Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Things to do in Flores

What to do in Flores Nusa Tenggara

For first-timers planning to travel here, you may be asking what are the things to do in Flores and after several trips here, I can narrow them down for you.

One of the lesser-visited places in Indonesia is the island of Flores, but many may know this place as Komodo, due to Komodo Island being part of Flores, East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia.

Things to do in Flores

Flores is all the way East of Bali, after Lombok and Gili Trawangan and just before Ambon and Papua Indonesia.

There are only two ways of getting here, the old way via ferry and boats, and currently via flight from Bali using several local Indonesian airlines.

For those who intend to visit Flores, I would recommend booking well in advance, especially if you are a budget traveler as of lately, more travelers are keen to visit here.

1. Visit the Komodo National Park

Pulau Komodo
One of the many Komodo Dragons at the Komodo National Park
Probably the most popular destination in Flores is no other than Komodo Island where you get to see the majestic Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat.

Tours run daily and depart from Labuan Bajo for day trips while those on a budget opt for the overnight trips where they stay on board a local boat.

In total, two islands are open to visitors, Komodo Island and Rinca Island where you can trek with the park rangers to see the dragons. It is no doubt that when you want to visit Komodo, you have to make your port of entry in Labuan Bajo.

I also wrote this article on how to get to Komodo Island for those who plane to visit here and let me just say, this place should be on everyone's bucket list, especially for Indonesia or Asia.

2. Visit Pink Beach at Komodo Island

Komodo Pink Beach
Pink Beach at Komodo Island
A beach that is pink in color? Yes, only here at Komodo Island you can find three main pink beaches which are a must-visit for any beach lover.

Not to worry as any tours to Komodo will include a visit to the pink beaches here for you to snorkel and relax.

After a trek to see the Komodo Dragons, you will be brought to the main popular pink beach to spend an hour or two before heading off.

One of the must-do things here is the trek up the small hill to get a birds-eye view of the pink beach.

3. Trek Up Padar Island

Photo of Padar Island
Padar Island Photo, taken from the peak
One of the most amazing places in Flores is no other than Padar Island, which is neighboring Komodo Island and tours to Komodo Island will usually bring you here.

This stunning experience lets you trek up a hill, all the way to the peak where you can see the entire island from up top. The photo above was taken by me using my Oppo R9s panoramic mode.

Hoards of tourists, locals, and foreigners head here to make that tiring journey uphill for about 30 minutes and to be rewarded with probably the most popular selfie in Indonesia.

Those with heart conditions or knee and leg problems are not recommended to attempt to climb up, but you can wait in the boat or beach below.

To see more, check out my Padar Island Video which I shot and edited.

4. Have A Manggarai Village Experience

Flores Manggarai Tribe
The unique Manggarai people at the village in Flores
Just out of Labuan Bajo is a traditional Manggarai village where you can visit and experience how the local Manggarai people live.

This cultural experience lets you see the Manggarai tribe participate in their traditional rituals and dances.

The welcome ritual takes you into the home where the head man will recite some prayers to welcome visitors.

After that, the unique Caci war dance is performed followed by a harvest dance and then a traditional bamboo dance.

Visitors will be treated to the local Flores Coffee and possibly a lunch with traditional Manggarai food. Well worth the experience if you love cultures, food, and coffee.

5. Go Scuba Diving in Komodo Island

Komodo Island Diving Sites
My divemaster explains the dive site at Komodo Island
If you are a scuba diver, Komodo Island offers one of the best diving in Indonesia and possibly around the world too.

Being a scuba diver, I was totally speechless with the ultra-rich marine and coral life at the many dive sites around Komodo Island.

Many have said that Raja Ampat is the best dive site, but speaking to the local divemasters who have been diving for more than 20 years have told me that they spent time all over Indonesia and Komodo Island is still hands-down the best dive spot in Indonesia.

I couldn't agree more and after three dives, I was sold. My next dive trip will definitely be here, especially during the manta ray season.

You can also read my other article on diving at Komodo Island for more information.

6. Volunteer at Rainbow Reading Garden (Taman Bacaan Pelangi)

Nila Tanzil and the volunteers at Taman Bacaan Pelangi in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara
One of the must-do activities in Flores is to do some volunteering or voluntourism at the privately run Rainbow Reading Gardens, operated by Nila Tanzil, an Indonesian with a passion to help the children in remote places of Indonesia.

Taman Bacaan Pelangi is also a non-profit organization working to establish children’s libraries in remote areas of Eastern Indonesia since 2009.

The beauty of this experience is that you get to communicate and share with these local children in their own little schools.

Get more information from Taman Bacaan Pelangi as they can arrange for your volunteering in Flores or any of the other islands around here.

7. Go Bird Watching in Flores

Birdwatching Komodo Island
A Wallacean Drongo is seen at the Komodo National Park
Flores is one of the premier places in Indonesia to do birding due to the many species of migrating and also resident birds found on the entire island.

This attracts many birders to do bird watching in Flores as the wildlife and overall island is still pristine and not developed.

The best way to do this is to engage a bird guide to travel around Flores. The recommended bird watching route would be to start in Labuan Bajo move to Komodo Island and slowly make your way towards Ruteng, Ende, Kelimutu National Park and end up in Maumere.

For moving around, flights are connecting internally between Labuan Bajo, Ende, and Maumere with the local airlines. The best time to do birdwatching in Flores is from April to November.

8. Trek up Mount Kelimutu

Flores Three Color Lake
Two of the three lakes at the peak of Mount Kelimutu in Flores
It sounds difficult, but this is probably the easiest mountain trek in Indonesia. Mount Kelimutu is well known for the tricolor lakes at the top of the mountain and these lakes tend to change colors over time.

The beauty of the tricolor lakes is that you can see three different colors in the crater lakes. From the park headquarters, the trek up to the Kelimutu peak will take you no longer than 45 minutes.

The walkway is concrete steps all the way and probably the hardest part is just before the peak, but for seasoned hikers and trekkers, this is considered very easy.

Along the way, you will pass through the Kelimutu National Park which is rich with flora and fauna. Elderly people can also do this trek up to Mount Kelimutu.

The main city to visit Kelimutu is Ende where hotels and restaurants are available.

9. Exploring Maumere

Sikka Mother Mary Statue
The statue of Mother Mary on Nilo Hill in Sikka, Flores
Probably the least visited places in Flores, Maumere offers some beautiful isolated beach resorts that are comparable with those in Bali.

I stayed at the Coconut Beach Resort in Maumere which is pretty amazing, with lovely bamboo themed individual villas and a beach all to yourself.

Maumere is also known as one of the best diving spots in Flores after Komodo Island. Further out of Maumere town, you can visit some of the local tourist spots like the oldest wooden church in Flores located in the district of Sikka.

You can even head up Nilo Hill to see the 28-meter statue of Mother Mary at the peak of the hill. In general, Maumere is for those who enjoy the laid back slow lifestyle, minus the tourist.

10. Visit Wae Rebo Village

Flores Wae Rebo
Wae Rebo Village in Flores (Image from Indonesia.Travel)
Wae Rebo is the one place that I really wanted to visit on my last trip but due to timing, we had to bypass this amazing place UNESCO village.

It is actually one of the most beautifully preserved traditional Manggarai villages with amazing circular cone-shaped homes and located in a hilly area.

To get here, you need to trek for about three hours to the highlands before reaching Wae Rebo village. For culture and heritage fans, this is probably one of the main highlights of things to do in Flores.

11. Explore Bajawa

Bandar Bajawa
Bajawa Town in Flores (Image from http://www.florestourism.com)
Another stunning place that I totally missed on my last trip was visiting Bajawa in the Florinese Highlands.

This town which is home to the Ngada people is said to be the coolest part of Flores where it is found on an elevated area of 1500 meters above sea level.

The weather here is cool and great for anyone wanting to see the natural way of life of the highlands here.

Things to do around Bajawa include cycling, cultural experiences or just to experience the laid back life here. Perhaps I will plan for another trip just to visit this place.

12. Visit the Liang Bua Historical Site

Flores Liang Bua Cave
Liang Bua Cave in Flores. (Image from http://www.southeastasianarchaeology.com)
For those who are into archaeology, history, and culture, the Liang Bua Caves are probably the best place to visit in Flores.

This is simply because, in 2003, a group of archaeologists discovered the remains of a Homo Floresiensis, which is said to be a new kind of human species.

Word got around and now, archaeology fans can come here to see what this is all about. Again for me, time was not on my side where I could not visit the Liang Bua Cave near Ruteng in Flores.

Flores Maumere Photo
A rooster at one of the local villages in the Sikka district of Maumere, Flores
How To Get To Flores? 

To get to Flores, several airlines fly into the island and you can check for flights to Flores from various websites.

Note that you may have to do two or three flights depending on which city or country you fly from. The easiest way to get to Flores, East Nusa Tenggara is via Bali.

The main entry point into Flores is no other than Labuan Bajo, which is located on the western end of Flores Island.

At Labuan Bajo town, you will find hotels, resorts, bars, bakeries, restaurants, travel agents and more here. You can also read my article on things to do in Labuan Bajo for more information.

Conclusion

The list above is compiled by me, David Hogan Jr from Malaysia who has been to Flores several times and mainly on a mission to explore and promote this beautiful island to the world.

Each of the places was personally visited by me unless stated above. Given the opportunity, I would visit this beautiful island to explore and find more things to do in Flores.

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