Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Things to do in Flores


For first timers, you may be asking what are the things to do in Flores and after two trips here in 2016, I can narrow them down for you here. 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.

Flores is all the way east of Bali, after Lombok and Gili Trawangan and just before Ambon and Papua Indonesia and there are only two ways of getting here, the old way via ferry and boats, and currently via flight from Bali using a number of local Indonesian airlines. For those who intend to visit Flores, I would recommend to book well in advance, especially if you are a budget traveller as of lately, more travelers are keen to visit here. Just to highlight, other articles you may have read by other travel bloggers would most likely touch around the Labuan Bajo area as a majority of them only visited this place, while this article goes beyond and further into Flores, East Nusa Tenggara.

Things to do in Flores
Some of the beautiful beaches at Flores, East Nusa Tenggara
In general, Flores is huge and there a a number of districts and towns where each of them have their own uniqueness. For example, Labuan Bajo will be the main gateway to Komodo Island, therefore if you are planning to see the Komodo Dragons, then your entry point will be Labuan Bajo, which is the most modern town on the island too. And when you head further east of the island, you will come across more natural tourism spots like the beautiful remote beaches of Flores.

Most travelers or tourist are seen around Labuan Bajo as the infrastructure is probably the best on the island as they are mainly there for the Komodo Dragons or for scuba diving. At Labuan Bajo, you can 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, and below is my list of things to do in Flores.

1. Visit the Komodo National Park
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, there are two islands that 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. Pink Beach at Komodo Island
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 trek up the small hill to get a birds eye view of the pink beach.

3. 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. Photo above was taken by me using my smartphone panoramic mode. Hoards of tourist, local 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. Padar Island is suitable for those in good health as there is some serious trekking uphill. 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. Manggarai Village Experience
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. Diving in Komodo Island 
My dive master explains the dive site at Komodo Island
If you are a diver, Komodo Island offers one of the best diving in Indonesia and as for me being a 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 dive masters 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. Read my 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 organisation working to establish children’s libraries in remote areas of Eastern Indonesia since 2009. The beauty about 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. Bird Watching in Flores
A Wallacean Drongo 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 bet 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. There are flights connecting internally between Labuan Bajo, Ende and Maumere.

8. Trekking up Mount Kelimutu 
Two of the three lakes at the peak of Mount Kelimutu in Flores
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 about the tricolor lakes is that you can see three different colors in the crater lakes. From the park headquarters, the trek up to 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
The stature 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 or 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
Wae Rebo Village in Flores (Image from Indonesia.Travel)
Wae Rebo is the one place that I really wanted to visit in 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 on 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
Bajawa Town in Flores (Image from http://www.florestourism.com)
Another place which 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.

12. Liang Bua Historical Site
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 archaeologist 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.

A rooster at one of the local villages in the Sikka district of Maumere, Flores
To get to Flores, there are a number of airlines that fly into the island and you can check for flights to Flores using Skyscanner for some of the best deals. 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 list above is compiled by me, David Hogan Jr from Malaysia who has been to Flores twice and recently in 2016 with Skyscanner Indonesia 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 thins to do in Flores.

Author:

Malaysia Asia is a multiple award-winning travel blog site with information on unique and interesting places around Malaysia, Borneo, Indonesia, Southeast Asia and the World. Malaysia Asia is also under MyAsia Services, a Digital Travel Solutions Company based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest. We are also not your regular travel bloggers. 

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