Flores. The name of an island we haven’t heard before our three months trip through Indonesia. A comparatively small number of tourists make it further east than Bali or Lombok, so the island of Flores stayed relatively untouched. The island, however, gets increasingly better known for its up to three meter long inhabitants, the Komodo Dragons. But it has so much more to offer than just these poisonous lizards. In the following article you will find out our Highlights in Flores and why Flores is worth visiting not just once. Unknown Flores, here we come!
One million inhabitants on an area that is 220 miles wide. Happy people and the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine literally everywhere – that’s Flores, an island of Nusa Tenggara. The name Flores originates from Portuguese and means as much as Flowers.
Table of contents
The marvelous island of Flores is located between Sumbawa and Timor. You are able to reach it either by bus, ferry or plane. As well as that, you will find boat tours that arrive in Flores.
Flights to Flores
The most relaxed and luckily also one of the cheapest options is to fly to Flores. Airlines such as Wings Air, Nam Air, Transnusa and Garuda Indonesia bring you in a 1-2 hour flight to Labuan Bajo, Flores.
Costs: Approx. $90 return flights from and to Bali
Tip: Make sure to get a window seat. The view is simply incredible during the entire flight. During the final descent the plane will cross the Komodo National Park – Paradise.
Boat trip from Lombok to Flores
The second alternative on how to get to Flores is a four-day boat trip from Lombok. You will spend four days on the boat and stop at waterfalls, beaches and snorkel spots (the Manta Point among others). As well as that an excursion to the Komodo National Park and Rinca island are also part of the plan.
Most of these tours have a pretty similar structure. In the first day, you arrive and get your bed ready, which will be located beside many others. In the evening you will have a drink with your new roommates for the next days, have chats about traveling the world and enjoy views on the incredible volcano Gurung Rinjani.
On the second day, you’ll visit a waterfall near Sumbawa, Satonda. Again, several miles later, the third day starts at Pink Beach, where you will also visit Manta Point. In addition, the Komodo National Park will be on the program. Here you are going to stay in a small bay overnight. On the fourth and last day, the neighboring island of Rinca is checked out, before you and your new friends finally arrive in Labuan Bajo’s port.
Costs: approx. 1.5 Mio Rupiah / $70
Tip #1: Here, opinions tend to differ sharply. Some people we’ve spoken to said the boat trip was the most horrible thing they’ve ever done, other in contrast, simply fell in love with it. Here we found out that these experiences were mainly based on the boat and its facilities as well as the people you share it with. To make sure that your trip will be one of the best experiences of your life, inform yourself which boat you are going to take. Rather spend a couple of bucks more on more space, fewer people and a less noisy engine than trying to get it as cheap as possible. The bigger the boat the less it will rock!
Tip #2: Don’t go on a multi-day boat trip during the rainy season. The ocean can be rough in this time of the year and boat trips can get canceled due to bad weather.
Tip #3: In Labuan Bajo, you will find a gazillion providers. We only heard great things about Perma Tours.
Bus & Ferry to Flores
Traveling by bus and ferry to Flores is the cheapest but by far the weariest of all possibilities. In Lombok, you purchase a bus ticket to a harbor, from which you will hop on a boat to Sumbawa. From here, you again take a bus, cross through entire Sumbawa to the next harbor. Here, you take another boat to Labuan Bajo.
Costs: Approx. 500,000 Rupiah / $20
Indonesia is a huge and extremely wide country. Due to that, you will find various different climate zones.
As a rule of thumb, you can say that the dry season on Flores is between May and end of October. From November until April rainy season might make your stay less pleasant.
Manta Ray’s can be spotted the entire year but chances are the best around April / May and September and October. If you come to Flores for diving, you should definitely pick dry season as your time to visit as trips can easily get canceled in the rest of the year.
Tip: End of march, was our travel time in Flores, which turned out to be perfect. Shortly after wet season, all islands shine in lush green. The ideal time for all hobby photographers as well as nature children!
Flores has so much to offer! Beside Labuan Bajo, the Komodo national park and impressive nature it also has the tiny village of Moni, the traditional village of Waerebo and the holy lakes of Kelimutu.
Labuan Bajo, Komodo National Park & Palau Padar
Labuan Bajo is located in the most western point of the island Flores and builds the gate to Komodo National Park. Due to that, Labuan Bajo is most frequently the starting point of the Flores trip.
The town mainly consists of a one-way street on which you will find simple Warungs, more expensive restaurants, tour operators for snorkeling, diving and the Komodo National Parks. The town itself is not extraordinarily pretty but you will fall in love with the harbor for sunset and the area around it!
The Komodo National Park consists of the islands Rinca, Komodo and Padar, from which you just need to pay entrance for Rinca and Komodo. Multiple times per day boats with tourists leave Labuan Bajo’s harbor to explore the truly incredible national park.
Here, you have multiple options to enjoy this unique trip. Ranging from one-day trips to longer excursions with two or three nights on the boat, literally no limitations here. Most boat stir towards the same destinations: Komodo National Park with snorkeling at Manta Point as well as Pink Beach, Rinca island and Palau Padar. The longer the trip you choose the more stops you will make.
For us personally, it was less important to see the famous Komodo Dragons but rather wanted to hike on top of Palau Padar and enjoy the view as long as we wanted to.
With that in mind, we started asking for prices for this specific tour on the main road. As most providers mostly offer tour packages, we were forced to charter an own boat for this occasion which was an incredible experience but not an exactly cheap one. But more on that later! We decided in favor of the one provider who offered the best price and in the next morning we found ourselves at 6:30 am at the harbor at dawn. A quick chat with the captain and shortly later we left the harbor with a fresh coffee in our hands. First sunbeams on the skin, incredible light, steering in direction of Palau Padar. What a feeling!
One coffee, a couple warm sunbeams and three hours later, Palau Padar was in sight the first time. In the heat, shortly before noon we followed our 16-year-old guide with a bleeding wound on his knee and started the ascent.
Short and important info: The world-famous Komodo lizards live on Komodo Island as well as on Rinca. The 150 pounds heavy, extremely poisonous animals smell – similar to sharks – blood from a distance of three miles. Thus, blood attracts those reptiles and people with bleeding wounds are asked not to enter the National Park as well as Palau Padar (approx. three lizards also live here). We highly recommend following this rule.
During the first steps, we thought about this rule and became a bit anxious as our guide was bleeding! After we heard that our guide was a student who also did this tour the first time in his life, our doubts didn’t get better.
With the heat, more steps and slowly but surely soaking wet shirts, we stopped worrying and decided that we all will be fine.
With every step, the view became better and when turning around at one of the highest points we hardly believed what we see, what a paradise!
Paying some extra money for a private boat here paid really off. We had plenty of time to enjoy the view and take pictures. We hiked a bit further, looked for some shade under bushes and drinking water in order to stay hydrated.
On our descent, we kept enjoying our view to the left and right. After arriving on our boat we still had some time to jump in the water. The perfect refreshment.
Half an hour later, with chicken and rice in front of us, we sat on the bow of our slightly rickety boat while a dolphin jumped out of the water beside us. An incredible day.
In the afternoon we arrived at the harbor and where happy that we decided in favor of this incredible adventure.
Costs: 1.5 million Rupiah for the boat trip for two people, incl. “Guide”, water and lunch.
Tip #1: If you aren’t that interested in the islands Komodo and Rinca you might also decide only for a boat trip to Palau Padar. Go to the harbor and ask around if someone would be free in the next morning to drive you to Palau Padar. In the end, the travel agency where we booked the tour receives the biggest share of the money. The captains, in contrast, only a small fracture of it. As well as that, you can make use of backpacking groups on Facebook and look for people to share the boat with. We also put up a couple of handwritten papers. We found people that wanted to join but unfortunately needed to cancel due to sickness.
Tip #2: In case you decide in favor Komodo and Rinca, keep in mind that you also need to pay the entrance fee of the national park. At the time we visited (early 2018) the price was 200,000 Rupiah, Sunday’s even double. After doing a bit of maths we figured out that we would have paid roughly the same as we’ve paid for the private tour to Padar.
Tip #3: Inform yourself upfront what’s included in the package. On Komodo extra charges might apply for snorkeling, taking pictures and videos.
Tip #4: You come to Komodo for diving? Then a beautiful underwater world awaits you. Depending on the weather, many divers will come and do the same. Inform yourself a bit in advance!
The Waerebo Village is an old, traditional village on 1,200 meters above sea level, in which the way of living of the Manggarai tribe is the centre of attention. After a 5.5 miles hike through the lush green thicket, you will find yourself and your guide in mid of the village surrounded by mountains and witness how Manggarais live.
The village consists out of seven so-called Mbaru Niangs, conically shaped houses made of bamboo, grass and wood. Initiated from the Indonesian government, four of them just got renovated by an architect from Jakarta to preserve this tribe, its culture and way of living. One house is the home to 6-8 families.
The heart of every house lies in the middle. Here, in the central point, spiritual ceremonies take place and holy instruments such as drums are kept. When visiting the village, you can not only see how the tribe lives but also get an integral part of their daily routines. On a daily basis, locals are busy with harvesting coffee or women dedicate entire days for weaving. For the complete feeling of how the tribe lives, you can also book a stay and sleep on a thin mattress in these conical houses.
Costs: 200,000 Rupiah entrance fees incl. Lunch | 350,000 Rupiah entrance fee incl. One night and food | 200,000 Rupiah for a guide for a group | 50,000 Rupiah for the welcome ritual
Arrival at the Waerebo Village
Plan three days for your stay in the Waerebo village. The first day would be the day of arrival. The second one, including one night, would be for exploring the village and the last one would be the day of departure.
Arrival by Scooter
Coming from Ruteng, you drive 2.5 hours in direction of Golo Lusang, passing the village of Pong Nggeok and crossing the Wae Mese bridge. From here, further in direction of Narang Village until you reach Dintor. From here, you are going to drive up north until you arrive at Kombo, the twin village of Waerebo. From here you arrive soon in Denge, where you will start the 5.5 miles hike.
Waerebo by Bus
If you decide in favor of the bus, your trip will most likely start at the Mena Bus Terminal. The 3-3.5 hour drive, passing through Cancar Pela, Tofo and Dintor ends in the Denge village. Most buses leave around afternoon, for the way back you will need to get up early as buses leave Denge again at 5.30am.
Waerebo by Boat
In case you plan to leave from Labuan Bajo, getting to Waerebo could be an option. Therefore, you get a boat from Nangalili to Dintor, which you should book in advance. From here, you would need to jump on a scooter for a 20-minute ride to Denge.
Tips for your trip to the Waerebo Village
Tip #1: As it makes sense to start with the hike in the morning, our recommendation would be to stay the night before in Denge. We just heard positive things about the Denge Home Stay, which is run by the lovely family Blasius.
Costs: 250,000 Rupiah overnight stay, incl. 3 meals
Tip #2: Think of sufficient water and sunscreen for your hike. During the hike you will find three spots to relax a bit and eat a bite. Beside the essentials, a rain jacket would also be helpful, as it can get wet and cold.
Tip #3: Comfy hiking shoes are a must have. The trail can be steep!
Tip #4: After arriving in the village, please wait until the welcome ceremony is over. After this ritual, you are welcome to take pictures and walk around the village.
Moni, a tiny, peaceful village 30 miles northeast from Ende, inhabits the Kelimutu National Park. Here, you will be able to see the 5,377 ft high Gunung Kelimutu, the most famous volcano in Flores.
Everything about this lovely village and the incredible hike up to the vulcano, you can read in our dedicated article.
➳ Click here – Kelimutu National Park in Flores
Ruteng, Bajawa & Co.
Depending on the time you have, Flores has, beside our mentioned highlights Komodo, Waerebo and Moni further things to offer.
In Ruteng, for example, four hours east from Labuan Bajo, you will witness rice fields as far the eye can see. The spiderweb-shaped fields, located 30 minutes outside the next city are definitely worth a visit. In order to find your way, just ask a local! If you are happy enough, you will get to know somebody who tells you everything you need to know and might show you around.
In Bajawa, which is located 75 miles west from Ende, traditions are the main attraction. Bajawa has more than 40,000 inhabitants and you will have a bigger selection of basic accommodations. Here you can stop by traditional villages such as Bean.
Maumere has some pristine nature as well as beautiful beaches to offer. The calm area here could be the perfect place to end your Flores adventure.
Who has been in Indonesia once, mightn’t give away his or her scooter anymore. Getting around with the scooter in Indonesia is not only the best matter of transport to get you from A to B but also heaps of fun – especially in Flores! The landscape is lush green, juicy trees to your left and right as well as grass, forests and cheering kids. Locals greet you friendly while passing through villages. You can stop anytime, get a coffee or take a picture. In Flores streets are in good condition which makes driving here incredibly nice. Green, green and green will surround you on your scooter! Incredible, promised!
Costs: Approx. 70,000 rupiah / day
Tip #1: If you have enough time to drive with a scooter from Labuan Bajo to Ende, consider to do so. We would have done it right away, if we would have had enough time. This trip will be insane for sure! Just inform yourself upfront as you normally need to drop off the scooter where you rented it. Here it might make sense to buy a cheap one and resell it in Ende again.
Public transport in Flores is comparatively bad. Local busses are going here and there but it makes the impression that they never go when you need them. One little known bus tour operator is Gunung Mas, with well-equipped busses. Tickets here are sold fast out but the busses have A/C and leave and arrive on time. If you decide to take one of these comfy busses, definitely book a couple of days in advance. Also, you can find so-called travel cars. In these, small vans, you can book a seat as well.
The most expensive way to get from A to B is to get a private driver. We decided in favor of this option on our way from Ende to Moni and shared the price with two locals, that wanted to drive the same way as we did. Sometimes you do not have a different option.
Costs: 100.000 Rupiah / person
Accommodation in Flores are comparatively expensive and very basic. We can recommend the following accommodations:
➳ Cahaya Adrian Hostel*, Labuan Bajo
➳ Mahoni Guesthouse*, Moni
➳ Bintang Lodge*, Moni
Tip #1: Flores isn’t cheap! Compared to Bali and the other more touristy islands, Flores is more expensive, especially when it comes to hostels or hotels. Having said that, you still will find a couple of nice places on booking.com for Labuan Bajo*, Ende* and Moni*.
Please think of booking in advance! Especially during high season (July and August) hostels are full very fast. Then it can get tough to find something as Flores does not have that many options to stay as you might be used from different places in Indonesia.
Tip #2: In every bigger city or town you will find ATMs. So don’t worry about getting cash.
Tip #3: You won’t fin Uber, Go-Jek or Bluebird on Flores. You will need to switch to a scooter, bus or taxi.
Tip #4: When you buy a local SIM, decide in favor of Telkomsel. The provider has proper 3G coverage in most of the places we have been.
Tip #5: On the road with a scooter? Make sure to have enough fuel! It can happen that fuel is empty. On the entire island. You will notice that by locals sitting around and drinking alcohol during the day as there is nothing much to do. Now, you just have to wait and also get a Bintang.
Tip #6: Streets on Flores are in good condition. Here and there you can find a pretty deep potholes so always be alert while driving. As well as that rocks can fall down from mountains and block streets! Head’s up!
We hope that we were able to show you around Flores in the best possible way. We also hope that the information provided will make your life easier and the preparations easy! Enjoy beautiful Flores!
More Wanderlust & Vacilando?
➳ The Kelimutu National Park is on your list? No wonder!
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