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
Kelimutu - Crater Lakes
How to get there?
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
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.
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
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
Tauchen in Maumere
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.
Maumere - Places to stay
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!
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
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
Underwater-Videos: Diving Maumere
You can see here what other divers have seen in Maumere before.