Labuan Bajo is a small fishing town located at the western end of Flores, in the Nusa Tenggara region of East Indonesia and gateway to the Komodo National Park. This little port town is the launching point for trips to Komodo Island and Rinca Island, home to famous komodo dragons. Diving, snorkeling and islands hopping in the Komodo National Park are also famous activities for tourists who visit this island.
My children and I only spent three days in Labuan Bajo, which was very short I know. So, as expected we didn’t see as much as we would like. But, not to worry, we are planning to come back there again on a road trip from Lombok, one day, fingers cross! While the father of my children and his two brothers spent four nights on a dive boat, my boys and I had a fun-tastic four days in Bali surfing, water-booming, and eating yummy food before we flew to meet the rest of the crew.
Where we stay
We stayed at Golo Hilltop Hotel, only about 10 minutes drive from the Komodo Airport. The hotel is ok, not posh but not shabby too. Just comfortable should I say. There’s no tv in the room but full on AC and fan, and the bathroom is clean and spacious but the shower is not so strong. The view from the rooms upstairs is spectacular because it’s located quite up in the hills.., but the stairs! Oh my my my! In a positive way, it’s a good exercise for your thighs and legs! Also the view from their restaurant where you have breakfast, ( and if you want lunch and dinner ) and from the pool side is just gorgeous, especially when the sun is setting and cold Bintang in hand! 🙂
If you fancy a bit more posh type accommodation, try Pelataran Komodo, is a bit out of Labuan Bajo and of course way dearer.
How we get around
To get around Labuan Bajo, such as from our hotel to the main town where the restaurants are, you can walk (about 45 minutes, and not 15 minutes like I was told by the receptionist at the hotel, thank you!) or get a bemo or little van that can fit 8 to 10 people. First night, because we were told it was ONLY 15 minutes walk from the hotel so we did our walk in the dark and dusty street and actually it took us more like an hour because we got a little lost and weren’t sure where to go. When we finished our dinner it was almost 10.30pm and the street was very empty. Lucky, there was one motorbike (ojek) so we asked him to get us back to the hotel. Because there were four of us and only one motorbike, he had to do two rounds. First trip was twin#2 and I, and then he returned to pick up my husband and twin#1. I felt sorry for him as I think the motorbike nearly died trying to get my husband up the hill 🙂 🙂 After that night, we always asked the receptionist to get us a bemo because there were 8 of us so I don’t think motorbike trip would work good :p
What we do
Since basically we only have two full days in Labuan Bajo, the next day we rented a wooden medium size local boat and off to Rinca Island to see the dragons. Rinca is slightly smaller than Komodo Island and easily done in a day trip. From Labuan Bajo to Rinca Island it took us about 2 hours, as it was a slow boat as well, but that was ok as it was beautiful scenery and calm clear sea. We stopped to pick up my brother-in-laws who were still on the dive boat somewhere near Rinca Island. The komodo dragon only can be found in Komodo Island, Rinca Island, and Gili Matong. It is not very easy to find the dragon in the bush, but our tour guide knows the spots where the dragons sun-bathing, it’s near the camp kitchen 🙂 He also showed us where the females dig huge burrows to lay their eggs. I think I had high expectation of this lizard thing. I thought they would be so big in size and so many. In fact, they were not that big and only a few around. According to our guide, komodo dragons can smell blood within 5 kilometers, so women who are having period are advised not to visit the island. In case you are chased by the dragon, you should run zig-zag or try to climb a tree, as they can only run straight and can’t climb trees…. at least that’s what our boys had read somewhere.
After Rinca, on our way back to Labuan Bajo, we detoured for snorkeling around the Mawan Island hoping to see some Manta Rays. The wind had sprung up and the trip was a bit windy, rough and wet with spray. To our disappointment there were none, maybe because the current was so strong and seas rough at that time. So we moved to another protected spot, and oh my God lots and lots of colorful fish swimming around like crazy with bright, colorful corals surrounding you. Very beautiful!
Cancun Wulang Waterfall
The next day we hired a car with a driver and headed to Wulang waterfall. From Labuan Bajo is about 30 km, not that far, but we went through a long winding, bumpy, dodgy and very steep up and down hills road. Even the bridge had partly collapsed in some places. We stopped at the post entrance to pay for the fee and from here we had to walk for about 1.5 hours to reach the waterfall and gorge. Our guide, Pak Thomas Munro, who is an old man and the head of the tribe of the village, walked very fast and easy while we were trotting and puffing behind him. It was not that bad going down, but on our way back it was going up all the time. I almost felt like this was never gonna end and I just wanted to lie there and could not move. I was drenched in sweat that my t-shirt just wet. It was no problem at all for the boys though…..they were just as quick as a deer hopped here and there! I think I need more “boot camp” session!
The waterfall itself is pretty amazing. Unfortunately by the time we got there a few local people and tourist were already there, so I felt a bit ‘uneasy’ but it was not that bad. Of course my kids had to jump off the cliffs a couple of times. I only did it once and that was enough for me! We swam and it felt so good, so refreshing.
Where to eat
The Treetop Hill Seafood Restaurant
I highly recommended this restaurant. The food is delicious and the service is good and quick. From where you sit, especially if you are on the second floor you can see the harbor of Labuan Bajo. We ate here twice and ordered the same things ; grilled fish, squids balado, long beans with chilli fish, kangkung balacan, and grilled prawns…ohhh so yummy! 🙂 Food is cheap in Labuan Bajo, by the way.
We had a good Greek meals here. The chicken Souvlaki and Gyro are to die for. I’m impressed for little town like Labuan Bajo to have such a good food. Though it took a while for the food to come but it worth the wait. Going to the toilet here was an adventure and caused us no end of laughs. You had to go through someone’s bedroom with them asleep on the bed! We all got lost and never told the others what to expect 🙂
Made in Italy
This restaurant is quite posh and the food was average. We did like the ‘welcome stick’ though 🙂
Where to hang out
Paradise Bar, located in the hill, it’s just walking distance from our hotel Golo Hilltop. Paradise Bar is actually restaurant during the day and only change in to a bar on Saturday night. Don’t expect to hear any latest dancing songs, the music choice is very 80s or 90s, I reckon. But at least in this bar you don’t need to dress up, you can wear whatever you like. Most of them just wearing t-shirt and short and sandals 🙂
How to get to Labuan Bajo
From Bali, there are couple flights in a day operated by Garuda and Lion Air. It’s 1.5 hour flight and very pleasant. From Lombok, there are boats and ferry too.
Til later Flores!