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Best things to do in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia in 2023

Labuan Bajo is a small fishing town on the large island of Flores in the East Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia. It is known as the main gateway to the Komodo National Park. Seeing the dragons is the main but not only activity there. In my opinion, it’s one of the most interesting places to visit in Indonesia. There are many amazing things to do in Labuan Bajo. There you can swim in crystal clear waters, explore impressive coral reefs, and see the diverse marine life. The town is a perfect place to stay for exploring Flores and the surrounding islands. 

In this post, you can find a list of things to do in Labuan Bajo, Flores.

One of the islands in the Komodo National Park, Indonesia
One of the stunning uninhabited islands on an island hopping trip, one of the not-to-miss things to do in Labuan Bajo

The 3 most popular tours in Labuan Bajo

Book your flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo here

Top 10 things to do in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

See the Komodo dragon

If you have to choose one thing to do in Labuan Bajo, visit the Komodo National Park to see the giant Komodo monitor lizards, the largest lizards in the world in their natural habitat. In 1919 the Komodo National Park was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve. Recently it was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. It is definitely one of the top places to visit in Indonesia.

The park includes a group of islands. The three largest islands are Komodo, Rinca, and Padar. The first two have dragons. On both islands, you can do a short trek to see the dragons and their nests. The Island of Komodo is the most famous in the group it gave the name to the giant lizard. Rinca Island is closer to Labuan Bajo than Komodo. Padar Island has no dragons but it is known for its beautiful views. 

Once on the island, you get a guide that will escort you through and tell you about the lizards and answer your questions. If you visit the National Park outside of the mating season the lizards might be sleeping or lazily walking around. They give an impression of slow animals but it’s not true so don’t wander far from your group and don’t come too close to them. Seeing these pree-historic looking creatures in their natural environment is an incredible experience. Only for that, it’s worth coming to Labuan Bajo. The Komodo dragon doesn’t have natural predators it’s at the top of the food chain. Wild boars and deer are the main prey of the island dragons. The park entrance fee for international tourists is IDR 150 000/US$10 pp. on weekdays and IDR 225 000/US$15 pp. on weekends.

You can visit one of these islands on a day tour from Labuan Bajo. We were on two islands Komodo and Rinca on two different tours. Ticket prices usually include a return boat ride, snacks, and water. 

One o the thousands Komodo dragons on the islands in Indonesia
A male Komodo dragon on Komodo Island in Indonesia

Hike on Padar island

Padar or Pada is a small island located between Komodo and Rinca islands in the Komodo National Park. This beautiful island is a great place for hiking. Don’t worry there are no dragons on Parad Island. A hike to the top of Padar Island takes between 1h30min to 2 hours to and back. It isn’t a very challenging hike but given the high temperatures and humidity the ascent to the top of the hills. Your effort is rewarded with epic views of the island and the nearby islands. Besides spectacular panoramic views from the highest point of the island, Padar is known for its Pink Beach. The soft powderlike pinkish sand of the beach is perfect for relaxing after the hike.

You can get to Padar Island on a boat trip from Labuan Bajo. The travel time by speed boat is about 2 hours. 

Dive in the Komodo National Park

Diving is one of our favorite things to do in Labuan Bajo and the main reason we’ve been there several times and will definitely come again. Komodo is one of the top places for diving in the world and is definitely on the bucket list of many divers. Komodo is one of our favorite places to dive in Indonesia. There are several tour operators in the town that offer daily dive trips. Diving in the Komodo National Park and around Flores you can see impressive coral reefs and abundant marine life. It’s probably the best place for diving with manta rays in Indonesia. The manta season is between September and October. During that period you are almost guaranteed to see many of them diving at Manta Point, one of the best dive sites in the area to see giant mantas. 

You can find more information on diving in our Komodo diving guide.

A manta ray gliding in the water in the Komodo National Park
Diving and snorkeling with manta rays is one of the most popular things to do in Labuan Bajo

If you’re looking for more beautiful islands to visit in Indonesia I can highly recommend visiting Nusa Penida Island. We really like the place and diving around Nusa Penida was great.

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Island hopping from Labuan Bajo

Island hopping is the best way to visit some of the most beautiful beaches of the East Nusa Tenggara Province. A chilled day trip to a couple of islands with getting off at hidden beaches combined with snorkeling. The most popular places to stop on a day tour are Pink Beach on Padar, Komodo Island, Manta Point, Kanawa Island, and a tiny island Taka Makassar. Out of these places, Kanawa Island is one of the most famous islands. It’s known for its unspoiled sandy beaches and impressive coral reefs. The island is just 15 km away from Labuan Bao. Most island-hopping tours stop there on the way back. There used to be a resort on the island where you could stay overnight but it is temporarily closed. 

A boat at the pier at the sunset near Rica Island in Indonesia
Watching the sunset at Rica Island on an island-hopping trip from Labuan Bajo

Snorkeling around Flores Island

Snorkeling is one of the most popular water sports on Flores Island. The blue waters of the Indian Ocean are perfect for snorkeling. The coral reef in some places is very close to the surface you don’t have to be a freediver to be able to see the rich marine life. Snorkeling from Labuan Bajo you can see mantas, sea turtles, sting rays, cuttlefish, Napoleon Wrasse, Giant Trevally, angelfish, clownfish, etc.  

Many companies combine diving and snorkeling tours if you have a friend or a family member who doesn’t dive you still can enjoy a day out in the sea together. Most snorkeling tours include transportation, gear rental (fins, a mask, and a snorkel), lunch, refreshments, and snacks. 

Snorkelers in clean and warm water near Flores Island, Indonesia
Crystal-clear warm waters around Flores Island are great for snorkeling

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track island in Indonesia I can recommend visiting Pulau Weh Island in northwest Sumatra. Snorkeling and diving in Pulau Weh are quite good as well.

Explore Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo is a gateway to many smaller islands in the area. It’s easy to arrange any tours and activities from there. The town itself is worth exploring as well. There are some nice things to do in the town.  Before the tourist boom, Labuan Bajo used to be a small fishing village. many locals still do fishing for a living. You can visit a local market where you can find freshly caught fish and seafood. 

Having sundowners drink at Paradise Bar is a not-to-miss thing in Labuan Bajo. This beachfront bar offers the best views of the island at sunset. Cold beer and a live band are a great way to finish a day filled with adventures. 

​Getting to know the local culture

A visit to a traditional village of the Manggarai people is an enriching cultural experience. The Manggarai is one of the native tribes of Flores Island. They live in the western part of the island. The main occupation of the Manggarai is agriculture. Melo Village is one of the closest villages to Labuan Bajo town. The people of this small village meet visitors with a traditional dance called the caci dance. Dancers wear typical Manggarai costumes. After the dance ceremony, you can explore the village where you can see their traditional houses, try some o their traditional food, and buy souvenirs. The village is just a short trip from the center of the town.

Go on a liveaboard adventure

If you really want to see the incredible beauty of the Flores Sea and witness its diverse marine life doing a multi-day boat trip around the islands is the best way and Labuan Bajo is the right place to do it. A great thing about a multi-day boat trip is that you get to see some popular touristy places before day tours arrive there. Sleeping on a boat under the starry sky surrounded by untouched nature, watching sunsets every evening, snorkeling or diving most of the day, and relaxing on beautiful beaches is an amazing way to spend your holiday. I’d say it’s one of the best places in the world for a live-aboard experience. There are boat trips of different lengths from 2 days and 1 night to 1 week tours. 

Thousands of coral fishes in shallow waters near Flores
Coral reefs and abundant marine life near Flores Island are a perfect place to do a liveaboard

Visit Kalong Island 

A sunset boat tour to Kalong Island in the Komodo National Park is one not-to-miss thing to do in Labuan Bajo. The island is just 10 km away from Labuan Bajo. This uninhabited island, completely covered in mangroves is home to thousands of bats. Because of their fur color, they are sometimes called “flying foxes”. At sunset, bats leave the shade of the mangroves and start their search for food. Don’t worry these giant bats are herbivorous they love fruit. To see thousands of bats in the sky colored orang-red by the sunset is an unforgettable experience.

Watch sunset from Bukit Cinta

Bukit Cinta or Love Hill is a hill peak located just outside the town. Watching the sunset from the top of the hill is one of the most popular things to do in Labuan Bajo for couples. A hike to the top of Love Hill is very short and easy, not longer than 5 minutes. From the top, you get a great view of the west side of the island of Flores and the sea. At sunset, the sun descends into the water coloring the sky and the sea into different shades of orange. Expect to see many people there at that time of the day. 

How to get to Labuan Bajo in Indonesia?

There are different options for getting to Labuan Bajo. Which one to choose will depend on your budget, time, and location. Flying is the easiest and fastest way of getting there. There are several direct flights to Komodo Airport (LBJ) from Denpasar and Bali. The airport is located on the outskirts of the town. To get from there to your hotel you can take a taxi or a minibus. You can find more detailed information on different transport options from Bali to Labuan Bajo in our detailed post.

Is Labuan Bajo worth visiting?

Labuan Bajo is worth visiting because it’s the main gateway to the Komodo National Park. If you want to see the famous Komodo dragons Labuan Bajo is a great option to be based in. You can visit the park on a day trip from the town. The beautiful tropical waters and flourishing coral reefs around Flores Island are another great reason to visit the town. Diving and snorkeling in the area are some of the best in the world. As for the town itself, it’s not the most beautiful part of the island but it has good tourist infrastructure and is one of the best spots to explore the region.

One of the boats that offer liveaboard experience near a hilly island in Indonesia
There are hundreds of beautiful small islands near Labuan Bajo that you can visit on a boat trip

What makes it famous?

Labuan Bajo is a small town on the large island of Flores in Indonesia. The town became famous first of all due to its proximity to the Komodo National Park the only place in the world to see the Komodo dragon. From Labuan Bajo, you can do a Komodo Island tour. The impressive coral reef that surrounds Flores Island is another reason it is known for. Many people come to the area to dive in crystal-clear tropical waters around Flores Island. 

When is the best time to visit Labuan Bajo?

There are two defined seasons on Flores Island the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season is between November and April. Being a tropical island it rains heavily and often. February is the rainiest month of the year. The monsoon season brings not only heavy rains but strong winds and swell. Often the sea is too rough to go out on a boat. You might not be able to visit some of the islands. If you’re planning your trip to escape winter in the northern hemisphere keep it in mind. The dry season on the island is between May and October. August is the least rainy month with an average of 2 days of rain. July and August are the busiest months on the island. Many tourists, higher prices, etc. 

The best time to visit Labuan Bajo depends on what you want to do and to see there. If you want to see the Komodo dragons then any time during the day season is good. Between May and August is the mating season for the monitor lizards. During that time male dragons are more active. They wander around the island searching for female species. 

For seeing manta rays the peak season is between September and November. During that period you can see up to 20-30 mantas together at Manta Point. In November when the rainy season starts there are already not many tourists but still many mantas. Diving or snorkeling in the Komodo National Park you can see manta rays all year around but not as many together as during the peak season. We dived around Komodo twice. Once in August too early for the manta season and saw only a couple of them. And once in mid-September when we saw many mantas at Manta Point.

One of our favorite restaurants in Labuan Bajo La Cucina
La Cucina is one of our favorite restaurants in Labuan Bajo

Where to stay?

Labuan Bajo is a popular tourist destination so in the peak season it’s a good idea to book accommodation in advance. 

There are plenty of places to stay for different budgets from backpacker hostels to luxury resorts. You’ll be able to find a suitable place. 

What to eat?

There are many food options in the town. You can find pretty much any cuisine from local Indonesian eateries to Western coffee shops, Chinese restaurants, and bakeries. There is even a Starbucks in the town now. When we were there the first time it wasn’t there. Most of the restaurants and cafes are located on Soekarno Hatta Street, it’s the main street that runs from the harbor through the town. 

One of the most popular places is the Italian restaurant La Cucina. They have great pizza and sides. It’s always full at dinnertime. We quite liked their breakfast menu as well. Like many Western places, it’s quite a bit more expensive compared to local eateries but it’s understandable as many ingredients used for cooking are brought from Italy. 

The best place to eat freshly caught fish and seafood is the fish market, next to the ferry terminal. There you can choose fresh fish and ask them to grill or fry it for you right there. 

Blue Corner is a traditional Indonesian eatery that might not look to appealing from the outside compared to some places but the food there is quite good and prices are very reasonable. 

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Soumitra Panda

Monday 19th of August 2019

Hi, Terrific read, thanks! When checking the Komodo day trips to Komodo / Rinca online, the prices mentioned are significantly higher than what you have mentioned. Are those prices available if booked physically when one is in LBJ? Request your thoughts.

Stingy Nomads

Monday 19th of August 2019

Hello, Soumtra! Thank you for the comment! The prices might have changed in the last year or so but usually it's cheaper to buy tours on the location than book them online. So I'd suggest going to LBJ and shopping around you can always negotiate the price there. Safe travels!


Friday 11th of January 2019

Great post guys. Did you explore the stuff on Flores by motorbike? Or did you hire a driver as well? Did you guys miss Kelimutu in central Flores? Love the photos!

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