I remember the first time I visited Bali, it was the first real overseas trip Matt and I took together and we lived la Vida bogan like you would not believe. We were all about that beach life, buying knock-off errythang and drinking more Bintang than any normal person should. It was great. We went back time and time again, somehow finding ourselves having a very similar experience year after year. Turns out, you can have too much of something and we found ourselves getting tired of visiting the same place and having the same holiday.
Last year I got the chance to see more of Indonesia, outside of Bali. I visited Bintan, Jakarta, and Flores. As part of the trip, I found myself exploring Labuan Bajo, the gateway to Komodo National Park. I fell in love with the place immediately and felt so silly for never having ventured deeper into Indonesia sooner. I vowed to return with Matt as soon as we could, which is what we just did. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Labuan Bajo and why you absolutely must visit this incredibly gorgeous, underrated Indonesian destination.
Where the heck is Labuan Bajo?
You’ll find Labuan Bajo east of Bali, on the western end of Flores in the Nusa Tengarra region of Indonesia. It’s an unspoilt part of Indonesia, where rundown shacks and rustic cafes take pride of place. Things here are slower, simpler and much more relaxed with the bustling fishing village managing to hold onto its little town soul.
How would I get there?
Yoooooo! It’s so easy to get there it’s not even funny. You can fly to Labuan Bajo from Jakarta, which takes 2 1/12 hours or fly from Bali, which takes 55 minutes. There are also a few other spots you can fly from, like Lombok, if you need to. The flight is really easy and quick.
Where would I stay?
Matt and I stayed at Plataran Komodo Beach Resort and had an unforgettable experience. We were greeted at the airport by Plataran team member, Julius, who welcomed us with a big smile, handshake, a refreshing cold towel and bottles of iced water. He whisked us to our private transfer, which dropped us at the harbour a few minutes later. We climbed aboard a Plataran boat and whizzed across the bright blue water, past islands and traditional boats, toward the resort’s private jetty.
After an incredibly friendly welcome from the on-site staff, we were treated to a refreshing cool drink and a five-minute massage, all the check-in details are taken care of at our beachfront villa. In that moment it was impossible not to relax, both Matt and I beaming from ear-to-ear, excited to explore the resort and experience as much of the area as possible. If you’re planning a trip to Labuan Bajo and are looking for an unforgettable place to stay, I cannot recommend Plataran Komodo Beach Resort highly enough.
Okay, what are the villas like?
In a word – incredible. We stayed in a deluxe beachfront villa and felt like absolute royalty. It was a very generous size, with the focal point of the room being a huge canopy bed straight out of your dreams. We could not wait to get back to the villa each night to cosy up under the sheer netting, snuggling down into the cosy blankets and pillows.
In addition to the gorgeous bed, you’ll find the room equipped with a television (we didn’t even get a chance to watch tv we were having so much fun!) as well as a desk, wifi, digital safe, robes and slippers, tea and coffee-making facilities, mini-bar, mosquito coils and repellent, bottled water and a private terrace.
Another great feature is the bathroom – open-air but totally surrounded by high walls and covered over with a clear canopy. It’s like you’re showering al fresco, just with none of the cheeky public nudity. I loved the rainforest shower, the water flowing out of a bamboo shower head. The bathtub is also something to behold, a huge stone hollowed out and smoothed to make a gorgeous spot to relax and unwind.
One of my favourite things about the villa was the fact it felt like your own little home away from home. I loved that it was stand-alone, making it feel exclusive and private. It felt like Matt and I lived there, with the private beach right on our doorstep. It was so easy, comfortable and enjoyable luxurious – we didn’t want to leave.
What the heck would I do?
The great thing about it is you can do as much or as little if you like. If you’re in desperate need of a really relaxing escape you can spend your days getting massages, lazing quietly on sun chairs or taking a nap under the shade of an umbrella, right on the water’s edge. You can sleep in, read books all day, swim in the pool and slow down the pace.
If you’re looking to make the most of each moment, you can spend your days exploring Komodo National Park, waking up early to watch the sunrise peak over the horizon, bringing Labuan Bajo to life. Climb aboard an incredible Phinisi boat and spend a day sailing, swimming caves, snorkelling and jumping off the boat. Explore Labuan Bajo, visit local markets, explore hidden caves and wander the main streets.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re at the on-site bar, Atlantis on the Rocks, for sunset each afternoon. Their Atlantis G&T’s are legendary and the bright purple, orange and pink sunsets will blow your mind – like something out of a painting, imagined and brought to life in vivid colour.
Talk me through the food situation…
We all know food is life, so it’s mighty lucky the food at the resort is exceptional – the stand-out has to be the incredible beachfront BBQ. Grab a seat at a table right on the water’s edge then select from a range of fresh seafood, caught that day. The resort has an arrangement with local fishermen who bring the very best, fresh produce for guests to sample. Get stuck into the most delicious, fresh fish, lobster, prawns, squid and more, cooked right in front of you on a BBQ on the beach.
On-site restaurant, Xanadu, also serves a fantastic menu of local and international favourites. From delicious Nasi and Mee goreng through to Mexican fare and perfect pasta dishes, you’re spoilt for choice.
Why is worth going?
Labuan Bajo offers a completely different part of Indonesia, a refreshing take on a beautiful part of the world. While the main part of the city buzzes with life, resorts like Plataran offer a tranquil escape, an absolute beachfront holiday in an unspoilt part of the world that takes your breath away. From the gorgeous beaches and hidden coves to the starry night sky, peaceful bungalows and sunsets so spectacular they leave you speechless.
Visiting Labuan Bajo is a chance to experience somewhere totally new, a place you haven’t been before that offers new sights and sounds, stunning beaches and a holiday that can be set at your pace. Staying at Plataran Komodo, exploring and truly experiencing the local area, gave me a newfound love for Indonesia. It made me remember why I fell in love with the country initially and why it’s important to keep searching for hidden pockets like Labuan Bajo.
We had a fantastic stay at Plataran Komodo and loved exploring Labuan Bajo. Our trip was a great a balance of relaxation and activities, delicious food and great people. The whole stay was easy, from the short flight and airport pick-up to the on-site staff taking care of every detail for us. It was stress-free and totally enjoyable, best of all, we really didn’t see too many other tourists – it felt like a haven.
I’d recommend a trip to Labuan Bajo to anybody looking to see a different side of Indonesia, thirsting for adventure and just looking to get off the beaten track and see new parts of the world. Plataran Komodo offers an idyllic island escape for visitors, it would be absolutely ideal for a special occasion celebration but is also well-suited for those in need of a luxurious getaway. #TreatYoSelf
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.