A gorgeously picturesque little port on the island of Flores, Labuan Bajo is one of Indonesia's tourist gems. You can use it as a base to visit Komodo's famous dragons or just stay and enjoy the laid-back vibe. Either way, you'll love it.
Situated just west of Labuan Bajo, Komodo National Park is famous for its oversized reptilian inhabitants. Seeing Komodos in person is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, whether you are a nature obsessive or not.
The islands around Labuan Bajo are a great place to dive, with crystal clear waters and vibrant corals. Check out the dive shops on Rinca Island and explore an underwater wonderland.
Back in Labuan Bajo, the harbor is visually stunning. Climb above town for spectacular views, but be by the water in time for sunsets across the bay, which are an extraordinary sight.
If you want to zone out and escape, Seraya Island is a short boat ride from Labuan Bajo. See reef fishermen in action, rent kayaks and paddle around the island, and snorkel to your heart's content.
Labuan Bajo is surrounded by exceptional beaches, many within walking distance of the center of town. If you love tropical sunshine and warm peaceful waters, it's ideal.
Easily the most famous attraction in the Labuan Bajo region, the Komodo National Park has been set aside as a biodiversity reserve, and a residence for the Komodo Dragon: the world's largest lizard. Guided tours of the islands that form the park are essential, but thankfully very easy to arrange in downtown Labuan, and you'll almost always stand a good chance of seeing these remarkable creatures up close and personal. After that, snorkeling and swimming round off a pretty amazing excursion experience.
One of the most beautiful spots on the island of Flores, Cunca Rami is around 20 miles inland from Labuan Bajo. It's a deeply appealing place, with cascades flowing into swimmable pools, all set in the middle of avocado and banana groves, where you've got a great chance to engage the locals in conversation. It's also not far from another natural wonder - the 500 meter deep Sano Nggoang crater lake. Both are easily accessible by foot, but expert guides are recommended, and can be hired with ease in Labuan Bajo.
The opportunity to get to know the lifeways of indigenous Flores islanders is one of the great attractions of Labuan Bajo, and nowhere offers a better window onto their lives than Wae Rebo. This small traditional village on the south side of Flores is a 50 mile drive from the resort, but it's worth it to see the beautiful five-tiered conical Mbaru Niang houses, and to breathe the cool mountain air. It's very much a living agricultural community, and not rich, but you can still expect a warm welcome, and even some traditional Flores dishes.
One of the gems of the Komodo National Park, Kalong Island is another biodiversity attraction of world importance. This time, it's nothing to do with Komodo Dragons. Instead, flying fox bats take to the stage, making their nests in the dense mangrove thickets which fringe the island's coast. If you're there as the sun starts to dip beneath the horizon, expect a stunning (and noisy) show in the skies as the bats flit from Kalong to nearby Rinca Island. It's an unforgettable tropical experience.
For a total change of scene, and the ultimate in relaxation, head to Pantai Merah for some serious beach action. Literally translated as "pink beach", Pantai Merah gets its name from the millions of foramanifera corals which make the bay their home and lend the waters and sands a distinctly pink tinge. Situated on the far side of Komodo Island, make sure the beach is part of your boat excursion, as it's simply one of the loveliest beaches you'll ever see.
The summer months (June through September) are the best time to visit, as they have the most reliable weather. Outside those months, expect the odd downpour.
Labuan Bajo Komodo Airport (LBJ) is just outside the city and offers connections to Jakarta every day. Taxis into town will cost around Rp60,000.
Ferries are a popular way to get to Labuan Bajo, and there are links to Makassar, Lombok, and Sape.
If you are coming from eastern Flores, follow the cross-country Jl. Komodo highway.
Buses run into Labuan Bajo from all major cities on Flores, including Ruteng, Kepoh, and Riung.
Labuan Bajo has a wealth of excellent hotels, including the Plataran Komodo Beach Resort and the Bintang Flores Hotel.
Badjo - the core of the historic harbor, Badjo is where most tourists spend their time in Labuan as it's the jumping off point for trips to the Komodo islands.
Jl. Soekarno Hatta - Labuan's main road, Soekarno Hatta is home to excellent restaurants like Warung Mama.
Jl. Trans Flores - snaking out of town, this road is the other main spot to find great food, with cosmopolitan places like Made in Italy and superb hilltop views of the sunset.
There are no public buses, but ojeks and bemos (motorized scooters and minibuses) run along most main routes. A journey will generally cost around Rp4,000.
Taxis will charge around Rp8-10,000 per mile.
You can rent a car from companies like WahanaJaya and prices should be around Rp70,000 per day.
Jl. Soekarno Hatta is the best place to shop, with an endless supply of Komodo Dragon-themed souvenirs, as well as a lively early morning market.
Supermarkets in Labuan Bajo include Kampoeng Mart and Roxymart, where 12 eggs will cost around Rp24,000.
Labuan Bajo's harbor area is crammed with excellent places to eat, with a diverse range of culinary options. Made in Italy serves superb pizza, Warung Mama specializes in Indonesian dishes, while Tree Top is a quirky place to find fiery seafood meals. Expect to pay around Rp75,000 per head.