Every tourist you meet on Flores Island has visited or is on their way to Komodo National Park for its wildlife both on land and in sea. But Flores Island has so much more to offer. There are many Things to Do on Flores Island other than Komodo National Park. See if you think so too… Note that sites are listed from West to East.
Things to Do on Flores Island:
I found that the island of Flores was much cloudier than I expected it to be, but it seemed clearer off the west coast and meant there were amazing sunsets nearly every night. The solidary Ciao Hostel on the hill has some of the best in town.
Batu Cermin Cave (Labuanbajo)
This cave is just a few miles out of LBJ town. Entry fee was 20,000 IDR and when asked to take a guide, I just said I’d tag along with a group of Indonesians. This cave is small but you have to crawl under two spots so they give you a sweaty hard hat. Inside the biggest cavern, there are sea fossils, most notably a fossilized turtle, head and all. The last chamber has an opening where on a sunny day, there is a short period where a ray of light shines in. I took a motorbike taxi for 10,000 IDR one way and walked back.
Night Fish Market (Labuanbajo)
Every night, at the northern harbor in town, you can get a whole grilled fish for 35,000 to 100,000 IDK. A good size for one person is 50,000 IDK (under $4). You also get rice, vegetable, and hot sauce.
Rangko Cave (Labuanbajo)
This cave is not fully on the travelers’ radar yet. TripAdvisor only showed 6 reviews and most of the tour companies in town said there were no trips. Others advised renting a motor bike to go on a treturous road to a village and get a boat to the cave. Luckily, the Ciao Hostel in LBJ had a boat that would take us all the way from town for 1,000,000 IDR and shared by 4 people so it was very reasonable. We made a 5 hour tour that took us to the sinkhole cave and then to a beautiful little deserted island coral and bird reserve with a perfect small white sand beach.
Visit Catholic Churches (Whole Island)
Flores has a predominately Catholic population, from Portuguese and Dutch visitors many years ago. Yet many still follow traditional religions such as Roka and there is a bit of mixing the two. There are some large churches on the island. I visited one near Labuanbajo and talked to the Priest who said there are 10,000 members of that church.
Trans-Flores Highway (Whole Island)
I like to call Flores the Land of 1,000 hairpin curves. You go through many different landscapes on this trip, from tropical forest to views of the sea and mighty volcanos. Travel along this route is by public bus, travel shuttle buses (the big blue Gunung Mas buses), or private car. If you can get with 3 or more people, it isn’t that much more expensive to get a car and that allows you to visit a few sights along the way. I also took the Gunung Mas shuttle service. A huge bus with only 3 passengers. If doing this, I advise not eating or drinking much as the bus didn’t stop for nearly 5 hours.
Spider Web Rice Fields (West of Ruteng)
Not the spider rice fields, but nice anyways.I didn’t get to stop here as I was on a bus and it was the wrong time of year to see the lush green rice paddies in the shape of a spider web. The pictures look awesome.
Tour to Villages (Bajawa)
Probably my most fun day in Flores was a 12 hour tour with Ryan. We stopped at three different villages (Bela, Luba, and Bena). What’s interesting about the villages in this area, the land passes to the female descendants, not the males. Each clan has symbols for males and females on the roofs of houses (a small man for men and a small house for females) and in the central square (umbrella shape for man and small house for women). There are graves scattered throughout the yard and there appears to be no regard for the tombs (used as a seat, playground for the kids, etc). We had coffee in each of the villages and even played soccer and danced with the kids. To get in touch with Ryan, contact him here.
The first stop on my day tour to villages. A nice waterfall fed by a spring. You can swim there in summer when the falls is smaller but we weren’t able to swim on this trip.
Hot Spring (Bajawa)
The last stop on my day tour to villages was a hot spring. There are a number of hot springs around Bajawa. In addition to a soak in the dark, we had a small bonfire and dinner at the spring.
Attend a Party (Whole Island)
An awesome addition to our day tour around Bajawa was our invitation to join into a first communion party near one of the villages. The family knew Ryan so we were asked to be their guests. The family was quite poor so in addition to a big pan of rice, and some of the hottest sauce I’ve ever tasted, the meat served was pork fat and dog! The girl who was being confirmed posed for pictures with her little cousins and grandmother and even put on her best dress before we left.
Blue Stone Beach (West of Ende)
All of the beaches on the south coast of Flores are black sand beaches. One is famous for its many blue stones. Unfortunately, these blue stones are popular in Japan and Bali so the stones are being exported by the bagful, with bags lining the highway. Hopefully they will save some of the blue stones so this unique beach can be enjoyed in the future.
Village/Home Stay (Whole Island)
I found a great AirBnB near Moni, in the small village of Nua One. It is a small village with a traditional house for the chief. English speaker Lopez has two rooms with a shared toilet and shower (coolest bath I’ve seen in Indonesia, with stones and plants inside). He’s building two more rooms. Every night, you can pay a small amount and cook and eat with the family. Lopez also showed me around the village. It was an interesting time as there was a 4 day mourning period for a young girl that died, so no one is allowed to work and they just cook big communal meals and hang out. Breakfast is fried bananas and coffee from Lopez’ garden. You can find his place at “The Geckos Moni”
Kelimutu Volcano (Moni)
This national park is a volcano with three hued lakes. The colors change from year to year from blues, greens, black, and even red. At the time of my visit, the two nearest lakes were turquoise and dark green, and the third lake was dark blue. In addition to the lakes, there is a forest with lots of birds and plastic loving monkeys.
There are many waterfalls around Moni but there is one that is the most accessible. Others involve impossibly steep, muddy tracks. It’s just down the hill via a concrete path from the Rainbow Café on the main highway through Moni. Note to get to the falls, you have to cross a bamboo bridge without railings.
Kolorongo Hot Springs (Moni)
This is a natural hot spring in the middle of a rice field. The water is a warm temp and would be refreshing on a rainy, cold day. As it was, I visited on a hot, sunny afternoon so the water wasn’t tempting. It’s easy to miss this as the signage isn’t great. It’s on the main road to Kelimutu and there is a small black sign with white letters that says “Air panas kolorongo +-30M”. Follow the small dirt path.
Where I stayed:
- Labuanbajo: Ciao Hostel. 150,000 IDR for A/C dorm bed, 6 beds to a room. This was a bit pricey for Indonesia as it didn’t include breakfast and there really weren’t any working hot showers. They had a good tour desk with reasonably priced tours, but you could get cheaper if you bargained in town. The sunsets are amazing and they show a movie at 9pm each night based on group vote. A good social hostel – easy to find people to go to dinner or do tours. Note: Ciao does not offer private rooms and the choices for reasonably priced private rooms in town had dire reviews on the internet.Book it now at booking.com. If not already registered at booking.com, get $25 off your first stay by registering here.
- Bajawa: Queen Homestay. 150,000 IDR for private room, shared bath with cold shower (thanks to my neighbors that had a private room that let me take on hot shower). I wanted to stay at Edelweiss Homestay but they had overbooked, so this house across the street was a good alternative.
- Moni: The Geckos. $12 per night booked on AirBnB for private room, shared bath with cold shower. Really unique place in a small village outside of Moni. Since it’s far to the town, you can eat what the family eats for minimal cost, and pitch in on cooking the meal if you want.