Flores Island Indonesia is one of the islands of the East Nusa Tenggara archipelago in Indonesia. Most tourists come here to visit the Komodo National Park, see the Komodo Dragons and to go diving at one of the last coral reefs in the world. It’s an untouched paradise worlds away from the tourist hot spot of Bali. Below are some of the top things to do in Flores Island.
But there’s much more to see in Flores! It’s one of most diverse Indonesian, both culturally and geographically speaking. 17 volcanoes, 6 different language, cultures and costumes still tied to the old traditions, and last but not least, stunning beaches.
Flores has a surface of 14.300 km², a bit bigger than Jamaica, BUT small enough to be explored in-depth in one week.Check our Flores road trip itinerary to learn more about how to get around.
We traveled Flores island by bicycle since this is the way we like. If that’s not your cup of tea, consider renting a motorbike for your whole stay, it will give you the freedom to explore the island at your pace, without getting strained by the steep climbs.
Things To Do in Flores Island Indonesia
1. Active Volcanoes
Being part of a volcanic belt stretching from Sumatra through Java and Bali to the Banda Sea, more than 17 volcanoes lie on this around 400km long, snake-shaped island, among which, 4 are alive and kicking. The highest are Mount Egon (1703m) in Sikka District and Mount Inerie (2245m) in the Ngada District.
The most visited volcanic area is the Kelimutu, a complex of 3 stunning volcanic lakes near the town of Moni. The colors of the lakes are very different, despite being so close to each other. It’s believed by the locals that those lakes are the gates of the afterlife, one is for the good, one for the bad, and one for those who died young. When a soul reaches the lake, it changes its color, that’s why they can look very different even in the lapse of a few hours.
Kelimutu is easily reachable by motorbike from Moni, which is basically a settlement mad for tourists.
But Kelimutu is not the only Volcano that you can enjoy, hiking the Inerie or the Egon, even though it’s a tough climb, is absolutely rewarding. Hiking a volcano is definitely one of the top things to do in Flores.
2 . Traditional Villages and unique heritage
Thousands of different cultures, languages, and beliefs gathered under one flag, Indonesia is a universe, and each island is a planet. Going further with the analogy, we might say that each island is made by different nations, each with their own traditions and beliefs. Flores is one of the better examples of this, six different languages are spoken here, identifying six different tribes.
Visiting the lands of the Ngada people, in the area around Bajawa, is like being teleported to another space and time, women waving their Ikats on the carved wooden porches of the thatched houses, using traditional looms, while a megalithic altar sits in the middle of the village, waiting for the next blood sacrifice.
The most important Ngada villages are Bena and Gurusina, but the whole region is worth exploring. Rent a motorbike in Bajawa and get lost. To know more about rites and tradition of the Ngada people, have a look at our article aboutBena and Gurusina, the traditional villages of Flores.
Another of the Flores tribes are the Lio people, they live up in the mountains not too far from Moni, very few visitors adventure among them. Lio people also live in thatched houses, but they are very different from the Ngada ones. Indeed their traditions are unique and still not completely understood.
Another remarkable place is the Manggarai village of Wae Rebo, about 108 km from Labuan Bajo, hidden in the jungle and only reachable on foot. It centers around seven cone-shaped bamboo houses, another remote and unique piece of Indonesian living heritage.
3. Gorgeous views and landscapes
Taking a road trip in Flores, from Maumere To Labuan Bajo or the other way around, you’ll go four times from the sea level to more than 1,000msl in just 530km, climbing incredibly steep slopes with stunning views all around you.
It’s difficult to underline the highlights of this road trip since the whole route is gorgeous, but the rice paddies you’ll see along the way are worth a special mention. If you think Bali is beautiful you’ll be dizzied by Flores. Steep rice terraces ranging from the sea level to the top of the mountain, and then Ruteng, where the paddies are shaped like spiderwebs, a really unique sight.
4. Pristine beaches
Flores island is home to an immense variety of beaches, stratching all the color gradients between the pure white sand and pitch black volcanic soil.
Our favorite beach in Flores is Koka Beach, about 50km south of Maumere. Koka Beach is formed by two bays, separated by a cliff. The sand is snow-white and the water is slightly different in each of the bays. The cool thing is that the sea is usually wavy in one bay and calm in the other.
There’s a tiny homestay right on the beach, managed by a super friendly and original local guy. It consists of a single bamboo/palm-tree hut, very cute, there is a small solar panel to power a light bulb, the bed has the mosquito net and you can have as many coconuts as we want for free! Costs 5$ for couples, 3 for singles.
Black sand beaches can be found near Ende and Aimere, they are also very beautiful and absolutely worth visiting. From Aimere you’ll have an absolutely gorgeous view of the Inerie volcano.
Another stunning place is the 17 Islands park near Riung, an archipelago of tiny, postcard-perfect tropical islands with amazing snorkelling opportunities. Which brings us to the last reason to visit Flores…
5. Best Coral Reefs in the world
The sea around Flores island features one of the most lively marine areas in the world. Coral reefs are still healthy here, and we hope that will stay like this in the future.
Sure Komodo National Park is probably the best, with giant Mantas, whale sharks, sea turtles, and whatever it is that the diving-addict dreams of.
But that is not the only area, the already mentioned 17 Islands park in Riung is also incredibly beautiful, as it is the underwater world near Maumere, a black sand beaches area in the north east of Flores. Although the beaches in Maumere are not the best, you’ll be amazed of how colourful and alive the coral reef is here. It’s easy to lose the sense of time and wander with your snorkel for hours, ending up with a sunburnt backside.
So, what are you waiting for? Prepare for your next big trip to one of the best islands in the world!
This post was a guest post written by some fellow travel bloggers from Cycloscope, a bicycle touring website run by Daniele and Elena. Follow their journey on Facebook or Instagram.