Last Updated on September 5, 2022
Flores, Indonesia, in East Nusa Tenggara, is one of the best islands to visit in the country. Known for the iconic Komodo National Park, the island has a lot to offer beyond the park. Hike to remote traditional villages, climb volcanoes, visit pristine beaches, and experience things like no other.
Flores island in Indonesia is filled with hidden gems and places unique on earth. Visiting a couple of traditional villages, some only accessible after hours of walking, will fill you with awe. Witnessing their way of life and learning about their traditions is a life-changing experience.
Flores Island is also known for its natural wonders and dive sites. Visit a pink beach, see the Komodo dragons up close, swim in a cave, or watch the sunrise over a red lake, there’s plenty of things to do in Flores.
RECOMMENDED EXPERIENCE – 7-day private tour from Maumere to Labuan Bajo with a local guide/driver
HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP
- Map of the best attractions on Flores Island
- Best things to do on Flores Island
- How to get to Flores Island
- Flores Itinerary
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Map of the best attractions on Flores Island
Best things to do on Flores Island
The places below are listed from west to east and can be visited in this order.
Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park is one of the best destinations in Indonesia and is known for its world-class diving spots and, of course, being home to komodo dragons. The park is filled with beautiful islands and dive spots, it would take you days to visit it all.
Non-divers usually stay for 2-3 days, basing themself in Labuan Bajo. From there you can book day trips to go snorkeling, hiking, and visit pristine beaches.
Some of the most famous islands within (or near) Komodo National Park include:
- Padar Island – great for hiking, Padar Island is also known for its beaches, black, white, and pink.
- Komodo Island – the best place to see the dragons from up close + known for its pink beach
- Rinca Island – good for hiking and seeing the famed Komodo Dragon.
- Kanawa Island – less crowded, great for diving and snorkeling.
- Bidadari Island – nice reef for snorkeling off the beach
- Seraya Island – nice offshore snorkeling reef, quaint fishing village, and trails to viewpoints.
Recommended experience: Spend three days cruising through Komodo National Park on an all-included cruise
Labuan Bajo is the best place to base yourself to explore Komodo National Park and take tours from but there’s actually quite a lot to see on the mainland around Labuan Bajo. You could rent a scooter for a day and explore a bit.
There, you’ll find most of the best things to do in Flores Indonesia.
If you want to treat yourself, book a stay on a private island nearby. The all-inclusive Angel Island Eco Resort, located on Bidadari Island, is one of the top-rated resorts in Flores and will make an incredible getaway.
Otherwise, book something near the center to be close to everything.
Some of the best things to do around Labuan Bajo include:
- Seeing the sunset from Love Hill
- Spending some time at the beach on Pantai Segang
- Hiking to the gorgeous Cunca Wulang Waterfall or Cunca Rami Waterfall (or both!)
- Visiting the traditional Melo Village
- Taking a boat to Rangko Cave and its hidden lake
Recommended experience: Private tour to Rangko Cave, Melo Village & Sylvia Sea View Hill
Sano Nggoang Lake
Sano Nggoang Lake is a stunning volcanic lake known for its scenic beauty, walking trails, and hot springs. It’s the largest one in the region and probably the deepest one in the world.
There you can stroll around the lake, hiking to viewpoints through the forest, trying to spot birds. There are areas where you swim as well.
You could take a day trip to Sano Nggoang Lake from Labuan Bajo, but if you have more time you could spend a night nearby. You can arrange for a homestay at one of the villages that border the lake.
Wae Rebo Village
Reachable through a 10-km hike through a lush forest, Wae Rebo is a traditional and ancestral village of the Manggarai people. The village features traditional 5-tiered, cone-shaped thatched huts.
The hike in itself is a must-do. You’ll pass by waterfalls you can swim in, sweeping views, and might spot a couple of rare birds.
Once you reach the village, you’ll be welcome by a traditional welcome ceremony and witness the inhabitant’s daily life. Spend the night there and wake up early to admire the beautiful landscape at sunrise.
The easiest way to organize a visit to Wae Rebo would be to book a tour from Labuan Bajo. Some people do it without going through an agency but it’s far from being easy. You’ll need to get to Denge and hire a local guide there.
Note, that the hike there is not an easy one, you need to be fit or be prepared to suffer. Also know that if you decide to spend the night, it’s not going to be as comfortable as a hotel stay. As you can expect, everything is very basic, you won’t get a hot shower and a comfy mattress, not even a private room.
Recommended experience: Private tour to Waerebo Village with local guide from Labuan Bajo
Cancar Spider Web Fields
The Cancar fields are an Instagram hot spot of sorts. These incredible paddy fields are designed in a spider web shape. It’s worth checking out if you happen to pass near them.
Each family in the village owns a part of the “spider web”, their share depending on their wealth.
Note that depending on the time of the year you visit, it might look completely different. Right before harvest, when the fields are green, is the best time to see them.
Liang Bua or Hobbit Cave
In 2003, 18,000-year-old skeletons of small humanoids were found inside a cave near Rutang, uncovering the Homo Floresiensis, believed to have been around 3.2 ft high.
You can now visit the cave and see the remains inside the small museum that has been built next to the cave.
Bajawa is a must-see while in Flores. The area is known for the many Ngada traditional villages scattered around the district. Discovering this unique way of life and culture is an incredible experience. People there still lead really traditional life and it will feel like stepping into another world of time.
Many villages are easily accessible, you can just drive to them and stroll around the village. Some will require a guide and some hiking.
The most popular villages to visit are Bena, Luba, and Toto Lela. You can ask your hotel to provide a map of the villages or hire a local guide for the day.
You can also visit one of the hot springs like the Malanage Hot Springs and hike to Oji Waterfall.
Most accommodation options in Bajawa are guest houses. The Cinnamon Guest House is the best-rated one in town, everything is brand new, it’s well located, and they serve a good breakfast. If you want to splurge, check out Manulalu Jungle.
If you’re in Bajawa, climbing mount Inerie can be a rewarding experience. The hike can be done in a day, but you’ll need to leave at dawn and hire a guide. You’ll also need a good fitness level.
The climb might be arduous but the views from the top are breathtaking. You can also start at 2 AM if you want to watch the sunrise from the summit.
17 Islands National Park
For an off-the-beaten-path experience, plan an island hopping trip to the 17 Islands National Park. Most of the islands are uninhabited and few tourists make the trip there.
The marine park is ideal for snorkeling or diving, some islands offer incredible hiking and wildlife watching opportunities, while others feature pristine beaches.
The starting point to vising the park is in the small town of Riung, from which you can hire a boat to take you for a fun day on the water.
While in town, you can stay at the Riung Guesthouse and experience the warm Indonesian hospitality.
Kelimutu National Park
Kelimutu National Park, near Ende, is known for its three amazing color-changing volcanic lakes. The color of the lakes is just surreal, called the tricolored lakes, they are all made of different colors, and they change according to the season and to the minerals inside the water. They usually are different shades of turquoise and olive green, sometimes, one of them is red. The colors are so intense that the water looks super dense, more like paint than water.
Locals believe the lakes are sacred and magical, here the souls of the dead come. Young people’s souls go to the turquoise lake, old people to the brown/reddish one, and the souls of the wicked go to the darker lake.
The spectacular colors are due to the dissolving minerals, explaining why they can change colors. The rain also has an impact, it accelerates the process of dissolution. The craters around the lake look a bit like the moon, and the sunlight and clouds will create an amazing atmosphere.
The best time to visit the park is at dawn. Watching the misty sunset coming over the volcano, slowly revealing the beauty of the lakes, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The nearest town to stay in is Moni. Most people arrange for a driver around 4 AM to be at the top of Mount Kelimutu for sunrise. It takes around 20 minutes to hike from the parking lot to the top. You can then hike your way back through villages and paddy fields (ask your hotel for a map or download Maps.Me, the path is not on Google Maps).
Recommended accommodation: Joseph Guest House featuring river views, rooms with a private bathroom, and a nice restaurant.
Another incredible thing to do in Moni is to take a dip at night at the Kolorongo hot springs and gaze at the stars (don’t go alone),
If you are there on a Monday check out the local market and have some Moni Cake, a potato pie topped with cheese.
There are some amazing beaches around Paga. To the north, you’ll see impressive and deserted black sand beaches. To the south, you can go to the popular Koka beach (or Coca). You’ll find some bungalows if you want to stay the night there and some beach huts where they sell drinks and simple food. The landscape is beautiful with cliffs and big rocks. The entrance fee is 20k.
Close to Koka beach is Naga Beach, really nice for swimming, the sand is white, and it’s quieter.
Nuabari Village is home to some impressive megalithic tombstones, it’s definitively off most tourists’ radar, and they’re missing something. The stones are scattered around the small village, located on a hill, bonus: you’ll get a splendid view from up there. The way up the village is also amazing; you can hike but also drive there. The village is not on any maps so you’ll have to ask the locals, once you’re on the right road it gets easier.
People there are trying to preserve their traditions, and you’ll be able to see fresh graves among the old ones and also traditional houses. You’ll have to make a donation, the village’s chief will guide you around, bring a translator because he doesn’t speak English. At the end of the tour, you’ll be offered a cup of tea.
Sika and Lela villages
Sika and Lela are charming traditional villages, with nice scenery on the way there Take a look around and watch the amazing beaches and cute traditional houses. People are really welcoming, during the day, they are usually working so you won’t see a lot of villagers, especially in Lela.
In Sikka, there’s an impressive old Portuguese church you can visit; you’ll have to find someone to open it for you. At the entrance, many women will be waiting for you to sell their ikat, it’s pretty annoying. They will also offer to show you their weaving technique, decline unless you’re willing to pay for it, you will have other opportunities to see it in Flores and for free.
How to get to Flores Island
Airports and Flights
Maumere, Labuan Bajo, and Ende all have an airport with flights to most major destinations in Indonesia.
Ferries / Boats
Many people take a 4-day cruise from Lombok, island hopping along the way.
From Labuan Bajo, you can book a ferry/bus/ferry trip to Lombok, it will take you a full day.
You’ll also find ferries to Ende or Maumere from neighboring islands but most don’t run daily so check the schedule ahead.
Planning your itinerary in Flores is pretty easy as the island is long and thin and there’s one main road going from west to east. Most of the top sights are either along it or not too far away.
Keep in mind the island is quite big and some places can be far apart.
The easiest itinerary would be to start in Maumere and end in Labuan Bajo or the other way around.
If you’re short on time visit Kelimutu Lake, Bajawa, and Komodo Island. If you have more time, visit some of the other places listed above, depending on what you want to see.
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