Labuan Bajo is a small town nestled in western part of Flores, Indonesia. It used to be a fishing village but now it’s a thriving hub for Indonesian tourism. Labuan Bajo is just a lazy, laid-back town by the beach, however, it is the launching point for big adventures and exciting experiences for travelers.
My trip to Labuan Bajo last month was simply incredible. It was part of the “Trip of Wonders” organised by Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia along with 35 other bloggers and influencers.
With so much to do, see and experience, this place left me amazed and wanting more. I created this list from my own experiences and the places I was lucky enough to see in my short 3 days there. Pretty sure there are many more islands, beaches and interesting places to visit in Labuan Bajo- which means, I need to come back soon to explore more!
My Favorite Things to do in Labuan Bajo in 3 days
Experiencing local culture at Melo Village
Kampung Melo was our first stop in Labuan Bajo. After a traditional warm welcome by the Manggarai, we witnessed an array of cultural performances, relished local Manggarai cuisine and experienced their way of life.
The villagers make the complicated process of Ikat weaving look like child’s play. Their traditional bamboo pole game, Caci dance and various other forms of dancing were quite enjoyable and make for the perfect half day tour.
The Caci dance is perhaps the most integral part of their culture. It is a whip fight where male members of the Manggarai hold a whip and shield in either hands to demonstrate philosophical values and beliefs of their tribe. The entire village is involved and comes to life with the sound of chants, songs and bells.
Visiting Komodo National park
Komodo national park was the most sought after stop in the itinerary for me and luckily, it did not disappoint. The park is home to over 4000 Komodo monitor lizards.
Komodo island is the only place in the world where you can see these dragons and hence is a popular tourist attraction…And let me tell you, these lizards are massive.
I was especially respectful of these majestic creatures when I heard man-eating encounters of Komodo dragons in the park. There had been 2 incidents where humans were prey to these dominant predators who are fast and agile. They ambush their prey using their natural camouflage and watch their prey with patience before pouncing with their strong claws in teeth. It is no wonder that sometimes, they can even take down large animals like water buffaloes.
If you don’t believe me, watch this video of these powerful Komodo dragons hunting their prey – Yes, even buffaloes, deer, cobra and pigs!
Chilling at the Pink beach
Pink beach, locally known as Pantai Merahis gets it’s name from Foraminifera which look like tiny pink corals and are spread all around the beach giving it a pink tinch, especially on the shoreline.
It is the perfect place for a dip, sun bathing, hiking, sunset watching or snorkeling.
Wait you can even pose at the pink beach. Look at these wonderful blue layers of water in the ocean, making for an excellent backdrop.
Cruising through Kalong Island
As our first day at Labuan came to and end, we decided to enjoy the melting sun on our speed boat. I was surprised to see millions of bats (flying foxes) hovering around as the sun set and realized we were just next to the famous “Bat island”. This was quite an experience with the bats flying around as the sun sets in the horizon and the waves cradle our boat.
24 hours sailing experience
This was by far the highlight of my current Indonesian escapade. If you happen to be in Labuan Bajo, don’t miss this chance to get live on board a lovely sail boat and cruise through the islands. You will be surrounded by epic beauty and enjoy many adventures/ activities whilst at it.
Here are some of the things we did while onboard “Phinisi Felicia” –
Snorkeling in Kanawa island
Labuan Bajo with its clear blue green waters and mesmerizing scenic views, offers a vivid underwater life as well. I was amazed at the variety of coral reefs and fish I saw in these stunning waters. For me, this was the best snorkeling experience ever.
Exploring Mesa Village
Next on our list was a short stop to see this village on stilts. This village consists of over 1500 people and they don’t have any fresh water at all.
From what I hear, the villagers are scared of mosquitoes (Dengue) and hence they stopped accumulating water in any form through the years, since we all know mosquitoes breed in water. As per the villagers though, this is just one of the stories that has been passed on through generations and no one really knows how much truth it holds!
What surprised me most in this village was the fact that all kids were so friendly. They would not hesitate to hold your hand and walk with you as you explore the village and their parents were very supportive of their kids wandering off with strangers. I don’t see this trust a lot while traveling and its heart warming and surprising, both at the same time.
Hiking up Padar Island
Okay this is definitely a “must-do” if you are in Komodo. During our night at the boat, we made a stop to enjoy sunset from top of Padar island. It was the best decision ever, as this made my entire trip worthwhile – seriously!
I kept hearing how steep and difficult the hike was but I was determined to make it to the top. In all honestly, I would rate it as a moderate (but steep) climb which I enjoyed to the fullest.
The best part was when I found my own spot, isolated from the hoards of tourists and photographers, waiting in anticipation for the sun to set.
It took some effort and grass blade cuts, to walk on unpaved paths to reach the tip of a cliff but as you can see from these pictures, it was totally worth it and the 30 mins I spent looking at this exotic scenery, were surely some of the best moments of my life.
Onboard Felicia, we had a lovely sun deck with lounge bean bags. It was a great place to dance, chat and do some yoga during the day. At night, it was a different ball game all together. As the night approached, I could see the sky light up with millions of stars.. and soon we could see the milky way with our naked eyes. I was so mesmerized by this scene that I was the last one to go to sleep that night. After all, how many times does it happen that you are on a boat amidst untouched natural beauty and get to gaze at a clear sky full of stars and gawk at the milky way? Well, it was surely a first for me!
Jumping off boats
Yes! That’s a thing and also a ‘must try’ experience. Since we were on our lovely exotic Felicia, many fellow members jumped off the boat into the inviting blue green waters.
Where to stay in Labuan Bajo
Jayakarta Suites Komodo Flores – The best part of Jayakarta for me was the pool with the strategically placed huge chess board by it. The fact that it is right next to the beach and offers amazing room views, is definitely a big bonus.
Phinisi Felicia boat by Plataran – Our night at the boat was one of the top highlights of the trip and everyone at the trip of wonders will vouch for it. Get on-board Phinisi private boats to sail away to glory at Labuan Bajo.
Have you been to Flores or seen any other beautiful islands/ parts of Indonesia? Tell me about your Indonesian escapades in comments below – I am all ears!