Far on the northern coastal area of Flores, there is a cluster of islands called 17 Islands of Riung Marine Park. This place looks like a paradise with soft white sand on the land and clear turquoise water on the ocean. What makes it look more appealing lies beneath the water surface, where a wide range of sea creatures live.
This place is the most perfect destination for those who dream of escaping from their busy life for a while to enjoy freedom, peace, and tranquility. The entrance of this archipelago is called Riung Village.
The closest airport from Riung is Maumere Airport. You can get there with flight from Jakarta City, Surabaya City, Bali Island, or Kupang. Most flights are available from Bali where several airlines offers the route twice a day, everyday.
From Maumere, get on a bus to Bajawa for 4 hours. From Bajawa, get on another bus that can take you to Riung. The bus usually departs around 12 PM from local terminal. If you are staying in a hotel in Bajawa, the hotel owner can make a call for the bus to request a pick-up service.
The bus will take one hour to pick up passengers in Bajawa before setting on straight to Riung. The trip itself takes about 4-5 hours. Prices may vary depend on the driver, especially if you are foreigners. To avoid being overcharged, pay attention to how much other passenger is paying and make a good bargain about it.
To get to Riung from Maumere, you can also rent a car in Maumere and drive it yourself. But this way is not quite recommended if this is your first trip to Riung. Some tracks are difficult to navigate, even with GPS tool. If you still want to ride a private car, you can hire a driver, either in Maumere or Bajawa.
Other choice of route is from Ende Airport. Flights are available from Bali. From Ende Airport, go to Ndao Terminal on western side of town. There will be a bus that can take you to Riung for about 5 hours.
There is also a bus from Maumere that goes to Mbay through Moni and Ende. From Mbay, you can get a motorbike taxi (ojek) to Riung for 1.5 hours.
Riung is a small village. There are several humble cottages and homestays for tourists to stay in. But mostly does not open up early reservation. You need to book it directly once you get there. Do not worry about being overbooked as Riung does not take much visitors. Those cottages are homestays are also known to be very clean altought the facilities might be limited.
Most of those accomodations are located on the pier area of Riung village and also on the main road you pass on once you arrive in Riung. Here are some of those:
- Nivana Bungalows
Nirvana Bungalows offer 8 comfy bungalows with AC and private bathroom. The staff will serve breakfast on your porch. The tariff is around $22.5 – $26.
- Pondok SVD
This hotel is run by a missionary and have crucifix on the wall inside each rooms. It is located nearby the market and generator. You can clearly hear the generator, especially at night. So it is not recommended for those with sleeping problem.
The tariff for single room with fan is about $9. Double room with fan is about $15. If you want one with AC, double room tariff is about $22.5.
Riung Village is the gateway to the Paradise of 17 Islands. This village is known to be a fishing village because most of the pupils are fishermen. You can also do some fishing activity there. A market in this village is mostly selling fishes and seafoods. Most population of the village are Bajo Tribe.
This tribe is known as sea gypsy, because they tend to spend most of their time in the sea. It is very interesting to interact with them and learn more about their adventurous lifestyle. Bajo Tribe mostly eat and earn by fishing. That explains why Riung became a fishing village.
Throrough the village, you can see plenty of coconut trees along the wide streets. Locals are very freindly and helpful. Riung does not have a beach. The area by the pier is a mangrove forest and mud bottom. Amenities is quite limited here as there is only one ATM machine that you can use.
The Marine Park
The 17 Islands Riung Marine Park is located behind the village. The area consists of 5 incredible village including Sambinasi, Nangamese, Benteng Tengah, Tadho, and Lengoksambi. This beautiful marine park is now classified as UNESCO World Heritage for its astonishing ecosystem, both underwater and above the land.
The archipelago is sparsely populated and most of those islands are uninhabitant. Most populations in this area live on Riung village or floating in the ocean as Bajo Tribe.