Quick Facts & History
Flores is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands and it is economically part of the province of East Nusa Tenggara. The island is 360 km long and 70km wide at its widest points. Portuguese sailors named the northeast of the island the Cape of Flowers in the 16th century and later the name ‘Flores’ was adopted by the entire island. In the mid-16th century the Portuguese began proselytizing the native population and in 1850 Flores became a Dutch colony.
This paradisiacal town is beautiful, peaceful, and diverse. This small town on the west coast of Flores is primarily Muslim and the rest of the island is predominantly Christian. As with other Indonesian islands, aspects of animism are incorporated with the various religions which are present. The accommodations found here are basic for the most part. There are some more upscale hotels outside the city with additional amenities. There is a small airport here – just one small building. The washrooms here are typical Indonesian outhouses. On the opposite side of the street there is a newer, more modern airport being built.
The city itself is nestled in the mountainous coast. During the rainy season you can see the storms outside the city. Every morning at 6am the two mosques in the city sound for prayers. Additionally you can choose to take an optional diving or snorkeling trip to Komodo or to other nearby islands, where there are beautiful beaches for swimming.
The Rest of the Island
From Labuhan Bajo there are several steep roads leading inland. These roads pass through dense, green vegetation, misty mountains, and green meadows. Since very few foreigners visit this island you may find that you attract some attention as a tourist. Some of the roads have recently been paved to make it easier to get to the Kelimutu volcano.
The beautiful island of Flores is an important region for growing rice. The fields in the Lembor Valley in the Manggarai region are particularly famous for their unique design. When viewed from a distance they look like a spider’s web, prompting the nickname ‘Spiderman Rice Field’. The Lembo villagers call this particular structure ‘Lodok’ and have used it for generations as a way to divide the large area equally between families.
Along the coast of Flores there are some beautiful, nearly-deserted, sandy beaches. On the eastern side of the island you will find wide grasslands where there were once forests and as you travel around you will see the bare peaks of several volcanoes, the most spectacular of which is the Kelimutu volcano. It will take a day to get to Kelimutu from Labuhan Bajo. Keep in mind, the journey is not always guaranteed to be smooth. There is quite a lot of rain in the west of the island so the unpaved roads often become impassible – there are alternative routes available but taking them will increase travel time. The Kelimutu volcano is most famous for its three crater lakes. There are many minerals dissolved in these lakes and as a result they appear to be different colors in different lighting. You shouldn’t miss this fascinating natural wonder!