Labuan Bajo to reopen on 1st July 2020
Like Maluku’s Ora Beach, Labuan Bajo and its surrounding islands are an alternative to famous seaside getaways such as Bali and Lombok. A fishing town located in the western side of Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara, it’s most well-known for being the main access point to Komodo Island, Rinca Island, and Padar Island.
As of 1st July 2020, Labuan Bajo will welcome tourists again. However, to prevent overcrowding, local authorities now require people keen on flying into the region to register online in advance. To further ensure the health of residents and visitors, health and hygiene protocols will be put in place.
Online registration and health protocols
A boat ride to Komodo Island
Image credit: @specturegram
For the first phase of the online registration trial, only 25 visitors are allowed per day and a maximum of 5 boats can carry passengers per day.
A pair of Komodo dragons at the Komodo National Park
Image credit: @beroedoe
Cleanliness, health, and safety (CHS) protocols will also be practiced in places such as the Komodo National Park. Visitors are required to show rapid test results before entering sites, and have their temperatures taken.
In addition, visitors and all tour guides and staff involved must wear face masks and wash hands frequently. It’s also strongly recommended that visitors bring their own tumblers, eating utensils, and hand sanitizers.
What to see and do at Komodo, Rinca, and Padar Islands
After arriving at the Komodo International Airport, you can find accommodation in the nearby town of Labuan Bajo. You can then easily rent a boat to explore the islands or go snorkeling. A boat that’s big enough for 8 people is around Rp. 2,000,000 (~USD140) per day, and getting to the islands from the Labuan Bajo port can take from 2 to 4 hours.
To get around the islands, you can rent a car (Rp. 500,000, ~USD35 per day) or motorcycle (Rp. 50,000, ~USD3.50 per day).
Komodo Island’s Pink Beach
Image credit: @graciellekay
If Labuan Bajo is on your bucket list, then you should absolutely include the Komodo National Park. A UNESCO world heritage site, the park extends beyond the Komodo Island itself as it includes its neighboring islands as well.
Though an experienced ranger will keep you company, be careful if you want to document your encounter with a Komodo dragon. It’s important that you keep a safe distance from these large lizards as they are dangerous.
You can also visit the Pink Beach, which gets its name from the unique pinkish color of the sand.
Image credit: @ruru_rud
Rinca Island is the second largest island that makes up the Komodo National Park, which is less crowded than Komodo Island. In addition to being another site where you can meet Komodo dragons, Rinca Island is the place to go for casual and ambitious trekkers alike.
Depending on which route you choose, Rinca trekking can take 1 hour to 2.5 hours. You’ll be rewarded by the panorama – the savannah hills serve as a great contrast to the oceanic view.
Image credit: @baptisteappere
Padar Island is the smallest of three big islands that make up the Komodo National Park. Its breathtaking views make it an ideal place to relax and take tons of photos. You can also learn more about the local culture by visiting the villages that are spread across the island.
A warung in Labuan Bajo
Image credit: @3rdcastil
While you’re in the region, you should try local dishes that include lots of seafood. Price points vary from Rp. 15,000 (~USD1) to Rp. 150,000 (~USD10) as you can enjoy a warung-style dish or a restaurant-prepared meal.
Enjoy the scenery at Labuan Bajo, but travel safely
Whichever island you decide to visit around Labuan Bajo, be sure to follow the health and hygiene protocols currently in place. The COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away, so travel with caution.