Labuan Bajo is a charming coastal town located on the westernmost tip of Flores Island in Indonesia. While most people only see Labuan Bajo as the main gateway to the stunning Komodo Islands, Labuan Bajo actually has a whole host of cool things to do. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters filled with rich marine life, lush green hillsides, and breathtaking sunsets, Labuan Bajo is a great add-on to any Indonesian itinerary.
Here’s my detailed guide covering the absolute best things to do in Labuan Bajo! I’ve also included loads of handy tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip.
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Labuan Bajo Travel Tips & Essentials
Before heading out to Labuan Bajo, here are a few tips and things you need to know.
- Labuan Bajo is small and popular! Search for the best hotel deals at least a few weeks in advance.
- Get an eSim for Indonesia delivered straight to your inbox. That way, you can access Google Maps, book a ride on Grab, and stay connected to friends & family on the go.
- If you’re flying to Labuan Bajo from Bali and want to avoid tugging along a heavy suitcase, you can store your luggage at Total Baggage Solution. Prices start at IDR 50,000 per bag per day. Just remember there are limitations on liquids in your hand luggage. This mini refillable perfume bottle and these leakproof travel bottles are game changers!
- Grab this Lonely Planet guidebook to learn a little more about Indonesia’s customs, traditions, and history.
- You never know what can happen on a trip, so don’t skimp on travel insurance! I use SafetyWing. Their prices are affordable, and it’s easy to apply online in a few clicks.
- Sailing through the Komodo Islands is THE highlight of any visit to Labuan Bajo. While it’s easy to book a liveaboard just about anywhere in town, here’s a great 3D2N cruise on a luxury Phinisi boat if you prefer something a bit more upscale.
How to Get to Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo lies on the northwestern corner of Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara Province. The most convenient way to reach Labuan Bajo is by taking a flight to Komodo Airport (also known as Komodo Labuan Bajo Airport).
Direct flights are available from major cities in Indonesia, such as Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, and others. We flew from Denpasar Airport in Bali, and the flight took just over 1 hour. Search flights and compare prices here on Skyscanner.
However, you should know Komodo Airport is a few kilometers from town, so you’ll need transport to get to your hotel. Check if your hotel can arrange a pick-up or pre-book a transfer online which will save you a few dollars. Alternatively, you can also book a fixed-rate taxi upon arrival at the airport. It costs IDR 70,000 to the city center.
If you’re only traveling with a backpack, booking a scooter ride via Grab (like Uber) is another option. Make sure to download the Grab app (iOS) on your phone in advance.
Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo
Despite its size, Labuan Bajo actually has a whole bunch of accommodation options catering to every budget. Here are my top picks:
- Luxe: If you’re looking for the crème de la crème of accommodation in Labuan Bajo, you can’t go wrong with AYANA Komodo. The hotel features beautifully decorated rooms with all the luxuries you would expect from a 5-star property. If you get sick of your room, relax next to the incredible infinity pool with a good book and a boozy cocktail!
- Affordable luxe: For a slice of Santorini in Labuan Bajo, check in at Loccal Collection Hotel. This 4-star property features beautiful clean rooms and a stunning infinity pool overlooking the ocean. There’s also a cave spa and two restaurants dishing up delicious food! For the ultimate splurge, book yourself into a villa with a private plunge pool!
- Mid-range: If you’re looking for a quiet base away from the main hustle and bustle of town, Mohini Komodo Resort is for you. The 3-star hotel features beautiful boho-inspired rooms, a restaurant dishing up amazing food, and epic ocean views.
- Bougie hostel: Seaesta Komodo Hotel & Hostel is the perfect base for those traveling on a tighter budget. The property features spacious dorm-style rooms as well as private rooms. The large rooftop area (with a glistening pool) is just the spot to kick back with a boozy cocktail and live music after a day out exploring Labuan Bajo.
Travel tip: You should know that all the options above are a little away from the city center. If you want to stay right in the thick of Labuan Bajo, try Meruorah Komodo Labuan Bajo or Eco Tree O’tel. Just know it’s quite noisy along Jalan Soekarno Hatta (the main street). There is lots of construction and heavy traffic, and the mosques blare out calls to prayer at all hours of the day.
How to Get Around Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo is quite a small town, so it’s easy to get around on foot. If walking is not for you or you’re staying a bit away from the city center, there are plenty of motorbike taxis ready to transport you to all corners of the town. However, I recommend either booking a ride directly on the Grab app or, at the very least, getting an estimated price before accepting a ride with a random bike driver.
There are no normal Grab taxis (i.e., cars) in Labuan Bajo. But if you’re traveling in a group, hopping in a minibus (similar to a songthaew in Thailand) could be an option. Use your judgment when taking them, though, and remember to bargain!
For those that prefer to come and go as they please, another great way to get around is by renting a scooter. Make sure you have a valid IDP and always carry it with you.
Best Things to do in Labuan Bajo
Explore the Komodo Islands
Labuan Bajo is the main gateway to the idyllic Komodo Islands. It’s the absolute best thing to do in Labuan Bajo and probably the main reason you’ve traveled this far.
If you’re short on time, your best bet is to join a full-day speed boat tour. There are dozens of boat companies to choose from, and while most tour packages include the same options, make sure that yours stops at Komodo’s best gems. Here are the highlights:
- Hiking to the top of Padar Island for a spectacular view over its tri-colored beaches.
- Visiting the stunning Pink Beach – one of only eight pink beaches in the world!
- Snorkeling at Taka Makassar – a tiny crescent-shaped sandbar surrounded by crystal clear water filled with bright corals and colorful fish.
- Visiting Komodo National Park to learn a little more about Komodo dragons. You’ll also get to trek through the jungle for a chance to spot them in their natural environment.
- Swimming with manta rays at Manta Point.
- Relaxing on Kanawa Island and snorkeling in its turquoise-colored waters.
We booked this full-day speedboat tour with D’tour, and I cannot recommend it enough! The boat was modern and spacious (sit on the upper deck if you can), and the staff was attentive. The best part? The entire trip was well planned. We had plenty of time at each spot and never felt like we were rushing from one place to another.
Travel tip: There is an additional IDR 300,000 entrance fee for Komodo National Park. Bring extra cash, as the fee is usually not included in the boat tours’ prices.
Go Snorkeling & Diving
Another huge must-do thing in Labuan Bajo is snorkeling or diving. The coastal town is famous for its incredible coral reefs filled with diverse marine life. And, as a result, it’s an absolute paradise for anyone wanting to explore the underwater world.
Whether you’re an experienced diver or looking for something beginner friendly, there are oodles of excursions to match your comfort levels. Tours can be booked online or at one of the many dive shops in town. Some of the most popular diving spots include Batu Bulong, Manta Point, Mawan, Sebayur Kecil, and Tatawa Besar.
If you’re not into diving, snorkeling is your next best bet. Make sure to head out to Taka Makkasar, Kanawa Island, and Manta Point for the best peek at Labuan Bajo’s diverse underwater world. Just a heads up, the latter is not for the faint-hearted!
Chill at Escape Bajo
Labuan Bajo has no shortage of cool coffee shops, but one of the best has to be Escape Bajo (Google Maps)!
Perched right on the hill that runs down into town, this lovely cafe is a great spot to chill for a few hours and admire the views over the port. There’s lots of seating inside, but if it’s not too hot, head out to the breezy balcony or rooftop for even better views.
Try the coconut coffee and pisang goreng keju (fried banana served with cheese, palm sugar, and condensed milk) – you’ll thank me later!
Hang Out at Loccal Collection Hotel
If you’re not staying at Loccal Collection Hotel like we did, don’t fret! Because you can still experience this awesome hotel by grabbing a day pass.
The minimum spend is IDR 300,000, and if you want to dip into the dreamy infinity pool, an additional IDR 50,0000 is required. It might sound pricey, but it will be worth every penny! Especially since you can easily spend the whole day here lounging poolside. If the sun gets too much for you, pop over to the Sangkar Lobster Restaurant, where you can indulge in various Western and Indonesian faves.
Stick around until the sun melts away over the fiery horizon. That way, you can enjoy the magical sunset Labuan Bajo is so famous for while listening to cool beats from the live DJ. The day pass is open to anyone, and access is from 7 am to 8 pm.
Have Sundowners at Paradise Bar
If you’re looking for the best bar with a view in Labuan Bajo, get yourself to Paradise Bar (Google Maps). It’s a laid-back joint with epic views over the island-studded port. It’s also the perfect spot to kick back with an ice-cold Bintang!
Come just before sunset so you can have front-row seats to one of the most magical sunsets you’ll ever see (trust me!). And if you’re into partying, stick around. The bar gets a little rowdier later at night when the live band starts to play, and the party crowd rocks up.
Eat Seafood at the Night Market
Labuan Bajo’s seafood night market (Google Maps) is a bustling hub of flavors and aromas. It’s THE place in town to get your seafood fix and has a wide variety of freshly caught seafood on offer. Here you’ll find everything from all kinds of fish and prawns to lobster, clams, squid, and much more.
The market has several mini warungs, and while they are all no-frills joints, don’t let that stop you because this is the most authentic (and cheapest) spot to feast on delicious seafood. All the seafood is on display for you to inspect, and you can even specify how you want it cooked. We had grilled red snapper, crumbed squid, water spinach, and basic veg served with rice – absolutely EVERYTHING was finger-licking good!
Travel tip: If you’re not sure which warung to choose, the golden rule in Asia is always to go with the busiest one!
Book a Pamper Session
After a few days of swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and scouring for Komodo dragons, your body is probably craving a bit of TLC. And what better way to unwind than with a good old pamper sesh?
There are many massage places in town, and chances are your hotel even has an onsite spa. But head over to Eco Tree O’tel for the ultimate body massage. While it’s probably not the most lavish spa, their masseuses definitely have the magic touch! Expect to pay IDR 120,000 (excl. taxes & fees) for a 1-hr full body massage.
Visit the Outdoor Food Court
Another cool place to go in Labuan Bajo is Wisata Kuliner Kita-Kita Kampung Ujung (Google Maps). It’s a little further down the hill from the seafood night market and right near the waterfront.
It’s the second best place to grab freshly caught seafood in town, and they also have other street food options. However, what really makes it so unique is that it’s setup to serve as a huge outdoor food court with many different stalls. Behind the strip of stalls, there’s a big covered area with lots of seating where you can eat your grub while watching the boats in the harbor. If you’re handpicking seafood to grill up, remember to agree on the price first.
Go Shopping along Jalan Soekarno Hatta
Shopping in Labuan Bajo is a far cry from the souvenir-stuffed streets of Kuta and Seminyak in Bali, which is a blessing, IMO.
While you’ll still find shops selling the normal touristy stuff (branded t’s, bags, souvenirs, etc.) along the main street, there are a few gems here and there where you can buy more authentic items. Pop by Selini if you’re looking for flowy beach dresses, tie-dye stuff, cute sandals, and jewelry. The little pop-up stalls just outside Starbucks also sell a nice selection of jewelry, including necklaces, ankle bracelets, earrings, and more.
Like elsewhere in Indonesia, bargaining is acceptable if the item has no price tag. Remember to keep things light and cheerful. You’ll knock off 20-30% of the initial price if you’re lucky.
Eat at Happy Banana
If you’re into sushi and sashimi, you should definitely pop by Happy Banana (Google Maps).
Happy Banana is an amazing sushi restaurant right in the hustle of town with laid-back vibes and awesome interiors. They serve a wide choice of rolls, maki, poke bowls, and other treats. What’s more, they also have a good selection of vegan and vegetarian options!
Try the salmon rainbow rolls and the Yummy AF and Mango Dream smoothies – pure bliss!
Other Popular Day Trips & Things to do in Labuan Bajo
- Go on a sunset cruise: Join this fantastic sunset cruise onboard a luxury three-deck boat. The cruise sails to Kukusan Island and Kalong Island, and along the way, you’ll get to witness the captivating colors of the sun setting over the Flores Sea.
- Join a glass-bottom boat tour: If swimming in the crystal clear waters of Labuan Bajo is not for you, join this glass-bottom boat tour. That way, you’ll see colorful coral and tropical fish without getting wet! Win-win!
- Swim in Rangco Cave: Join a half-day trip to Rangco Cave to swim in its dreamy turquoise pool and admire its stalagmites and stalactites.
- Go island hopping: If you still haven’t seen enough islands (and dragons), here’s a great half-day trip to Rinca Island, Kelor Island, and Kalong Island.
- Visit the waterfalls: If you’re into waterfall chasing, take a side trip to Cunca Wulang or Cunca Rami – two pretty waterfalls near Labuan Bajo.
What to Pack for Labuan Bajo
Like the rest of Indonesia, Labuan Bajo is hot and humid year-round. Pack light, breathable clothing to keep cool in the heat. Along with all the usual items you’ll include on any Bali packing list, here are a few more things you might want to bring along.
- Camera & Drone: The Komodo Islands are absolutely stunning, and you’ll want to capture as much of it as possible! I use an Olympus Mirrorless camera, but if you’re into videography, this DJI Mini Pro 3 is for you. Just a heads-up: drones are not allowed on Padar Island.
- Underwater Camera: Pack this GoPro Hero 10 to capture the Komodo Islands’ incredible underwater world.
- Waterproof Phone Pouch: If you don’t want to splurge on a GoPro, this waterproof phone case is a great alternative.
- Dry Bag: If you’re visiting the nearby islands while in Labuan Bajo, this lightweight dry bag will help keep all your stuff dry.
- Reef-Safe Sunscreen: Finding reef-safe sunscreen in Labuan Bajo is not hard, but it costs an arm and a leg! This Sun Bum SPF 70 sunscreen spray is my ultimate go-to.
- Quick Drying Towel: You’ll need a lightweight, quick-drying towel if you’re boating, swimming, or snorkeling. I love this Turkish beach towel – it dries super fast, and sand never sticks to it!
- Travel Adapter: You might need a travel plug for your trip to Indonesia. This adapter works in 150+ countries and comes with a Type C and a standard USB port.
What to do in Labuan Bajo in Conclusion
As you can see, Labuan Bajo offers so many exciting activities and attractions! Whether you want to explore the stunning Komodo National Park, swim with magnificent marine life, or relax on dreamy beaches, there’s something for everyone in this lovely little town.
While this list only scratches the surface of things to do in Labuan Bajo, I hope it’s given you a good starting point!
Well, that wraps up this guide on the best things to do in Labuan Bajo! If you think I’ve missed any activities, let me know in the comments below so I can add them to my Labuan Bajo to-do list!
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