Labuan Bajo: Is There Life Outside of Diving?
You’ve heard people raving about Komodo’s diving scene and the ripping currents. You’ve become hooked on the idea of diving in some of the top dive sites in the world with insane marine life. But, you’re wondering if there is anything else to do in this small town of Labuan Bajo (LBJ).
If this sounds like you, continue to peer into the depths of this blog post. Here you will learn exactly what the seasoned Expats of LBJ do to entertain themselves when they are not diving.
Food in Labuan Bajo
Let’s start off with the most important thing, the food after a big day of diving.
You’re excited to journey into a less-developed area of Indonesia and you are ready to try some of the local grub. But, on your trip abroad, you also fancy some home comforts. Well, not to worry, here in LBJ we have a lot of food to offer you.
Offering burritos, quesadillas, nachos and anything your tex-mex tastebuds could desire is Bajo Taco. There is the option of firing things up Indo-style with the spicy mayo they offer alongside every dish. On Tuesday’s Bajo Taco do two-for-one on any taco and there’s always a vegetarian choice of the dish that you fancy. Enjoy watching the sunset with a Desperado in hand from their rooftop restaurant.
Sitting right next to Bajo Taco is Bajo Bakery. If you’re craving homemade pastries and indulgent cheesecakes head to this spot.
Fill their freshly baked bread with fillings of your choice or pick from a range of sandwiches inspired by different countries. From the ‘Swiss’ packed with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, pickled cucumber, and mustard sauce, to the ‘Italian’ filled with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. The sandwich world is your oyster in Bajo Bakery.
If you fancy authentic Italian food, La Cucina is LBJ’s answer. Owned by two Italian brothers, home-made pizza and pasta are made at your request. Recently refurbished, it’s the perfect place to sit down for your evening meal.
You’ve had a few drinks the night before and now you’re craving a sloppy burger. It happens. At Burger Time, you can get your fill. Hangover food heaven.
If you head to Happy Banana, expect Japanese fusion food. Sushi, poke bowl and ramen galore. If you’re not a fan of sushi there are also some Western options on the menu. There’s even vegan sushi.
You’ve satisfied your Western food cravings and want more authentic Indonesian grub. Well then, head to Warung Mama, where there’s a buffet of Indonesian dishes on offer. Fresh juices are freshly made ready for your indulgence and sambal is on offer to spice up your life.
If you want fresh vegetables and Indonesian flavours head to Catur’z. A range of vegetarian and vegan dishes are on offer to tantalise those tastebuds.
In need of some entertainment while dining? Catur’z have you covered. The tables are chessboards with the pieces hidden within drawers in them. A meal with a twist.
Activities in Labuan Bajo
If you want to spend a day doing something other than diving, the best time is the day before your flight. It’s recommended to have a 24-hour surface interval between a flight and multiple dives. Flores has so much beauty and you’ve got time to kill so why not go and enjoy it.
Watch the sunset
As LBJ is right next to the sea, there are many places you can watch the sun go down over the water. There’s no better way to end the day.
Head to Rankgo cave
Situated in this small cave is crystal clear water which will invite you in for a swim. Head here early as the sun rises to watch the light reflect off the water’s surface and dance on the walls of the cave.
Go to Waecicu beach
Nestled in a bay between Flores and Bajo island is a small beach away from the hustle and bustle of LBJ’s town centre. There’s space to hang your hammock, a cafe to quench your thirst and water to cool you down in Komodo’s summer heat.
If you’re looking for adventure, rent a kayak from the beachfront hotel and go in search of a new island to claim your own. Or swim across to Bajo island to search for the monkeys that live there.
Relax by the pool
LBJ has a few options for poolside chilling. Wae Molas, a restaurant with a pool, pool table and darts board, is where you’ll find a lot of Bajo’s expats when they’re not diving. The food is tasty and there’s plenty of dishes to choose from, whether you’re an omnivore or not. Atlantis beach club and the Palm hostel also have pools perfect for spending a lazy day.
A motorbikes ride away from Labuan Bajo, are Cunca Wulang and Cunca Rami. Two waterfalls surrounded by unspoiled Flores greenery and scenic views. If you want to immerse yourself in the beauty of Earth as well as the Ocean, set sail for these waterfalls.
Nightlife in Labuan Bajo
While you are not going to find any clubs in Bajo, you will find bars where you can drink and dance while also having a good conversation. The beauty of LBJ being a small place focused around diving is that when people visit they have at least one thing in common with each other. They all love diving. This shared love makes it easy to strike up a conversation with almost anyone.
Every Saturday night Ahoy provides the town with somewhere to party. DJ’s play a range of music to get your feet moving and it’s a guaranteed good night. Every cocktail that you could want is on offer here.
Hafenblik (Sunset Bar)
If you prefer a few drinks with friends while watching the sun go down over the harbour, head to Hafenblik. Wine and beer are on offer and there’s even a jack for you to play your own music.
Paradise Bar is back after an incredible renovation. It is Labuan Bajo’s version of a bad but amazing night out. With the same music playing every month of the year, there are always sing-a-long classics for you to enjoy. Love it or hate it, you’ll always leave saying you’ve had a good night.
So, is there life outside of diving?
Labuan Bajo is a small town with a lot less options than somewhere like Bali but there definitely is life. Expats have made sure of that. There’s a range of options of places to eat and always somewhere to get your body moving.
If you have plans on doing your Divemaster, it’s one of the best places to learn. There’s quiet if you need it and there’s a party if you need it. Or at the very least you can create your own party.
So, even if this blog post hasn’t persuaded you to come to Labuan Bajo, then the world-class diving will.
Written by Ellie Humphrys
Pictures by Ellie and their own respective owners.
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