Flores is Indonesia’s next big thing, the island is quickly drawing the attention of traveller’s who wish to get away from the tourists in Bali, even the ever-growing Lombok, to see the remarkable sites and get off the beaten path.
Flores is most known for being the gateway to Komodo Island but stay on the island and you’ll be treated to a trip through lush green jungles, traditional villages and areas where few tourists have stepped.
The Portuguese once owned this island and named it Flores, which translates to flowers. And though you won’t find many flowers on this island you will find loads of adventure from hiking volcanos in national parks to some of the best diving without the crowds and parts of Indonesia that are practically untouched.
Few decide to travel to islands this far from Bali but those who have the time should consider adding Flores to their Indonesia itinerary. This Flores travel guide will help you prepare for everything across the island from transportation to Flores accommodation and things to do in Flores.
How to Get to Flores Indonesia
The best way to get to Flores is to fly from Bali. You’ll be in for a treat as the flight from Bali is quite low so you’ll also get a scenic flight as you fly over the Nusa Islands, Lombok and other islands.
Flying to Labuan Bajo is most common and takes 1 hour. Flying to Mamere or Ende is also an option, both towns are on the opposite side of the island (west side) where you can complete this itinerary backward. Flights from this side of the island are 2 hours from Bali.
How to Get Around Flores
Flores Island is large, spanning over 13,000 square kilometres, with the island’s highway running over 600km long. So Flores travel can take some time getting between destinations.
There are multiple ways to get around Flores: by bus, by plane, by driving yourself or by hiring a private driver. Driving yourself is not recommended if you are not an experienced driver as the roads do go through the mountains so there are lots of hills and sharp corners which the locals do drive very fast around.
By driving/bus you can expect to spend 3-5 hours between each destination. Private cars can be booked at tourist stalls or at your accommodation. This the most costly option. Prices are around 1 million a day, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more.
Buses are best booked at your accommodation as well and they will tell you where to get on the bus as some pick you up at your accommodation and some you hail from the side of the road. There are both local and tourist buses with no A/C and A/C available. Prices vary between 50,000-120,000 for buses.
Lastly, you can also book a Flores tour or tours to suit your wants without having to worry about transportation or getting around places, which was the most difficult part of travelling Flores. I recommend booking with this local, woman owned company on Flores.
Travel Insurance Flores
- Picking travel insurance is an essential part of planning a trip for everyone, including your trip to Flores
- If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel
- World Nomads is an affordable option that I personally recommend
- I’ve made 2 claims with World Nomads for doctors appointments and antibiotics in the Philippines and Australia
- No idea where to start? Check out my travel insurance guide to help you pick the best option for you
Flores is not an island that can be done quickly as it requires long travel times between each destination. Because of this I recommend spending a minimum of 1 week if you plan on travelling across the island but 10 days is better, especially if you plan on doing a Komodo Island trip from Labuan Bajo.
Below there is a breakdown of each place to give you more details about things to do and further descriptions.
Flores 1 Week Itinerary
- Komodo Island/Labuan Bajo: 2 days
- Bajawa: 2 days
- Moni: 2 days
- Maumere/Ende: 1 day
Flores 10 Day Itinerary
- Komodo Island: 2-3 days
- Labuan Bajo: 1 day
- Ruteng: 1 day
- Bajawa: 2 days
- Moni: 2 days
- Maumere/Ende: 1 day
Things to do in Flores
Do not expect Flores to be packed with things to do like Bali. Flores is still a relatively quiet island where tourism is somewhat set up but nowhere near like it is in Bali. However, you can still find what to do in Flores for over a week or less.
The bring draw to Labuan Bajo is that it has the largest airport on Flores and it’s home to the main harbour where boats depart for Komodo National Park. Don’t be expecting anything major though, it’s a big town for Flores but nothing compared to anything you will have seen on Bali. I wouldn’t plan on staying long here unless you want to dive.
Things to do in Labuan Bajo
- Hop on a Komodo Island boat tour
- Go diving (stay in Labuan Bajo or do a liveaboard)
- Watch the sunset at Amelia Sea view
- Check out the caves at Batu Cermin
Komodo Island is just one island that is apart of Komodo National Park. Komodo Island is certainly the most famous island but one of its neighbouring island, Rinca Island, is actually home to more Komodo dragons than Komodo Island and they’re known for being more feisty on Rinca Island (but have no fear!).
When booking a boat tour you have a few options with 1-3 day tours available. You can also choose to hire your own boat, it’s affordable if you have a medium to large group of friends!
Tours are definitely not the cheapest and visiting Komodo National Park will certainly be one of the most expensive things you do in Indonesia but you can’t do it anywhere else in the world so you have to! I recommend the 2-day tour which cost 800,000 rupiahs plus the 250,000 Komodo National Park fee.
This includes all of your food and snorkel gear but you will have to pay for a guide on Rinca Island. When booking a tour make sure to ask what is included and know what to ask about (aka what I just mentioned). All are around the same price so it really doesn’t matter who you go with price-wise, just choose a safe company.
Most tours go to the same places but when booking a Flores Komodo tour double-check that your tour goes to these places:
Things to do in Komodo National Park
- Visit Komodo Island and Rinca Island to see komodo dragons in their natural habitat
- Hike to the hop of Padar Island for incredible views
- Snorkel at Pink Beach
- Swim with manta rays at Manta Point
Most tours will include even more places but these are the top things to do.
I’ll be honest right away, Ruteng is the most uncomfortable destination that I have ever travelled to. Perhaps it was that I should have been more covered (t-shirt and loose shorts) but I didn’t think I needed to be and when I spoke to a local they seemed to think I was dressed fine too.
Men were always yelling out, usually only saying hello but still my friend and I agreed the vibe was very uncomfortable. They hung out in medium to large sized groups, some followed us and many would just laugh at us.
The reason why we decided to go to Ruteng is because it breaks up the trip to Bajawa from Labuan Bajo which is a 10 hour drive. Ruteng is a 4-5 hour drive. So if you want to spend 1 night here there are a few things to do but there is no reason to stay any longer and you won’t feel guilty for skipping it.
Things to do in Ruteng
- Visit the Spider Web rice fields (actually outside of Ruteng, about a 40-minute drive away, it’s a good idea to stop by here on your way to Ruteng if you’re driving)
- See the Hobbit Cave (where remains of ‘hobbit’ humans were found)
- Stop by the traditional village of Ruteng Pu’u (it felt quite touristy and a little set up for us)
Bajawa is a town in central Flores and is one of the highlights on the island. It’s a trek from Labuan Bajo but it’s so worth coming here. If you’re tight on time you can fly directly to Bajawa from Labuan Bajo.
Bajawa is one place that I highly recommend getting a guide. You can explore the area on your own but having a guide take you to some of the more off the beaten track villages and the knowledge that they have of the area is nothing that you can find in a guide book.
There is a lot of culture and natural beauty in Bajawa with plenty of villages nearby and mountains surround the area. It’s an ideal place to go trekking with guides available to take you to the best spots. Regardless of if you do a tour or not, check out these places.
Things to do in Bajawa
- Soak in the natural hot springs
- Visit Bena Village (traditional but touristy, has a great view though)
- Check out Ogi Waterfall
- Climb Inerie or Wawo Muda volcanoes
I can not recommend Ryan as a guide enough. His English is excellent, he brings you to villages where you get to meet the locals, creates an entire itinerary for you based on what you want to see and it can include trekking. He brought us into his family’s home for tea and to an unreal sunset spot.
You can do the tour by car or scooter, it’s all up to you. He is honestly one of the best tour guides I have ever had, he’s so personal, friendly and even helped us arrange onward transport. You can contact Ryan on Facebook (Ryan Soi Radjo) and tell him Taylor says hi!
Moni is an even smaller town in Flores that has one big draw: Kelimutu Volcano. This volcano is famous for the three crater lakes at the top that are different colours, some of them bright blue colours that are matte. Sometimes one even changes to red depending on the oxygen levels.
It’s incredible to see and it’s easy to get up the volcano as after the drive up it’s only a 20-minute walk to the lakes and viewpoints.
Moni is so tiny that I recommend only staying 2 nights here maximum but it’s a great place to just kick back, forget about Wi-Fi and enjoy nature.
Things to do in Moni
- Visit the crater lakes in Kelimutu National Park
- Enjoy the hot spring in the rice fields (on the road leading up the volcano there is a small sign across from a yellow building with a dirt footpath leading down)
- Check out the waterfalls (just ask a local where they are, they can’t be missed they’re so easy to find)
Maumere and Ende
To be honest I skipped both Maumere and Ende but they are both the bigger cities (by big I mean they’re bigger than Moni which isn’t saying much!) that most people fly in or out of before or after visiting Kelimutu National Park.
Ende is closer to Moni but Maumere has the larger airport (which is still one of the smallest airports I’ve ever been in!). If you’re tight on time be sure to check both airports as flights don’t leave for Bali every day.
The major attraction in Ende is actually outside of Ende, which is Blue Stone Beach. However, all of the blue stones have been taken, mostly by the locals to sell but also by some tourists so it’s more like grey stone beach. It’s nothing special and I don’t recommend going out of your way to see it. Maumere has a beach so if you have some time to kill here then you have one place to visit!
Flores Indonesia Accommodation
Finding where to stay in Flores in relatively simple as there are not many options outside of Labuan Bajo, but these options should help you get a general idea of costs and what is available!
- Budget: F Hostel Ende
- Budget: Pantai Paris Homestay
- Midrange: Sea World Club Beach Resort & Dive Centre
- Luxury: Coconut Garden Beach Resort