Labuan Bajo is a fishing town located at the western end of the large island of Flores in the Nusa Tenggara region of east Indonesia. It is the capital of the West Manggarai Regency (Kabupaten Manggarai Barat), one of the eight regencies which are the major administrative divisions of Flores.
|Region||Lesser Sunda Islands|
|Province||East Nusa Tenggara|
|Time zone||UTC+8 (WITA)|
Once a small fishing village, Labuan Bajo (also spelled Labuhanbajo and Labuanbajo) is now a tourist center as well as a centre of government for the surrounding region. Facilities to support tourist activities are expanding quickly although the rapid rise in the numbers of visitors is imposing some strains on the local environment.
Komodo National Park
There are numerous snorkling points in the islands close to Labuan Bajo. Kanawa and Seraya Islands, for example, offer good diving and snorkeling sites. Currents can be strong at some sites however so care is needed. Every evening at Kalong Island, to the south of Labuan Bajo, thousands of flying fox bats (known as burung kalong in Indonesian) provide an amazing display. Around dusk the bats rise up from the mangroves around Kalong Island and within a few minutes, a column begins to form as thousands of bats begin to traverse across to the main island of Flores to the east. More and more bats join the column for perhaps the next 30 mins or so. The column soon forms into a remarkable trail across the sky stretching for miles as the bats fly east to Flores to search for food in the nearby forests.
Other features nearby to Labuan Bajo include several waterfalls, trekking facilities, and many diverse beaches.
The town is quite small and can easily be traversed on foot in 15 minutes or so. Mirror stone cave (Batu cermin cave) is only 4 km away. There are various interesting churches and a mosque. Ojeks (Rp 3,000-5,000) and bemos pass every five minutes. One can rent a motorcycle for Rp 75,000 (about $US 5) per day. There are now (January 2019) numerous ATMs around the town and the main roads are paved.
Komodo Airport is located just 2 km from the center of Labuan Bajo and has 4-6 daily flights arriving from Bali and elsewhere. Labuan Bajo port has daily ferry departures to the town of Bima to the west on the large island of Sumbawa and weekly or bi-weekly departures to Denpasar and Sulawesi. There are also direct flights from Jakarta to Labuan Bajo by Garuda Indonesia and Batik Air.
The local economy in the town is centred around the ferry port and tourism, local shops and restaurants, and the diving trade. Most of the foreign tourists are European, many from Italy, and also from Australia and the United Kingdom. The wider area produces fish and palm oil; there is also a large amount of subsistence agriculture in the villages in the region where living standards are still low. Levels of poverty in the rural areas are high.
The national and regional governments both made 2012 a year to promote the regional tourism around Labuan Bajo and the nearby Komodo National Park with a six month long festival from July until December 2012.
- Benito Lopulalan, 'Growing Tourism on Flores' Archived 2012-04-29 at the Wayback Machine, The Jakarta Globe, 24 February 2009.
- Markus Markur, 'Labuan Bajo faces challenges with rising tourism', The Jakarta Post, 7 September 2017.
- Diving near Komodo and Rinca Islands.
- "Wonderful Indonesia - Gua batu cermin". Wayback Machine. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
- 'E. Nusa Tenggara to hold Komodo Festival', Antara News, 21 October 2011.