Flores Island, named after a Portuguese word meaning “flowers,” is famous as the Indonesian next big thing after its beautiful neighbor Bali. The popular Labuan Bajo town in the western part of Flores Island has a booming tourist population due to its famous Komodo National Park, superb dive spots and little islands with beautiful beaches.
But Flores Island is not only that. Flores Island offers adventures, from diving to mountain climbing, and also cultural activities from prehistoric heritage sites to traditional villages. The best way to explore Flores Island is by doing an adventurous road trip. Find a flight from Jakarta, Denpasar, or Kupang to Labuan Bajo, and start your journey from Labuan Bajo, the first town on the western Flores, all the way to Maumere on the eastern side.
1. Snorkeling at Pink Beach
End your trekking journey at Padar Island by snorkeling at its famous Pink Beach. Pink Beach is one of seven pink beaches on the planet. The pink sand gets its striking color from microscopic animals called Foraminifera, which produce a red pigment on the coral reefs. When the tiny fragments of red coral combine with the white sand, this produces a soft pink color that is visible along the shoreline.
The coral garden of Pink Beach is only a few steps from the shore. The minute you take a dip into the sea, you will be granted with a beautiful coral garden with hundreds of coral species and thousands of species of fish. It is well recommended for beginner snorkelers and divers. If you are taking a live aboard tour during your visit to Komodo National Park where you will sleep in the boat, stay longer at Pink Beach and wait for the stunning sunset. It’s the best way to close a day by the beach.
2. Diving adventure at Komodo National Park dive sites
It is famously known that Komodo National Park is one of the most diverse marine habitats on earth. From mangrove forests and coral gardens, to its deep-water habitats, you will find more than 1,000 species of fish, 385 species of reef-building corals, 105 species of crustaceans, 70 species of sponges, 10 species of dolphins, 6 whale species, green and hawksbill turtles, dugongs, and various species of sharks and rays here at the park.
The highlight for diving in Komodo National Park is Manta Point. It’s home to 40 or more elegant manta rays. Dive in and let yourself be surrounded by a group of these underwater birds, and let yourself be awed by these majestic creatures.
3. Caci dance at Melo Village
Picture this: two male adversaries, each of them have a whip, a shield, a stick, and wear a mask. Spectators start to shout out with encouragement for their favorite party, and the ritual whip fight officially begins.
Caci dance is a martial arts dance and it is a major element of the Manggarai cultural identity. The dance is usually performed during traditional ritual celebrations such as the New Year, harvest time, or when opening new fields. The dance shows bravery and dignity through attack and defense with whips and shields. It’s a unique and lively dance that attracts many tourists to Melo Village.
4. Waerebo Village, the heart of Manggarai culture
The beautiful Waerebo Village is nestled in the cloud forests of western Flores. You know that you have arrived at the village when you see the iconic seven cone-shaped traditional houses, which are built from bamboo, wood, and grass.
Go further to Cancar Village where you will see the famous spider web rice field, a beautiful landmark of the village. The spider web rice field is called Lingko and it was created to provide equal spaces of land for each house in the village. Stay overnight at Waerebo Village and you will get more cultural insight through your interaction with the locals.
5. Island hopping at the Riung 17 Islands Marine Park
Riung 17 Islands Marine Park, located on the north of Bajawa, is a natural conservation area that consists of more than 20 small and larger islands with beautiful coral gardens. You can arrange boat tours for your island hopping trip from every hotel in the town of Riung. You can also enjoy snorkeling, fishing or swimming in the crystal clear waters. The best areas for snorkeling can be found in Pulau Bukit Tiga, and near Pulau Mborong.
6. Sunrise over Mount Kelimutu
Bring yourself further into Flores Island and make a stop at Moni Village. Moni Village is the closest accommodation point when you want to visit Mount Kelimutu. Surrounded by rice field valley, Moni Village offers places to stay with basic amenities and a handful of eateries.
To catch the full light show of the sunrise on the top of Mount Kelimutu, you will start your adventure at 4:00am. The sunrise beauty of Mount Kelimutu is in the early light, playing through the clouds and down onto the peak. If you’re not there till 7:00 am you’ll miss much of the show. Spoil yourself with the beauty of the three colored Kelimutu lakes, where each lake has colors that change at certain times, and continue your walk to the beautiful Murundao Waterfall and a hot springs nearby.
7. See the Ikat weaving village of Maumere, Sikka
Your road trip has finally taken you to the capital city of Flores Island, Maumere. The capital city has suffered from the 1992 earthquake, with the tsunami that destroyed the city and the beaches. Visiting Watublapi is a must when you are in Maumere. Watublapi is a small community in the Sikka district that is famous for its fine traditional ikat weaving. The weavers of Watublapi still use the traditional, hand spun yarn made out of local cotton, as well as local natural dyes.
When you visit Watublapi, you will take part in a traditional welcoming ceremony and a stunning demonstration of some of the traditional dances accompanied by music “gong waning”. After that, the elaborate process of Ikat weaving will be demonstrated. End your day with a seafood fiesta dinner at Maumere night market.
8. Meet the dragons of Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park encompasses 3 main islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar along with dozens of smaller islands, islets and barren rocks. It was originally designed as national park to protect the endangered Komodo dragon, and now has become a marine national park to protect not only the above water life, but also the biodiversity of its underwater life. Since 1991, Komodo National Park has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Komodo dragon is the world’s largest and also one of the oldest living lizards that can only be found in the wild area of Komodo National Park (the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Nusa Kode, and Gili Motang) and to a minor extent on Flores’ west and north coasts. Adult dragons can reach a length of up to three meters (10 feet), with an average weight of around 90 kg (200 lbs).
The Komodo dragons live in their wild habitat where they hunt deer and wild pigs, using their strong tail to bring their prey to the ground. The dragons also have septic saliva, which can cause blood poisoning that leads to death. They have an excellent sense of smell, so they can locate their prey from a distance of several kilometers. They can accelerate up to 18 kilometers (11 miles) per hour while hunting, which makes them run faster than humans. The dragons are also excellent swimmers between islands.
You can choose which path you want to explore in the national park. The national ranger will explain to you in detail about each path. The dragons are wild animals, so you have to be accompanied during your trek around Komodo National Park with a national ranger. It is not advisable to wander alone at the national park, and due to the fact that the dragons have a strong smell for blood, it is not advisable for female tourists who are menstruating to join the tour.
9. Larantuka, a Portuguese heritage
The Portuguese came to Flores in the 15th-century and settled in Larantuka. The Portuguese heritage in Larantuka can be found from the pink and spire-festooned Portuguese influenced cathedral to the catholic graveyard, and many people have mixed Portuguese-Florinese ancestry. The fishing village of Larantuka still remains untouched by tourists due to its location on the eastern tip of Flores Island, which makes it less famous than its cousin Labuan Bajo. If you are looking for a calm village by the sea with unique local culture, Larantuka is the right place.
Most tourists come to Larantuka for the famous Good Friday procession, where the entire town turns out in finery to commemorate the death of Christ. Bearers carry a coffin of Christ through the streets, just like the Portuguese religious tradition, moving from altar to altar through the city to complete the Via Dolorosa steps. It’s a remarkable spectacle to witness that has drawn many tourists, so make sure to book your hotel far in advance.
10. The iconic Padar Island of Komodo National Park
The next adventure activity awaits you at Padar Island. Padar Island is one of the icons of Komodo National Park. It is a volcanic mountain island with steep hills and divided with 4 deep bays. Each bay has different type of beach starting from white sandy beach, and grey sandy beach, to pink sandy beach.
Prepare your hat and sunscreen because the sun of the East Nusa Tenggara region is savage. Stay hydrated with water and don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful landscape of the island. Don’t worry; Padar Island is one of the islands at the national park where the Komodo dragons aren’t located. So grab your hiking shoes and climb your way up!
A road trip on Flores Island is definitely an unforgettable experience. With its stunning landscape of mountains, canyons, and the seas, Flores Island is definitely a land of adventure that needs to be explored at leats once in a lifetime.
Source : https://trip101.com/article/best-things-to-do-in-flores-indonesia