Without doubt Flores is one of the most interesting and most beautiful islands of Indonesia. In the west on the neighbouring island of Komodo it is possible to watch the Komodo-Dragons, 3-m-long lizards resembling prehistoric animals.
The interior of the island is shaped by a string of volcanoes. The tourists`highlight is mount Kelimutu with its three coloured crater-lakes, situated between Ende and Maumere. The local people are friendly and very hospitable.

Discover Flores on your own

If you fancy such a multi-day crossing of Flores by rental car, you should have a look at my report on the BodeBlog about our trip through Flores or the following video. We first drove from Labuan Bajo to Ruteng and went on hikes through the rice fields to waterfalls in the area. A visit to the spider web rice fields near Ruteng was also part of the program. Then we went on to Bajawa where we visited the traditional villages in the area. Before visiting the Kelimutu, we turned north towards the snorkeling and swimming paradise in front of Riung. Here you can watch one of the largest colonies of flying foxes in Indonesia. The highlight of this road trip through Flores was the ascent to Kelimutu to see the sunrise from the summit.

Kelimutu - Crater Lakes

How to get there?

It is possible to go to Flores by public transport from Bali via Sumbawa. However it is easier and faster if you take one of the regular flights to Bima on Sumbawa or to Labuan Bajo on Flores.

Direct flights from Bali to Labuan Bajo, Ende or Maumere are of course even easier. The airport in Labuan Bajo has been renovated so that larger planes than before can land here. It is advisable to reserve early because the flights are often fully booked in the summer months. Sometimes luggage is left behind and is not delivered until the next day or even later. You should therefore take possible breakdowns into account when planning your vacation.

Flores - Impressions

Diving in Flores

There are two main diving areas on Flores: In the west Labuan Bajo and further to the east Maumere. In Labuan Bajo there is reasonable diving around the islands. And there is of course the world class diving of Komodo not far away. The diving around Labuan Bajo is average and there is some damage caused by dynamite fishing. For snorkeling it is a very good area.
You can find cheap hotels, many dive centres and many losmen in town and it is easy to arrange trips to the world class dive spots around Komodo and Rinca.

In Riung (see below) there was also a possibility of diving at times. However, this has not been possible for a number of years. Since the situation - as everywhere in Indonesia - can change very quickly, you should find out about the current conditions on site.

There are many good reports from from Reefseekers and Divine Diving in Labuan Bajo. If you are a serious diver also check the Orca Dive Club Flores. Their dive boat is not overcrowded and there are mostly experienced divers on board.
I do not advice to go to Bajo Dive Club.

The standard is similar at all diving centers. In the morning all divers leave on locally built, simple wooden boats, which are equipped with mats and / or simple seating, to the dive sites between Komodo and Flores. There you do two or three dives and return to Labuan Bajo in the late afternoon. Lunch on board is included in the dive price. All boats are equipped with simple toilets. Since the diving centers still mainly focus on walk-in customers, there are often many beginners on the boats. In the main season (July / August) the diving boats are often too full.

Serious divers should therefore consider diving Komodo on a live aboard. Then you can get everywhere and are not limited to the area in front of Labuan Bajo.

Video: East of Bali - From Komodo to Alor

Diving in Riung

Riung, north of Bajawa on the north coast of Flores, has beautiful coral gardens in the 17 Islands National Park (Pulau Tujuhbelas). The region is hardly developed for tourism and there are only a few accommodations. I recommend a losmen from the Catholic Church in Riung. If you ask for "missionaries", the locals will take you there.
We have also had good experiences with Café del Mar in Riung. The air-conditioned rooms are spacious and the food in the restaurant is tasty and varied.

Prices for boat trips to snorkel spots or to observe fruit bats and Komodo dragons, which also live here, are a matter of negotiation. In Café del Mar you can negotiate anything with the owner.

In the summer of 1996 we did several dives in the area of ​​the 17 islands with Donovan Whitford at the invitation of the Flores Tourism Board. After Alor, the dives in Riung were rather sobering however. The visibility was pretty bad, but the coral growth turned out to be very diverse and the coral showed hardly any damage. The highlight of the dives was the encounter with a dugong, a manatee.

According to the locals, visibility depends very much on the wind. The best visibility can be expected from April to June and September to November. The water temperature during this time is 28 ° C.

The six dives that we made in this area do not justify a final evaluation of the diving area. We think, however, that the 17 islands - after extensive exploration - could become an interesting destination for adventurous divers.

The attempts to open a diving base in Riung have so far failed. Therefore there is currently no possibility to dive in Riung.

Diving in Maumere

Until 1992 the bay of Maumere was one of the top dive sites in Indonesia. In a report on the bay of Maumere published in 1997 by Kuiter & Allen the incredible number of 1133 species of fish in this area could be proved. This is still the highest number of species ever counted inside a specific area. The marine biodiversity is definitely among of the highest in Indonesia.

Gurnard Lionfish
H. bargibanti
Flamboyant Cuttlefish
Tauchen in Maumere

In December 1992 a tsunami hit the coast and killed at least 2500 people. On Pulau Babi, an island in front of Maumere, the 30-m-waves killed 1000 people. Fortunately there were no divers under water when the earthquake happened.

However after the tsunami Maumere had difficulties regaining its former status as top dive destination. Divers stayed away and the famous dive centers went out of business.

A Narrow Escape

Marcos, the dive instructor of Sao Wisata Resort, told us that already two days before the earthquake sharks had become aggressive. He decided to cancel diving the next day and went with his group of divers into the mountains to climb the mountain Kelimutu. This was the day Maumere was destroyed.

Sunset Sea World Club Beach
Bungalow im Sea World Club
Wodong Beach
Ankermi Bungalows
Maumere - Places to stay

When we visited Maumere in summer 1997 for the first time there were no more signs of destruction on land. We dived with Sao Wisata Resort but stayed next door at Sea World Club which looked much nicer than the run down resort next door. Sea World Club was managed by a retired German missionary, Father Bollen, who financed with the money earned with the Sea World Club an orphanage in the neighbourhood.

In 1997 we left Maumere - as far as the diving was concerned - with mixed feelings. At certain dive spots we saw many pelagics (groupers, sharks), but walls and slopes were in many places completely destroyed. We liked a dive spot called Ruteng. A wall with nice coral growth and many small animals hiding in the crevices and holes.

We returned to Maumere in summer 2005 for some more dives before setting off to Alor. We spotted at the dive site Pangabatang in the current many eagle rays and big dogtooth tuna. Visibility was excellent and coral growth was also good with gorgonian fans and soft coral. It was really astonishing to experience the extremely fast growth of corals at dive sites which where still in bad conditions 8 years ago.

We also had excellent dives in front of the jetty in Maumere harbour and another one in Wodong Bay where a Japanese landing barge lies on the black sand down to 34 m. Here we got a real insight into the famous biodiversity of Maumere: We discovered many ghost pipefish (different species), flying gurnards, many nudibranchs, seahorses, one mimic octopus and a specimen of the very rare Gurnard Lionfish (Bluefin Lionfish). After this we returned again in 2008, 2010 and most recently in 2018. Needless to say that Maumere is back on the list of the best diving spots in Indonesia!

dive sites in Maumere
The most important dive sites can be found on the map (see above). We particularly liked the Pangabatang dive site, which is beautifully overgrown with fans and soft corals. There you have the chance to see eagle rays, large tuna and occasional sharks in the current. Sometimes even huge hammerheads show up here rising from the depths.

A dive in the bay of Wodong was also very nice, where a Japanese landing craft lies in the black sand of the bay at a depth of 3 m until down to 34 m.
Here in Wodong Bay, Maumere's famous marine biodiversity can be admired: We found ghost pipefish (robust and harlequin), gurnards, many nudibranchs, seahorses, a mimic octopus and, as an absolute highlight, a specimen of the very rare Gurnard lionfish. This dive alone confirmed the outstanding importance of Maumere as a top diving destination in Indonesia!

Dive centers in Maumere

Less satisfactory than the diving itself is the infrastructure for divers in Maumere. Sea World Club offers two small dive boats with 2 x 40 HP and 2 x 25 HP-Engines, which sometimes need more than an hour to reach the dive spots. Stronger engines and bigger boats would improve conditions here very much. If there are many divers local fishing boats are chartered, which are even less comfortable and take even longer to reach the dive sites. Lunch is included in the trips and there is always enough free drinking water on the boats.
Stacks Image 45

The dive shop also needs a new leadership. The local dive guides know the sites well and can lead the guests along. However they are not well enough educated in marine biology. They are unable to show their guests the extraordinary biodiversity of Maumere. It would make sense to invest more money into the training of the dive guides.

However there is a very attractive alternative only 27 km further east in the bay of Wodong. Here the Swiss Claudia and her Indonesian husband Kermi have opened their cosy resort Ankermie Happy Dive with six small bungalows at the beach. The best critter dive sites of Maumere are just in front of the beach. The dive sites further away can only be reached by local boats. It takes quite a time and the engines are very loud but it is worth the effort.

Claudia is diving instructor and Kermi is specialized on critter hunting. Electricity is available between 6.00 pm and 6.00 am. The bungalows are 18 Euro/night for half pension and diving is 55 Euro for two dives including lunch.

Ankermie is definitely the best resort you will find in eastern Flores. The comfortable restaurant offers excellent food and the familiar atmosphere makes it hard to leave. Ankermie seems always to be full, so book well in advance.
Ankermie Happy Dive

Video: Jewels of Maumere

You can watch two underwater videos below. The first contains footage from 2005, the second is newer and contains underwater footage from my last stay in Maumere in 2018.

Underwater-Videos: Diving Maumere

My collection of underwater videos from Indonesia can be found on vimeo. The collection is sorted into albums containing only videos of a specific diving area. This is a very good opportunity to have a look at videos from other divers who have been in the area before.

You can see here what other divers have seen in Maumere before.

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