Photo: Riung | Flores | Indonesia. A few minutes after I take this photo the fisherman comes to take out this boat for his daily catch. It is 5.30 AM. I’m in Riung, a little fishing village up the north coast of Flores, Indonesia. Early morning: my favourite time of the day. It’s peaceful, quiet and colours are at its best. At the same time, the big jukung fishing boats are coming back from their night fishing.
Destination Riung | Flores
Riung a cool place to visit for snorkeling, watching flying foxes, hiking, and to simply absorb the ambiance of the local life of a fisherman village in Flores. Infront of Riung there are 17 small paradise islands, declared a Marine Conservation Park. Local boats can take you around for a day of snorkeling, a fresh fish grill on the beach, and the watching of 1000s of flying foxes setting out at sunset. The village is powered by diesel. It has one generator that caters electricity for the 300 people and occasional tourist. The generator manager told me 800 liters of diesel is burned up daily! Besides the noise of the generator, roosters make another dominant sound in Riung. In the morning there is a constant sound of cook-a-doodle-doo’s. That many roosters are out there! A funny fact: most of them sit in trees. I never saw so many palmtrees before as in Riung and its surrounding scenery. The mangrove forest are spectactular. I had my best coconut consumption -ever- in Riung.
- Should you go to Riung? YES! But not necessarily for the snorkeling. The underwater life is pretty. I’ve seen tropical fish never that big. A friend of me has seen manta’s. Unfortunately, the dynamite fishing has left its marks. Fields of corals have been blown away. Nevertheless, it’s still supercool (I’m just spoiled;)). The island themselves are stunning little paradises. What is especially incredible about Riung are the thousands of foxes that fly out from the mangrove forest to the mainland, every evening at sunset. Thousands of them! The road to Riung from either Bajawa or Ende is super beautiful and quiet. Riung is surrounded by green mountain landscape. I’m sure there a lot of good trekking potential out there too. You just have to make your own exploration.
- How to get to Riung? The local bus from Bajawa goes daily at 1PM. Your hotel can make a reservation. Be ready at 11.30 cause the bus picks up EVERYONE from their home, hotel or marketplace it may pick you up earlier. Be ready to sit next to chickens and the harvest of the day. You can also ask around in Bajawa or Ende for other people who are planning to go there. Maybe you can share a car or scooter ride. The road Bajawa – Riung is fine and an amazing beautiful ride! If you have a scooter or car rental even better cause you can stop along the way. The bus from Riung to Ende leaves everyday at 6 AM. I’m not sure what the bus hours are when coming from Ende. Most likely there is one bus per day.
- Where to stay in Riung? There are 4 accommodation options to choose from, all basic. I stayed at Pondok SVG which was absolutely fine (for local terms)! Price was 170.000 rp with breakfast included. Riung Guesthouse is another recommended pick which can be booked ahead via Booking.
- There is no wifi in Riung. There is phone signal so if you have a local simcard (which you should!) and smartphone you can connect.
- Places to eat. Go have diner at ‘Cafe del Mar’.
- Where to arrange a trip to the islands? Arrange your boat with Luk Man. A very friendly local guy who speaks quite some English. He puts a lot of effort giving you the best experience! You can customize your trip with him. You can reach him at +6285253908340. Say hi to him from me:)
- How much does a visit to the island cost (Feb. 2014)? Park entrance fee: 20.000 rp. pp. Snorkeling gear rental: 40.000 rp pp Boat rental: 400.000 rp per boat (so recruit some people!), lunch: 120.000 pp (worth it!). Possibly you find it cheaper. I just loved Luk Man’s experience. He works very hard to make sure you have a good time, while he earns some money for his family. The snorkeling gear was good quality.
- So what to do in Riung? snorkel around a few islands, watch the sunrise and meet the local fisherman at the dock, watch the flying foxes, eat fish, hike up the hill for a sunset, have a coconut, and enjoy the ambiance! There should also be Komodo Dragons around!