Rangko Cave in Labuan Bajo – Was it Really Worth Visiting?
Rangko Cave in Labuan Bajo was the first place I went to as soon as I settled myself in a hostel. I arrived at Labuan Bajo a day before the 3-day tour and I had the whole afternoon free with no agenda. A fellow hosteller told me to explore Rangko Cave and she was raving about it. She showed me photos of the cave and I was wowed! So, without thinking twice, I hopped on a gojek (Indonesia’s Uber) motorbike.
Directions to Rangko Cave
Going there is pretty easy – that is – if you drive a motorbike. If you don’t, like me, here’s what you are going to do: Take a gojek that brings you to Rangko village. The trip should be around 45 minutes. Remember that this is a very small village and it’s very rare to get a gojek so it is wise to ask your driver to wait for you. Negotiate for a reasonable price.
From Rangko Village, there are outrigger boats that you can rent. As a solo traveler, I rented it for 250k rupiah ($20) for the whole trip. The “captain” also became my photographer. From the shore to the cave, the boat ride took us 15 minutes. When we arrived, we were the only people there + the ticket master. The water was very clear but the shore where we disembarked was full of plastics. Tourists pay 50k rupiah to enter but no one really cares about cleaning the site. It’s heartbreaking to see those floating plastic bottles and boxes.
It’s 5 minutes walk from the shore to the cave.
As soon as we entered the small threshold of the cave, I was already disappointed. I judged it quickly. LOL. It was dark and the only light coming through was coming from the cave’s mouth. So, we had to use my iPhone’s flashlight. As soon as our eyes got used to the darkness, the stalactites and stalagmites became visible. And the turquoise water on a small pool below was calm and inviting.
Now, let me be truthful. Do not believe what you saw on Instagram showing the breathtaking beauty of this cave. Or even the photos I’m showing you here. My camera captured a boring, dark cave. While I see mostly grey, some stalactites/stalagmites look sort of yellow-ish.
The photos you see here are, sorry, photoshopped. I adjusted the brightness and the vibrance for colors. Don’t hate me. I’m telling you the truth.
However, what I liked here was swimming in the pool. Surprisingly, it was warm. I enjoyed swimming alone for 30 minutes.
So, the big question is: Was it worth going? Hmmmnnn…. Well, if you have nothing much to do in Labuan Bajo and are looking for somewhere to explore, then – go! If you are a solo traveler and on a budget, never mind going. But if you are with a friend or group of friends, then go! If you don’t like the cave, the water (away from the trash) was crystal clear. It’s really good for swimming!
Where to stay in Labuan Bajo
I stayed at Seaesta Komodo Hostel and Hotel which reminds me of Santorini. With sunset views on the rooftop and from the pool, you’d wish nothing more than anything else. The hostel/hotel is just 250 meters from the town center and a few minutes’ drive to/from the airport. The rooms are clean and the staff is excellent! They also have a restaurant and bar on the rooftop with live bands on Thursday.
Too bad you didn’t see the cave the way you’d expected. You’re right in that at certain times of the day, the cave (and water) will seem dismal. But hey, its a cave, right? By its very nature, it will not have the benefit of sunlight – and thus, appear dark. But that’s only if you go at certain times. The best times to go are between 11am and 4pm. By then, the sun is high enough to throw light into the cave from a particular angled opening – and the blue water (from minerals in the stalactites) is as bright as the pics you saw. The photos are not photoshopped. Ive been in the cave countless times, as my company (Everything To Sea) runs clothing optional all-male sailing trips in the islands there.
The only other thing I can think that might have resulted in you seeing it dark and dismal would be if the weather was really bad that day (maybe it was very overcast or rainy?) Rangko Cave is actually a featured stop on our trips, and our travelers love it. Cheers, Dave
Yeah, the guide actually told me about the time when the sun goes directly into the cave and he said it’s good for photography.
My friends and I visited Komodo National Park almost exactly one year ago, and I was extremely bummed I didn’t get to visit Rangko Cave on the island of Flores. I had to catch a flight back to Bali, meanwhile, my friends stuck around and explored Rangko Cave. Apparently, I missed out on a major highlight of the trip. They spent several hours there and took gorgeous photos. Hope that I can go back there someday and float in the serene, mysterious waters.
Oh well, there’s always next time! 🙂