In September 2019 I visited beautiful Flores. Located to the east of Komodo National Park, this Indonesian island is an emerging tourist destination. The people are very friendly and pure and the landscape is incredibly beautiful. I rented a motorbike and rode from east to west in 12 days with my backpack on the back. A distance of over 650 kilometers and an adventure to remember! I would recommend this Flores itinerary to anyone who likes to visit the non-touristy places and is a bit adventurous.
I will tell you in detail about my Flores itinerary and give you all the information you need to also make this roadtrip. Below you can read exactly which places I have visited and what you can see and do here.
Please note that breaks are not included in the duration of the trips between the locations. In reality, it may take a little longer, depending on how many breaks you take and of course how fast you drive.
You travel almost the entire itinerary on the Trans-Flores Highway. This road runs between Labuan Bajo and Maumere and was built not so long ago and is therefore generally of very good quality.
In this article
Maumere ➤ Koka Beach ➤ Moni ➤ Ende ➤ Riung ➤ Bajawa ➤ Ruteng ➤ Labuan Bajo
The capital of Flores is Maumere and it’s also the largest city on the island. Maumere is located on the north-eastern side of the island. The city has an airport and there are daily direct flights from Bali. That’s why this is a good starting or ending point of your Flores itinerary.
It’s certainly not a very interesting city, so you don’t have to stay there for a long time. However, there are beautiful sights in the area, including several islands where you can snorkel and dive, but also the active Egon volcano that you can climb.
Accommodation tips: I recommend not to stay in the city itself, but east of the city in the town of Hitokalak. I stayed here in Sante Sante homestay. The homestay is run by a super friendly family and is located on a beach that you probably have all to yourself. But Lena House a few hundred meters away is also recommended. Here I rented my motorbike for my roadtrip.
Maumere ➤ Koka Beach
Distance: 50 km / 80 km from Hitokalak
Duration: 1.5 hours / 2 hours from Hitokalak
Road quality: Good. However, the last 1.5 km to the beach is of poor quality.
Flores has many beautiful beaches and one of the most beautiful is Koka Beach (Pantai Koka). With the white soft sand and the azure blue calm sea, it’s a fantastic place to spend a day. They are actually two bays with a rock in the middle.
Koka beach is located on the south coast of the island and is a popular attraction. But you don’t have to expect many people there. It’s likely that you will share this place with only a handful of people, especially during the week. It can be busier with local tourists on weekends, especially on Sundays. In addition, it’s recommended not to take the road on Sunday in the vicinity of Maumere, because many locals will drunk drive which is extremely dangerous of course.
On the beach there are some local warungs where you can drink something and buy simple dishes such as nasi goreng or mie goreng. There are also a number of gazebos (wooden huts) on the sand where you can relax in the shade.
Accommodation tips: If you would like to spend the night near Koka Beach, you can. There are a few accommodations, including Ricky Cowboy Homestay. On the other hand, I used Koka Beach as a stop in my itinerary and drove to Moni the same day.
Koka Beach ➤ Moni
Distance: 45 km
Duration: 1.5 hours
Road quality: Good. The route passes through the mountains and is very winding
Moni is a sleepy village located between the rice fields in mountains. To reach Moni you have to brave a very winding road on the way, but you get a fantastic view in return. The area around Moni is beautiful with some nice sights.
You will find here the special Kelimutu volcano with three colored crater lakes. When I saw the colors and especially the size of the lakes, I was amazed. It’s unreal! You can visit the Kelimutu during a sunrise tour, but you can also easily visit it on your own with a motorbike. The road is winding, but of very good quality and with fantastic views along the way. Climbing the volcano is not difficult and is suitable for every level. There is a clearly laid out path with stairs.
Admission to the Kelimutu is 150,000 IDR during the week and 225,000 IDR at the weekend. Due to my travel planning, I was there on the weekend and it was quite busy with local tourists. Most were eager to have their picture taken with me. I think I took a picture with 25 different people.
Besides a visit to the Kelimutu volcano, a visit to the Air Terjun Murundao is also recommended. For this waterfall you pay a small contribution of 5,000 – 10,000 IDR. If you want you can swim there so don’t forget your swimsuit.
Another waterfall nearby is the Air Terjun Murukeba. To get here you have to walk a little bit through the jungle. It’s an easy hike of about 20 minutes with signposts that will keep you from getting lost.
Accommodation tips: There are quite a few accommodations in Moni. I stayed in Gecko Homestay and can definitely recommend this accommodation. The rooms are basic, but fine and the staff is very friendly.
Moni ➤ Ende
Distance: 52 km
Duration: approximately 2 hours
Road quality: Good. This road is also very winding
Ende is the second largest city in Flores and is located on the south coast of the island. It’s a fairly busy and uninviting city, but a good stop during the Flores itinerary. It is one of the few places on the island where you will find larger supermarkets.
About 25 kilometers west of Ende you will find Blue Stone Beach (Pantai Batu Biru). You could combine this nicely on the way to Riung. However, a visit to the beach did not seem to me to be an added value because I already had a view of the beach while driving and there are piles of blue stones everywhere along the road. The blue stones were also used in almost all our overnight stays.
Accommodation tips: Flores Passport House is a must for a stay in Ende. When I stayed there it had only been open for a month and they had 2 double rooms. It looks very fancy, it has a small pool and the staff are super sweet. Prices are around € 30 and that is well worth your money.
Ende ➤ Riung
Distance: 125 km
Duration: 4 hours
Road quality: The route runs through the village of Mbay. The first part of the route is good until the big fork to Bajawa or Mbay. After that, the road quality is slightly less good, with more holes. From Mbay the road is okay.
Many people skip Riung during their Flores itinerary due to a shortage of time. That’s a shame, if you ask me, because it’s very beautiful and tourism is even more in its infancy here.
You can go snorkeling in Riung at the 17 islands. You can easily book a day trip with one of the local fishermen. Simply walk to the pier and negotiate the price with them. The average price for a day trip is between 300,000 IDR and 500,000 IDR for the boat, including lunch and entrance. To get an idea about the price; Entrance fee is 100,000 per person and a snorkel mask and flippers each 25,000 IDR.
I visited a number of islands where I snorkeled beautifully and had lunch with fresh fish on one of these paradise islands. If you want you can also go camping there. One of these islands is the place to stay for millions of megabats. Around sunset they fly out of the trees to hunt, fantastic to see!
Besides visiting islands and snorkeling, there is also a beautiful viewpoint west of Riung: Watu Mitong Riung. This is a great place to watch the sun go down.
Riung ➤ Bajawa
Distance: 73 km / 116 km via Mbay
Duration: 3 – 4 hours
Road quality: Bad
There are two possible routes between Riung and Bajawa. The road directly south (73 km) or back via Mbay (116 km). However, there’s a major drawback to the shorter route. The road is of very poor quality. Still, I ventured to avoid the extra 43 km, and I sort of regretted it. The road to the first village is pretty bad, with many holes and pieces where asphalt has given way to sand and loose stones. The road around the villages is a lot better, but outside the villages very bad. I have experienced that sand, loose stones and large holes in the road is a bad combination. I drove very gently, but one small steering movement caused me to fall. Fortunately, the damage remained with a scratch on my foot.
The town of Bajawa is the perfect base for discovering the amazing surroundings of waterfalls, hot springs, traditional villages and a volcano. You will be able to enjoy yourself here for a few days.
There isn’t much to do in the city itself. What is nice is to visit the local market Pasar Bobou. You can buy fresh fruits and vegetables here and you get a bit of a picture of the life of the locals.
The most things to do are situated outside of the city. North-east of the city of Bajawa you will find the Air Terjun Ogi. The walking route to this waterfall is very beautiful. It is a 15-minute walk and along the way you pass many rice fields with a view of the volcano. Entrance is 20,000 IDR.
Around Bajawa there are several traditional Ngada villages including Bena and Tololela. If you like it, you can also spend the night in these villages to learn more about their culture and traditions.
For a nice view of the Inierie volcano you can visit Manulalu viewpoint. You can also spend the night there or have something to eat and drink in the cafe.
If you are a bit active, I recommend you 100% to go climbing the Inierie volcano at Flores. This was the highlight of my Flores itinerary. It is tough, but you get a lot in return: the best view ever and of course a large dose of satisfaction. Truly one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen was at the top of the Inierie volcano. It took me 3 hours to climb up and then another 2.5 hours down.
After climbing the Inierie volcano I drove to the Manalage Hotspring to recover. What makes this hot spring so special is that a (almost boiling) hot and an ice-cold river come together. You will notice that the temperature is slightly different in every place in the river. I thought it was a very cool and relaxed experience.
Accommodation tips: In the center of Bajawa are a number of (basic) accommodations. On the other hand, I stayed for half an hour on a very winding road from Bajawa in Wolokoro Ecotourism. The rooms are simple but good, you have a great view of the Inierie volcano and the staff are super friendly.
Bajawa ➤ Ruteng
Distance: 135 km
Duration: 4-5 hours
Road quality: Good.
On the way from Bajawa to Ruteng you could make a stop at Liang Bala Beach and Cepi Watu Beach.
Ruteng is located in a beautiful area with rice fields. When you drive out of town, the road quality is a lot worse, but you are directly between the rice fields.
One of the most famous sights in Ruteng is the Hobbit cave (Liang Bua). A new species was discovered in this cave in 2003, namely the Homo floresiensis. The name Hobbit Cave is derived from the small size of this early human, also known as the Flores Hobbit.
The route to the cave is of relatively poor quality, but you have beautiful views of the mountains and rice fields. It took me a while to find the cave, but luckily there were some friendly locals who showed me around on the motorbike. When I arrived, the gate was closed and I realized it was Sunday. Fortunately, the owner from the village came to open the gate for me. He also opened the small museum especially for me. Cost for the cave and the museum is IDR 20,000.
About 15 km from Ruteng towards Labuan Bajo you will pass the Spiderweb ricefields. These rice fields, as the name says, have the shape of a spider web. The common rice fields were circular and used to be shared with the entire village. In the middle, ceremonial rituals were held around harvest time.
Accommodation tips: There are a number of accommodations in Riung with different price ranges. I stayed in the simple and affordable D-Rima Homestay which is run by a very friendly family.
Ruteng ➤ Labuan Bajo
Distance: 133 km
Duration: 4-5 hours
Road quality: Good. The road is particularly good in the last stretch. Some holes here and there, but generally excellent.
Labuan Bajo is the most touristic city on the west of the island. Besides a fish market, the city doesn’t have much to offer. I liked to relax a few nights from the scooter trip, because it was quite exhausting.
You can also take a trip to the traditional village of Wae Rebo. The road here is only anything but good. You can’t really call it a road anymore. To reach the village you have to hike for 3 hours. You can book a tour to the village in Labuan Bajo but also in Denge. So if you are on your way from Ruteng to Labuan Bajo, you could spend the night in Denge and start the tour the next day to Wae Rebo.
Labuan Bajo is the place to book a (multi-day) trip to Komodo National Park. I did a boat trip from Labuan Bajo to Lombok visiting fantastic islands, snorkeling spots and of course the famous Komodo dragons. It was a trip to remember.
Accommodation tips: There’is a wide choice of accommodations in Labuan Bajo. I stayed in a dorm of Seaesta Hostel, but they also have (quite pricey) double rooms. This hostel is highly recommended. As a guest you can use the swimming pool, gym, ping pong tables and pool tables. If you want to stay here, it is definitely recommended to book in advance.
Transport Flores itinerary
Flores is an elongated island and the distances are quite long. There are a number of options regarding transportation on the island.
For example, you can choose to hire a private driver for a specific time. An advantage of this is traveling with a comfortable car. If the driver speaks English, he can also be your guide. In my opinion, disadvantages are that you are very dependent and it’s also the most expensive option. For a driver on Flores you pay about 500,000 – 800,000 (€ 28 – € 45) IDR per day.
Another option is public transport, in the form of buses. These are very cheap, but can also be quite uncomfortable at times. The buses run at fixed times, sometimes several times a day between certain destinations. Gunung Mas buses run between the popular destinations, but shared taxis can also be arranged in the guesthouse.
If you quickly become car sick, this is probably not a pleasant option. The roads are very winding, you are crammed with a lot of people in a van and the drivers often do not drive very quietly.
The last option is to rent a motorbike / scooter. As far as I’m concerned, this is the most adventurous but also by far the most fun option. Traveling in this way gives you a lot of freedom. In addition, the chance that you suffer from motion sickness on a motorbike is also very small.
During motorcycling this Flores itinerary, it is more easy to get in touch with the locals and get the most authentic experience. People everywhere waved at me and I was greeted enthusiastically. The best part was when I drove through a small village and the kids ran to the road to give me a high five, how cute is that!
If you are very adventurous, you could travel this Flores itinerary on a motorbike alone. On the other hand, I enjoyed traveling with a travel companion.
Is it dangerous to drive in Flores? No, not as far as I’m concerned. In general, I found the traffic situation and roads in Bali, Java much more dangerous. The road quality of the Trans Flores Highway that runs all over the island is generally very good and there’s hardly any other traffic apart from the cities. However, there are sometimes large gaps in the road, so it is important to drive calmly and always pay attention.
Keep in mind that the road is very winding and passes through the mountains and the distances are great. I think my average speed on the motorbike was about 40 km / h because of the many sharp turns. Don’t underestimate the distances. A few hours a day on a motorbike can be very tiring. It is therefore recommended to take enough breaks and listen to your body.
Along the way you will also encounter enough local warungs (eateries), even in places where you will not expect it. Still, it is wise to bring enough snacks and water for during the roadtrip.
You will find petrol stations in the cities, but not outside of them. Fortunately, you can buy bottled gasoline anywhere along the way for 12,000 – 15,000 IDR.
You can rent motorbikes of 125cc and 150cc at Lena House in Maumere or at Divers Paradise in Labuan Bajo for 100,000 IDR (€ 6) per day, plus 400,000 IDR deposit that will be neatly returned upon return. If you want to return the motorbike on the other side of the island, that’s no problem. For this you pay 400,000 IDR extra.
I rented my motorbike in Maumere and returned it to Labuan Bajo, but the other way around is also possible! Send a message to the owner of Lena House for more information: +62 811-3823-733.
Duration Flores itinerary
If you have the time, I definitely recommend that you travel Flores for at least 10 days. I stayed there for 12 days, because I wanted to take it a bit easy. A few days less would also be possible in theory, but in that case you’re rushing which is very tiring and you cannot see all the highlights.
If you have less than 10 days, renting a driver might be a better idea.
Best travel time Flores itinerary
The best time to travel this Flores itinerary is from May to September. You have the greatest chance of good weather. In theory, the rainy season starts around October, but in 2019 the rainy season was delayed until about December. At the end of the dry season, in the months of August and September, it can be very dry and hot. In addition, you will of course encounter more tourists in the high season (July and August).
What to bring
Certainly if you ride the motorbike, I advise you not to take too much. I had been riding with my entire backpack on the back for 12 days and that was fine. Every morning tighten everything upon the motorbike (you’ll get the hang of this) and off I went.
There are large temperature differences in Flores because of the large difference in altitude. For example, it can cool down a lot at night in Moni and Bajawa. Therefore, also bring long pants and a vest or sweater.
A raincoat is recommended when traveling Flores itinerary during or during the rainy season.
Fortunately, many accommodations offer a laundry service so that you don’t run out of clothes quickly. Often this laundry service lasts 24 hours.
Bring enough sunscreen before traveling to Flores. You cannot buy this here.
Malaria occurs in Flores. My doctor advised me to take preventative malaria pills for both Flores and Komodo. Check at your local doctor for more information.
Accommodations Flores itinerary
The choice of accommodations in Flores is not very big because the island is an emerging tourist destination. The prices are therefore generally higher for the quality you get than on many other popular Indonesian islands. After all, there’s little competition.
Don’t expect much luxury in Flores. Most accommodations are basic. Often you will not have warm water.
In addition, some accommodations cannot be booked online, although more and more are becoming available online. Preferably book your overnight stay a day in advance to ensure that you can stay there. But you can also visit the accommodations on site, but then there is of course a chance that the best ones are already full.
Tip: Filter on Google Maps by keywords like Hotel, Homestay or Guesthouse to find different accommodations. Booking also has some offers in Flores.
Culture in Flores
In Flores, the majority of the population is Catholic. A minority of the population is Muslim or Protestant. Where short clothing is not always appreciated in islands such as Java and Lombok, it is not so bad in Flores. You will see the locals swimming in their clothes instead of swimsuits, but it is generally fine if you walk on the beach in a bikini. You will probably get some looks at some places, because it’s something they don’t see very often.
It may be helpful to know that the people in Flores eat dogs. You won’t see this on the menu and often it’s only eaten on special occasions. However, it is possible that you are presented with dog meat without knowing it. I have heard stories that travelers believed they were eating goat, but this turned out to be dog afterwards. If you prefer not to eat a dog, ask in advance which meat they use, or switch to vegetarian food.
Most people speak hardly any English, but you can a long way with non-verbal communications with your hands and feet. It also pays off to learn a little bit of Bahasa Indonesian. For example, if you are lost, ask “di mana …?” = “where is …?”. Don’t forget to say thank you = “terimah kasih”!
Although many people speak limited English, most like to chat with you. On the way from Bajawa to Ruteng, for example, I was taking a break along the road until three boys on one motorbike (yes, you read that right) stopped to ask if I needed help. They studied tourism in Labuan Bajo and lived in a village near Ruteng and went in the same direction as I did. They offered to drive me to one of the beaches. Really sweet! Eventually they invited me to their homestay where I had a cup of coffee. Before I knew it, the whole village was on the doorstep.
I loved seeing how friendly the locals can be. On the way people waved at me, often in combination with an enthusiastic “hello mister!” or “bule!”. This deserves some explanation: the vocabulary of most locals does not include the word “miss”, which is why they call both men and women “mister”. Pretty fun. In addition, “bule” is used for tourists, mostly white tourists. It’s not a bad word and is therefore not intended to be negative. For example, I walked into a restaurant in Riung where the boy called his mother with “mama, bule!”.
Flores definitely is a destination that surprised me very well!