Exploring Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

By Marla D · Feb 21, 2016

The Trip — boating, beach and bliss with friends in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

Duration — 8 nights

Origin — Perth

Type of Trip— Beach, Komodo Dragons

Group Size— 3 people

Trip Dates and Average Temperature— we went at the end of August 2015 and the temperature couldn’t have been better. Not a day of rain, sunny every day around 32 C. Nights only feel cooler if you got burnt during the day.

Mode of Transportation — AirAsia from Perth to Bali, Wings Air from Bali to Labuan Bajo, boat charter around Labuan Bajo

Cost — all flights, boat charter, accommodation and food was approximately $2250 per person from Perth for the 8 nights

General Route — 1 night in Seminyak on either end of the trip, 2 nights 3 days on the boat, 4 nights at Seraya Hotel and Resort

Accommodation — 2 nights at Mutiara Bali Boutique Resort, 2 nights on the boat, 4 nights at Seraya Hotel and Resort (island near Labuan Bajo)

Main Activities — beach, snorkeling, kayaking, island hopping, diving

Food and Drink Highlights — Mama San, Barbacoa and Sarong all in Bali, fresh fish on the boat

Essential Packing for this Trip — sunscreen, your own snorkel and mask, your own beach towel


Rate the overall trip — 9/10 Safe exploring and incredible natural beauty around a relatively unspoiled ‘neighbour’ of Bali

Rate the activity on your trip — 8/10 It could have been a 10 had we mapped out our own boat course, but research was hard to come by. As it was, we followed the typical tourist route.

Rate the ease of logistics — 9/10 Very easy to get to Labuan Bajo, find our boat etc. Starts to get hard if you want to change course en route because none of the 3 boat crew spoke English and our Bahasa was very basic.

Luxury factor — 6/10 It was extremely varied. I rate the Mutiara in Bali as comfortable budget accommodation, our boat was extremely basic, and Seraya hotel was fairly premium, especially after you step off the boat.

About The Traveller



I’m from
the Canadian Rockies

My favourite trip as of late
beach and culture in Sri Lanka last year

I often travel…
For work, and then extend my trip to explore

I would class myself as
an experienced traveller

I regularly go on the following types of trips
Culture, sporty, beach, gourmet, relax

It’s a dealbreaker when
my accommodation or the restaurant is dirty

Continent I know the best

Our own beach in Labuan Bajo

Our Experience

I met up with two friends from Spain in Bali for our Labuan Bajo adventure. They had already spent the previous two weeks traveling around Myanmar. Every August I find myself wishing I were Spanish…

Day 1 - fly into Bali. Denpasar airport has been upgraded and most countries don’t need to pay for a visa now which is great. Check into Mutiara Bali Boutique Hotel - I stay here when I’m just in Bali for transit. It’s a great budget accommodation - inexpensive, centrally located in Seminyak with big, clean rooms and really cheap airport transfer service (180,000 Rp one way). Breakfast is not their forte. We had lunch at Mama San and dinner at Barbacoa and of course fit a massage in somewhere.

Day 2 - fly from Bali to Labuan Bajo with Wings Air (approximately 40 minute flight). Note that it’s not widely publicised or enforced, but officially you can only check in 8kg of luggage on Wings Air (that’s right, checked luggage, not carry on). We found this out in advance and Mutiara was kind enough to let us leave our big suitcases at the hotel until we got back. Our boat owner picked us up at the Labuan Bajo airport. We booked through a guy named Andy Rona +62 813 3798 0855 - an Indonesian dude who was friends with the boat owner. We paid 2.5 million rupiah for the 2 night 3 day trip on the extremely basic boat that all the mid/low budget travellers go on. 1 little cabin with 1 bunk and 1 bed (3 spots total) that you have to lay diagonal on to fit. The boat was clean, had no running water (the bathroom which we often got trapped in had a bucket of seawater by the toilet for you to flush with) and had a small table for dining and then an upper deck which was nice for chilling. No aircon obviously, although there were these tiny fans near the beds that turned on when the generator did, however we didn’t use them. The temperature was comfortable at night and we were up with the sun.

Dining table onboard the long boat

We started our excursion around 1pm (along with a lot of other travellers arriving to the Labuan Bajo airport), and our first stop was a very uninspiring little beach to swim, I can’t remember the name of it, but all these boats follow the same circuit. Then we went to a mangrove bay to anchor for the night where we watched hundreds of thousands of flying foxes come out of the mangroves at sunset and fly overhead to eat for the night. This was phenomenal.

Day 3 (2nd day on the boat) - boated to one of the entrances to Komodo National Park (we entered on Rinca island) and paid about 18 euros / person for about 8 different tickets (this one is for the park entrance fee, this one is for the guided walk you’re going to do, this one is…) It was super cool to see the komodo dragons and some other wildlife. It seemed that no matter your group size, you were given your own guide which was nice to not be lumped together or waiting for others. Our guide had named himself Castro. You decide between the short, medium and long walks (the longest of which is 2 hours) and right away the guide tried to ‘upsell’ us to go on an additional walk that wasn’t included in any of the 8 ticket prices and where just this morning he saw absolutely giant komodos. To Castro’s disbelief we declined the upsell and carried on with our medium walk. It was short but lovely and the komodos were pretty impressive and massive to us. Next our crew was supposed to take us to another part of Rinca island to do some hiking but all we really wanted was to be in the water. With the help of a local who spoke some English, we were able to skip the hiking.

Bed on the long boat

From there we boated to pink beach. A bit of an anticlimax because the sand is supposed to be pink. The photos are all photoshopped where you can see the pink beach from afar. It does actually have a pink hue because of the coral that is there, but you can only see it once you are actually on the beach. The swimming there was ok, but again, you’re with every other tour boat there. Despite that, we were still only about 20 people on the beach. Knowing what we do now, we would have also skipped pink beach and gone for some amazing snorkeling instead. Dinner that night was some small grilled fish that they had caught while waiting for us on Rinca island. They were really tasty. The food in general was very basic but usually good and the crew was good natured and really seemed to care that we were happy. The crew consisted of 3 young men, probably between 18 and 25 years old.

Day 4 (3rd day on the boat) - All of the boats set off in the morning to go looking for massive mantas. Apparently they have a favourite spot on our route, but we weren’t lucky to see any that day. The next stop was an island with backpacker accommodation. The reason the boats take people there is because the snorkeling is actually really good and there were a lot of corals. The beach itself wasn’t nice, but there was a small bar where you could buy a beer. From there they took us to our hotel: Seraya Hotel and Resort (www.serayahotel.com) which had only been opened a couple months earlier by a Greek guy and his daughter. It was absolutely lovely and I would go back there in a second. They still have a lot to perfect because it was new, but over all it was very good. The design had a mediterranean Indonesian blend (think white-wash wood and batik linens). You can get cheap massages (book earlier because they boat the masseuse over from Labuan Bajo), yoga classes (same), and you can book different tours for the day. My friend did a dive trip one day which he said was spectacular. The snorkeling in the small bay right in front of our resort was also very good. We saw all sorts of things including turtles which I saw from the glass bottom kayak I took out. We also kayaked during the day across the bay to an island that was within view and it was stunning. We could have hung out there for hours in the crystal clear water but Rosie from the hotel warned us to come back due to the tides.

We stayed here for 4 nights in an adjoining room. There were Italians, Germans, British and Spanish there at the same time as us.

Day 8- Wings air back to Bali and check in to Mutiara Bali for one more night. Dinner at Sarong Restaurant (must book in advance during high season) followed by drinks at Potato Head beach club.

Day 9 - flights out

Row of rooms at the Seraya Hotel

Common area at the Seraya Hotel

Room at the Seraya Hotel

Why We Loved It

I absolutely adore the Indonesian people. That’s almost like saying I like Europeans because Indonesians are extremely diverse. But they are hospitable, sweet, shy, curious, great sense of humour and very gracious. On this trip we had plenty of opportunity to engage with local people, practice some Bahasa, eat local food and see a few local treasures like the komodos. The nature was beautiful and the water and even the land that we encountered around Labuan Bajo was all very clean, except in the Labuan Bajo port itself. We felt very much on vacation while still having options to do plenty of activities. It felt special to be seeing this part of the world now. Many people still stop at Bali or the Gili islands. In a few years I get the impression that Labuan Bajo will have a lot more traffic. They think so too, if their shiny new airport is any indication.


If we were to do it again we would pay more for a more comfortable boat and at least 1 English speaking crew member to be able to set our route as we go and have richer interaction with locals. It felt like a loss not being able to speak with our crew more and learn what they knew about the areas they were showing us. The problem is, there’s not much available between the basic experience with a long boat and the ultra luxury experience with a massive yacht. Because our crew was basically on auto-pilot to follow the typical tourist route, we were pretty much always part of a convoy of other boats. Still, a convoy meant a maximum of 10 or so other boats at a given time which in the grand scheme of things is pretty few.

First Last Name

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I’m from Perth, Western Australia

My favourite trip as of late is New Zealand, solo travel in lots of nature for a soul-refresher.

My travelling style is to Book the first night, then wing it from there!

It’s a dealbreaker when I’m stuck around large groups of package tourists.

Continent I know best is Asia.

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