Ende is a major town on the south coast of Flores. The largest town on Flores, it is home to around 60,000 people. It is a major port and is well connected by sea to other parts of Indonesia. Ende has a dramatic setting, with the volcanoes Gunung Meja and Gunung Ipi dominating the skyline. It is not a major tourist destination in itself. However, it provides access to Kelimutu and Moni, which are around 90 minutes away by bus. Many tourists end up here at one time or another if they are travelling across Flores.

Getting to and from Ende

By plane

As Flores’ largest town, Ende’s airport is a little more useful than others on the island. It connects regularly to destinations across Indonesia. These include Denpasar, Kupang, Labuan Bajo and Tambolaka. The airport is north of town and is a walkable distance away, though you may wish to jump on an ojek.

By bus

Many tourists in Ende will either be arriving from or heading to Moni, the gateway to Kelimutu. Moni is around 90 minutes away by bus, and there are several buses daily. There are also regular buses to Bajawa, which takes around 4 hours, and all the way to Ruteng, which takes 9 hours. If you’re really determined to get across Flores as quickly as possible, there are daily buses to Labuan Bajo, a journey of 14 hours. It’s advisable to break up this journey. En route, you’ll pass some stunning scenery, and some unmissable tourist attractions. Kelimutu is a must for any trip to Flores; you can read our travel guide here. The hill town of Bajawa, meanwhile, is popular for the traditional villages which surround it.

There are also regular bus services to Maumere (5 hours) and Ruteng (9 hours).

By boat

Ende is a major port and as such is well connected to destinations across Indonesia. The ferry operators are Pelni and ASDP. Destinations include Denpasar, Kupang, Sape, Surabaya and Waingapu. As across Indonesia, ferry schedules change regularly. It is advisable to check online or in person at the Pelni office on Jl Kathedral before you travel. You can also book tickets at the office.

What to do in Ende

There is not a great deal to do in Ende, and it’s not a popular tourist destination like Kelimutu or Bajawa. However, if you have a bit of time to kill while you’re here, you have a few options.

One of the things you’ll notice as you approach Ende is the black sand beaches which line the peninsula the town sits on. There’s a strip of sand to the east of town, known simply as Ende Beach, where you can relax, swim, and explore some tide pools. It’s not the cleanest beach in the world, but it’s a nice spot to while away a few hours.

A little out of town (about half an hour by ojek) is the striking Blue Stone Beach. Here, the shore is covered with pebbles of all colours, despite the name. It’s on the way to Bajawa, so if you’re travelling that route with your own transport it’s worth stopping off.

Another interesting attraction outside of town is the village of Wolotopo. If you enjoyed the traditional villages around Bajawa then this might be of interest to you. There are lots of traditional houses with thatched roofs, and ancient stone megaliths and tombs.

Where to stay in Ende

Ende is not blessed with a great range of hotels. That said, there are some decent budget options for backpackers.

The best option for those on a higher budget is Grand Hotel Wisata. This is conveniently located near the airport and is easily the best hotel in town. It has a range of rooms which are stylish and spotlessly clean, and a nice outdoor pool – a great place to retreat from Ende’s stifling afternoon heat.

If you’re on a tighter budget, you’re best off heading further into town. The best option is Hotel Safari, which has clean, if basic, rooms set around a breezy courtyard. If you’re willing to spend a little more you can get hot water, air conditioning and TV. If Hotel Safari is full, head next door to Ikhlas, which is a little grubbier but acceptable. It’s a maze-like hotel with lots of rooms at different rates. They’re no frills and a little bit gloomy, but they’re OK for a night.

Where to eat in Ende

Thankfully, Ende’s dining options are a little brighter than its hotels. Next door to the Grand Hotel Wisata is Restaurant Edelweis, one of the town’s more refined restaurants. It’s reasonably priced, though, and the Indonesian and international dishes are delicious.

Elsewhere, the ever-popular Sari Rasa is well worth checking out. It doesn’t look like much more than your standard canteen-like warung, but the food is fantastic. The restaurant is run by a friendly family, and all the produce is fresh, delicious and locally sourced. Even the noodles are home-made.

Also worth visiting is Padang Roda Baru on Jl Kelimutu. This is a classic Padang-style restaurant, where dishes are piled high and you pick and mix what you want. This particular restaurant specialises in seafood, as many places do in a harbour town like Ende. It’s popular with locals, which is a good barometer for quality with any kind of restaurant. With Padang places it’s especially important, as it means the food won’t have been left out for too long.

Final thoughts

Ende is not one of Flores’ top tourist destinations like Komodo or Kelimutu. However, it’s a common stopover for people on the way to those places. If you’re crossing Flores overland you’re likely to spend some time here. The same applies if you are flying in specifically to visit nearby Kelimutu. It’s the largest town on the island and is a perfectly pleasant place to spend a night on your way.

Have you ever visited Ende? What tips do you have for other travellers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.