Updated: Jul 3
The first thing that struck me as I was wondering the streets of Labuan Bajo was that, it felt like Bali, 20 years ago. Most of their activities and nightlife revolves around one street, Jalan Soekarno Hatta.
The upper part of town is perched on top of a hill and overlooks the most stunning sunsets that I can remember with backdrops from another world! The airport is small and not more than 15 minutes away from any accommodation around town!
There are few destinations you could cover around Labuan Badjo, namely Gua Rangko, Gua Batu Cermin and view the sunset at Bukit Slyvia. With around 600,000 Rp, (appx 15 euros) one could hire a taxi to cover all these places while he waits for you. Alternatively you could use Grab app and hire a motorbike taxi if you are travelling alone. In addition to that, there is a fee of 50,000 Rp if when you enter Gua Rangko and Gua Batu Cermin.
The sleepy hollow is a gateway to more exotic islands of Flores, Komodo National Park in particular. There are many companies offering day, 1 night, 2 nights live on board tour to the islands, from luxury to budget boats! It is important to choose correctly the spots that you wish to visit!
It is also important to choose from a reputable company. I have friends who have experienced boat capsize in the middle of sea due to faulty engine! Always remember safety and trustworthiness is important!
Before I embark on my trip, I did some research and choose to sail with Vinca tours. The luxury boat caters for maximum of 16 guests! Customized and personal service!
BEST STOPS IN KOMODO ISLAND YOU MUSN'T MISS
sunset at Flying Fox Island (Kalong Bay)
Pink sand (Long Beach)
Taka Makassar sand bank in the middle of sea
Padar Island (every boat will make a stop here)
Kelur Island (a little dirty and crowded little island)
Komodo Island (main island with the dragons) or
Rinca Island (alternative island with the dragons)
Flying Fox Island (Kalong Bay)
As twilight approached we anchored in the Kalong Bay, along with few other boats. We waited in anticipating for the nightly migration of Flying fox (bats) from the islands to the mainland to hunt for fruits.
It was nature's display to the fullest, as the skies turn a bright red and as it sets in the horizon, these bats with wide wingspan slowly fills the sky, in hundreds and thousand or more........
Their syncronized flight pattern in thousands is a sight to behold, with a few stray ones, and the cycle repeats each night. We watched them vanish towards the mainland, as night fell, and the music started playing.
PINK SAND (LONGBEACH)
Waking up from the boat to see the pink shores from a distance was otherworldly. As we walked on the rose hue beach, we could see fragments of broken organ pipe coral which are a bright red brought in by the currents and washed to the shore. It mixes with the white sands creating the delicate pink that seems so surreal! It is worth noting that the beaches all around Komodo is a pink hue due to the organ pipe corals that were once abundant around the Komodo islands.
TAKAR MAKASSAR SANDBANK
A crescent sandbank no bigger than a football field in the middle of the ocean. The sand here is pink and similar to that at the pink beach, but bigger fragments of the organ pipe coral!
It is well known for the crystal clear water swimming pool in the middle of the ocean. The sandbanks is more pronounce as the tide recedes.
Probably the most popular island after Komodo, this hike up to view the sunset or sunrise is a MUST! Our boatman suggested to hike for the sunset view in hope to avoid crowds. However, there were throngs of tourist already up there as we arrived after the 1km moderate stair hike up the 145m peak! Do bring water as the afternoon sun on the shadeless trail is stifling!
There were many deers feeding on the grassy lands on this island. The Komodo dragons don't roam in Padar Island, so rest assured that these deers will not end up in the jaws of the dragon!
It is a small island close to the mainland with a little hill for some fascinating view of the rugged hills of Komodo Islands. However, I did not find this island particularly stunning after visiting the sandbank and the pink beach in Padar Island.
There were small stalls selling some drinks and souvenier, and few tourist boats docked along the beach, obstructing the view! On the other-side of the island at the shallow area acts as a nursery for juvenile black tip sharks and fish!
If you did not do any research before traveling to Komodo Island, you wouldn't have known that June, July and August are mating months for the dragons. Therefore less visible on the trails, where they would be otherwise basking by the beach or simply laying by the bushes.
The other island that houses the dragons is Rinca Island. This must be an alternative to Komodo Island as the crowds are huge especially during high season.
As it was mating season, the sighting of the dragons is rare. However, we did encountered one dragon in the bush, during the 2km trail. It was not as I have anticipated it to be, as it seemed lethargic, lazy and inactive! We took the mandatory shot with the dinosaur lizard and continued our journey in hope to find more, but unfortunately not!
We encountered more Timur deers, more birds as we trekked though the forest full of tamarind trees! #komododragon
BREAKDOWN OF FEES:
National Park Fees for 3 days: IDR 550K per pax
After chatting with few locals, I believe that to view the dragons on Komodo Island would be a better choice! There appear to be more dragons in Komodo Island.
Labuan Badjo, Flores is truly a gem. While there are no international direct flights here at the moment, the amount of tourist is still under in checked! If you explore outside town, you could glimpse the way of life of locals, still primitive compared to Bali. This town is not a party town but rather tranquil and calm, without the chaotic traffic!
This town and the island of Komodo is paradise on earth and it is best to visit it now before mass tourism arrives! There were many huge construction sites of new hotels filling up the shores of Labuan Bajo. I can imagine it to be another Canggu in few years to come!
Date of visit: June 2023