The sparkling waters of Flores are an underwater paradise for divers, offering some of the best dives in the world. With white sand beaches, waters teeming with protected marine life and vast coral gardens, divers come from all over the world to experience the unspoilt wonder of Flores.
There are so many different dive experiences to suit all levels; here are some of the most popular:
Kanawa Island off Labuan Bajo - swim with turtles, manta rays, sharks and huge schools of fish;
Komodo National Park - experienced divers will love the marine life of Komodo;
Bidadari Island’s offshore reef is a sheltered aquatic home to explore;
17 Islands Marine Park - go island hopping in search of the perfect dive spot;
Seraya Island - stop in for a seafood feast at the fishing village after working up an appetite diving with the turtles.
Join with an experienced dive tour who can guide you through the local conditions and currents, and provide all the equipment and support you need.
A visit to Komodo Island and its famed and feared inhabitants known as dragons – 3 metre long lizards whose jaws drip with toxic saliva – is an unforgettable experience for any visitor to Flores.
Part of Komodo National Park, visitors often come for the dragons, but are blown away by the incredible habitat in which they live. Striking, majestic, prehistoric Komodo can’t be beaten.
A quieter, yet equally as stunning part of the Komodo National Park, Padar Island delivers. Trek to the summit and look out across the vast, pristine beaches; spot Padar’s famous pink beach and plan your snorkel trail for the afternoon on a beach that you may just have all to yourself.
Lie back on the sand and enjoy the sunshine before taking in some of the best reef snorkeling that the world has to offer. Does it get any better?
The Lakes of Kelimutu
The spectacularly coloured volcanic lakes of Kelimutu, in Mt Kelimutu National Park, are not to be missed. An early morning trip to the tri-coloured lakes, to capture the sunrise over the jeweled water, is unmistakably Flores. The three lakes, lying in craters at the foot of the mountain, are each a different colour from gases bubbling away under the surface. Believed by locals to be the resting place of departed souls, the vibrant changing colours of the lakes make for striking photos.
There is transport available to the lakes from Moni, the closest small town, around 15km from Kelimutu. From here you can hike around the lakes, keeping to the marked paths that protect the rare native animal and plant life of lush Kelimutu National Park.
Liang Bua, near Ruteng in the Manggarai District, is better known worldwide as the Hobbit Cave, due to the discovery in 2003 of a human skeleton that belonged to a short-statured primitive species of man called Homo Floresiensis. His remains date from around 100 000 to 60 000 years old, and it is believed that he is one of the latest-surviving species of primitive humans, along with Neanderthals.
Interestingly, there is local folklore about the Ebu Gogo – a small, hairy, cave dweller, similar in size to Homo Floresiensis, suggesting that perhaps the ‘hobbits’ survived longer in other parts of Flores, living alongside modern humans.
Once used as a place of religious worship by villagers, visitors to the cavernous limestone cave can walk in the footsteps of ancient man, making Liang Bua an incredibly significant backdrop to the story of human evolution.
A visit to Flores wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Wae Rebo and its traditional village.
The trek to the village will take you through some magnificent scenery, with jade green jungle full of bird song, natural waterfalls and pools that are welcome rest stops for cooling off in as you hike.
After your hike, join the villagers who welcome tourists with traditional food and renowned friendliness, stay and learn about their way of life and community. You may even get to sleep overnight in one of the distinctive round huts of Wae Rebo.
Blue Stone Beach
Penggajawa Beach, near Ende, is better known as Blue Stone Beach, as from a distance it looks like a mosaic of moody blues and greens, formed by the unusually coloured sea stones that wash up on the beach.
The bright blue, turquoise and sea green stones that pebble the entire beach are stunning to see, but please, leave them where you found them - take a photo instead of a souvenir stone. Blue Stone Beach is another one of Flores’ natural wonders, and as tourism to the region increases, it needs to be protected so that future generations can enjoy the dramatically coloured seascape.
Spider web rice fields
The spider-web rice fields of Cancar are cultivated in intricate web-like patterns, creating spectacular aerial views. Take a drive through the countryside, and get a birds-eye view of their beautiful lace-work patterns.
The spider-web design is more than just an inspiring panorama, as this age-old system is vital to communal farming practices. Each segment of the paddy or spider-web belongs to a different family from within the village, the largest sections belonging to the wealthiest.
Even farming in Flores is a sight worth seeing!
The Caci dancers or ‘whip fighters’ of Manggarai are part of the ancient indigenous culture of Flores. A ritual dance or fight, it was tied to the agricultural seasons and Penti festival, to ensure the fertility of the land.
Two men dressed as animals and armed with whips, perform a ‘fight’, which is actually more of a choreographed ceremonial dance accompanied by drumming and music.
It is a spectacular thing to see, so please don’t miss an opportunity to be in the audience - ask a local guide who can tell you when to see the next performance of the Caci whip fighters.
Sunsets on Love Hill
Love Hill, in Labuan Bajo, has become a rite of passage for travellers to Flores. A climb to the top of the hill to mark the beginning or the end of your trip is one of those travel experiences that will fill your heart long after your trip has come to an end.
With a 360 degree, uninterrupted view of the islands, mountains and sparkling waters of Labuan Bajo, you can watch the sun go down on another day of exploration from your stunning vantage point.
It’s an easy hike, and one you definitely need to make time for, as the incredible views will make you fall forever in love with Flores.