Indonesia is a haven for travelers of all kinds mainly because it is bursting with permanently inhabited islands. Unfortunately, a vast majority only travel to one, Bali. Flores Island is gem and happens to be one of the best diving sites in the Archipelago. This is mainly because of the Manta Rays of Komodo National Park, the swift currents and crazy critters found in Maumere Bay.
How do you get there?
Thanks to progressive infrastructure, flying between the islands in Indonesia has been made quite easy. From major cities you can fly to two key destination in Flores, that is Labuan Bajo and Ende. The flight offers majestic views of both Labuan Bajo and the island network as you descend. However, this view is best enjoyed if you are sitting on the right side of the plane.
Despite looking unfinished, the airport at Labuan Bajo is quite modern and suits the city well. From there you can take a taxi, train or bus into town if your Flores dive resort hasn’t arranged transportation for you. The town center is only accessible through a single one-way road that goes around it, offering stunning panoramic views of the port with a backdrop that is full of endless islands.
Where to stay
The options for accommodation in Flores are scarce when compared to Bali. However, there is a wide range of choices depending on your budget. The AYANA Komodo Resort located on the exquisite Waecicu Beach in Labuan Bajo is the first and only 5 star resort making it a great choice for luxurious accommodation. Featuring 192 guest rooms and 13 suites, the resort is inspired by open living, comfort and light.
Where to eat
If you are a fan of trying out local cuisine, there are a number of vendors on the streets selling traditional dishes such as Beef Rendang, Nasi Goreng or Soto Ayam. You can also head to the local fish market if you want to sample the daily catch. Have a beer or cocktail while enjoying some of the most alluring sunsets you will ever see.
Diving at Flores
Diving is the primary reason why travelers visit Labuan Bajo. It doesn’t matter whether you are a first timer or a seasoned diver, you should try out the liveaboard tours as there are plenty of companies to choose from. Most tours offer land-based activities in various islands including a visit to the Komodo National Park to see the dragons either in Rinca or Komodo Islands.
If you are new to diving, with the help of an instructor you will descend to 12 meters and then take a series of breathing exercises. Depending on the time of the year, you are most likely to witness a group of massive manta rays.
You can’t dock at Rinca, Komodo or Padar islands and not explore the Komodo National Park which is home to about 5,700 Komodo dragons. Additionally, this is the only place that you will see the massive monitor lizard in live action, an animal that is aptly named for its reptilian appearance and aggressive nature. Ensure that you get a guided tour when going on a Komodo dragon tour.
What to see
The manta rays are the biggest attraction to the Indonesian underwater world especially around the Komodo National Park. However, while these creatures frequent the park, spending much time with them might not be that easy because you are more likely to get caught in a quick draft. With that in mind, some sites around the Komodo National Park will allow you to enjoy the display of trevally, whitetip sharks, barracuda, tuna and rainbow runner swimming around looking for something to eat.
You are also most likely to see Eagle rays. Similarly, you may see interesting critters such as nudibranch and frogfish amongst the corals while butterflyfish, lyretail anthias and angelfish can be found around healthy sloping reefs.