If the macro world and muck diving are what you are interested in than Pulau Flores will spice up your underwater adventures in Indonesia. Besides amazing creatures like Spider Crab, Frogfish, Mandarinfish, Starry and Mimic Octopus, and Pigmy Seahorse, this area might also be remembered due to the possible encounter with a Whale Shark, Blacktip Reef Shark, Hammerhead Shark or a huge Marble Ray.
Located in the eastern part of Indonesia, Flores Island is a part of the Lesser Sunda Islands and East Nusa Tenggara. It neighbours with Rinca Island and Komodo on the western side and Pantar and Alor Archipelago on the eastern side. The main areas of the Island are the town of Maumere and the fishing village of Labuan Bajo.
You can arrive at the Island through one of the airports at Maumere or at Labuan Bajo. The latter has connecting flights with Bali International Airport (about 1 hour) and Timor. Currently, there are no international flights to Flores Island.
Pulau Flores has a good boat connection with the nearby destinations. Pelni ships usually arrive at Maumere, Larantuka, Labuan Bajo, and Ende. Fast and slow ferry connection is organized between Sumbawa, Adonara, and Lembata via Larantuka.
Some tour operators offer combined travel between the islands. Such tickets usually include all ferries and buses costs.
If you wish to travel around Pulau Flores, it might be a good idea to consider hiring a car with a driver as public transport is not regular. ATMs can be found in all main towns of the Island.
Pulau Flores hosts not only the world’s famous Komodo dragon like the famous neighbouring island but also unique and unexplored marine flora and fauna.
The Island is covered with active volcanoes; its surface is very rugged. That is why the coast is not much discovered and diving is performed mainly in the northern part of the Island from the daily boats or liveaboards. Many dive sites are still to be explored. Now Maumere and Labuan Bajo are the main diving areas featuring more than 20 dive sites famous for their biodiversity. Dive clubs in Labuan Bajo usually organize daily trips to Komodo National Park. Many of them cease services during the wet season between December and March as it is difficult to perform transfers between the towns and to the ports. However, dive clubs in Maumere are open all the year through. Some tour operators on Flores offer trips to remote areas like Pulau Wetar to see Seawater Crocodiles.
The area around the harbour of Maumere is famous for muck diving. If diving is arranged close to Atoll Pasir Sari, Panama Besar, and Panama Kecil which are located to the north of Flores Island, you can expect larger pelagic and migration species.
Best Dive Sites Overview
Located to the west from Pulau Babi, this dive site was formed during the 1992 earthquake. The huge crack of 70 cm (27 inches) wide and 30m (98ft.) long can be found at the depth of 18-20m (59-65ft.). Penetration is not possible there. Reefs along the crack are covered with Table Coral, Sea Fans, and Sponges. A lot of cracks and crevices provide many hiding places for small underwater creatures. You can expect to see Flat Worm, Nudibranch, Shrimps, Spider Crabs, Leaffish, and Frogfish. The area is also visited by occasional Hammerhead Shark, Turtle, Eagle Ray, and Marble Ray.
This 2km (1.2mi) wide channel is located between Pangabatang and Flores mainland. As this is straight between the islands current can be very strong here and this dive site is recommended only for experienced divers. The shallower area is covered with coral gardens with huge Gorgonians and critters like Leaffish, Crocodilefish, Mantis Shrimp, Cuttlefish, Nudibranch, and rarely found Whiskered Pipefish. At the depth of 30m (98ft.), there is a sandy plateau where it is possible to spot Eagle Ray, Mackerel, Tuna, Marble Ray, Whitetip Reef Shark, Cowtail Stingray, and Bumphead Parrotfish.
Wai Terang Wreck
Just 70m (229ft.) off the coast of Flores there is a wreck of Wai Terang. She used to be a 60m (196ft.) long Japanese freighter or controller during World War II. The shallow part of the wreck is located at 12m (39ft.). At the depth of 32m (104ft.), you can locate a ladder, hatches, and the portholes. She has become home to a great number of marine creatures, namely, Lionfish, Cuttlefish, Anthias, Eels, Fusiliers, Jacks, Nudibranch, and Ghost Pipefish.
The Village dive site is located to the south from Pulau Babi. This spot features a sandy slope followed by a small wall and a coral garden. It is common to see Mackerel, Blacktip Reef Shark, Jacks, and Tuna here. The smallest residents of this area are Nudibranchs, Pygmy Seahorse, Camelback Shrimp, and clouds of Glassfish.
New Ankermi Slope
This dive site is located on the eastern side of Maumere Bay in front of Ankermi Happy Dive Resort. It features a small reef and a large sandy area mixed with volcano ash. It is recommended to move your fins very slowly in order not to raise the sand. The dive site is one of the best places for muck diving and night dives during which you can get acquainted with the most unusual marine creatures. Here you can search for Mandarinfish, Seahorse, Frogfish, Ghost Pipefish, Scorpionfish, Nudibranchs, Slugs, Mantis Shrimp, Moray, Garden Eels, Mimic Octopus, Starry Octopus, and Stingfish.
Located in the Maumere Bay this dive site is great for muck diving. As the name suggests you can expect to see Mandarin fish hiding between Staghorn Corals here. The area also features Sponges and soft corals as well as Ghost Pipefish, Morays, Frogfish, Shrimps, and Crabs.
This diving spot is located on the eastern side of Maumere Bay next to a small river and Nangahale village. This is a typical muck dive with some mud and garbage mixed with the sand. Visibility can be quite low here. However, this is home for Seahorses, Cuttlefish, Pipefish, Frogfish, Nudibranch, Sea Cucumber, Slugs, and Coconut Octopus.
Best Dive Season
The best season to dive around Flores Island is between April and October. The bay near Pulau Besar attracts Dolphins and Whales. During November-December, it is possible to spot Sperm Whales in this area. April-May is the season when Whale Sharks can be seen here. They can be spotted around Pulau Babi and Pulau Besar during the other months as well, though it might be difficult to notice them from the surface because of the big waves.
There are 2 main seasons which should be taken into account: the dry season between April and November and the wet season between December and March.
In case you focus on macro world and wreck diving, it is possible to dive all the year round as the smallest creatures usually reside around the same area and do not migrate.
The average visibility ranges between 8-30m (26-98ft.). The highest water temperature is usually 30ºC (86ºF) while the lowest temperature is 25ºC (77ºF).
Currents can be very strong and even weird, and at some dive spot, you can witness vertical currents going up or down. So you’d better always follow the advice of the local dive operator when and where it is the best time to dive as they know this area.
The area around Panama Kecil, Panama Besar, and Atoll Pasir Sari features large pelagic and migration species. Here you can have a chance to see Whale Shark, Hammerhead Shark, Grey Reef Shark, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Shark, and Manta Ray. Whales are usually seen from the boats.
At the same time, Maumere Bay features the greatest variety of small fish and critters including several endemic species. The most interesting small creatures residing in shallow waters are Spider Crab, Flat Worm, Nudibranchs, Ghost Pipefish, Seahorse, Mantis Shrimp, and Camelback Shrimp. It is common to see Coconut Octopus, Mimic Octopus, and Starry Octopus as well.
Among fish, you can admire the beautiful Mandarinfish, bizarre Leaffish, Frogfish, Lionfish, Scorpionfish, and many others.
The prevailing species of rays in Maumere are big Marble Ray, Cowtail Stingray, and Eagle Ray.
Coral Reefs around Flores have suffered from the devastating tsunami of 1992. They have regenerated quickly and could have been flourishing everywhere around the area except for dynamite fishing by the locals. The authorities are trying to impose strict measures but the results of such destructive fishing can still be witnessed around the Island.
Several luxury resorts and boutique hotels can be found in the area of Labuan Bajo. It might be a good idea to accommodate here if you are planning to visit Komodo National Park. If you want to explore the Bay of Maumere and the northern area of Flores, then it is better to choose one of the accommodations in Maumere. In this part of the Island, you can find several dive resorts to stay in.
Sea World Club Beach Resort
Sea World Dive Club owns this Dive Resort. It is located to the east from Maumere, just 14km (8.6mi) away. The Resort has the territory of 7.5 hectares (18.5 acres) which includes coconut trees and 400m (1312ft.) sandy beach. There are 26 different units. You can stay in Beachfront Cottages, Honeymoon Suites, Family Cottages with sea view, Garden Cottages, and 2 private Villas. Each unit features a private bathroom, a terrace or a patio, A/C, and lounge area. The guests are offered homemade jam for breakfast which is prepared from local fruits. On the site, you will find Spa, a library, a bar, a restaurant, and a laundry service. The guests are provided with a free pick-up on arrival at the airport and free WiFi in the rooms.
Ankermi Happy Dive Resort
This resort is owned by Ankermi Happy Dive Club and it offers 7 Bungalows. Bungalows are made of bamboo and concrete with the roof which is covered by grass to allow the house to breathe. Each accommodation has 2 floors, own open-air bathroom in Indonesian style, a veranda, and a fan. There is a restaurant, rice paddy, and fishpond with lilies, relaxing area with hammocks, and a garden with trees of mango, coconut, cashew nuts, and bananas. The Resort has its own jetty where the boats leave for diving. Diving and snorkelling are possible at the house reef.
Budi Sun Flores Diving Resort
Budi Sun is located next to Wairita Beach. There are 3 types of lodging at the Resort: Garden Rooms, Sea View Rooms, and Sea View Bungalows. They are built in traditional Indonesian style and inside you will find handmade wooden furniture. Each accommodation features a private bathroom, a fridge, and free toiletries. There is an open air pool, sun deck, lounge area, and a restaurant on site. The dive centre is located on the territory of the Resort.
Coconut Garden Beach Resort
Coconut Garden Beach Resort is built with eco-concept in mind. There are 8 Bungalows next to the beach surrounded by coconut trees. The guests can use a fitness centre, as well as visit a beach bar, BBQ area, and a restaurant. Besides diving and snorkelling, you can try fishing, canoeing, and other water sports. Free WiFi is available in public areas.
Sunset Cottages are built with bamboo, coconut, and grassy roof in traditional Indonesian style. The Resort is located on the quiet beach of Wairterang Maumere. Each Cottage has a western toilet, shower, a private bathroom, and a veranda. The Resort features Children’s playground, a restaurant and BBQ area on site.
There are many liveaboards having Maumere or Labuan Bajo as their starting or ending point during safari trips around Indonesian best diving destinations. Itineraries and their lengths depend on the diving operator.
You can find some short trips of 2 nights from Labuan Bajo. However, these itineraries will usually cover only the dive sites in Komodo National Park. If you prefer to fully explore the area around Flores Island and Komodo it might be a good idea to join the longer diving trip. Liveaboards usually cover the eastern part of Flores as well as dive spots around Pulau Babi, the Crack dive site, and muck diving sites at Lembata and Pantar.
Indo Aggressor is one of the vessels of Aggressor Fleet. She is 38m (124ft.) long and she can accommodate up to 16 divers. You can choose to stay in one of the Master Double Cabins, Deluxe Double Cabins or Standard Twin bunk bed cabins. All of them have private bathrooms with kimonos and wardrobes. The boat offers a complimentary glass of wine to the guests during evening meals. Diving is usually made from Zodiacs attached to the liveaboard.
M/V Seven Seas
There are cabins to accommodate up to 16 divers on this 35m (114ft.) long liveaboard. The liveaboard is built in Phinisi style. Each Cabin has a private bathroom. There are indoor or outdoor dining areas and lounges for the comfort of guests. Meals are served in a buffet style. Dives are usually performed from 2 Zodiacs. There are several kayaks attached to the boat. Labuan Bajo is usually a starting or an ending point.
MSY Damai II
This is Phinisi style 40m (131ft.) long liveaboard. She can accommodate up to 10 divers leaving maximum free space aboard. You can stay in a Master Cabin with a private balcony, Single Cabins or Double Cabins. Each diver is allocated his own rinse tank as the dive deck is huge. Evening meals are accompanied by complimentary wine or beer. Aboard you will find a sun deck, a library, and an air-conditioned saloon. There are 2 dinghies to serve divers. Trips usually begin from Labuan Bajo.
Water Adventure Ocean Wide is a 58m (190ft.) long sailing liveaboard. Up to 18 divers can be accommodated in private Cabins with entertainment systems and en-suite lounge areas. The boat features 2 shaded areas, 2 sun decks, and a dive deck. Diving is performed from 3 Zodiacs. Location system device is provided to each diver. The vessel uses ports in Maumere and Labuan Bajo.
KLM Sea Safari VI
Sea Safari VI can accommodate up to 20 guests as she is a 29m (95ft.) long Phinisi schooner. Guests can stay in Deluxe and Standard Cabins. Each Cabin has a private bathroom. The guests can relax on the 4 decks and in lounge areas. There are 2 Zodiacs attached to the vessel as well as several kayaks. The boat usually leaves from Labuan Bajo.
KM Black Manta
Black Manta is a steel liveaboard. Her length is 32m (104ft.). There are 9 Double or Twin Cabins and 1 Quadruple Cabin to accommodate a maximum of 20 guests. Each Cabin has a private bathroom. Guests can order massage service right aboard. Diving is made from 2 dinghies. The vessel usually leaves from Maumere.
Other Activities For Non-Divers
If you wish to enjoy the best snorkeling around Flores Island it might be good to charter a fishing boat or to join one of the diving boats going to Pulau Babi or Pulau Besar. Both areas feature great snorkeling sites as well as nice sandy beaches.
Tours and activities
The most famous place of Flores Island is an area with three lakes of different colors named Mount Kelimutu. It is located near the town of Moni at 1600m (5249ft.) above the sea. Chemical reactions of minerals which are caused by the volcano gas activity result in a change of color of the lakes. Their highly acidic water can be green, red, dark chocolate, and turquoise.
You can also visit hot springs near Blidit and take cycling tours around Flores.