Komodo National park viewpoint labuan bajo

The Ultimate Labuan Bajo, Komodo Travel Guide

Labuan Bajo is the gateway city to the incredible Komodo National Park on the island of Flores, Indonesia. I’ve been extensively throughout my travel life as it is where I did my divemaster course, and spent many months of my life diving in some of the best sites in the world.

Komodo National park viewpoint labuan bajo

Labuan Bajo prior to 2020 was a very ugly city with really no reason to stay. I came here for the first time in 2015 and it was simply a city to fly into before leaving for the Komodo National Park as soon as possible. After COVID, this city was completely re-done in crazy fast and crazy developed fashion. There are restaurants, cafes, and even 5* hotels which would be unfathomable a decade ago. It’s quickly turning into a city that will be a destination in and of itself within the next 5 years.

Labuan Bajo Flores indonesia

Getting to Labuan Bajo


Located east of Bali, the easiest way to get here is to take a flight from Bali or Jakarta to Labuan Bajo. Unforuntately, there are no direct flights from places like Lombok or even Sumbawa (the island next to Flores) as you’ll need to fly back to Bali for these flights. The main airlines that fly to Labuan Bajo are Garuda Indonesia, WingsAir, AirAsia and BatikAir.

Wingsair bali
Wingsair plane departing from Bali Airport!

The flight time from Bali is just over 1 hour and you’ll have amazing views the entire way. From the airport, you can take a taxi to the city for 75-100k IDR and the drive is not even 10 minutes to the city center.

Note that you use Gojek from the airport as the taxi mafia controls it which is why it is so expensive. However, once you are in Labuan Bajo city, you can take a Gojek taxi back to the airport which is much cheaper. A scooter Gojek for example is only 20k IDR.

Best time of year to visit Labuan Bajo


Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park follow the same climate as in Bali and Lombok. The rainy season is generally from November to March with the dry season following suit. Flores island is also a bit drier than Bali which means that the dry season will generally be more sunny with less chances of rain.

ayana komodo hotel

The high season is generally between May and October but do not sleep on the rainy season in the area. The best times to see the manta rays are in the rainy season!

Day trips from Labuan Bajo to Komodo National Park

If you’re not a diver, don’t worry as most of the tourists that come to Labuan Bajo are not divers either. The much more popular trips to Komodo are the 1 to 3 day cruises around the park visiting the highlights like Padar Island, pink beach, and snorkeling with the mantas.

padar island komodo national park

Depending on how much time you have and your budget, there are different boats with varying degrees of comfort. From Labuan Bajo, there are countless companies all around town that will organize a trip for you and there are many boats that make the trip. For a day trip boat to the national park visiting the Komodo dragons and snorkeling with mantas, you can expect to pay about 1.5m IDR for the day.

Diving in Komodo National Park

I spent many days scuba diving in Komodo National Park. This is where I did my divemaster course after all and I spent two months here in total.

padar island komodo national park

Wow, the diving in Komodo is absolutely incredible. Komodo National Park is part of the Coral triangle, a small part of the South Pacific that is home to the highest marine life density in the world. The corals are out of this world. Healthy, vibrant, and abundant, I was shocked at how much more intensely beautiful it was compared to the other places I’ve dived. Komodo and Raja Ampat are among the best dive destinations in the world.

Your average at the Komodo National Park...
Your average at the Komodo National Park…

In addition to the incredible diversity of fish and coral, Komodo is famous for its resident manta rays that call this place home. They can be seen in the park at all times of the year, sometimes numerous mantas at once. I’ve been on probably hundreds of manta dives in Komodo and it never gets old. I’ve been on dives where I’ve seen 1 manta, and dives where I’ve seen almost 100 mantas. You never know what you’ll find!

Komodo National Park Batu Balong manta rays
Beautiful manta rays in Komodo

Best dive shops in Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo has always been the gateway to the Komodo National Park and there are numerous dive shops in Labuan Bajo that offer just that. I’ve dived extensively in the Komodo National Park and it is one of the top dive spots in the world in my opinion. Diving in Komodo is not only incredible underwater but above water as well with dramatic landscapes all around.

dive shop Labuan bajo komodo

I’ve always dived exclusively with Scuba Junkie which has a dive resort about 30 minutes outside of Labuan Bajo in the nearby village of Warloka which is really in the middle of nowhere. Their resort is beautiful and is a stunning retreat away from the masses in Labuan Bajo.

However, in recent years, Labuan Bajo has transformed itself into a city that you actually wouldn’t mind staying in so diving from the main town is as good of an option as any. I’ve only dived with a few dive shops in the town but they are almost all quite good and offer the same dive trips.

  • Neren Dive Shop
  • Azul
  • Blue Marlin
  • Uber Scuba
  • Sea Creatures
  • Manta Rhei
  • Dive Komodo

I went diving with Neren for a few days purely because I liked the size of their boat. Manta Rhei also seemed to have a nice day boat from what I saw at the pier.

Where to stay in Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo has changed drastically in recent years. During my first visit in 2015, it was only hostels and backpacker style accommodations. Fast forward to the present and there are numerous 5* luxury hotels all around the town, with many more slated to be built in the coming years. There’s something for everyone now. If you’re diving from a dive shop in town, staying in the city is easiest since you need to be at the port by 7am every morning for your trip.

ayana komodo hotel
labuan bajo indonesia komodo

Keep in mind that if you stay in the main town, you’ll want to stay somewhere with good windows as the street traffic is very loud. In addition, there is a mosque in the center of the city that has call to prayers starting from 430am.

Here are my favorite accommodation options in Labuan Bajo, split out in various price points.

Budget accommodations in Labuan Bajo (<$50 USD per night)

Mid-level ($50-$200)

Luxury ($200 and above)

Best cafes and restaurants in Labuan Bajo

Labuan Bajo is now home to an array of restaurants and cafes with more opening up all the time. I will admit that the quality here will not be like Bali which is in my opinion one of the top cafe spots in the world. However, give it some time and it is inevitable that the Bali effect will make its way to Labuan Bajo like it already did in Kuta, Lombok. Here are some of the cafes and restaurants that I liked in the city.

This list will continue to grow as more places open up in Labuan Bajo which is only inevitable!

Carpenter Cafe and Roastery

One of my favorite cafes in Labuan Bajo. Located on the main strip, this locally run cafe opens early and has some of the better coffee in town. They also have a nice selection of pastries and baked goods in the mornings.

Komodough

The craft bakery scene is starting in Labuan Bajo. Komodough (what a great name by the way) offers great bread, pastries, and baked goods for those missing their carb fix. They don’t have any other food however so it’s best to come here for a coffee and snack.

Cafe Melinjo

Happy Banana

Happy Banana is one of the better restaurants in town. They have an extensive sushi menu that is actually quite decent. I came here for dinner and brunch and really enjoyed my meals.

Alma

Alma is located on the hill overlooking the bay and is one of the newer and trendier restaurants in town. This Mediterranean themed restaurant offers incredible views of the bay along with great food. I can highly recommend this place if you want great views in a trendier setting.

Senja Eatery

Senja eatery is a great restaurant for local Indonesian food. It’s located right on the mainstrip but offers views of the bay to go with your meal. I really loved their nasi campur here and it’s great when you’re craving more local food.

Mimamori

Mimamori is one of my favorite cafes in Labuan Bajo. This is the go to place for breakfast for me as it has all the brunch classics with fantastic coffee.

Fellas Pizzeria

Fellas Pizzeria offers the best pizza in all of Labuan Bajo. This place has a legit Napoli style pizza over that churns our delicious pizza in a place far away from where you would think you could find good pizza.

Le Bajo

Many years ago, the thought of a fancy restaurant and oceanfront bar in Labuan Bajo would have been impossible. Le Bajo changed all that with their beautiful restaurant with perfect views of the sunset. Le Bajo even has Bali style net beds which make for perfect photos. I came here for sunset drinks on many of the nights I stayed in Labuan Bajo. I even ordered a negroni which turned out to be delicious and blew all my expectations of what Labuan Bajo could be.

Labuan Bajo Night Fish Market

Every night, the fish market comes alive with countless fish vendors grilling up seafood directly in front of you. Before Labuan Bajo was completely redone as a city, the fish market was an old school market. While it was certainly more grimy, it had way more character. Nowadays, the fish market still offers great fish and food, but is in a much clearner setting. I went here once and grabbed some fresh grilled fish and prawns. The prices are very reasonable for the fish and you can always negotiate the prices.

I can recommend the stall named “Grace” for those that want to eat more local!

Where to go around Labuan Bajo


Labuan Bajo itself, while it is much nicer than it was in the past, is still not the cosmopolitan destination that something like Bali is, especially the Canggu area.

Labuan Bajo Flores indonesia

From Labuan Bajo, head to the rolling hills north of the city for some of the most spectacular views of the Komodo National Park that you can find. The best way to do this is simply to rent a scooter which you can do at almost any shop in town. If you’re not comfortable renting a scooter, organize a driver through your accommodations.

For starters, put into your map the “Amelia viewpoint” which is a 10 minute scooter ride out of town. You’ll see the rolling hills of the Labuan Bajo region.

From here, ride further north to the little peninsula at the top of the map. This area is home to the luxury hotels of Labuan Bajo like the Ayana and Marriott hotels. You’ll also be higher up affording you stunning Greek Mediterranean style views over the ocean and the Komodo National Park. For the best views, go to G-Spot which is a cafe that is perfect for a coffee or for a sunset beer.

G Spot Labuan Bajo bar cafe

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