The best time to go to Flores

Whether trekking between villages. dragon-watching or catching sunrise on a volcano, aim either side of the busy summer season to make the most of Flores.
Flores is one of the drier parts of Indonesia, even in the hot rainy season which generally runs from December to March you can expect shortish showers and around six hours of sunshine every day. The best time to go to Flores is either between April and June, when the temperature is comfortable, the vegetation lovely and green and the water calm, or between September and November after the peak tourism season has passed and the weather is perfect for trekking – Ruteng, in the highlands, averages around 16°C in November. July and August are the coolest months, around 22°C, with popular snorkel spots packed with boats, and these months are also mating season on Komodo Island, so the giant lizards are harder to spot.

Ruteng Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
17
24
541
FEB
17
24
482
MAR
17
25
495
APR
16
25
306
MAY
15
25
213
JUN
14
25
98
JUL
13
24
71
AUG
13
25
80
SEP
14
26
142
OCT
15
26
284
NOV
16
26
394
DEC
17
25
458

Things to do in Flores…

Consider seeing more of Indonesia than just Flores. Multi-island tours might incorporate Bali, Java, Komodo or Sulawesi – each with their own distinct character, most very different to Flores. Given the time and cost of getting to Flores it makes perfect sense to take a multi-island vacation and see as much of Indonesia as possible while you’re there. In Bali you’ve got temples and paradise beaches, in Sulawesi ancient funereal rites and floating villages, in Java the world’s biggest Buddhist temple, and aromatic coffee culture. When diving or snorkelling you should always respect the reefs, especially as so many around the world are in trouble. That’s no exception off Flores, where if you’re wanting to head out and see whale sharks, clown and parrot fish, or sea turtles around Labuan Bajo, it’s essential to wear sun screen without harmful chemicals, and if you’re wearing flippers, be careful where you flip’em. Be prepared to rough it. As Megan Grant from Audley Travel explains in the section below, outside of Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park Flores is very undeveloped, so it’s definitely a destination best suited to adventurous travelers that are happy without luxuries. If you need a bath, or plenty of places to stop and eat during long journeys, then you’re going to struggle here. On long drives, groups pop into the homes of local people to use the bathroom (with their permission of course!). But of course the flip side of this is that the locals are not at all jaded by tourism. They’re genuinely happy to see you, whether you’re there to spend money or not.

Things not  to do in Flores…

If you’re planning a vacation on Flores, then the chances are you’re hoping to see the dinosaur-like dragons of Komodo National Park. But don’t ignore the rest of Flores besides the dragons – the cultural insights afforded by exploring villages such as Luba and Bena around Bajawa, or Wae Rebo, are enthralling, and you’ll bump into far fewer other visitors while you’re there. Don’t miss the bats. One of the most impressive natural spectacles on Flores takes place every evening around dusk, as a column of thousands of flying foxes (large bats) departs from Kalong Island, south of Labuan Bajo, headed to the forests and fruit plantations of Flores to eat. Amazingly, the bat column stretches for miles as it heads east across the island. It’s worth heading out on a boat tour if you can, as the captain can try and position you right underneath for maximum effect. Komodo dragons aren’t actually related to dinosaurs, but with their armoured body plating, fearsome hunting skills and sheer walloping size, you would be forgiven for assuming they were. Don’t wait to see komodo dragons in the wild if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do – there are indications than Komodo Island, the main place that they are found, will be closed to visitors for a year at some point in 2020 and it’s possible that the Indonesian government will drastically reduce tourism there going forwards. Perhaps it’s in the dragons’ best interests, but certainly it means that now is definitely the time to go.

Our top Flores Vacation

Komodo and Flores vacation in Indonesia

Komodo and Flores vacation in Indonesia

See indigenous wildlife and stay in eco-accommodation

From US $4410 15 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Flores or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Flores travel advice

Megan Grant from specialist operator Audley Travel travelled extensively around Flores in 2017:

Roughing it

“Most people fly into Labuan Bajo, or sail around between resorts in Komodo NP, so the rest of Flores feels very undeveloped in comparison. The Trans Flores Highway runs east to west and is about the only paved road on the island, which is why we only use 4x4 transport, and never recommend travel in the rainy season as some roads can be simply impassable. Accommodations are very basic, some have showers, others are wash in a bucket. You must be ready to rough it – Flores is for the adventurous traveler happy off the beaten track without any luxuries. We suggest it for someone on their second or third visit to Indonesia, wanting something more challenging.”

Komodo National Park

“For Komodo NP, we work with small, local boats, and moor up just off the island. That way in the mornings we’re hours ahead of the day trippers from Flores, and arrive when the dragons are most active. At the moment there’s no word on whether Komodo Island will be closed off permanently to tourists after 2020. It seems to be one politician driving the idea, but we’re in close communication with our ground team all the time.”

Responsible tourism

“Tourism in Flores really is in its infancy. It’s a perfect opportunity for responsible tourism operators to come in, advocate for a better way that avoids the mistakes made elsewhere, and hopefully help people there to develop their tourism industry in a way that really benefits their culture and environment.”
Chris Ellis from adventure travel experts Explore with some more handy tips on Flores:

Climbing Kelimutu

“We rate the climb as easy-moderate and it can generally be undertaken by anyone with a general level of fitness and no mobility issues. The climb usually takes about 30-40 minutes, with varying sections of steeper bits and flatter parts. The last climb up to the summit 127 fairly steep stairs, but the view at the top more than makes the effort worthwhile!”

When to go

“We think the best time to visit Flores is between the months of April and September, when the weather is generally dry and slightly less humid. The sea conditions are generally calmer at this time of year too, which means a more comfortable crossing to Komodo and Rinca, and better visibility for snorkelling.”

Ngada villages

“The Ngada are all super friendly and have local crafts (scarves, some Batik etc) for sale. Tour leaders will help translate so that the groups can talk to the locals and learn about how they live. There's sometimes the chance to have a look inside the stilt houses and they'll explain layouts etc – Really underdeveloped for tourism so away from the mass tourist spots elsewhere.”
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Richard Liblanc] [Intro: Paul Arps] [Things to do in Flores…: joakant] [Megan Grant advice: Gabriel ^(oo)^] [Chris Ellis advice: Gabriel ^(oo)^]
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