Labuanbajo is a sleepy fishing town in the west of Flores. It is the main base for trips to Komodo & Rinca National Park.
There are a handful of dive operators in the town offering day trips, dive courses and mini dive safaris to Komodo's many dive sites.
Day trips are made to the northern dive sites. To reach the southern sites, an overnight trip is usually required. There are also sites closer to Labuanbajo with less current that are suitable for less experienced divers and courses.
It is possible to fly to Labuanbajo from Bali to the west and Maumere to the east. Ferries also take tourists on cruises from Bali & Lombok that stop in Labuanbajo. Those really on a budget can island hop by land and ferry from Bali to Flores, but this takes a long time and a lot of patience.
There are a few places to stay in Labuanbajo, mostly fairly simple hotel rooms and bungalows. There are no luxury options at present. There are also a few restaurants providing simple but good food.
Apart from the diving, the main activity is a visit to Komodo or Rinca to see the legendary Komodo Dragons. There are also a couple of idyllic islands nearby with nice beaches and basic accommodation where divers can relax and recuperate after a few days diving.
The south of Bali is the heart of it's tourism industry, with thousands of visitors each year, especially to Kuta and the surrounding area.
There are quite a few dive centres and the dive industry here is well established. Day trips are usually made to Nusa Penida & Nusa Lembongan. It is also possible to arrange trips to other areas in Bali, especially trips to Tulamben. Due to the travel times however, some people prefer to make an overnight trip or longer.
Southern Bali is also the departure point for Liveaboards making trips to Komodo National Park to the east, as well as the pick-up point for visiting Wakatobi by Liveaboard.
There are now quite a few well-established Liveaboard operators making trips to Komodo & Rinca. Trips run throuhgout the year & usually last for around 7-10 days, taking in Lombok & Sumbawa in addition to the sites of Komodo, before returning to Bali.
The area has its own international airport in Denpasar, the capital, with flights all over Asia plus Australia & Europe. From the airport, a bus or taxi can take you to any of the well-toursited areas. Antiquated ferries run between all of Indonesia's major islands, including Lombok directly to the east of Bali and Java to the west.
There is a huge range of accommodation available in this area, from top-end luxury hotels to simple guest houses. Kuta is the main tourist hub of the area, with the biggest range of accommodation and the most amenities. Nusa Dua and Sanur are a little quieter and a little more upmarket.
Aside from diving, there is a huge amount to do here. Activities include great shopping, amusement parks, surfing, all sorts of adventure sports and plenty of other attractions. There are some very nice beaches in the area, especially to the south and Kuta is known for its lively nightlife.