Map of Labuanbajo, Flores Island, Indonesia
Once a small fishing village, Labuan Bajo (also spelled Labuhanbajo and Labuanbajo) in Flores is now a busy bustling epicenter of tourism. It is the launching point for trips to Komodo Island and Rinca Island, home of the famous Komodo dragons.
Besides spotting the Varanus komodensis, the main attraction in this area is the extraordinary marine life. Komodo archipelago is indeed a paradise for both divers and snorkellers.
Several islands within a hour by boat from Labuan Bajo offer great diving and snorkeling opportunities: Bidadari Island, Seraya Island, Sabolo Island to the North of Labuan Bajo, and Kanawa and Sebayur island to the West.
Southward, on the route to Rinca there is Kalong Island house of a colony of “flying foxes”, huge bats that can be seen flying away in thousands at dusk.
The Airport Komodo is located 2 km out of town. The upturn in tourism has made the Ojeks and taxi drivers charge extortionate rates. Hold your ground and someone will take you and your heavy bags to the town for 5,000 Rp. per person. If all else fails, it's a 20 minutes downhill walk.
Indonesia Air Transport (IAT), Merpati Airlines , TransNusa , Sky Aviation  and Wings Air (Lionair)  all fly from Denpasar, providing almost daily flights between them. Most flights continue to either Ende H. Hasan Aroeboesman Airport, Maumere Fransiskus Xaverius Seda Airport in eastern Flores or Kupang in West Timor. There is no flight from Lombok to Flores anymore.
The Labuan Bajo Airport  is small, with a single short runway and a simple arrivals and departure area. For all flights you will need to pay a domestic departure tax of Rp 11,000. Don't expect to be able to buy a ticket last minute. Even if the planes aren't full, the travel agents and ticket offices aren't always open to take your money. There are agents available - back in Labuan Bajo. There is a small cafe outside the airport that serves drinks and snacks.
The port in Labuan Bajo is located in the town, and everywhere is reached within a 5-10 minutes walk.
- The ferry from Sape (Rp 46,000) runs daily, and usually arrives around 14:00.
- A number of companies organise 4 days/3 nights boat trips from Lombok or Bali to Flores for around Rp 1,550,000. You sleep on the deck on thin mattresses (less than 1 inch thick, but you get used to it). No matter where you book the trip from, you will be shuttled to the eastern coast of Lombok with bus/ferry transfers before getting on the boat.
- The Perama tour  is a well advertised trip running 4 days/3 nights from Lombok to Labuan Bajo, and 3 days/2 nights the other way. This sets itself apart from the others by having private (2 person) cabins. Prices are cabin/deck Rp 2,600,000/2,000,000 Lombok-Labuanbajo and Rp 1,800,000/1,300,000 the other way. Be aware of the safety records of these boats
- Pelni ships arrive from Makassar or Lombok.Pelni has two ships calling on Labuanbajo every 2 weeks. Tilongkbila departs for Bima, Lembar (Lombok, 24 hr) and Benoa (Bali) every other Thursday and returns the following Sunday to go to Makassar and other destinations in Sulawesi. Willis departs for Bima - Benoa - Surabaya every other Saturday and returns Saturday one week later to go east to Marapokot and Maumere.
- There is a car ferry running weekly (as of September 2012) between Labuanbajo and Bira in Southern Sulawesi, leaving Labuanbajo on Tuesdays and leaving Bira on Sundays. The journey takes two nights and one day, and has stops on the way.
All the tour boats have the same program of snorkelling, trekking and komodo dragon watching, stopping at the same stunning reefs, beaches and waterfalls along the way. For years there have been rumors of safety issues on these boats. However, so far all these rumors have been just that. There are, however, many who remark on the noise (on all boats), so bring earplugs and don't expect any deep, meaningful conversations while the engine is running.
Buses from Ruteng and Bajawa stop and depart in the centre of town near the school.
The town is quite small and can easily be traversed on foot (in 10-15 minutes). Ojeks (Rp 3,000-5,000) and bemos pass every 5 minutes if you get tired of walking. You can rent a motorcycle for Rp 75,000/per day. Motorbikes are limited in town and there are only a few scooters available.
- Pede Beach and Binongko Beach
- Diving in the National Park
- Caci Dancing - A cultural dance perfomance three times a week
Komodo National Park encompasses a lot of water and islands west of Labuanbajo. If you want to go to Rinca or Komodo islands, or dive in the park you will have to buy a 3 day park pass for US$15. Money from such user fees is collected by the local government and is supposed to go into conservation efforts.
2 night/3 day Boat trips can be organised with local tour operators ranging from 700,000 to 2,000,000 per person excluding park entrance fees, boat anchorage fees or camera fees. Please note that the tour includes snorkelling at a number of locations and visiting both Komodo and Rinca Islands. Despite price differences the trip itself is usually identical with prices differences dependent on the season, amount of guests, on sleeping accommodation on the boat and the kind of food you eat. For a good deal try to negotiate with captains directly.
- Captain Aming, (Go to the beachfront under Maharati Restaurant and ask directly for Aming or Floressia). provides a reliable and safe service on the boat "Dede Putra". He's deaf and mute so contact via his English speaking colleage Floressia: +62 085 253 871 664 or [email protected] The boat is ideal for groups of 3 to 5 people. .
Rinca Island (Indonesian: Rinca Kecil or Pulau Rinca) is a more convenient place to see Komodo Dragons than Komodo island. Some dive operators might be convinced to combine a stop at the island with a days diving - otherwise charters can be arranged, or walk along the main street of Labuan Bajo and some tour agencies may be advertising places on an existing charter. There are big dragons that are often right in front of the pier when people arrive. On arrival a guide will escort you to the park office where you will be relieved of a range of fees totalling 90,000Rp, plus guide fee of 50,000Rp, then you can choose a 1 or 2 hour hike. Presumably if you had a pass from Komodo, you would be exempt from at least some of those fees.
- Flores Komodo Expedition (across TransNusa airline office in the main road). provides a fleet of boats for snorkeling trips to the islands and coral reefs and also to Rinca and Komodo to explore the Komodo Dragons. Sightseeing tours across Flores on scheduled dates. Ph + 62 8523 981 6967 [email protected]
The Komodo National Park offer dozens of very pristine dive sites, with many migratory pelagics, vibrant reefs- making it one of the world’s richest marine habitats. The Park is located just offshore and easily reached by liveaboard operators, although daytrips may take two hours or more in each direction.
There are many dive operators that offer dive courses, fun dives and 3 day live aboards. They have fixed pricing for fun dives at Rp 800,000 per day incl. 2 dives, full equipment and lunch (Rp 2,200,000 for 3 days). Choose one of the newer dive centers for the newest equipment, one of the older for the most experience. All are quite safe and know what they are doing, however, the currents around Komodo can be quite strong, and are not for beginners.
The Komodo Resort & Diving is probably the best option to dive in the archipelago. The Komodo resort is located on Sebayur Besar, 10 miles west from Labuan Bajo, and its diving center is the closest to the dive spots. The resort offers 16 beach front very elegant and confortable bungalows, delicious food, an amazing pristine home reef and a breath-taking panorama.
- Reefseekers. Friendly and professional Scottish run scuba shop. Prices are the standard Rp 800,000 for 2 dives including lunch and equipment, discounts for multiple days. Fantastic marine biology lectures set this one apart. Great service as well, and small groups. .
Kanawa Island Diving PADI 5 Star Divecentre based on beautiful Kanawa Island, offering PADI courses from Discover Scuba to Divemaster and with a great reef to dive straight off the beach. also offering 2 or 3 tank divetrips into the national park daily and saving a couple of hours of boat time due to location. The divecentre works alongside Kanawa Island Resort who have a range of accommodation available from tents to bungalows and an office in Labuan Bajo to book and catch the free shuttle boat which leaves daily at midday. You can find the divecentre and the resort on facebook easily and they do not sell the,selves as an ' eco ' resort but they are far more eco than many resorts that do, using sustainable building materials, recycling waste and compost and most importantly working with the local fishermen to protect the islands reef in exchange for education and job opportunities.
Blue Marlin Dive, established by famed English technical diver/instructor Simon Liddiard and partners, is the latest addition to Labuan Bajo's dive community. The new dive resort features the first purpose-built diver training pool, "CCR-friendly" liveaboard, and super fast fibreglass speedboat for day trips- promising up to 3 dives and enough time to get you back in town for sunset.
Labuan Bajo is the most convenient point from which to go snorkelling in the Komodo National Park. The snorkeling within the park offers many opportunities to see pristine reefs with some of the greatest fish and coral diversity in the world.
Seraya Island (Indonesian: Pulau Seraya)  is little more than a small, arid island outside of the Komodo National Park with a few bamboo huts for tourist lodging, a restaurant, and some villagers who let their goats graze on vegetation. The island’s cove is protected from the sea, providing calm and clear water for snorkelling. At low tide the coral is exposed and local fishermen walk on the reef in search of prey. Rowboats can be rented and taken to nearby islands for snorkelling and diving. Make sure to run up to the top of the hill behind the resorts and check out the sunset. The lodges on the island do have showers, but running water is only available a few hours a day.
Thousands of Flying Fox Bats emerge from Kalong Island at dusk
One of the more spectacular displays of nature in the area is at Kalong Island (Indonesian: Pulau Kalong; also spelt Kalung), which literally means "Flying Fox Island." The name is quite appropriate as the island is home to thousands of Kalong, or giant flying fox bats. Boats to Kalong can be chartered from Labuanbajo for around Rp 300,000 for a return ride, including a snorkelling stop at a nearby island before you reach Pulau Kalong. Your boat will be moored next to the mangrove island and at dusk literally tens of thousands of flying foxes emerge from the mangrove island and move over your boat towards Rinca Island. For the entire colony to emerge will take roughly 20 min of continuous waves of bats passing over your boat. The boat ride to/from Labuanbajo will take roughly one hour. This trip can also be packaged into a one day tour together with (for example) a visit of Rinca Island and some snorkelling in the area.
There are currently three ATMs in town which belong to the BNI and Mandiri bank and can deliver up to Rp 2,000,000 per transaction in Rp 100,000 or Rp 50,000 notes, but also a few other banks and one money changer. There is a bad rate, so better change enough money before coming here.
Shops selling tourist trinkets, local fabric, and Komodo Dragon carvings are located in the centre of town. Western products of varying quality are available in the toko or kiosk alongside the roads.
Consider taking a trip to the market early in the morning to purchase local coffee, spices, or just to look over a wealth of local produce and goods.
Choose from a variety of Indonesian, Chinese, and Western restaurants on the main road. There are also many masakan padang places along the main road, which are worth checking out for an inexpensive and filling meal. Opposite the TransNusa office there is a Coto Makassar place.
Everything is located on the main road. From north to south:
- The Corner. Seafood restaurant.
- Pesona. Standard menu of western menu and seafood.
- MadeinItaly, . Pizza, pasta, risotto, antipasti or tiramisu. It is fairly upscale, and eating here every day would be a strain on your budget.
- Treetop. An unique tree house that you always wanted to have as a child, a place where posh meet backpackers...it doesn't matter who you are or where your from,there's always someone crazy enough to drink with you trough the night. The owner Matt and his dad is there most of the time. They can give you good advice on what to do and where to go trough out Flores. The food contains simple western dishes and their speciality Chinese and local seafood. The restaurant is located in the Center of Labuan Bajo, near the ATM machine. If you like seafood, this is the spot. As expected, fast wifi.
- Scooperific, Jl Soekarno-Hatta, ☎ 082147084662. Scooperific (Main Street) . 08:00-22:00. Open in Ausgust 2012, Scooperific offer more than 20 flavour of ice cream and more than 100 flavours of milkshakes. They also offer french food, including Crêpes, tea, juice, fresh dessert. less than 4$.
- Jeffry's, night market (second or third from the right). 16.00-04.00. The hidden gem of Labuan Bajo, this place located at the night market by the seaside, opens every day around 16:00 until the early morning. Run by Jeffry and his wife Anita. All the food is fresh from the sea and the portions tend to be large. It is also a great place to meet the locals in the natural environment and make local friends. Sometimes Jeffry sits down with the customers and treats them to copious amounts of free arak. 25.000-45000.
- Atlantis, Jl pantai pede km 5 gorontalo Labuan Bajo (Next to jayakarta hotel), ☎ 082147049063. Beautiful restaurant directly on the beach, made from an old boat. Offers beautiful sunsets, free usage of swimming pool, cabanasa on the beach and bean bags for perfect relaxing moments. The only Spanish restaurant in town, offering also fresh seafood everyday. Open from 11.00 to midnight. Every saturday night it transform into a disco with live DJ and entertainment. Price range is below average of the area. Drinks are very cheap during parties, and the place offers a beautiful and fun atmosphere. Atlantis offer free shuttle bus for its clients, you can find a bus stop in the city centre close by to mediterraneo restaurant. Atlantis offer a 10% discount to all certified divers.
- Cafe Selini ((Casa Selini)), Jln Soekarno-Hatta Labuan Bajo, ☎ (0385) 41136. Really tasty and fresh Greek food. Vegetarian friendly.
Beer (Rp 25,000) is available from the supermarkets and some of the shops around town. You can get the local moonshine, however it resembles paint thinner, and it's not unlikely that you will go blind if it is adulterated with methyl alcohol.
- Paradise Bar, (10 min walk north from the centre of town). The only bar that is open until late, and has a fantastic view of the sunset. Every Saturday (at least) there is live music till late night, though don't get high expectations about their taste in cover songs. Paradise also serves good food.
- The Lounge. The default place for a sundowner. Anker beer is the best-seller, and costs Rp 27,000-25,000 + tax. They also serve cocktails and food until 23:00. Shisha is available.
- Mediterraneo. Good sunset view, also for the food.
- Scooperific. Offer more than 100 flavours of milkshake including : coconut, mango, tiramisu, irish coffee, chocolate, vanilla and lemon.
- Atlantis, Jl pantai pede, gorontalo (Next to jayakarta hotel). Directly on the beach, offering amazing sunsets view. Free usage of swimming pool. Cheap drinks. Every saturday nights Atlantis become a beach disco, with DJ entertainment and fire shows. Free shuttle bus from and back to city. edit
There is plenty of accommodation to choose from in Labuanbajo. And with tourism growing exponentially, new places are springing up constantly.
The cheapest places are the local homestays (Penginapan) near the ferry port. However, practice your Indonesian first.
Listed from north to south, here are some of the hotels. All places include breakfast, but to some breakfast merely translates into a cup of coffee. Ask first to avoid disappointment.
- Gardena Hotel Once the default budget place, the hotel now offers new bungalows on the top of the hill with great view. The old rooms, while falling apart are big with old beds, mosquito nets and private bathrooms in a shared wooden bungalow setting. The hotel also runs the resort on Seraya Kecil Island (Rp 250,000); a stay on the island (2 nights minimum) can be booked at the front desk. Rp 150,000-250,000.
- Surya Hotel. Excellent good value choice. Spotlessly clean tiled rooms, brand new with bathrooms and fan or air-con set around a charming flowered little courtyard with ever present helpful staff. 10 min walk out of town, which is why it is such good value. Bathrooms are in a bad condition and the manager can be slightly intrusive. Rp 250,000-350,000.
- Bajo Beach Hotel. checkout: 12. The beach part, is purely marketing. However, it's clean and well-run, with the rooms of similar size and price to Gardena, it is worth checking out before putting down your bags at either. They are among the few that have (broken) western toilets. An air-con room costs an extra Rp 250,000. Rp 150,000.
- Hotel Matahari. The restaurant has great views of the bay, and the rooms are located below it in two floors. The upper rooms still views and some sunshine, but the downstairs do not. Mosquito nets are provided and needed. Fairly dingy and dirty in parts but good airflow and nice lower deck for sunset watching. 2013 update: lock your room at all times (especially when you sleep)and don't keep any valuables inside since the place is infamous for theft. Rp 100,000-150,000 with own toilet and shower, inc breakfast).
- Komodo Indah. Tiled, somewhat musty rooms with big bathrooms (Rp 150,000) or similar rooms with shared bathroom (100,000 Rp). The sole shared bathroom is shared by many, though, has no shower, and occasionally doesn't even have water. The beds are comfortable. There are no mosquito nets but there are not too many mosquitos. Add Rp 50,000/night for air-con. Rp 100,000-150,000.
- Centro Bajo, Jl. Soekarno Hatta (Some 10 min walk from the town. If you go from the harbour with the traffic (it's one way street) you'll reach a bridge. Right after the bridge there is a fork on the road. Take the street on the left and walk up hill. The hotel is immediately after the power plant on the right side of the road.), ☎ +62(0)385 41655, . Nice and clean place. All rooms are with tiled floor and air-con. There is restaurant offering western and indonesian food with affordable prices (meal cost between 20 and 35,000 Rp). Breakfast is included in the price of the rooms, served everyday from 7 o'clock. If you dive and have to leave early just ask them the night before to prepare a box with your breakfast and tell them what time you need it. If you are planning to stay longer (5 days +)the price is negotiable. Standard room is Rp 250,000/ Relaxed room facing the garden is Rp 350,000.
- Golo Hilltop Hotel, . To get away from the noise the Golo Hill Top Hotel is excellent with great views and a delightful new pool. Standard rooms are fan-only, and the wall fan is in an odd position which limits its effectiveness. Food comparable to the Gardena but great service. It is a 5-10 min walk to town down the hill - the road has been freshly paved as of January 2013, and the walk is not too bad, even on the way back up. Still a good idea to carry a torch at night. Rp 325-450,000.
- Green Hill Hotel. Boutique hotel with air-con and big bathrooms. The service will netiher offend nor impress you and the problems they encounter, such as power cuts, are not their fault. However, the prices might make you expect more. Rp 450,000.
- Chez Felix, (Down the main road, turn left at the Warnet and up the hill). The Felix Hotel (Rp 250,000) is new and hits a sweet spot between quality and price, mainly because it's new and clean.
- Orange Guest House, (Turn left at the pier if arriving by ferry and then take the first right. The hotel is at the end of the road on the junction.). Orange guest house is a family run hotel with spotlessly clean rooms. The bathrooms are tiled, have western toilets and the shower has very good water pressure. All rooms have AC and flat screen TVs with local channels. The large roof top terrace over-looking the harbor is a great place to enjoy a freshly cooked home meal. Very close to everything. 350'000 Jl. Mutiara 085337304050 (in front of the church).
- Bintang Flores, (10 min drive south of dusty Labuan Bajo), . It's so so. US$100-250.
- The Jayakarta Suites Komodo Flores, Jalan Pantai Pede Km 5, Labuan Bajo, Flores, ☎ +623852443688, . Located only 10 minutes by car from Komodo Airport. Excellent breakfasts, and they have a professional diving club, Orca Dive. US$60-200.
Internet cafes along the main road are plentiful, and their connections are all generally the same at 1 Mbit/s which is fine for Skype and youtube. The Warnet in the south has the newest hardware, and most places have headsets for Skype.
All restaurants mentioned above have free wifi.
- Komodo National Park encompasses a lot of water and islands west of Labuanbajo. If you want to go to Rinca or Komodo islands, or dive in the park you will have to buy a 3 day park pass for US$15. Money from such user fees is collected by the local government and is supposed to go into conservation efforts. Rinca Island (Indonesian: Rinca Kecil or Pulau Rinca) is a more convenient place to see Komodo Dragons than Komodo island. Some dive operators might be convinced to combine a stop at the island with a days diving. Often, there are big dragons in front of the pier when people arrive.
- Kanawa Island (Pulau Kanawa) is surrounded by spectacular reefs with thousands of fish species, turtles, corals and reef sharks. Sometimes it is possible to see some mantas just around the arrival jetty. Snorkeling around Kanawa has been nominated as one of the best in all south east Asia. Kanawa island is 10 km away from Labuan Bajo (about 1hr with a local boat or 10 min with speed boat) and located just at the borders of Komodo National Park. on Kanawa there is a small bungalow resort, designed for travelers, complete of PADI diving centre, restaurant, cinema on the beach etc... possible to visit the national park directly from there with wooden boats. Reef around Kanawa is protected, so fishing is not allowed, but the restaurant provides fabulous fresh seafood coming form the nearby fisherman island. Turtles love to hatch on the beach just next to the restaurant. It is possible to camp on the island, bring your own tent or rent one on the spot.
- Seats on 12-seater "Travel Buses" to Ruteng, Bajawa, Ende, Moni, Maumere etc can be arranged through the Perama office on the main street - the price usually includes pick-up from your hotel.