It may be hard to believe now, but Maumere, on Flores’ north coast, was once the island’s main tourism hub. In 1992, the town was devastated by a tsunami caused by an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. 90% of the town’s buildings were destroyed. Since then, rebuilding efforts have seen the town recover gradually.
It’s difficult to imagine that it will overtake Labuan Bajo as Flores’ tourism hub any time soon. However, it’s still an important entry point to Flores and an important port for trade with the rest of Indonesia. Those travelling overland through Flores will likely end up here at some point.
There are plenty of amenities for tourists, and there are some beautiful beach hotels on the outskirts of the city. This can make Maumere a great place to relax for a few days after a gruelling bus journey along the mountain roads of Flores.
How to get to Maumere
How to Get to Maumere by Car
Many visitors to Maumere will be arriving from Moni, inland to the west. Moni is the jumping-off point for trips to the incredible coloured crater lakes of Mount Kelimutu. You can read our guide to Kelimutu and Moni here. The journey from Moni to Maumere is short by Flores’ standards, only taking around three hours. A convenient and comfortable way to travel is to flag down a kijang. This is a type of large car which is popular in Indonesia for its manoeuvrability on winding mountain roads. If you stand on the side of the road in Moni one will pass before too long on its way to Maumere. A seat costs around Rp 50,000.
How to Get to Maumere By bus
Another way to travel to and from Maumere is by bus. From Moni, local buses take around 3.5 hours and cost around Rp 30,000. They take longer than kijangs as they make many stops to pick people up on the way. There are also several buses each day to and from Ende. Ende is one of Flores’ largest towns and is on the south coast. It is about twice as far south and west of Maumere as Moni is. The bus journey costs around Rp 50,000. There are also daily bus services to and from Ruteng and Bajawa, which are further west still.
How to Get to Maumere By boat
Maumere is a major port. Pelni ferries connect the town with other destinations across Indonesia. This can be a great way to cross large distances in one go. However, the conditions can be cramped. It is worth trying to book a place in a cabin, or at least a business class seat, if you can. You can do this by going to the Pelni office in Maumere, which is by the harbour on Jl Sikokoru. Destinations change often, but include Makassar on Sulawesi, Surabaya on Java, and Kupang on Timor.
Where to Stay in Maumere
Many people only stop in Maumere to break up the long overland journey across Flores. If that sounds like you, you may be perfectly happy staying in the town centre. That’s particularly true if you’re only staying for one night. However, Maumere also offers the opportunity to relax on a beach – something that can feel far away during those long bus journeys! There are some beautiful beach resorts along the coast outside of town. However, these tend to be mid-range and above in terms of budget. Backpackers are better catered for in town. Here are a few of your options.
Where to Stay in Town
The backpacker stalwart in town is Gardena. Rooms are basic but comfortable and clean, and a double costs around Rp 150,000. The owner, Dino, is very friendly and helpful. He can help you arrange onward transport and excursions around Flores. You can even take a camping trip to a nearby island, if the heat and chaos of Maumere is getting too much. Gardena is located on Jl Patirangga, in the centre of town inland from the harbour.
Where to Stay by the Beach
For an affordable beachside option, check out Pantai Paris Homestay. This hotel is run by a lovely couple called Susi and Herman. Susi also runs an NGO focusing on community issues such as recycling, waste management and education. Many of the hotel’s fittings and furnishings are made by Herman out of wood from the palm grove which surrounds the hotel. A berth in the four-bed dorm costs around Rp 140,000. The hotel backs on to a stretch of beach, making it perfect for getting some sun, sea and sand for cheaper than the other beach resorts nearby. They are located on the seashore but no beach. Their garden is big with shade and sunshine. My favourite hotel though is Coconut Garden Beach Resort (which is where the photos are from). It’s a beautiful place to relax by the sea.
For a bit of a treat, head to the lovely Sea World Club, a beautiful resort on Waiara Beach around 13 kilometres outside of Maumere. Run by a German priest, this is another hotel with local community interests. The hotel has been involved with local health and education projects, and conservation of the ocean. This is also a great place to dive. Maumere was once the dive centre of Flores. However, the tsunami, as well as destroying the town’s buildings, destroyed much of the coral. However, this is now recovering, and at Sea World Club you can take boat trips out to great dive sites. A range of dive packages are on offer. Snorkelling is also great in the waters of Maumere Bay.
Where to Eat in Maumere
If you’re staying in one of the beach hotels, you’ll be pretty far from any restaurants. Luckily, they will have everything you need on site. However, if you’re staying in Maumere itself, there are a few dining options worth checking out. The best pick is Golden Fish, a restaurant above an angling shop. It’s a little pricey, but a unique experience, and the food is delicious. You get to choose your fish fresh from the tank, which is then prepared in a variety of Chinese and Indonesian styles.
Maumere doesn’t have a huge amount to offer tourists, but many stop here on their way across Flores. The beach hotels outside town can be a beautiful place to rest up for a few days, diving, snorkelling, or simply lounging on the beach. While I wouldn’t recommend staying here for any period of time, there are enough things to do around town to keep you entertained as well as good hotels where you can stay.
Have you ever visited Maumere? What do you think about the city? Share your feedback with other travellers in the comments below.