Districts & Places to Visit
You can travel to Flores by air, by sea, or overland combining both bus and ferry, depending on your available time and budget.
Flying is the fastest way to reach Flores. Many airlines fly directly to Flores from Bali, and also from other main cities in South East Asia including Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. With the gateway to Komodo National Park being Labuan Bajo, be sure to book flights to Labuan Bajo Komodo Airport to avoid confusion as there several other airports in Flores including the following:
Maumere : Fransiskus Xaverius Seda Airport
Ende : Haji Hasan Aroboesman Airport
Ruteng : Frans Sales Lega Airport
Bajawa : Soa Airport
Larantuka : Gewayantana Airport
Lembata : Wunopito Lewoleba Airport
If you’re flying from Bali, you can choose one of the following airlines: Garuda Air, Wings Air, NAM Air, Lion Air, Transnusa, Kalstar Aviation and Sriwijaya Air. In this day and age, it is easy to find flights to suit your needs via the many travel websites and applications available for consideration at just a few clicks. Flights may take 50-90 minutes from Bali depending on the airline. Do check with your chosen airline for prices, extra charges, delays and schedules.
Travelling to Labuan Bajo by boat may be a fun and cheaper alternative – there are big passenger cruise ships that connect Bali with Labuan Bajo; Tilongkabila by PT Pelni being one of the more prominent operators offering passage with ships departing from Benoa Harbour in Bali to Labuan Bajo twice every month. From Labuan Bajo, you could travel to other parts of Flores with a rented transportation or by public bus.
In previous years, you could choose from tickets in three price classes; a first class ticket, second class and economy, which would cost you less than one million rupiah per person. First class passengers would enjoy their own private room that comes with an attached private bathroom and two beds. Second class had two bunk beds and a private bathroom. But today, the PT Pelni has abolished all first and second classes and maintains only the economy class tickets which mean everyone would have to remain within the mass hall with other passengers and sleep on open individual beds and use shared bathrooms. The ship can carry a maximum of 970 passengers over duration of 24-hours. There is a restaurant on board, where you can order simple meals.
For more information on schedules and price, please visit PT Pelni’s website at https://www.pelni.co.id/product or do visit their office in Bali located on Jl. Raya Tuban in Kuta, Bali.
Another option is to go with a tour company who will also arrange your daily itinerary throughout the duration programme. In this way, you can sit back and relax
without having to worry about what to do and where to go next. There are many companies offering three to five day trips between Bali’s three sister islands (Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan), the Gili Islands (Lombok) and Labuan Bajo, which include a snorkelling or diving program and a visit to either Komodo or Rinca islands to see the Komodo dragons. For those feeling more adventurous, you can even choose 10-days packages that include excursions to Sumba and the Sumbawa islands.
To avoid any unpleasant surprises, be sure to agree exactly on what is included in your price, including food, drinks and National Park entry tickets. Also, do be advised that the seas can become very rough during the rainy seasons (December–february).
Overland and Ferry
If you are feeling adventurous or have plenty of extra time to travel across these parts of Indonesia, do take advantage of this option to travel over land and ferry from Bali to Komodo. This way, you’ll get to explore the breathtaking sights of Lombok, Sumbawa, Bima and Sape before arriving to Komodo in Labuan Bajo. From Denpasar, travel to Padang Bai harbour and board a ferry to Lembar in Lombok.
You’ll reach Lembar in about 4 hours, and another 5 hours to travel across Lombok by bus to the port of Labuan Lombok. Here, board another ferry for another 1.5 hour journey to Alas in Sumbawa Island. From here, continue your journey to Bima via public bus, which will take another 12-16 hours depending on the condition of the road and the bus. From the busstation in Bima takes a small public bus or rent a car to Sape, a further two hours down the road. A car and passenger ferry service operates daily between Sape and Labuan Bajo in Flores, taking about eight hours. Definitely not for the faint hearted!
While you’re travelling across Flores, you may come across a unique looking vehicle that the locals call “Bis Kayu” or “Oto Col”. This mass transit buses are not actual buses, but were once timber trucks converted into a vehicle for the purpose of transporting people, cargo and even farm animals across villages. These buses play important roles in connecting urban areas with rural villages as many people do not have their own transportation to travel such long distances, especially across Flores’ unpredictable and sometimes, rough terrain.