Flores is one of Indonesia’s many unique islands. Located east of Bali, close to the famous Komodo National Park, it’s the 10th-biggest Indonesian island, and it holds a whole lot of treasures to discover.
With beaches, waterfalls, lush jungles, peaks and volcanoes, local villages and magnificent culture, Flores is an enticing island destination to visit from Bali.
This helpful Flores backpacking guide can help you plan an epic adventure to the island’s shores. Including everything from how to get to Flores, Indonesia, where to stay, and what to do when you’re there, get ready to be inspired for a trip of a lifetime!
Why Go Backpacking in Flores
Backpacking in Flores is simply outstanding! A stunning destination, it is a totally rewarding opportunity for travellers to delve into natural landscapes and local culture.
There are 2 reasons why people are drawn to exploring Flores;
1 – it neighbours the world-famous Komodo National Park. The small town of Labuan Bajo in Flores is a popular jumping off point to visit the fearsome dragons in their own environment, and that STUNNING pink beach on Komodo!
2 – Flores has its own star attraction in Gunung Kelimutu. It is an amazing volcano with beautiful turquoise crater lakes. With a collection of eco-lodges and homestays in nearby Moni, Kelimutu looks like something straight out off your favourite travel influencer’s Instagram grid.
These may be the top draws to Flores, but there is still SO MUCH MORE to do!
Divers will be in heaven in the oceans surrounding the island. There’s loads of places to take some epic dives to see incredible underwater animals, views and the magic of the ocean. Komodo National Park has some particularly beautiful dive spots, crammed with colourful reefs, warm waters and amazing visibility. You can see manta rays, sharks, turtles and more in their natural habitats!
As a much less visited island compared to Bali, you’ll often find yourself on a beach totally to yourself. Add the unique local culture, hiking opportunities and beautiful natural scenery, and the real question is — why wouldn’t you want to go to Flores backpacking?
How to Get to Flores from Bali
Most backpackers arrive to Flores through Labuan Bajo. It’s got a decent airport with flights to and from Jakarta and Bali. If you aren’t sea worthy, flying to the island is an easy alternative. I used TransNusa, an island-hopping airline, that connects a bunch of the Indonesian islands.
If you want something a little more adventurous, taking the boat to Flores is loads of fun!
There are boats that run daily from Lombok over to Labuan Bajo. From Bali, you will need to hop over to Lombok and then continue on to Flores – adventure right?
You will find all kinds of boats making the journey, like local public ferries and private options that are a lot speedier. Before you start your plans, be sure to check the weather conditions as the smaller private boats won’t be able to travel in extreme conditions.
Where to Backpack in Flores
Backpacking in Labuan Bajo
Over in the western reaches of Flores, Labuan Bajo is one of the most popular areas to visit. Not only is it the gateway to Komodo National Park, it is a bustling tourist spot with lots to see and do.
Backpacking in the small fishing town may not be getting off the beaten track, but it’s a great base for all your Flores adventures.
The accommodations are mostly sitting in the heart of town. Packed with beautiful rooms and affordable homestays, budget travelling is easily done in this part of Flores. And, those with some extra cash will also find more luxe and special beach front resorts!
From Labuan Bajo, Komodo National Park is only a 3-hour boat ride away. You can pay a visit to the incredible, ancient creatures with a trusted tour guide who will keep you out of danger. You can even try visiting other parts of Komodo from Labuan Bajo like the pink beach!
One of Labuan Bajo’s own cool attractions is Batu Cermin (Mirror Rock). This cave network is about 5km from the town. There’s the chance to see intriguing rock formations that have formed over thousands of years.
Where to Stay in Labuan Bajo
Backpacking in Ende
Ende is set on the south coast of Flores, backed by lush volcanic peaks, and edged by glistening seas and palm trees. Ende is a slice of lesser traveled paradise on the island.
Taking a trip to this part of Flores is a great addition to your itinerary. The laid-back town is a chance to learn more about the local life and culture, plus there’s a handful of fun activities to try out!
One of my favourite spots to visit is the Ikat Market. Like many Indonesian markets, it’s a colourful, bustling place where you can shop for speciality hand-woven fabrics sourced from all over Flores. Making ideal souvenirs, home decor or practical sarongs for the beach, they come in so many different beautiful colours and patterns.
Ende has an interesting connection with the birth of modern-day Indonesia. It’s where the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, lived in exile before becoming the leader of the nation. There’s a museum dedicated to him and the bungalow in which he stayed.
When you want to kick back and relax, Ende Beach is where it’s at. This pretty, black-sand slice of shoreline isn’t particularly developed, but that means there’s usually not many people there. Have a day of sun basking and dipping into the ocean – live that island dream!
If you want to take a little bit of a road trip, then you can scoot to the astounding Blue Stone Beach (around 30 minutes by car on the road to Bajawa). Anywhere else in the world, this beach and its bright, blue stones would be filled with tourists, but here it’s practically empty.
Where to Stay in Ende
Backpacking in Maumere
Maumere is one of the largest towns in Flores. It has Flores’ main seaport and airport and is a great place to base yourself if you want an alternative to Labuan Bajo, but most people just use it as a transit hub.
Stay a little longer, and you can find a very different side to the urban sprawl. I’m talking beaches – plenty of gorgeous, palm-fringed beaches! There’s also markets, local eateries and day trips to places like Sikka, where weaving is the village speciality.
First off, the beautiful coastline just to the east of Maumere is where you’ll find a string of tourist-friendly resorts and places to stay. The calm waters in this area are ideal for swimming and snorkelling the Maumere Bay.
You can hop on a boat to explore other islands around Maumere like Pulau Babi and Pulau Parmahan. These places are heaven on earth! The waters surrounding are shallow, with white beaches lapped by turquoise sea.
There’s lots of opportunities to see a slice of local life at in the town’s markets. The daily market, Pasar Alok, is full to the brim with exotic fresh fruit, vegetables and spices. It’s open every day from the crack of dawn.
Where to Stay in Maumere
Backpacking in Moni
Anybody looking for some fun-filled, activity focused Flores backpacking should be heading Moni. The laid-back village is the most popular jumping off point to Flores’ impressive volcano – Gunung Kelimutu.
Seeing the sunrise from Kelimutu is on everyone’s Flores itinerary. Treks leading up to the peak start early – like 4 a.m.! It takes around 30 minutes to reach the volcano by car, then it’s about 30 minutes again to hike to the summit. Your efforts will be rewarded by views of the dazzling turquoise crater lakes, as well as the epic sunrise.
Moni is a charming place to stay, even if you aren’t planning to explore the volcano. It is surrounded by rice paddies and has a selection of local, cute homestays and eco-lodges.
There’s lots of hiking spots in Moni, including a trail that leads to Murundao waterfall. It is a stunning natural wonder, plus there’s hot springs! More hot springs can be found nearby like the easy-to-access Air Panas Liasembe.
If you’re looking for somewhere to really get away from it all, then Moni is the place to go.
Where to Stay in Moni
Travel Tips for Backpacking in Flores
- Book your accommodation in advance: Even though Flores may not be as bustling and busy as Bali, in high season the limited selection of accommodations get booked up! If you want something specific, make sure to book way before your trip.
- Plan for at least 4 days in Flores: Flores is bigger than you think! Take your time and soak in the beauty of the island without rushing about. Plus, its a long journey to the island so you will want to make the most of your visit.
- Use the bus to get around: Although your can fly around Flores to get from one area to the other, there is also a bus option. If you have the time and want to save some cash, explore the island by road with a group of locals and other travellers.
- Plan how to get to Flores, Indonesia: Indonesia is a country of islands and getting between them means either hopping on a boat or plane. Plan accordingly to make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises.
- Consider your timing: The best time to visit Flores is the dry season. This runs from April through September. Roads are less likely to be flooded, hiking is at its best, and boats are less likely to disruptions due to bad weather. That being said, the wet season (October to March) is a good time to visit Komodo National Park.
If you got a bit lost in your search for how to get to Flores, Indonesia, I hope this guide has given you what you were looking for!
You can explore amazing sights, traditional villages, magical landscapes and enjoy cosy, quaint places to stay.
Whether you are heading over from Bali or venturing to Flores from another part of Indonesia, you are in for a treat.
Featured image: Coconut Garden Beach Resort