LABUAN BAJO AND KOMODO ISLANDS – BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE, WHICH BOAT TRIP TO CHOOSE
The trip to Indonesian Flores island and Komodo National park was one of our very favorite trips this year. Nature so beautiful it almost makes you cry, amazing sunsets and sunrises, snorkeling with mantas, dolphins, and turtles, seeing Komodo dragons in the wild environment and observing thousands of bats flying above the mangrove island during the sunset. This together with swimming on the cleanest beaches, sometimes even with pink sand, jumping from the boat. That all together will make your trip unforgettable. So let's begin. How to get to Komodo National Park, what to see, what to do there, how to choose the best boat trip? Let us show you our fantastic experience.
Labuan Bajo, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia
LATITUDE: -8.49442 | LONGITUDE: 119.885
WHEN TO GO
There isn’t a significant difference in the weather no matter what time of year you arrive. We don’t advice you to visit at the Travel season November through early January, June, and July. Accommodation rates are at the highest and everywhere are more tourists than during other time of the year. We arrived in February so we could enjoy advances like lower prices, private boat cabins, private time on some beaches and so on.
PRICE RANGE: $$ ($-cheapest, $$$$$-most expensive)
CURRENCY: IDR - Indonesian rupiah
SOCKET: European 220 AC and the connection is made by a two-pin plug
HOW TO GET TO KOMODO NATIONAL PARK?
Komodo National Park lies in Indonesia and is best reachable by boat from Labuan Bajo on the Flores island. We arrived from Bali where we spent almost three months, so the question for us was „How to get to Komodo Island from Bali?“. You take one of few flights from Denpasar to tiny airport Labuan Bajo. It looks almost like a bus station, and airplanes for domestic flights are big like a bigger bus (propeller plane with Wings Air). But also the bigger ones can fly there (Garuda). The plane tickets are about two million IDR per person round trip from Denpasar with 7kg cabin baggage (yes they checked, and yes Hynek had 12 kg. He said he has just cameras and they laughed and let him in). From Labuan Bajo, you can choose a boat trip from many local operators.
If you arrived because of Komodo National park – excellent, one week stay will be enough for you. Do you want to see volcanos, lakes and other beautiful places in Flores Island? Be aware that roads are in bad condition and to ride on a scooter to the other side of Flores and back takes about 30 hours without breaks.
We decided to stay four days only in Labuan Bajo and spend three days with a boat trip through the Komodo National Park.
WHERE TO STAY IN LABUAN BAJO
In Labuan Bajo, we stayed in Luwansa Beach Resort - booked via Booking.com (we have 15$ for your next accommodation if you book it via our link - Hynek&Baru - 15USD for you). We paid 487 000 IDR, but it was worth it. Clean, comfortable and air-conditioned rooms finally with working shower, great staff, free pick up service and even possibility to store your luggage for free while making our Komodo islands boat trip.
WHERE TO EAT IN LABUAN BAJO
Our far favorites were rooftops of Bajo bakery for breakfast and Bajo Taco for dinner. Best cafe (with good Wi-Fi) was Cafe In Hit Coffe shop with good restaurant Artomoro Restaurant and Grill right above. Nice but a bit more expensive was also Happy Banana. Nice interior but not that fantastic food were in Molas Cafe. If you want to eat from local warung, we can recommend tasty food from Warung Mama found by our friends Domča and Tonda.
WHAT TO DO IN LABUAN BAJO
On the first day, we were a bit disappointed. No public beaches, not many things to do. Once we found out the right places, everything changed.
Sunsets and sunrises at Bukit Amelia Sea
Enjoy the beautiful ocean view with port and surrounding green hills just a few minutes outside of Labuan Bajo city.
Even better sunsets hills
Are you a photographer or just a sunsets lover? Don’t miss sunsets at hills near island Nisa Saloka. Surrounded by the beautiful green hills, cows, goats, and other wonders of nature you will forget about everything but how beautiful your life was. Don’t be discouraged by the bad roads at the end and after 10 minutes you will be amazed by the incredible views.
Private pink beach Pantai Sature
Are you dreaming about visiting pink beaches? I (Baru) was. Here on Labuan Bajo, if you are lucky, you can have one just for yourself. Buy boat ticket at La Boheme Bajo hostel and take one of their snorkeling trips to visit the Pantai Sature island/beach. Don’t be surprised; the beach looks much pinker on pictures from above than by standing on the ground. Captain of our boat was very helpful and friendly and brought snorkeling equipment and even some coffee and tea for a beautiful private beach coffee break. We also collected some trash from the beach together. Not that we had to, but we wanted to.
Rangko Cave and beach
We weren't lucky with the cave and arrived at the wrong time, so the sun wasn't shining inside the cave, and we didn't see much. But the beach was gorgeous and just with few people with us — a nice place for relaxing and snorkeling.
BOAT TRIP AROUND KOMODO ISLANDS AND TO KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
We advise you to buy your boat trip in advance. We booked our at Labuan Bajo, but we had to wait three days in Flores because all the boats were booked.
We were searching for the perfect company actively for two days. We talked with many. Trust me. Positive is that now we can provide you the best advice.
After long tiring research, we found the company Longlasting trip. The trip with full service and all food + water costs 2 500 000 IDR per person (spring 2019). We can honestly recommend them. Staff was so lovely. I almost cried when they were giving the final goodbye speech. They smiled virtually all the time, were super helpful and friendly. Food was amazing. I mean truly amazing. The long-lasting trip agency even asked us about allergies. We were four people – one gluten-free, one with seafood and fish allergy and one vegetarian. How stupid that sounds. :) They provided us so much food so each of us could choose from several meals. We were never hungry.
Cabins were, and the boat was just ok — not the most beautiful but delicate. Sleeping was a bit difficult though. Use the earplugs they give you on board. It helped me a lot.
In our opinion three days, two nights is the best length of the trip. Sun can be tiring, one shared toilet challenging and shower on board isn’t the strongest.
You can choose between private and shared boats. We were lucky; our boat had three shared cabins for four people. The ship was just half full, so each couple got the cabin for themselves. But if we can recommend, pay the extra 250 000 IDR/person for the private cabin if they tell you it’s regular season and boat will be booked.
The price also includes water, tea, and coffee, snorkeling gear and shuttle to and from the harbor. The start is around 9 am and on the last day you arrive around 3 pm.
During the trip, you will see many amazing things and extraordinary nature. You will visit amazing beaches, islands, viewpoints and you will also do a lot of snorkeling. Don‘t forget to pack enough sunscreen and comfortable shoes for every sunrise hike on the island's hills.
Rinca Island – Komodo dragons
During our stay, the main Komodo island with Komodo dragons was closed by the government due to the maintenance, but luckily dragons are also at Rinca island. You will have to pay about 250 000 IDR more for the guide fee here so be prepared with cash. Ask the crew before you leave. This is the only thing you will pay extra here (or you can spend money on coconuts and souvenirs on the beaches – yes it’s touristy here). Also from what we saw the fee is a little bit more but Longlasting trip has some arrangement with the park.
Flying bets during sunset – Kalong Island
Oh my. This was a great experience. It felt a little bit cheezy at the beginning as maybe fifteen boats were heading to the Kalong to watch the show. But once it started, you will be amazed. The hundreds of bets are flying to the island (every day), and for maybe 30 minutes you will enjoy their flight as the sun is setting in the distance.
For the mountain/hiking enthusiasts this one is a must. And we are not going to lie to you; it’s the only place we’ve ever visited that’s super crowded from 5 am. But the struggle is worth the views. You’ll see the whole Padar island with nice small peaks and three different beaches. It reminded Hynek a Lofoten, Norway. Also, note that drone use is prohibited by the government here and you will pay a fine if someone catches you. We hated it, but drone stayed in the bag.
During the trip, you can also go to the famous Pink beach. It’s nice, and it’s, well - pink. Yeah, it’s nice to have a picture from this place, but we were not so stoked about it. The other places were better for us.
Taka Makassar – „the Banana Island“
The smallest island we have ever seen. During the day it can be about 50m long and shrink to 20-30m. We experienced it during the high and short period, and we have a picture of this insane place. You have to be lucky to have no people here. You can do snorkeling, taking photos on the beach or just swimming. We also saw baby sharks here (don’t worry, it’s safe).
Swimming with the turtles – Siaba Island
Big boat will stop near the island, and a small boat will take you snorkeling. If you get lucky, you will get the chance to see turtles here. We were skeptical, but our guide was incredible – he was in the water 15 minutes swimming and finding turtles. He found them, so we experienced meeting these incredible creatures.
Manta point - Swiming with Mantas
Oh yes, huge mantas. Don’t worry; they eat plankton. Thanks to a few currents meeting at Manta point there is a lot of food for them, so you’ll see the whole crew. We had like ten mantas swimming there. It’s incredible even if you can’t dive so don’t worry. If you have GoPro, be sure to bring it.
The last stop on our trip. The snorkeling here is excellent even for beginners, and we saw a lot of beautiful fish. We also went for a sunrise hike. Let’s say it isn’t the best hike or view, but you can enjoy the sunrise and or fly a drone.
And other places
There will be few more snorkeling, jumping in the water, etc. during the trip but we covered the best highlights for you. Hope we motivated you enough. Send us pictures from Komodo and say hi to the boat crew from us!
Don‘t forget to follow @barasedlakova and @hynecheck. On our profiles, you'll find plenty of photos and videos from our travels.
Do you know any other interesting places in Labuan Bajo or Komodo islands? We are looking forward to your comments.