Manta Point (known as Karang Makassar locally) is a popular dive and snorkelling site in the park. The reefs are only 2 to 9m deep here, but you can still see sharks, turtles, giant clams and different types of rays, including giant manta rays. It is one of their favourite spots.
Komodo's hilly islands are also popular for hiking, with jagged hilltops that lend spectacular views of the surrounding islands.
You can get the most beautiful views of Komodo National Park and its beaches by hiking to the top of the hill on Padar island. The moderate hike takes about 40 minutes to get to the top, from where you will get an amazing view of Labuan Bajo, three crescent beaches and freckles of offshore islands.
Getting to Komodo island is a bit more difficult because it is farther away and can take 11/2 to four hours each way, depending on the boat.
But if you are going, be sure to stop at Pink Beach, or Pantai Merah, which is unique for its deep-pink sand that is created naturally from a microscopic animal that lives on the nearby coral reefs and turns them pink.
There are a few pink beaches on islands in the park, but this one is the best and is a surreal place to watch the sunset.
Every year, Labuan Bajo hosts the Komodo Festival to celebrate the culture and beauty of the region. This year, the month-long festival took place from February to March and included a parade, rowing races, a beauty pageant, exhibitions and music performances.
It is a good time of the year to visit nearby villages in the Komodo National Park, such as Papagarang Traditional Village, to attend the unique dance and musical performances and see the fishing techniques of the Bajo and Sape ethnic groups.
These are seafaring people who have a long history of fishing throughout the Indonesian archipelago and you will see them drying their catch of fish and squid around the villages, which are often built on stilts.
For another side of local life, visit Kampung Melo, just 17km inland from Labuan Bajo, to experience the distinctive Manggaraian culture.
Travellers can enjoy a half-day visit here to see how the Manggaraian people live and watch performances of their traditional bamboo pole-jumping game called Tetek Alu, the Ndundu Dake dance and their well-known Caci ritual whip fight.
There are several nice restaurants around town in Labuan Bajo, including Bajo Bakery (http://bit.ly/ 2sahct9), which serves great bread and cakes and is ideal for breakfast or lunch; and Mediterraneo (www.mediterraneo.co.id/labuan-bajo), an Italian restaurant with views of the harbour.
My favourite restaurant is Atlantis on the Rock by Plataran (http://bit.ly/2sl8iJd), where you can enjoy a mixed menu of Western and Indonesian dishes and delicious barbecued seafood such as lobster and squid, with excellent sunset views. A meal costs about $40++ for two people.
Visitors to Labuan Bajo often buy Komodo-related handicrafts, magnets, key chains and T-shirts with pictures of the island or dragons.
For a more traditional souvenir, I suggest the Tenun ikat, a culturally important fabric which many people still wear in Flores. The intricately patterned cloth is traditionally handwoven using hand-dyed thread and used on special occasions such as weddings. It is often handed down through the generations.
You can buy Tenun ikat from weavers in the villages or souvenir shops in town, where it will cost from $15 to $250, depending on whether it is hand- or machine- made, as well as its thickness, detail and colour.
I suggest a hotel on the hill with a good view of the bay. Sunset Hill Hotel (hotelsunsethill.com) is a basic, but very nice hotel with spectacular views. Some rooms have a private terrace or balcony, which is ideal for watching the sunset. The hotel is also great value for money. Rooms start at594,000 rupiah a night in the low season and 644,000 rupiah in the high season.
I also recommend Green Hill Boutique Hotel (greenhillboutiquehotel.com), a nine-room guesthouse in the centre of town that overlooks the harbour, which is a five-minute walk away. The rooms are simple, but equipped with a television set, hot and cold water shower, air-conditioning and private balconies. The staff are very friendly. Rooms are US$50 (S$69) or US$55 a night.
Higher-end hotels with a private beach include Bintang Flores (bintangfloreshotel.com), The Jayakarta Suites Komodo Flores (flores.jaya kartahotelsresorts.com) and Blue Marlin Komodo (www.bluemarlin komodo.com), which offer rooms from US$100 to US$250 a night.
On Sumba island, travellers can stay at the Nihiwatu Hotel (www.nihiwatu.com), named the best hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine last year. Rooms and villas start from US$750 to US$14,000 a night.