Flores Island is challenging and stunning island that I have ever traveled to. With its places such as Komodo Dragon, Kelimutu Three Colors Lake, and Wae Rebo are among the spectacular places that once you see it, it makes you hard to move on.
I keep saying to myself till today that I should drive further to the east of Flores. And keep on driving across the Flores sea to Alor Island, then explore it too. As I have heard, Alor Island is also wondrous and worth it to visit.
Exploring Flores island was an epic, thrifty, and off the top of my head, because the journey was meant to be a surfing journey to Sumba Island which was not to Flores.
I could not make it to Sumba because when I arrived at Sape Harbor heading to Sumba, there was no ferry departing on that day, and I had to wait 3 more days for the ferry if I kept wanting to go to Sumba. So I chose to go to Flores instead.
About Flores Island
Flores Island is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, a group of islands in eastern half of Indonesia.
According to history, many islands in eastern part of Indonesia were occupied by Portuguese in the 16th century, and Flores was one of them.
But, in 1941 by the Japanese that occupied Indonesia at that time, Flores was released from Portuguese and became part of Indonesia.
Flores means flowers in Portuguese, which is not intended to show how beautiful flowers on the land are, but to show how beautiful are the corals that grow colorfully like flowers under the sea of Flores.
Honestly, beside the Komodo Dragon, Flores is also popular for its magical underwater garden.
From Bali to Flores Island
Here is my 19 days journey, driving solo with a surfboard at the side of my motorbike crossing islands of Lombok, Sumbawa and ending up exploring Flores Island.
You will say, why with a motorbike not a car?
Well, the answer is simple because it is efficient, flexible, and cheaper. As an example, to across the sea by ferry from Bali to Lombok, you have to pay for 1.000.000.- rupiah, but with motorbike you only need to pay 140.000.-, and that already including you, your motorbike and your passenger if you have.
Things That You Need To Know Before Travel On Land To Flores Or Other Islands In Eastern of Indonesia
- The area is less developed compared to Bali. Don’t expect that you will find toilet paper if you want to do the thing, and the toilets are mostly squat toilets, and you will need deeper water to clean yourself off.
- Prepare your proper transportation vehicle document. Don’t go if you don’t have a proper driving license/International driving license and your vehicle document. Police will stop you on the roads of every corner of the city that you entered.
- People aren’t used to tourism yet. Despite their warm welcoming, in some areas people aren’t that familiar with foreigners, you have to take care of yourself carefully and don’t trust too fast.
- Malaria pills. Make sure that you are prepared with Malaria pills or don’t forget to put on mosquito repellent everyday. As for your information Flores is endemic of Malaria.
- National Park Fee. Don’t be surprised if anytime you are visiting interesting places, you need to pay a ticket for it.
- Do not drive at night. For safety reasons it is better not to drive at night in Eastern of Indonesia, because the distance between one village to another is far, the roads are mostly quiet, and if something happens to you on the road it is gonna be hard to find people to help you.
- Drive safe!
Journey Day To Day From Bali To Flores Island
1st day & 2nd day: Kuta Beach Lombok
On the 1st day of the journey, I drove my motorbike 1:30 minutes from Canggu to Padang Bai Harbor. Then I took a ferry and spent 5 hours from Padang Bai to Lombok.
The ticket was 140.000.- rupiah that included a ticket for me and the motorbike.
As soon as I arrived In Lombok, I rode my motorbike to the west side for surfing and just for relaxing at some beautiful white sand beaches.
In west of Lombok I went to Kuta Beach, Mawi Beach, Tanjung A’an and Grupuk. Then I stayed at Kuta Beach Lombok and spent the night preparing all that I needed for the next journey.
There were plenty of options for accommodations and restaurants around Kuta Beach Lombok, and it seemed the area was developing to become another new tourism destination in Indonesia.
3rd day until 5th day: Sumbawa Island
I took another public ferry from Kayangan Harbor to Sumbawa. The distance to Sumbawa only took 1 hour on the ferry, and cost only 50.000.- rupiah for the ticket.
I spent two days there, and had really nice surfing sessions in Sumbawa.
I surfed at Yoyo Beach on the west side and Lakey Beach on the East side. On the third day in Sumbawa I drove my motorbike to Sape Harbor with a plan to go to Sumba.
6th day: Sape Harbour, Bima – Sumbawa
I arrived at Sape Harbor in the afternoon, and went right away to the harbor office to get a ferry ticket to Sumba, but found out that, due to the bad weather at that time.
There were only two ferries that traveled weekly to Sumba, and the last ferry had already departed in the morning before I arrived.
If I kept wanting to go to Sumba, I would have to wait for three days for the next ferry to come and go there.
Three days was too long for me to wait, so I changed my mind, and decided to go to Flores.
I spent one night at the harbor, and in the morning, I took the daily ferry that departs from Sumbawa to Flores everyday.
The ferry that I used departed at 09:00 AM and arrived at Labuan Bajo at 16:00 PM. The ferry cost me only 185.000.- rupiah for the ticket.
7th day: Labuan Bajo
Labuan Bajo is the capital city of Manggarai Regency, the bridge if you want to go to Komodo Island to see the Komodo Dragons.
As I arrived at Labuan Bajo, I realized that Flores was big, and I wasn’t prepared for the trip yet, where to go and what to see. So, I decided to stay one night at Labuan Bajo, just to collect information about places that I wanted to visit.
For efficiency of time and money, I decided to drive one way first, drive directly from Labuan Bajo to Ende, then visit places on my list one by one back from Ende to Labuan Bajo.
8th day: 9 hours drive to Ende – Flores
After a very long 9 hours driving, passing through cities and villages accompanied by stunning views of dense jungle, vegetables farming, clove plantations, crossing rivers and amazing traditional houses along the way, I reached Ende.
Bena Village – an interesting village in Aimere District
When I passed Ngada Regency on the way to Ende from Labuan Bajo in Aimere district, I saw a sign of Bena Village. Feeling curious about the place, I went to visit it.
Bena village was like a megalithic village. An interesting village. I saw stone formations combined with ancestral shrines in the middle of the village surrounded by its unique traditional houses.
Reasons why I went to Ende
Ende is a historical city in Flores Island. City was once used as an isolation place for Indonesia’s first president in dutch colonial era.
The reason why I went to Ende was not about the city or the historical story behind it, it was about the three colors of lakes.
The three-colored lake was located right on top of Kelimutu Volcano, near Moni Village.
Moni Village & Waturaka Village As The Gate To Kelimutu
There are many options for accommodations and restaurants at Moni village, and mostly for people who want to visit Kelimutu they will stay at Moni before they start their journey to the lakes.
But, for me, instead of staying at Moni village, I decided to stay at Waturaka village. Waturaka village is a small tourism village on the road to Kelimutu which is located not far away from the volcano.
I stayed with a family and paid for room and board in Waturaka. I felt more authentic than to stay at some accommodations at Moni Village.
The people of Waturaka were very friendly and happy to show me their gardens and nice places such as waterfalls and hot springs that I could walk to for free.
9th day: The three colors lake Kelimutu
I drove early in the morning to Kelimutu, driving slowly passing on its winding uphill road that was covered by smoked fog along the way to the entrance.
From the entrance I walked followed the gravel path to the top of the volcano.
The volcano was covered with fog when I reached the top of it. But, once in a while as the thick fog moved, I could see the lakes and the sun as well.
After waiting patiently for about one hour, the fog slowly disappeared, the sun was up, and I could see the lakes clearly.
There were 3 lakes with different colors, blue, red and white with their respective meanings, and all were located close to each other.
The blue lake or “Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai” was a gathering place for the souls of young people who have died.
The red lake or “Tiwu Ata Polo” was a gathering place for the souls of villains who have died.
While the white lake or “Tiwu Ata Mbupu” was a gathering place for the souls of the elderly people who have died.
10th day: Riung Park – The 17 Islands Marine Park
After being amazed by the beauty of Kelimutu, I continued my journey to Riung Park or 17 Islands Marine Park in Riung Region.
Riung is a small fishing village on the northeast of Flores located in Nagakeo Regency.
A beautiful place with stunning underwater marine life, and serene white sand beaches at remote small islands.
The park consists of more than 20 small islands, but it is called 17 islands to personify the beauty of a 17 year old girl who once lived in Riung.
Despite the 5 hours duration driving from Kelimutu to Riung, the route to get to Riung was very challenging.
The route was winding off with strong wind, some part of the road was blocked by flooded rivers and had to drive through it, and a very long quiet road as I kept wondering while driving if something terrible happened with my motorbike it would be hard to find people or place to fix it.
It was quite tough but worth it, because along the way I was accompanied by a beautiful view of hills, open lands, corn fields, and once I passed a beautiful Inielika volcano.
Riung was a quiet and peaceful village, with not many options for accommodations and restaurants around, and there was no beach as well in the area, to get to the beach I had to go to the small islands.
Camping at Rutong Island
There were two reasons why I decided to go to Riung; firstly, I wanted to see the underwater paradise that it has, and secondly, I wanted to camp on one of the remote islands.
Luckily, I got a friend who recommended me to a guy who would like to take and drop me to an island at the park.
After I found him and paid 100.000.- rupiah for the park ticket, he took me and dropped to Rutong Island, a place where I set up my camp, and stayed there for one night.
On the way to Rutong island, the captain of the boat took me to mangroves where I could see thousands of fruit bats flapping up and down above the mangroves.
Fruit Bats Flipping Around Above The Mangroves
Rutong island was beautiful, it had white sand beach, tranquil island, complete with its amazing underwater view.
There was also a hill in the middle of the island, when I stood on top of it, I saw a spectacular blue ocean surrounding the island and a view of the other small islands around.
11th day: Ruteng region to visit Wae Rebo village
On the next day when I was on Rutong Island, all that I had on my head was visiting Wae Rebo. So, I drove right away from Riung National Park to the Ruteng region by passing through Bajawa.
The journey took 6 hours to reach Ruteng.
On the way I stopped at Aimere to visit a traditional Arak distillery, just to see how locals made the famous Flores’s Arak from Lontar palm trees.
12th day: Wonderful Wae Rebo village
Wae Rebo village was located on the top of a mountain in Ruteng Region.
To get there I had to drive 3 hours from Ruteng city to Repi village. And, I had to hike about one hour to reach Wae Rebo from Repi village.
I put my motorbike at a villager house at Repi, and paid 25.000.- rupiah to keep it there safe until I came back.
From the entrance to Wae Rebo, there was no one, the office was empty, and there was a guide as well to the vollage. I decided to keep going and followed the pathway as the guide to the village.
I hiked through a dense forest. Along the way, I heard birds singing, and sometimes sounds of monkeys jumping on the branches. It was peaceful and a bliss of hiking.
Traditional Bamboo Bridge on The Way to Wae Rebo Village
When I arrived at the entrance of the village, I had to hit a wooden drum to sign to the people of Wae Rebo that there was someone visiting the village.
Few minutes later, a guy came, and asked the reason why I was visiting.
There were 7 houses in the village, and every house had 6-8 families. I stayed at one of the houses together with the families.
Wae Rebo was a very unique place, located secluded on the top of a mountain, surrounded by dense jungle and far away from people.
People at Wae Rebo had their own tradition and culture, and they only lived from the forest. and from what they got from their farming and plantation. They grew fruits, cassava, vanilla, rice and coffee as I could see around the area of the village.
When I woke up in the morning, I sat outside on the ground, sipping my delicious coffee while watching people doing their daily activity, and once in a while the fog covered the sun, giving a stunning shade over the place. It was my best cup of coffee moment that I ever had in my life.
13th day: Hera beach
After visiting Wae Rebo and staying there for one day, I drove my motorbike to Hera Beach.
Hera beach was a turtle conservation area, quite remotely, and I heard from people around there, it was rare to see domestic tourists or foreigners visiting that place.
I only stayed for a while at Hera Beach, then I drove to Labuan Bajo.
14th day & 15 day: Chilling at Labuan Bajo
It took 6 hours for me to drive from Hera beach to Labuan Bajo. When I arrived at Labuan Bajo my body was so tired, so, I took a day resting without doing anything except staying and chilling at my rented room.
16th day: 200.000.- Rupiah Komodo boat trip
Before driving back to Bali, I decided to book a boat trip to see the Komodo dragon. There were many boat operators at Labuan Bajo, and they offered trips with different prices.
The komodo island was closed at that time, and the only opportunity to see the dragon was to visit Rinca Island.
I got a boat operator that gave me a really cheap price, I didn’t know why, maybe it was because the boat already reached its consumer quotas, and I was just a bonus consumer to them.
The boat trip took me and other guests to Rinca Island, Padar Island, snorkeling near Padar Island, and then went back to Labuan Bajo.
17th day until 19th day: Long drive back to Bali
The boat trip finished in the afternoon, and I had to spend one more day at Labuan Bajo.
I took a morning ferry back to Sumbawa, then I drove straight away to Lombok, and spent one night in Lombok, then drove again to Bali in the morning.
It was another great journey that I did. I found many incredible moments, and experiences to learn on the journey.
Hopefully, I still have the opportunity to do it again in future, and next time I will travel further to Alor Island and Papua Island.
I hope that this little journey will inspire you to travel to Flores Island or to other islands in Indonesia.