Labuan Bajo, a Sunset City and Important Gateway

Heri Sisworo

Heri Sisworo

On English
Labuan Bajo - fishing town located at the western end of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia (c) Shutterstock Labuan Bajo - fishing town located at the western end of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

Labuan Bajo was a small fishing village in the western tip of Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara. In the old days, it was popular as a fishing hub by several ethnic groups like Bima, Manggarai, and even Bugis. Labuan Bajo becomes an important town when the tourism activity around the town got a massive attention.

There are 29 islands in Komodo National Park that is accessible from this town. Entering the park cost IDR5000 during weekdays and IDR7500 during weekend. For foreigner, the entrance fee is IDR150,000 (225,000).

Labuan Bajo - fishing town located at the western end of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia (c) Shutterstock
Labuan Bajo – fishing town located at the western end of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

Labuan Bajo then slowly shifted its main function as a gateway to several tourist destinations around it. This area is blessed with so many beautiful spots as well as rich natural ecosystem, especially its underwater biota. Labuan Bajo, a city popular for its spectacular sunsets, is the main hub to visit these places:

Komodo Island

Two Komodo dragon fight with each other. Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock
Two Komodo dragon fight with each other. Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock

This is the obvious one. Labuan Bajo is the buffer town to enter Komodo National Park. Komodo Island is approximately four hours boat ride away form from the town. In this island, you can witness the majestic Komodo dragon firsthand.

The dragons are roaming freely all over the island, including near the rangers’ compound. Make sure you are always guided by park ranger when you are there, park ranger fee is usually  about IDR200,000 per group. Oh, and there is an extremely pretty pink beach too in this island.

Padar Island

Padar island, Indonesia. Beautiful panorama view of the island with mountain and beach in sunrise. (c) Shutterstock
Padar island, Indonesia. Beautiful panorama view of the island with mountain and beach in sunrise. (c) Shutterstock

Padar Island is unique in a sense that it is a hiking spot in the middle of the ocean. Padar is located between two big island; Komodo and Rinca. It has many green hills, spiky points, and countless beaches. The hike is light and normally takes 20 minutes to finish if you can resist the urge to admire stop and admire the beauty along the way. There are several vantage points you can reach easily on foot. Hiking fee is IDR5000.

Diving in Search of Mermaids

Reef Manta approaches cleaning station with coral and fish. Komodo National Park, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock
Reef Manta approaches cleaning station with coral and fish. Komodo National Park, Indonesia (c) Shutterstock

As mentioned, The Komodo National Park is very rich, on land or underwater. Try diving near Seraya Kecil Island, one of the Islands in this park. You will most likely encounter dolphins, manta rays, and even whales. But the ultimate prize is the local mermaid, the dugongs. And if you can’t find the mermaids, you can console yourself with colorful coral reefs.

Liveaboard at Komodo

Vintage Wooden Ship with Blue Sails near Komodo Island, Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock
Vintage Wooden Ship with Blue Sails near Komodo Island, Indonesia. (c) Shutterstock

The easiest way to enjoy everything in the Komodo National Park is by being aboard of a Komodo Liveaboard. You are basically living on a sailboat, free to go anywhere you like within the park. You want to dive? Go to the best diving spots. You want to see some Komodo? Off you go to Komodo Island.

Or maybe you just want to enjoy your day with amazing vista, especially during sunrise and sunset. You can get on one of these boats at Labuan Bajo. The prices of the boats are different, based on the facility. It ranges from $160 to $600 per day.

How to get to Labuan Bajo

Aerial view Labuan Bajo port in Flores, Indonesia on sunset. (c) Shutterstock
Aerial view Labuan Bajo port in Flores, Indonesia on sunset. (c) Shutterstock

Access to Labuan Bajo is available via land, sea, and air. Komodo Airport is connected with several cities in Indonesia such as Kupang, Mataram, Denpasar, and Ende. There are several ship cruising to this town from Surabaya, Makassar, and Benoa (Bali). Overland trip is possible within Flores Island with cities like Ende or Maumere.