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Maumere, Flores, Indonesia: Sunsets and Solitude

You know you’re isolated when you miss your bus because you can’t get to the road. It was high tide, the water was lapping at the shore and there was no beach in sight. I was staying at Lena House, an extremely peaceful collection of beach huts 28 km away from Maumere, a small city in Eastern Flores. The guesthouse was split in two and I was staying in the less privileged half, separated from the mother ship by a 10 minute walk along the beach.

It was like the movie Elysium – the rich and the poor separated by an at times impenetrable ocean of space. When the tide is high the staff ferry people (and food/drinks) between the two by small boats, but they had all disappeared when I needed them most and I had to wait for over an hour for one to take me back to civilization.

Here are some more ways in which the 2 halves of Lena House differ:

1: Lena 2 (where I stayed) has electricity for about 4 hours a day, while Lena 1 has 24 hour power.

2: Lena 2 has no kitchen – the food has to be bought over from Lena 1, or you have to go and get it yourself.

3: Lena 2 has no fridge – beer, Sprite (which I’ve slowly become addicted to) and water are all served warm.

In the end the isolation and the side effects it bought became an acceptable price to pay to be somewhere truly relaxing, and I’d recommend anyone travelling in Flores to check it out.

The Beach

I’ve been to some great beaches lately, including the perfect white sand beaches of the Maldives, El Nido (Philippines) and Rote Island in Indonesia. The beach in Maumere didn’t come close to any of them; in fact it was quite ugly at times. There were rocks everywhere and while the water was clean, it wasn’t particularly inviting. You won’t see people lounging on chairs drinking cocktails at this beach, but you might see some local fisherman at work and kids playing in water.

The beach near Lena House, Maumere, Flores, IndonesiaBeach at Lena House, Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

Sunsets

In four years of living and travelling in Asia I’ve seen few sunsets better than the ones I saw in Maumere. I was the only tourist for what seemed like miles as well which made it even better. While trying to find a good spot I saw some spikes poking out of the ground. They were trees, or roots, or maybe some kind of elaborate trap – all I know is you wouldn’t want to go swimming at high tide in that area!

Sunset near Lena House, Maumere, Flores, IndonesiaSpiky trees in Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

Villages

Apparently there is a waterfall nearby, so I set out to find it, instead I wandered through a couple of small villages whose inhabitants seemed very surprised to see a foreigner. All the kids from one village came rushing out, some rolling tyres along the road with sticks.  They loved posing for photos and repeating the words of English they’d picked up.

Kids in a village near Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

Further down the road I ran into some older kids who were just about to play some football. They were very eager for me to join them, and despite being pretty awful at football it was really fun. I nearly scored a goal and created a couple of others, my defense was lacking though – especially whenever the kid with the “Messi” shirt got the ball.

Playing football in Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

How to Get to Maumere

Maumere is located in Eastern Flores, a 3-4 hour drive from either Larantuka or Moni. Transport in Flores is pretty weird – in most small towns you just stand out on the street and wait for a bus, bemo (small van with bench seats) or shared taxi to pass by. It could take an hour or so to find one, but when you do it’ll be cheap, extremely crowded and full of locals. This area of Flores (anywhere east of Moni, which is home to the colourful lakes of Kelimutu) is well off the beaten track – you’ll be stared at a lot and people will shout “Hello mister” (even if you’re a woman) and “Bule” (foreigner) at you all the time. It’s not for everyone, but it makes a nice change from dealing with the jaded inhabitants of other more popular places.

READ MORE: Backpacking in Indonesia: Costs, Tips and Places to See

A farm in Maumere, Flores, Indonesia

Have you been to Flores? Would you enjoy travelling in a remote area like Maumere? Let me know!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.
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18 Comments

  1. July 15, 2014 at 7:56 pm — Reply

    The next time I really want to get away from things I think I’ll head to someplace like Maumere. I love the “What on Earth are YOU doing here?” look I get in many parts of Africa. Once that hits, you really feel like you’re exploring. Also, the transport sounds very similar to what I’m used to in Ethiopia. Those buses are great places to meet people, even if a little scary at times in bad weather.

    • July 17, 2014 at 9:22 pm — Reply

      I was in a shop the other day where a girl just started laughing hysterically as soon as I walked in. It lasted for about 2 minutes – I was probably the first westerner in there for a while! The buses are really interesting – Africa would be a whole new level though I think!

  2. July 15, 2014 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    What a stunning sunset! I don’t know if I’d be up for the challenge of traveling to such a remote place, as I’m definitely more of a city girl, but it looks like a really interesting experience.

    • July 17, 2014 at 9:23 pm — Reply

      It was great! I like a bit of a mix – I definitely couldn’t travel to places like this all the time.

  3. July 16, 2014 at 12:47 am — Reply

    This puts a whole new spin on isolation – although I think I could give up chilled beer for some solitude. Your photos are beautiful, great colours in the sunset shots too. Thanks for sharing this gem!

  4. July 16, 2014 at 3:38 pm — Reply

    I love traveling to remote areas, this looks indeed like the perfect place to get away from it all for a few days. That sunset is absolutely magical, great shot.

    • July 17, 2014 at 9:24 pm — Reply

      Cheers Freya, if you like remote you’ll love Flores/ the surrounding islands.

  5. July 18, 2014 at 4:37 am — Reply

    I went to Labuan Bajo 2 years ago, on the other side of Flores, which is much more touristic. Same story though – dirty beaches and incredible sunsets! But the fauna is amazing – Komodo dragons, many manta rays, sharks, turtles, little stuff…I actually got my PADI licence there

    • July 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm — Reply

      I’m in Labuan Bajo right now – not such a nice town but the Komodo National Park is awesome! Saw turtles/small rays snorkeling, komodo dragons and dolphins.

  6. July 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm — Reply

    There don’t seem to be so many opportunties to get really remote these days, but you obviously found one of them! Lovely pictures, especially the sunset.

    • July 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm — Reply

      Yeah, Flores is great if you want to get away from the crowds, and only around an hour flight from Bali!

  7. July 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    This sounds like an awesome find Jon. I love the look of that beach at sunset and those spikes look really odd. Sounds like you stumbled onto a great find there. I love the sound of this area and would love to visit.

    • July 25, 2014 at 4:17 pm — Reply

      Thanks Margherita, it’s a really interesting area to travel through!

  8. June 3, 2015 at 11:25 am — Reply

    Indonesia is a great place and Flores has already become a favourite of mine. It’s nice to feel a bit special as the local people don’t see so many tourists, especially the further inland you go.

    • June 4, 2015 at 1:51 am — Reply

      Definitely! It’s so different to Bali etc but so close.

  9. Jerneja
    June 15, 2015 at 7:49 pm — Reply

    Hey Jon, great post! 🙂 I’m planning something similar in September and I’m wondering how did you get a plane ticket Bali- Flores. I can’t buy it online (i’m not from indonesia), so i guess the best way is just to go to the airport and get it there? Do you have any informations how much would that be? 🙂 (lokking for something cheap!)
    Thank you!

    • June 16, 2015 at 12:00 am — Reply

      Thanks Jerneja! I flew from Surabaya to Kupang, West Timor and booked it from Singapore and had no problems. You should be able to book one from wherever, try Lionair!

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