Flores is one of the Lesser Sundra Islands and the last island on this visit. A green, mountainous island with volcanic topography, a chain of volcanic cones stretches the length of the island. Because of its topography, there is basically one “good” road, the Trans-Flores highway that crosses the island. The road is in decent shape but it is impossible to get anywhere quickly because of the mountains.
Population is estimated around 1.5 million, divided into five main linguistic and cultural groups. Most tourists see only Labuhan Bajo on the west coast and Maumere, Flores’ largest town unless making their way from island to island. Maumere would be our final destination in Flores before flying back to Bali. Flores is almost entirely Roman Catholic, unusual in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Catholicism was introduced by the Portuguese who came in 1512, and stayed until the 17th century when the Dutch kicked them out.
What to do and see on Flores:
- Kelimutu, a volcano containing three colored lakes close to the town of Moni. These crater lakes are in the caldera of a volcano, and change colors depending on the oxidation state of the lake.
- Snorkeling and diving along the north coast of Flores and Labuan Bajo. Labuan Bajo, especially, has world class diving sites and we saw beautiful, live aboard dive boats in the harbor and at sea.
- Ruteng, the heart of Manggarai country, surrounded by rice fields.
- The Luba and Bena villages around the hill town of Bajawa with their traditional houses
It was an uneventful two-hour cruise from Rinca Island to Labuan Bajo on Flores Island which gave us time to gather up belongings spread all over the unused bunks. A few dolphin/porpoise sightings (I can’t tell the difference), fishing boats and dive boats also making their way towards Labuan Bajo Harbor.
Goodbyes, thanks and tips to the wonderful crew who were always feeding us cookies/biscuits and into a car up to Golo Hilltop Hotel for one night. Hello, Flores.