The scenic town of Labuan Bajo is located at the doorstep of the Komodo National Park. It has a natural deep harbor and is made up essentially two roads – one running alongside the shore and the other up in the hills. While it is a significant port town – it is still very rural and you won’t find any mass-tourism here, the nearest McDonalds is at least a 500 hundred kilometers away from here. There are hotels, there are western restaurants, but the can be counted on two hands. This is a functional, small port and trading town of only 25,000 people. Here you can enjoy the slow pace of life, small local restaurants and breathtaking sunsets over the Komodo National Park.
Without the mass tourism that has overtaken other parts of Indonesia – the people here are very friendly and you can easily explore the whole town by foot in just a few hours. The food stalls have plenty of exotic treats and the many nearby islands make for great scenery. During the day you can head out for trekking and tours – but don’t forget the often overlooked Labuan Bajo diving trips!
Labuan Bajo is situated at the extreme western end of the island of Flores. Flores is one of the most rugged and beautiful islands of the Indonesian Archipelago. Its landscapes are dominated by a string of mountains and volcanoes and the island has a lot to offer for the adventurous traveler. The roads on the island are not that well developed, but they will take you along scenic rice terraces and sleepy mountain sides hamlets with small local markets. Take some time to see the surrounding mountains, waterfalls and villages.
Labuan Bajo is surrounded by small islands and the diving is good, very good. From muck dives to sites that rival those inside Komodo. All these sites are easily reached by daytrips and often completely overlooked by those seeking out the park = empty dive sites. Our Labuan Bajo diving trips are often explorations too! There are a few dozens spots we still need to check out, so feel free to join us!
Being on a steep slope, western facing and at the edge of Komodo National Park – no visit to Labuan Bajo is complete without a sunset drink! The view is breath taking and the colors seen fill any art book. There a a few great places for this and don’t hesitate to ask the staff where to go! Before or after your trips into Komodo – you should also explore the incredible island of Flores. Joining an overland tour to see some amazing things!
The airport of Labuan Bajo is situated on the Eastern edge of the town and there are 6 daily flights departing from Bali and several to other smaller regional airports (Ende, Rutend, Maumere) . Another possibility to get here is to take a boat trip from Bali, Lombok, or Sumbawa which will take a few days.
Our boat departs to the Komodo Islands from the port of Labuan Bajo, which is right at the center of the town. From here, it is only a few minutes to the first dive sites in the area.
Did we mention the sunsets[/caption]
In Labuan Bajo many people speak a reasonable amount of English, with Bahasa Indonesia being the main language. In the restaurants and dive shops English is the primary language. Several local languages are spoken by the different communities that make up the town – with Bugis being most common among the fisherman and Manggarai among the local inhabitants. Many basic words in Bahasa are easy to learn and use – try it out!
Local currency is the Indonesian Rupiah. Bank notes: 100.000, 50.000, 20.000, 10.000, 5000, 1000 rph. Coins: 500, 200, 100. (Komodo Park is on the back of the new 50,000 notes!)
Electric current is 220 volt. Like much of Eastern Indonesia, the town in powered by a small diesel power plant. These are erratic and power cuts are common.
Depending on your provider you can use your own SIM card in most inhabited areas of Indonesia, but probably very, very expensive. If you intend to call or SMS frequently, it is best to buy an Indonesian mobile number and put the SIM card in your own phone. (ask your dealer if your phone is not ‘locked’ and will accept the Indonesian SIM card). This can be easily done in Bali and many small local phone shops. Simpati/telkomsel seems to provide the best coverage over the country – other services don’t work in Labuan Bajo!!! MicroSIM cards (Iphones) are uncommon and often cut by hand!
Most of Indonesia has 3g coverage and if you can, simply get an internet package for your phone. Wifi is common throughout the country and if you want an internet cafe they are called “warnet” and simply look for the kids – they love them:)
Best Time to Visit
Although you can enjoy activities throughout the year, the very best times to dive Labuan Bajo are between the months of March and October.
From the European historical story, Labuan Bajo was first the territory of Portuguese in the 14th to 15th century. It was already a major trading hub and out post of the Majapahit kingdom (1200-1500). Previous to this there are remains dating habitation back more than 4000 years in the nearby hills!!! With the coming of Westerners also came new religions. Currently the Island of Flores is pre-dominatnly Cathoilic, but the fishing area of Labuan Bajo is very much a muslim area – as these tend to be migrant workers. Since the opening of the Komodo National Park, Labuan Bajo is now known as the gateway to Komodo and the airport, harbor and waterfront are all being developed. International Airport status is being sought in 2014 and the new terminal should open shortly before that.
The weather in Flores, like the rest of Indonesia, is tropical and has a simple based on a wet and a dry season. What is different for Labuan Bajo – is the mountains surrounding the area which actually mean that the dry season is longer, the days are hotter and winds are a bit stronger. Thankfully, with the close proximity to the coast, there is often a cool breeze.
The wet season is commonly between December and March leaving April to November to the dry season. The surrounding mountains reach more than 1000 meters (3300ft) and are topped with extremely wet forests. Often shrouded in clouds, these mountains are not always seen from the town. But they keep the town dry, even dusty during the busy time.