Flores will entangle you with its impressive landscape and unique cultural features. Be aware though that it takes time to explore the hidden treasures that are spread over this 450 long beautiful island.
As the road are often steep, curvy, and in a mediocre condition, you will rarely go faster than 30 km/h. In addition the islands’ pace of living is generally slower than your usual rhythm. Thus, travelling in Flores requires some patience and some time to adjust.
About ‘Transflores Highway’
The so-called ‘Transflores highway’ is the main road that connects Flores from west to east. Starting from Labuan Bajo and ending in Larantuka, this 700 km-long road twists and tumbles across the island.
This route never gets boring: it leads you to waterfalls, crosses mountains, and passes traditional villages. For more remote natural and cultural explorations, the Transflores highway offers you a good starting base to take side roads into undiscovered areas.
Bike & Car rental
Alternative to public transport, hiring a car with an experienced driver gives you the flexibility to stop wherever you want.
Most of the cars are owned privately, and the sector is not yet providing international standard tourism services. A small number of tour operators have own cars (eg. Manumadi, Gertrudis). So far, no cars are rented for self-drive.
A motorbike is a good option to travel around Flores as well, as some of the remote areas can only be reached by this means of transport. However, longer distances are for experienced drivers only as the roads are sometimes in a miserable condition.
Motorbikes can be rented in the district capitals. Do not forget to bring an international driving license with you to rent a car or motorbike.
Within the district capitals and larger towns, it is quite easy and cheap to handle short distances by hopping on and off the bemo (minibus).
The ojek, a motorbike taxi often offered by young men who want to make an extra income, is another option for shorter distances. As it is quite popular to be an ojek driver, you will also find these young chauffeurs in more remote places. Of course the price is negotiable.
For longer distances, you may choose to ride on one of the many busses and trucks that bring their passengers from one town to the other. It is advisable to reserve a seat in advance (preferably the front row so it will be less bumpy) at a local travel agent because the busses can get crowded. They mostly depart and arrive via public bus stations. Exact time schedules are not available, and busses will only depart once all seats are occupied.
Travel Companies provide buses to cove longer distances from one town to the other. These busses operate on fixed routes and generally go from point to point with no intermediate stops. The buses will, however, pick up and drop off passengers at their departure/arrival addresses. This relatively comfortable way to travel is popular among both visitors and locals.
Local Excursion Boats
More and more local fishing boats have been converted into tourist boats. The boats can carry up to ten tourists. Most of them also offer several days trips with overnight stays on the deck.
In coastal towns of West Flores, such as Labuan Bajo, there are also numerous excursions boats available for chartering. Depending on the boat, vessels are suitable for day trips to nearby islands or overnight programs to Komodo.
Depending on the season, up to twenty liveaboard boats operate in the Komodo National Park. Most of the boats are in the luxury category. Some years ago, most of the boats operated from Bali or Lombok to Komodo and back. Today, good flight connections between Bali and Labuan Bajo allow the operators to use the harbor of Labuan Bajo as their home base. This development has a positive impact on the local economy, regarding the creation of new employment and income opportunities.
For many years liveaboard boats were the only option for high-end travelers to visit West Flores. Today, there are also low-cost liveaboard boats that are popular among backpackers.
Perama tours from Bali operates two boats with a capacity of twenty guest on a four-day cruise between Lombok and Labuan Bajo and vice versa.
In Maumere, there are three dive centers that offer trips on liveaboard boats (Wailiti hotel, Sea World Club, Ankermi ). It is highly recommended to make bookings in advance for liveaboard boat tours.
Ferry and Pelni Boats
For going by Pelni Boat, for example, from Labuan Bajo to Maumere or Ende, you check the latest schedules on www.pelni.co.id/.
There are inter-island flights by Lion Air, Garuda Indonesia and Transnusa between Labuan Bajo, Maumere and Ende, with schedules – as well as the operating airlines – prone to frequent changes.