Moni is one destination most visitors to Flores are bound to spend a night, as the departure point for visiting Kelimutu volcanic crater lakes, the most famous tourist attraction on the island. So here’s a brief guide based on my own two-night stay.
In the Village
Moni is not right next to Kelimutu—it’s still a 13km journey away—but it has become the main hub for visitors, probably due to its location on the main trans-Flores road, and a large number of accommodation options and other tourist facilities have sprung up.
The village lines both sides of the main road, and has a church and a field area, which is used for the local market on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings. From the upper parts of the village you can look out to a fantastic view across the hills, all the way to the ocean.
You won’t get woken up by the call to prayer in Moni, because there is no mosque. Like the rest of Flores, Moni has a Catholic majority. Walking through the village is pleasant and the local people were friendly. I met three little girls, who took me to see the Mary statue and shrine beside the church. The local language is called Lio, which sounds very different to Indonesian, though the majority of people also speak Indonesian.
Facilities for Visitors
Many homestays line the main road offering reasonably priced rooms for travellers. I stayed at Bintang Bungalows, which is apparently a popular option. It was full for one of the nights I was there, and this is outside the main tourist season. I paid Rp. 100,000 (after haggling from Rp. 120,000) for a room with bathroom and cold water only, and it was quite cold for showering. Moni is not a hot place though the high altitude means it gets strong sunlight in the middle of the day.
Eating cheaply is difficult in Moni, where most eateries are restaurants aimed at foreign tourists. Local people tend to cook at home rather than eating out. However, down the road I found a cheap bakso (meatball soup) place, run by an East Javanese man. I ate at Bintang Restaurant, run by Tobias, the brother-in-law of Sinta who owns Bintang Bungalows, and the portions were on the large side, which may justify the extra expense.
Transport and guides are available in Moni. Motorbikes can be hired for Rp. 100,000 or more per day, and I hired a guide, called Udin, and motorbike for a whole day for Rp. 130,000. Sinta of Bintang Bungalows has a car and a minibus (bemo) that she rents out. It is easy to organise onward transport from Moni to your next destination, because it is located on the main trans-Flores road, so buses, minibuses and public cars all pass through.