Keep in mind that Labuan Bajo tends to be a bit more expensive than other places due to the necessity of a boat trip or diving in this area. Below is an overview to give you an idea of the costs:

Accommodation Budget in Labuan Bajo

  • Hostel: €5 – €10 per night
  • Homestay: €10 – €15 per night
  • Hotel: €15 – €25 per night
  • Boutique Hotels: €50 – €100 per night
  • Luxury Hotels: €100 – €200 per night

Food Expenses in Labuan Bajo

  • Warung: €1.5 – €2.5 per dish
  • Western restaurant: €6 – €12 per dish
  • Beer: €2
  • Soft drink: €1

Costs for Attractions in Labuan Bajo

  • Day trip to Komodo, Padar, etc.: €30 – €60 per person (usually from 07:00 – 19:00, including lunch and drinks)
  • Multi-day boat trip to Komodo Islands: €185 – €375 per person
  • Diving: €30 per lesson (usually a full day with 3 dives, costing approximately €90 – €150 per day)
  • Scooter rental for exploring the surroundings: €5 per day for a scooter

Travel Budgets for Labuan Bajo

  • Budget Backpacker: €10 – €20 per day per person
  • Flashpacker: €20 – €40 per day per person
  • Luxury traveler: €50 – €75 per day per person
  • The Fancy Pants: €75 – €150 per day
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Practical information about Labuan Bajo

  • If you plan to take the Le Pirate tour, be sure to book early, as this multi-day boat trip often sells out quickly. The same applies to popular dive schools; early reservations are recommended.
  • Ensure you have enough cash with you. Small bills are handy as exchanging can sometimes be challenging.
  • Local SIM Card: A local SIM card is super convenient and cost-effective. For about 8 euros, we got 50 GB for 30 days. We recommend Telkomsel.
  • If you rent a scooter, always wear a helmet! It’s truly surprising how many people ride without a helmet here.
  • A Visa card is useful as it is widely accepted almost everywhere. Check for any potential transaction fees.
  • Be mindful of transaction fees for cash withdrawals outside Europe. Choose a bank with favorable costs.
  • Tap water is not potable, but in restaurants, you can often get filtered water for free or at a small fee. Consider using a reusable bottle.
  • Respect the local culture and dress appropriately in public spaces. So, no walking around in your bikini or swim trunks. While Labuan Bajo may be more relaxed, respect is always appropriate.
  • Reef-Friendly Sunscreen: Protect the beautiful coral reefs by using sunscreen that is friendly to marine life. It’s a small effort with significant consequences.
  • Learn a few words in Bahasa Indonesian, such as ‘Thank you,’ ‘How are you?,’ ‘Good day,’ etc.
Komodo Island

What are nice places to stay in Labuan Bajo?

In Labuan Bajo, the choice of hotels is vast. Whether you are looking for luxury resorts with breathtaking views, cozy guesthouses with local charm, or budget-friendly hostels where you can meet fellow travelers, Labuan Bajo has something for everyone.

How to get to Labuan Bajo?

Wil je Flores bezoeken, dan kan het zijn dat je een behoorlijke afstand moet afleggen. Hoe je er komt, is vooral afhankelijk van waar je vertrekt.

Met het vliegtuig naar Labuan Bajo

Het makkelijkste en snelste manier om in Labuan Bajo te komen is met het vliegtuig. Er gaan vluchten naar Labuan Bajo vanaf verschillende plekken, maar het goedkoopste en makkelijkste is om dit via Bali of Lombok te doen. Een retourtickets kost ongeveer 100 euro p.p.

Boottocht van Lombok naar Flores

Veel mensen kiezen een meerdaagse boottocht vanaf Lombok. Dit kan met verschillende partijen, maar de bekendste zijn Perama tours of Wanua Tours. De tocht duurt 2 of 3 nachten waarbij je stopt op verschillende plekken. De boot is klein, maar fijn. Je slaapt en eet aan boord. Overdag stop je op verschillende plekken om te snorkelen, watervallen te bezoeken of de prachtige omgeving te verkennen van het Komodo National Park. Je kan slapen op het dek of je huurt een cabine als je meer privacy wilt. De boot is behoorlijk basic, maar je hebt alles wat je nodig hebt.

Veel mensen vinden dit één van de mooiste tochten van Indonesië. Onze persoonlijke ervaring was helaas iets minder fijn. Wij kozen ervoor om voor de terugreis de boottocht van Flores naar Lombok te boeken met Perama Tours voor 2 nachten (100 euro per persoon). Ik kan er een heel boek over schrijven, maar hierbij de korte (ellendige) opsomming:

  • De eerste dag was top. De omgeving van het Komodo National Park is echt prachtig, maar kun je ook bezoeken vanuit Labuan Bajo met een dagtour. Dit raad ik eerder aan.
  • Je zit ontzettend veel op de boot en ziet relatief weinig
  • De zee is ontzettend ruig, waardoor ik eigenlijk alleen maar op bed heb gelegen en mega ziek ben geweest (en velen met mij)
  • De laatste dag was zo heftig dat we ‘s nacht klets en klets nat zijn geworden en overdag met zijn allen aan 1 kant moesten zitten omdat anders de boot het niet aan kon.

Naar mijn mening zie je meer van de omgeving met een dagtour of een meerdaagse boottocht in Komodo National Park en kun je dan het beste een vlucht nemen naar Lombok. Zo bespaar je ook nog eens tijd.

Met de ferry naar Flores

Aangezien wij een dagbudget hadden, kozen wij voor de goedkoopste optie, namelijk met het openbaar vervoer. Een combinatie van busjes en ferries, in totaal een tocht van maar liefst 24 uur (maar het kan ook zo maar 30 uur duren). In totaal kosten het ons nog geen 20 euro. We werden opgehaald bij onze accommodatie in Lombok met als eindbestemming de haven van Labuan Bajo. Vanaf Kuta, Lombok is het ongeveer 3 uur rijden naar de haven. Daar pak je een ferry naar Sumbawa, het eiland tussen Lombok en Flores. Een super leuke, bijzondere ervaring. Je bent namelijk één van de weinige toeristen op de boot en de locals maken er echt een feestje van. Je komt vervolgens aan op Sumbawa waar je een busrit van 12 uur staat te wachten naar de andere kan van het eiland. Hier kom je vroeg in de ochtend aan. Vanaf de haven pak je de tweede ferry die er ongeveer 9 uur over doet om in Labuan Bajo te komen. Ook deze tocht is erg bijzonder. Een tip, bemachtig snel een matrasje, zoek de schaduw op en ga lekker slapen op het dek. Wij vonden de tocht prima te doen en stiekem best wel een leuke ervaring. Je moet er wel het geduld, tijd en zin in hebben om deze lange tocht te maken.

Komodo island
Indonesië blog

Flores heeft nog veel meer te bieden

Wij hebben ons hart echt verloren aan Flores. Veel mensen bezoeken alleen Labuan Bajo. Deze plek heeft veel te bieden, maar het is vooral de rest van het eiland waar wij op slag verliefd op zijn geworden. Van Bajawa tot de kelimutu vulkaan

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