Do you also wonder whether take a tour of Flores in Indonesia or not? If you know our blog a little for sure you’ve noticed that we are always trying to be honest with you. We don’t exaggerate. We don’t recommend places we didn’t like. We don’t hide the truth.
We feel that writing this post is necessary. We are going to tell you everything that we experienced. We are going to mention all the pros and cons that we had to deal with. Hopefully our post will make your decision easier!But first, we ask for a second of your time: click here and like our Facebook page! Thank you!
Once upon time…there was Flores
Let’s start with some general information about this particular island in Indonesia. The very first thing that might strike you as odd is its name. The Portuguese named the eastern Cape Kopondai Cabo de Flores, which literally means Cape of flowers. There are a few parts of the island that have not been explored properly. It’s basically impossible to get there by car.
You can find several volcanoes here (we will talk more about Mount Kelimutu). The biggest city is Ende but it is tiny compared to Jakarta, Yogyakarta or Surabaya. Another interesting fact you should know if you’re planning to take a tour of Flores is that the population is mostly Christian. This is thanks to the presence of the Portuguese that occupated the island in the 16th century.
We have also discovered an interesting thing mentioned in the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind” by Yuval Noah Harari. A completely new human species called homo florensiensis developed in Flores. The first inhabitants came here from Java when the level of sea was extremely low. Once the level rose again, they became trapped on the island with limited resources. The big individuals with the need of more food died almost immediately. The little ones survived and each generation that followed was even smaller. The result of this process was that adults were around 1m tall and weighed around 25kg.
How to move around
If you want to take a tour of Flores and you’re on a tight budget, try the local transport. However, we don’t recommend it. The local buses are far from being safe. Some of them don’t even have a door so that they can accomodate even more people! So what are the options then?
Well, if you’re a good driver and you have an international driving licence and proper health insurance you can rent a motorbike. But again, we don’t feel like recommending this option. What remains is renting a car with a driver. And trust us, this was actually one of the negative parts of our stay in Flores.
Finding a good driver
We were not entirely satisfied with our driver. We are not talking about his driving skills, those were perfectly fine. What we were uncomfortable about was his character. Unfortunately, we were not able to get over our trust issues. Once we were convinced that he had left us in the middle of nowhere 😀
Anyway, before hiring a driver make sure you ask around. Turn to fellow backpackers, check online forums or facebook groups. Remember that you have to spend around five days together with him. For sure you don’t want to spend your holiday wondering if your driver wants to scam you or not. Agree on the conditions in advance and be firm in your statements. You’re the one paying so you should always know what you’re paying for.
Tour of Flores: places to see
Here’s the list of all the places we visited in Flores. As a bonus we will also add whether they are worth visiting or they are just a waste of time.
We flew from Bali to Labuan Bajo where we started our tour of Flores. It is not an enjoyable place. Apart from the port where you can watch the sunset and have grilled fish there is not much more to do. The center is full of agencies and diving clubs. There will be locals jumping at you and offering you their services. For us Labuan Bajo was a necessary stop and we were happy not to spend more time there.
Lingko spiderweb rice fields
Close to Ruteng lie these strangely formed rice fields. There is actually a viewpoint from which you can see them properly. It is a brief stop but worth seeing since you probably cannot find them anywhere else.
The towns of Flores are far from being beautiful but we actually enjoyed staying in Ruteng. There is one or two hotels that are fit for tourists. Ours lied in the middle of green rice fields and the view was truly spectacular. We also visited the local market. You can buy a lot of local products at ridiculous prices. The local people were really friendly and smiling all the time.
Luba and Bena
There are several traditional villages that you can see if you take a tour of Flores. Some of them are accessible only by foot. Since our time on the island was limited we had to skip those and go for those less distant. Luba and Bena are two nearby villages with thatch-roofed houses. The Ngada culture sticks to the ancient traditions and rituals and if you’re lucky you might see one of their ceremonials.
The town is nothing special but the all the surroundings are amazingly beautiful. These are probably the most beautiful rice paddies we’ve ever seen, together with the fields around Ubud, Bali. Our driver stopped many times along the road, giving us the chance to shoot some photos and to walk around this green landscape.
Blue Stone Beach
Blue Stone Beach or Penggajawa Beach is famous for its colourful pebbles. However, the locals have been exporting them to China. In a few years there might not be a single pebble left. Plus, the beach is quite poluted. You can stop there for lunch and enjoy the sun. If you decide to skip it you won’t really miss anything.
This place is totally worth the trip. When the sky is clear the sunrise over this strange volcano must be truly magical. Why strange? Well, because it has three craters filled with lakes and each lake has a different colour. Oh, and guess what: They even change colours. When we visited one of them was light blue, the second dark blue and the third one pitch black!
In case you’re planning to visit Mount Kelimutu, you will most probably stop for a night in Moni. It is a tiny village right under the volcano. There is not much to do apart from going trekking. You can also visit the local hot springs and the waterfalls. Nothing exceptional but not a bad stopover.
Our favourite place on the island. We were deciding between two different beaches and in the end voted for this one. The best decision ever. Koka is one of the most beautiful beaches that we have ever visited. Apart from three or four other tourists it was completely empty. Walk up the hill to have a better view of the place. You can also have fresh fish right on the beach and then jump back to the water!
Visit Flores: pros and cons
We have given you a brief summary of all the places that we visited in Flores. Moving around the island is slow and therefore in five days you manage to visit only the main attractions. There are much more things to see but they require more time. We would like to dedicate the last part of our post to the reasons you should (not) take a tour of Flores.
- Flores is still one of the less visited islands of Indonesia. Apart from Labuan Bajo, which is the starting point for those who want to visit the Komodo National Park, you won’t come across any crowds of tourists.
- There are still a lot of parts waiting to be explored. If have a lot of time you can concentrate on the more distant areas. For sure you’ll find incredibly beautiful and desolate corners.
- It is a very particular island with particular people. Most of them are Christian and they haven’t seen many tourist in their lives. Flores is also completely different from all the other Indonesian islands that we have visited.
- It offers unique attractions such as spiderweb rice fields, volcano lakes changing colours or traditional villages.
- Koka Beach was so beautiful that we didn’t want to leave.
- For some reason Flores is more expensive compared to other islands. There is one or two structures in each town where tourists can stay and their rooms are not exactly cheap. The choice of places to eat is also very limited so don’t expect any food orgies.
- Hiring a driver is basically the only way to move around the island. Finding a good one is not a piece of cake, trust us. Many agencies ask exaggerated amounts of money. Hiring an anonymous person you met on facebook is also not the wisest move ever.
- This might not seem like a serious problem. Flores is not exactly developed when it comes to technology or internet. During one week we spent on the island we managed to find wifi exactly once. If you’re a social media freak who needs to inform the world about every breath you take, forget about Flores. If you’re a travel nomad and you need to have a good connection to work, we have to disappoint you as well.
So this is more or less what we have to say. If you haven’t decided about your tour of Flores yet, we hope our post might help you. To sum up, we liked our tour of Flores but we could have organized it better. Hopefully you will avoid making the same mistake!
Find out more amazing places in Indonesia right here.
What other places are there to visit in Flores? Let us know in the comments.