What it is:
Often overshadowed by its tiny dragon-inhabited neighbour, Komodo, Flores has, until recently, hidden in plain sight from the eyes of most travellers planning trips to Indonesia. Stretching some 450km from west to east, its formidable terrain ridden with volcanos, deep valleys, and knife-edge ridges, was often viewed as too difficult for travel.
The island has, since, found limelight on a numerous occasions. First, after the discovery of a species of pre-humans that thrived there tens-of-thousands of years ago, and then for its being named one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Since then, things have opened up quite a bit. Flores is now considered one of Indonesia’s best-kept secrets, and is the perfect place to go for unique off-the-beaten path adventures.
For many visitors to Flores, Labuan Bajo is their first introduction. The town itself is rather non-descript, but within a close proximity of it are not only the remarkable islands of Komodo and Rinca, but also a number of worthwhile trekking opportunities to be had in the area such as Cunca Rami Waterfall and Sano Nggoang Crater Lake.
The most renowned attraction in Flores is Kelimutu Volcano in Central Flores. The volcano has three striking crater lakes at its summit, each with a unique colour -lending to the commonly associated name, “Three Colour Lakes.” For reasons not yet understood, the chemistry of these lakes causes their colours to change periodically, ranging from black to white and red to green.
As with most Indonesian islands, there is not just one stunning volcano. Egon Volcano has impressive crater views, as well as smoking sulphur and beautiful panoramic vistas.
For a unique experience, the Hot Springs of Blidit are a must-see on the island. Featuring hot, warm and cold natural springs surrounded by dense tropical vegetation, they provide an excellent place to relax and enjoy the natural bounties of the island.
There are also a number of fantastic diving and snorkelling sites in Flores. The most notable of these are Maumere and Riung. Both are considered to have some of the best diving in Indonesia.
Flores has an extraordinarily long history of human (and pre-human) occupation. The island achieved international notoriety after the discovery that, up until as recently as 5,000 years ago, there were actually two species of hominids inhabiting it- Homo sapiens and Homo floresiensis- a discovery which shocked the scientific community and inspired the imaginations of would-be travellers. Since then, Flores has seen an influx of travellers interested in discovering its historical and cultural heritage.
In Luba and Bena Villages, visitors have a chance to experience Flores’ unique indigenous cultures. The traditional houses in these villages are not only surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery, but also of stone-age monoliths that will give visitors some insight into just how deep the history of this region really goes.
How to get there:
By Plane: There are several airports on Flores, the main ones are Labuan Bajo Airport and Wai Oti Airport in Maumere, the island’s largest town. Transport onward from either of these airports is relatively easy and can be made by bus, mini-van or public transport.
By Bus: It’s also possible to make it to Flores from the islands of Lombok and Bali by combined bus and ferry transport. From Lombok, the trip takes about twenty-four hours.