The Best Things To Do In Labuan Bajo | Flores

Cover image for The Best Things To Do In Labuan Bajo - couple silhouetted against a sunset

Labuan Bajo is a laid-back, little fishing town on the Indonesian island of Flores. The town is famous for being the gateway to Komodo National Park, meaning that the last few years have seen considerable growth in tourism. If you’re planning your own Komodo trip, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many incredible things to do in Labuan Bajo.

We visited this sleepy town at the beginning of our South East Asia trip. Which happened to land just before the Christmas period. The small town is not filled with high-rise accommodation (yet) and still retains much of its local charm. Having said that, a huge hotel and Starbucks have taken up much of the skyline at the end of the main street.

So if you’re planning to see Komodo dragons, then you need to explore Labuan Bajo before it becomes completely overrun with tourists!

Getting To Labuan Bajo

The easiest way to get to Labuan Bajo is by plane. There are many scheduled flights to Labuan Bajo Airport (officially named Komodo International Airport) from Java and Bali. There are no direct international flights yet. We flew from Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar in Bali before flying to Labuan Bajo for around £90 ($110) return.

To get to Labuan Bajo town from the airport, you just need to walk outside the airport and you’ll be greeted with dozen of taxi drivers asking where you are going. Taxi’s to the main town cost around Rp 50,000 ($3/£2.5) and should take around 10 minutes.

Image of a blue bemo which is a small public van

Tip | For a more local ride, walk out of the airport grounds where you can hail down a bemo (local style taxi) for around Rp 30,000!

There are also several boats leaving from Lombok, but they take 2 days and we were short on time. After researching more about the boats, they seem like a nice, scenic way to reach Labuan Bajo. Some even offer tours and snorkelling stops. We were happy with flying though, especially when the price of the flights were so reasonable.

The Best Things To Do In Labuan Bajo

Explore Labuan Bajo Town

Zuzi walks through the pier of Labuan Bajo

Why would you fly all the way to a town without actually exploring what it has to offer? Most people literally visit Labuan Bajo for a quick tour of some islands and leave, but they haven’t been able to fully appreciate the town itself.

Labuan Bajo is quite small but has plenty of eateries, cafes and souvenir shops selling wood carvings and other trinkets. Get up early and make your way to the local market where you purchase all kinds of local produce including spices, coffee and fresh fruit & vegetables.

Meet The Komodo Dragons

Two Komodo dragons lie on the ground next to a fence of hut

The reason why tourists flock to Labuan Bajo! It’s the number one thing to do in Labuan Bajo and it was one of my dreams to see these dragons in real life. These beasts are the largest living lizard and are only found on the islands of Komodo National Park. A fully grown adult male can weigh around 70kg and grow up to 3 metres long. Did I mention that they can smell blood from nearly 10km away?!

There are many options, and many ways to see the dragons. One of the most popular is to go on a Komodo island tour by boat. Lunch and transport are provided and you usually get to visit a few islands, do a bit of snorkelling and, of course, meet the dragons on Komodo Island. National Park fees and guide fees are normally not included.

Another option is a boat tour of Rinca Island. Again you’ll have a few stops for snorkelling and beaches but you’ll get to see Komodo Dragons in a less touristy environment as the crowds normally all want to visit Komodo Island. You can always do what we did and visit both!

Read more | The Backpacker’s Guide To Komodo Island

Hop On A Scooter

Image of scooters on the streets of Labuan Bajo

One of the best ways to explore the town and surroundings is on a scooter. Just walk along the main street and you’ll see plenty of tour agencies or scooter rental shops. A 24-hour rental should cost around Rp 70,000, usually with some kind of deposit such as your passport or ID. Our hotel even offered scooter rental on an hourly basis!

Although traffic is not as hectic as some other places in South East Asia you should still wear a helmet and be cautious. There are also a few one-way traffic systems around the main town of Labuan Bajo. Once out of the main town though, you’ll be rewarded with some epic views.

Amazing Panoramic Views At Padar Island

Zuzi raises her arms whilst sitting on top of Padar Island with view of the 3 beaches

One of the most beautiful spots in the Komodo archipelago is Padar Island, with the highlight being the spectacular panoramic view from the top. Reaching the top is no easy task though. Forget your flip flops and bring plenty of water and sunscreen – it’s hot! The hike to the viewpoint normally takes around 20-30 minutes but it took us a little longer as we took plenty of pictures and enjoyed the views on the way.

Have A Coffee At Carpenter Cafe And Roastery

If you’re looking for good quality coffee in Labuan Bajo then you’re in luck. Carpenter Cafe and Roastery is located on the main street and is a nice, cosy place to enjoy a great cup of coffee. Black, short, iced or with cookies and cream? They have a great selection to suit all tastes. They also have a great selection of beans which they roast themselves! You can order food too, and the place has free Wi-Fi. Perfect!

Eat Fresh Seafood At The Fish Market

Image of some fresh fish at the market in Labuan Bajo

This is seriously one of the best things to do in Labuan Bajo. Every evening, just as the sun sets, seafood vendors set up their stalls on the seafront, ready to display their day’s catch. They’ll prepare your seafood how you want and it comes with rice and sambal (spicy Indonesian sauce.) Just pop into a local shop across the road to buy a beer or cold drink as your food is being prepared and you’re in for the perfect meal!

Everything from fresh fish to lobster can be bought at the fish market. And it’s a lot cheaper (and tastier) than eating at any western restaurant. We paid Rp 100,000 ($7/£5.50) for two huge portions of squid with rice and vegetables! Not only is it a great place to eat but it’s also a great way to meet other traveller’s and locals as you sit and enjoy your meal. I think we ate at the fish market nearly every night in Labuan Bajo!

Tip | Ignore the confusing ticket system at the entrance to the market. You end up paying tax on your food and for use of the ticketing system. We just paid cash directly to the vendors.

Visit Cunca Rami Waterfall

If waterfalls and adventure are more your thing then look no further than a day trip to Cunca Rami. The falls require a 30km drive to Wae Lolos Village, where you’ll need to park up (if you’ve hired a scooter.) Then it’s another 45 minutes to 1-hour walk through forests and plantations. The trek can be muddy and slippery so there are plenty of locals offering to be your guide. You’ll be glad you made the effort when you reward yourself with a relaxing swim at the foot of the falls.

Go Snorkelling or Diving

Orange clown fish emerges from a coral reef

If you love snorkelling or diving, then you may end up staying in Labuan Bajo for longer than you had planned. There are countless opportunities to explore the reefs in and around the surrounding islands. From snorkelling day trips to multi-day liveaboard dive trips, there’s a great selection to choose from. You can even get PADI certified in Labuan Bajo.

Explore The Caves Of Batu Cermin And Rangko

If you like exploring caves then Labuan Bajo has two that should definitely be on your list of things to do! The easiest to reach is Batu Cermin, meaning mirror rock, and is only a few kilometres from Labuan Bajo town. The best time to visit is during the morning when the sunlight pierces through the rocks and causes the walls inside to sparkle (like a mirror!)

For those with more time on their hands, Rangko Cave makes a perfect half-day trip. Located about one hour away from the main town, the crystal clear waters of Rangko Cave is perfect for a midday swim. Just don’t arrive any later as you’ll be swimming in the dark.

See Sunset At Amelia Sea View

Image of some hills and the sea at sunset

Not far from the centre of the main town is Amelia Sea View. A stunning viewpoint that’s great for hiking but is an absolute must for sunset lovers. Also known as ‘Love Hill’, it’s a 10-15 minute drive (or a 2-hour walk if you-re up to it) from the main town so you’ll have to hail down a bemo or, better yet, rent a scooter to get there.

The rolling hills and panoramic views from the top make Love Hill a romantic spot as the sunsets. Just make sure you take a good pair of shoes and some mosquito repellent. We had neither but still enjoyed the views across the lush landscape.

Explore Flores

Image of Kelimutu Lake which is turquoise crater lake

Labuan Bajo may be where everyone ends up staying but the island of Flores has a lot to offer you have more time. Take a trip to Ruteng where you can explore the crazy Cancar spiderweb rice fields. Travel even further to Ende where you can chill on Blue Stone Beach. Or why not climb Mount Kelimutu to see the famous Kelimutu Lake?

With so many amazing sites around Flores, it’s a mystery as to why so many people never stray from Labuan Bajo.

Why We Loved Labuan Bajo

Jeff and Zuzi stand on a bridge at Labuan Bajo Pier

Labuan Bajo is a lovely little town and worthy gateway to Komodo National Park!

When we arrived in Labuan Bajo we only Komodo Dragons on our minds. We planned to have some free time outside of our Komodo trips and found Labuan Bajo to be a lovely, little place. There are plenty of things to do and places to eat and it’s definitely worth spending an extra day or two to explore the town and surrounding area!

I hope that you enjoyed this post on the best things to do in Labuan Bajo. If you liked this post, or want to know anything else, please leave a comment. Thanks.

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