Land of Komodo Dragons & Pink Beaches

About Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo is now on top of my 10 favorite islands, even better than the overcrowded Bali. We went there in March and despite the rainy weather we were still able to dive and explore the islands. Labuan Bajo is famous as a fishing town in the large island of Flores in Nusa Tenggara of east Indonesia. For tourists, it is known for the Komodo National Park which is definitely a must see when visiting this island. If you are looking for a place to get a quick vacation with less tourists but still experience breathtaking beaches and attractions then this is a good option.

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Things to consider before going to Labuan Bajo:

  1. There is no direct international flight yet to Labuan Bajo. You will have to take a domestic flight from either Lombok or Denpasar to reach this place. This is one reason why there are less tourists here versus Bali.
  2. Check the weather as most of the island activities are dependent on it. Knowing the weather will help you schedule your itinerary.
  3. Research! There are many things to do within Flores island as well as in the islands surrounding it.
  4. Bring cash as most shops and restaurants do not take credit cards yet. There are also ATMs and Money changer in the city area.
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Labuan Bajo Town
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Main street outside Le Pirate Hotel

Here’s a quick recap of what happened in our trip:

Video by Alec Estey

NOW THE DETAILS:

Where to stay?

You can stay in one of the hostels in town or if you are adventurous you can sign up for the live-aboard cruise ship. There’s only a few luxury hotels in the area as it’s still underdeveloped.

Live-aboard

The live-aboard is perfect if you wish to do scuba diving and want to see more islands. It takes time to transfer from one island to another, or one good diving spot to another but with the live-aboard package you don’t need to come back to the main island but instead hop on and off dive sites around Komodo. There are a lot of companies offering this in town. The few I was able to search online are Le Pirate Explorer, and XP Adventure Tours.

Secluded Resorts within Komodo

If you want to stay in a secluded resort and do scuba diving you can stay in Komodo Resort  Diving Club Resort. It is located in a secluded island close to the Komodo National Park so it takes lesser time to visit the nearby island spots like Padar. You need to consider though that going to the resort, there is an additional boat ride from main town to the actual resort and  will incur cost.

Mainland Resorts & Hotels

We stayed in Le Pirate Hotel which is a 5 minute walk to the harbor with a nice view of the sunset. They are also located right along the main street where you can find restaurants, tour services, and dive shops. Le Pirate offers good service and affordable food. The rooms are not big but enough space to move around and are clean as well. They also have different activities per night to keep you entertained. If you plan to stay out all day to discover different spots in the island and will just need a good room and bed to sleep at the end of a tiring day then this is a good choice.

Plus, you get this type of harbor sunset view:

Sunset View in Labuan Bajo Travel Anyway
Harbor Sunset View
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Sunset View from our Room

Things to do in Labuan Bajo:

We only had 2 half days and 2 full days to spare so our itinerary looked like:

DAY ACTIVITY
1 Arrive late afternoon

Dinner

Fix scuba dive tour

2 All-day scuba diving (3 dives)
3 All-day Komodo National Park tour
4 Morning Chill

Afternoon flight back to Balia

Scuba Diving in Komodo National Park

Dive Sites: Crystal Bay and Castle Rock

The Komodo National Park has a number of dive sites with rich and diverse marine life. Given that, scuba diving is a major activity here. We did our 1 day scuba diving tour with UBER SCUBA. We asked around town and check online and most of them suggested this company. We liked the service and the dive masters were really fun to hang out with both in and out of the water. It costs me around IDR2,150,000 for 2 dives with refresher course, equipment, and lunch, and national park entrance fees. This isn’t so bad especially if I compare it with the dive prices in the Philippines. We saw sharks, seahorse, lionfish and many others.

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The view from our boat after our first dive site: Crystal Bay in Komodo National Park
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After the refresher course
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When the dive master is trying to point at something, but you can’t see it!
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Aboard our dive ship

 Komodo National Park Tour

We did a 1 full day tour to cover all the areas we wanted to visit. We used Island Hopping East cruise to cover 6 destinations from 6:00am- 4:30pm; IDR 1,350,000 (US95) net.

The tour guide was informative and adventurous so we had a fun time. We were around 20 people in the tour so it was a bit of a large group but the tour guide was able to find us the good spots to avoid being with other tour groups in the same area. Here are the islands we went to:

Komodo National Park 

Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It located in Indonesia between East and West Nusa Tenggara. It is composed of three big islands, namely Komodo, Padar and Rinca and some small islands. Komodo National Park has been the home of the Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizard and the area is surrounded by rich marine life as it is situated in the Coral triangle. The Komodo dragon is only found in Indonesia, are carnivorous and has been believed to have a venomous bite. They hunt in groups and let their prey die slowly. You can still see Komodo dragons in Komodo and Rinca islands but not in Padar. In order to get to the Komodo National Park, you will need to go through Labuan Bajo.

1st Stop:  Padar Island

Padar Island is within the Komodo National Park.  You will trek for around 20 minutes to reach the top and get the view of the beaches with different colors. You will see the grey, pink, and white sand beaches. Surrounding the island, are good areas for scuba diving and snorkeling.

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Padar Island Peak
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The 3 beaches from Padar

 

2nd Stop: Pink Beach

There are seven pink beaches in Labuan Bajo. The color comes from the microscopic animals called Foraminifera that produces the red pigment found in the corals near the shallow waters. When this pigment combines with the white sand it produces a pink color. We also snorkeled just near the shore and still saw a lot of fish and corals.

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The Pink Beach

Freediving in Pink Beach:

3rd Stop: Komodo Island

Komodo Island is part of the day tour. With the help of the guides you will see Komodo Dragons scattered around the island. We saw one just a few meters away from the island restaurant. They are out and free to roam so be careful. The rain poured when we arrive on the island so the whole trek was like a scene from Jurassic Park. We were able to see 4 Komodo dragons happily chilling under the rain.

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Guiding the Dragons
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Dragons hunt deer
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Dragons enjoying the rain

4th Stop: Taka Makasar

Taka Makasar is a small sandbar inside the Komodo National Park. It has pristine waters and just near the Komodo and Manta point. If you are lucky, you will see turtles in the shallow area swimming and feeding.

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5th Stop: Manta Point

Manta Point is literally in the middle of the ocean, it is in the channel connecting the Indian and the South West Pacific Oceans making it suitable for Manta Rays. When you snorkel in this area it is quite shallow and has a sandy bottom, not so much corals. It is believed that Manta’s are gentle creatures and are curious animals so most of the time they will interact with humans given the right conditions.

I do not have a photo of the Manta Ray, I guess better luck next time!

6th Stop: Kanawa Island

Kanawa Island is a few minutes from the mainland and was the last stop of the tour. It’s just a small island but you can trek up a small hill and enjoy the view.

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After a long day we just chilled in Le Pirate and enjoyed the food and beer and late night entertainment. There are still a lot of areas to discover within the main island like waterfalls and caves so I will definitely go back!

That’s it for now. Ciao!

Follow me in Instagram @travelanyway for random trips and daily musings.

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