Flores island lies between Sumbawa and Timor islands is an abbreviation of Cabo da Flores which was used by Portuguese sailor in the 17th century to identify the cape on the eastern end of the islands because of its underwater gardens. The sea gardens extend a long most of the northern coastline and offshore reefs and they are most profuse near Maumere where a diving resort and and also Riung. Divided by mountain chains and volcanoes, the island is populated by ethnic groups with their own traditions and languages. Predominantly Catholic, they have retained several aspects of the Portuguese culture such as the Easter parade held annually at Larantuka on the eastern part of the island and the Royal Regalia of the former King of Sikka.
Mt. Kelimutu, 1,690m, fifty years ago had three lakes, one lake was blue green, one fiery green and one red. Thirty years later, the colors had changed to blue, red brown and cafe au lait. Now, Ata Bupu (Lake) is a dramatic dark-brown. Ata Polo is a dark red-brown, and only Nuwa Muri remains aquamarine or turquoise as it has always been. No one can explain the cause ofthe color changes except to suppose that different minerals are dissolving in the waters of each lake.
The countryside surrounding the lake, though no longer so "natural" as in the days of early Dutch visitors some hundred years ago, is still mountainous and dramatic enough with panoramic views all sides.
The main cities and towns of Flores are;
Labuanbajo - launching point for Komodo Island and diving and snorkeling expeditions.
Ende - the lazy capital of the Island and departure point for ferries to West Timor.
Maumere - diving/snorkeling center and easiest place to fly in and out of Flores
Riung - diving/snorkeling center
Moni - launching point for a trek up Mount Kelimutu
Bajawa - is one of the best areas in Nusa Tenggara to see indigenous architecture in local ethnic villages
Ruteng - ethnic minority center with interesting local villages
Although 85% of Flores population are Catholic, Christianity is fused with traditional beliefs. Christianity has also remained in smaller villages like Nage near Bajawa, where age-old Ngada beliefs and practices have been preserved. Here, symbols of this continuing tradition of "bhaga," which is represented by miniature thatched roof houses, and umbrella-shaped "ngadu," with carvings of axes, cassavas, dragons and flowers twisting around their wooden stems, are displayed between two rows of tall, thatched houses and stone tombs which are said to contain hoards of treasure. Gory buffalo sacrifices and agricultural fertility rituals take place in Nage.
Journeying across Flores, catch tantalizing glimpses of the coastline at Riung. Pulau Tujuh Belas is a "nature preservation". Enjoy snorkeling in enormous "aquariums" and take a siesta on the white sandy beach of Pulau Rutong, see myriads of bat colonies hanging over the mangrove trees. Ropa - Experience a more secluded place, stay at a local house, go fishing, climbing mountains and sleep in a tree-hut. Find ruins of past generations, who lived her and spread along the mountain.
Flores island is one of the islands of East Nusa Tenggara province. It stretches between the east longitudes of 118° and 125°, and between the latitudes of 8° and 11° south. The east Nusa Tenggara cover the area 49,880 sq km and it has a population of 3,500,000. Flores becomes one of the biggest island on the territory of East Nusa Tenggara or NTT which comprises 566 islands, including many smaller islands which are not in-habited and are unnamed. The three main islands are Flores, Sumba and Timor from which comes the term 'Flobamor', which has been familiar as one of the names of NTT.
Flores is a volcanic island and has unique and spectacular attractions. Mount Kelimutu has become a favourite destination, with its three crater lakes of different colours. Sumba is the island famous for its arts, handicrafts, particularly the textile weaving and cultural assets. Timor, being the principal island with Kupang as its capital, serves as the centre of government and economic activities.
Map of Flores, Sumba & Timor Islands
The other permanently inhabited islands are Lembata, Adonara, Solor, Palue, Nules, Komodo, Rinca, Sumba, Sabu, Raijua, Rote, Semau, Alor and Pantar.
Roughly 57 percent of the territory is hilly with mountains rising to 2,427m (Gunung Mutis) in Timor and 1,792m (G. Kelimutu) in Flores. The mountains of East Nusa Tenggara are not as high as in West Nusa Tenggara where the highest mountain of all of Nusa Tenggara is Gunung Rinjani in Lombok (3,726m).
Geologically, East Nusa Tenggara can be regarded as being divided into two zones: a volcanic inner curve formed by the islands of Rinca, Komodo, Flores, Alor, Pantar, Adonara, Lembata and Solor, which have fertile soils; and an outer curve of limestone and other rock formations, made up up of Sumba, Sabu, Rote, Semau and Timor.
Traveling to Flores
There are several airports in Flores, and the main one is at Maumere. There are also daily flights between Labuanbajo and Denpasar. A number of companies organise 4 day sailing trips between Lombok or Bali and Flores which take in Komodo islands and Rinca island.
Flores has good snorkeling and scuba diving in several locations along the north coast, most notably Maumere and Riung. Owing to the destructive practice of local fishermen using dynamite, and locals selling shells to tourists, however, the coral reefs are slowly being destroyed.
Accommodation - Flores : Lombok : Bali : Sumbawa : Sumba : Nusa Penida : Gili Islands