Labuan Bajo is a fishing town located at the western end of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of eastern Indonesia. Take the off-beaten path by joining a local tour from Labuan Bajo to explore the famous Komodo Island and Rinca Island, home to the famous Komodo dragons.
A wide range of accommodations is available along or near the beaches. Fresh seafood can be found along the harbor market and the price is simply affordable.
Located in Labuan Bajo, Komodo Airport (Airport Code: LBJ) is a getaway to the famous Komodo Island, Rinca Island, and other islands nearby. There are only domestic airlines flying here with limited flights each day, mainly flying from Jakarta and Bali.
Labuan Bajo is a small and remote island, therefore there is a limited transportation option. Upon arrival at the airport, private taxis and seated pick-up trucks are available. You can also check with your hotel or tour operator if they provide transportation for free or with a small fee. Most importantly, do approach any reliable and safe tour operators to Komodo National Park to see the dragons.
Things to do for 4 days in Labuan Bajo and Komodo Island
Visit the local night market in Labuan Bajo
There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and food stalls along the harbor. The seafood sold here is pretty cheap and fresh since they are caught and brought here directly from the sea. The choices are more or less the same: fish, squids, prawns, lobsters, and crabs. I ordered a medium groupie fish with rice served with chili sauce from one of the stalls. It costs only 40,000 rupiahs (USD$ 3).
The first island to visit is Kanawa Island, a tiny and isolated island about an hour away from Labuan Bajo. It is surrounded by pristine sandy beach and crystal-clear water. There are small bungalows with a cafe and a walking trail up the small hill.
After taking our lunch, our crews assist us to prepare the snorkeling gear. Although I have never done snorkeling in my life, I still manage to do just fine on the calm water just 3-4 meters in depth with the help of the boat crew and wearing a life jacket. Learn how to snorkel and see the coral reefs and different species of fish make the most exciting experience. As for a beginner, it is time to take a break and get back up the dock after 30 minutes in the water. Still not used to it yet, my legs were tired, but it’s worth the try!
Catch the sunset at Gili Lawa Barat
Gili Lawa Barat is located northeast and right opposite Komodo Island filled with green mountains. The island is mostly seen as a desert barren savannah covered by grass and looks brown because now is the dry season.
We anchored our boat at its shore and trek up the hill to catch the sunset. The journey to the top usually takes 20 minutes. However, due to the lack of trekking experience, the three ladies from my group and I took around an hour to reach with the help of our guide and his crew. We also took two breaks in between and the other groups did catch up with us. The hill was quite steep and I was only wearing sandals, do not think it is that challenging (Ouch my legs!!).
At last, we arrive early to enjoy the breathtaking view of the natural surrounding. Looking far west is an active volcano island named Sanghiang Island. I just take the pleasure to take photos and a short video.
Soon after sunset, we make our way down and return to the boat by taking an easier path. We were advised to use a torchlight or handphone light to walk through the bushes. Leaving this island as we get to Komodo Village to rest.
Visit the Komodo Island
Starting the day at 6.30 am, we have a light breakfast and catch the sunrise before visiting Komodo Island. We were welcomed by the friendly locals, children, and our two rangers. The rangers give us a short briefing on the ‘do’s and don’t’ and safety guidelines before entering the park. There is a total of 1,300 dragons living on this island!!
We decided to take a mid-range trail about 3km in length. Luckily for us, we went into the male territory and saw seven of them feeding and resting. We silently walk to one of them and took pictures with it from behind.
Komodo dragons prey on deers, wild boars, and rabbits. They aare capable to run up to 18 kilometers per hour for a short distance to catch their prey. They can weigh up to 80 kilograms and grow up to 3 meters long. Once its babies hatch, they will climb up the trees to avoid being eaten by predators or even THEIR OWN (Yeah, really scary!). These creatures are able to smell the scents of blood up to 12 km away, in order to search for its female during the mating season.
Meet the manta rays
As we are leaving the jetty, here comes the big cruise ship carrying 450 Europeans and Americans. Fortunately, we arrive here early before this group of tourists starts to flock in, carrying those passengers with a few small ferries to the national park. I was wondering if those tourists will be afraid of the dragons or the dragons will be scared of them because of the massive crowd.
We moved on to Manta Point to see the incredible manta rays It didn’t take long before spotting a dozen of manta rays swimming beneath us. Looking at the strong sea current and wind, I decide to stay dry and look at these gentle sea creatures from the boat while the rest did not hesitate to jump into the sea to snorkel.
Go sunbathing at Pink Beach
After our lunch, we have finally reach Namong Island and Pink Beach in Padar Island. Both beaches have pink sand which is formed by Foraminifera that produces red or pink light on the reef. With this hot weather at 3 pm, it is my turn to run into the calm water to cool down my body in Namong Island and sunbathing in Pink Beach. It is pretty amazing how these small shells can create such stunning beaches and exist here, one out of seven in the world.
Get up close to the flying fox
As the sun goes down, we make our way to Kalong Island, 20 minutes away from Komodo Village. It is home to tons of flying fox and the island is surrounded by mangroves. They are harmless to humans and feed only on fruits.
We hop onto a small sampan, take us to the shore and hike up along the small bush to have a closer look at them. Some of their sizes are big. The bats usually hang on the mangroves and trees during the daytime and fly out from their nests at night until morning to search for food.
Take a hike to Padar Island
Next morning, our boat captain jump-start the engine around 5 am from the village while we are still asleep and sail south to Padar Island, the third largest island in Komodo National Park. The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours to this island. There are no dragons inhabited here but is a perfect place for natural sightseeing.
The route to the hilltop is much easier compared to Gili Lawa Barat because there is a man-made path and is mostly complete, allow us to get up there in just 30 minutes. We sit at the edge of the hill and watch its fascinating landscape. Pink Beach where we went yesterday is just another side of the island.
Enjoy the scenery around Kalong Island
As we hop back into the boat and have our lunch, the final stop of this trip is Kalong Island. The island is small and crowded with foreign tourists. People come here to swim or snorkel. While under the hot sun, most of us prefer to just stay on board, while others just make a quick exploration around here.
Staying at Labuan Bajo
After spending 3 nights on a boat, I had check-in at Sylvia Hotel and Resort, a 4-star resort. The tour ended at noon and took a good rest before flying back to Bali the next day.
The hotel was very clean and the staff are very friendly. It comes with free wifi, small bungalows with private bathrooms and balconies, private beach, a swimming pool, and a restaurant. There is a complimentary Western-style breakfast as well
- Due to limited transportation, it is best to check with your hotel if pick-up service is available, to and from the airport and the town as well. Also, check if the tour operators can assist to make any transportation arrangements.
- When visiting Komodo National Park, always walk with a park ranger to be safe from Komodo dragons and other wild animals. Never wander alone in the park.
- If you encounter any Komodo dragon, you can either climb up a tree or run as fast as possible by using big zig-zag direction that will slow them down.
- Bring lots of sunblock and water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Camera is a MUST. There are full of beautiful natural sceneries.
Going Elsewhere in Indonesia?
If you want to visit other places, learn about the local culture, or other experiences, you can check out some of my other posts: