Flores isn’t the most popular travel destination in Indonesia but it’s a paradise for many reasons. The majority of us can only stay 1 or 2 months (if you extend your Visa) in Indonesia and don’t have time to visit every island. If you find yourself there, you might be wondering what is the best way to see as much as possible without emptying your wallet. Good luck finding bus schedules online or any contact information. The best way to visit Flores is with a scooter. Here is our ultimate 10-day Flores scooter adventure: a backpacker’s guide.
Getting to Flores
Flores isn’t a big island but there are various ways to reach it. We took a 19-hour Pelni ferry from Makassar in Sulawesi to the port of Labuan Bajo. If you aren’t a fan of long ferry rides, don’t worry because there is also an airport in the city. Other major cities like Maumere or Ende also serve as entry points.
The majority of tourists enter and leave from Labuan Bajo. It is the most convenient way to reach your next destination in Indonesia or abroad. If you are flying, look at all your options with Kiwi. By water, book your ticket with Pelni. Let’s begin with our ultimate 10-day Flores scooter adventure: a backpacker’s guide.
Best time to visit Flores
The temperature in Flores is comfortable almost year-round. Contrary to other Indonesian islands, Flores’ tourism isn’t very developed. When we visited in August, which is the high season in most of Indonesia, there were very few tourists around us. You can visit anytime between April and November but you should avoid the monsoon season from December to March.
Flores 10-day scooter travel guide and itinerary
The best way to travel around Flores is with a scooter. You can rent one directly in Labuan Bajo or contact various companies on Google Maps or WhatsApp. At the end of your journey, you can either bring the scooter back to Labuan Bajo or leave it in Maumere. Expect higher rental prices due to road conditions, around 150k per day for a 150cc scooter (recommended for hilly terrain and two riders).
While the main roads are generally well-maintained, side roads leading to waterfalls and attractions can be challenging with bumps and twists. Traffic is common across the island, but there are bemos and public buses available. Always prioritize safety and stay focused on the road.
Your first stop is Labuan Bajo. There isn’t much to do in the city except for some viewpoints and caves. Catch a beautiful sunset without traveling far, as locals and tourists gather to admire the scenic views over the islands to the east.
Bajawa and Mount Inerie
Bajawa is a bit of a drive from Labuan Bajo, especially if you plan on stopping for some waterfalls along the way. You can get off the main road to reach Cunca Wulang Waterfall and Cunca Rami Waterfall (watch out for rough roads). Locals will also offer their services as guides (50-100k). For Cunca Wuland, there is also an entrance fee of 50k per person.
Before Ruteng, there are some spider web rice fields. Other than that, there isn’t much worthwhile. Grab a lunch and keep going until Bajawa. For a complete experience, spend two nights in Bajawa, where you can witness breathtaking sunsets at Wolobolo Viewpoint (20k entrance fee). Bring a jacket because it gets cold quickly. There are a few viewpoints where you can take beautiful pictures of the sunset and Mount Inerie.
For Mount Inerie, hiring a guide is strongly recommended, especially for the sunrise ascent (3-hour climb). There isn’t a clear path up and the volcanic rocks are pretty slippery. I began the ascent by myself around 5:30am and there was already some light to guide me. The most difficult part is the descent because you need to find the same path down. I didn’t and created my own. After conquering Mount Inerie, unwind at Malanage Hot Springs (20-25k entrance) and visit Bena Traditional Village (25k entrance fee) for some cultural insights and photo opportunities. The latter is quite touristy and the locals don’t speak a word of English.
Moni and Kelimutu
Between Bajawa and the small village of Moni, there is only one necessary stop at Blue Stone Beach. You can relax by the water and eat at the very popular Blue Stone Beach Restaurant. Everyone recommends it and all the tourists stop there. Before resuming your drive to Moni, fill up your gas tank in Ende and prepare for a scenic uphill drive to Moni.
Once again, 2 nights are recommended in Moni. You can eat at Mopi’s and get ready for an early night because you must be ready to leave no later than 4am the next day. The first sunrays above Kelimutu Lakes (150k entrance + 5k parking) are around 5:15am and the sun rises at 6am. You don’t want to miss the show. Watch out for the roaming macaques ready to steal your food!
Riung and 17 Islands National Park
The road to Riung isn’t as clean because you have to get off the main road. If you choose the Northern route, good luck as it is pretty bumpy. Riung is the gateway to 17 Islands National Park (there are actually more than 20 islands). Riung is a charming fishing village surrounded by palm trees, offering snorkelling and diving experiences, although less pristine than Komodo. Consider spending a night on one of the islands, and negotiate prices at the pier.
Flores by bus
If driving a scooter on these tricky roads isn’t for you, we got you covered. It is possible to cover the entire island thanks to busses but the journey will take more time and you will have to spend less. Here is a breakdown of the prices and duration for various routes.
Labuan Bajo to Bajawa
This is the longest day and you might have a headache by the end. It will last around 10 hours and will cost between 300k to 400k per person. There are direct and cheaper buses from Labuan Bajo but you have to reserve them in advance. Many tourists stop in Ruteng to change vehicles.
Bajawa to Moni
The road from Bajawa to Moni is much easier and less steep. It takes around 6 hours and costs 200k to 250k per person. I highly recommend booking the bus with your host or standing by the side of the road as early as possible (between 6-7am).
Bajawa to Riung
The road between Bajawa and Riung is only 73km but it can take up to 3 hours to complete. Some buses will do it in 2 hours. It should cost less than 100k but it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. There is certainly a bus from Ende or Maumere that might stop in Moni, but you will have to check with your host.
Where to next?
When you return to Labuan Bajo, it’s time to think of your next destination. If you haven’t been to Lombok, we suggest booking a 4D3N tour. We have a complete guide to avoid any surprises and to choose the best company.
If you wish to travel further away, look up flights from Labuan Bajo (Komodo) Airport. To reach Sulawesi, your cheapest option is to book a ferry to Makassar with Pelni.
Enjoy the remainder of your incredible journey!