Flores Island Travel Information
Flores Island is a long, narrow mountainous island stretching over 350 kilometers along a jagged and irregular coastline. It features a rugged and dramatic landscape with majestic volcanoes and mountain lakes. The area is also home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna. There are good snorkeling and diving locations along the island’s north coast, notably at Maumere and Riung. Komodo and Rinca are two desolate islands located between Flores and Sumbawa, home to the legendary Komodo dragon.
The main attraction of these islands is the Komodo National Park, declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and later as a Man and Biosphere Reserve. The park has also been listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature and features a variety of wildlife. The Komodo Dragon is the most famous inhabitant of the park. The dragon is a type of monitor lizard that can grow up to four meters in length and weighs up to 100 kilograms, making it the world’s largest lizard. The park also features a number of rare birds species, deer and wild pigs.
Visitors wanting to see the Komodo dragon must use the services of a local guide. The only human population on the island is at the fishing village called Komodo. The Komodo National Park also has some impressive beaches, like Pink Beach, or Pantai Merah, which is one of seven pink beaches on the planet, and is just one of the many amazing features of Komodo Island that make it truly a Natural Wonder of Nature. The seas surrounding the islands have crystal clear waters and abundant marine life, so scuba diving is one of the best activities that travelers can enjoy. There are over a thousand different fish species that can be observed during any diving trip. The best time to visit the islands is between March and October.
Best diving & snorkeling in the world
Flores Island is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands, an island arc with an estimated area of 14,300 km² extending east from the island of Java. The population was 1,831,000 in the 2010 census and the largest town is Maumere. Flores is located east of Sumbawa and Komodo and west of Lembata and the Alor Archipelago. To the southeast is Timor. To the south, across the Sumba strait, is Sumba and to the north, beyond the Flores Sea, is Sulawesi. Komodo island is part of the Lesser Sunda chain of islands and forms part of the Komodo National Park. It lies between Sumbawa to the west and Flores to the east. The island’s surface area covers 390 square kilometers.
The local currency in Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). USD 1 is around IDR 13,000. Major credit cards are widely accepted, and Traveler’s Cheques and foreign currency are accepted at most of the large hotels and authorized money changers. There are local banks as well as ATM machines in all main towns.
The primary food crops grown on Flores are rice, maize, sweet potato and cassava, while the main cash crops are coffee, coconut, candle nut and cashew. Flores is one of the newest origins for Indonesian coffee. Previously, most Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) from Flores was blended with other origins. Now, demand is growing for this coffee because of its heavy body and sweet chocolate, floral and woody notes. The majority of the people in and around the park are fishermen, so fish and seafood are the main dishes around Komodo National Park.
Flores has a typical monsoon climate within the northwest monsoon, December till March, with wind from the west to the northwest bringing rain, although Komodo Island does not get the torrential rain that the rest of Indonesia experiences. During the southeast monsoon, May till October, is the dry season with winds from the west to the southeast. The coldest months are July and August. It’s possible to go diving in Komodo all year.
Dos and don’ts
Don’t disturb or feed Komodo Dragons. Despite slow and lazy movement, this animal can suddenly turn aggressive and move fast. Women who are menstruating should report to a guide or ranger for special attention. Komodo Dragons have a very strong sense of smell and may turn aggressive when they smell blood.
Do bring along your insect repellant, because this area is home to many mosquitoes. Most of the land on Komodo and Rinca islands are savannahs, which are prone to fire during the dry season, so smoking and making fires are prohibited. Do wear shoes. Komodo, Rinca, and Padar islands feature 12 types of snakes and three of them are venomous, namely green snakes living on trees, cobras and Russel’s viper which live on the ground in holes on the savannas.
When trekking, please take a stick with you. Komodos can usually be discouraged from approaching too close when threatened with a stick.
Flores’ population consists of people with different ethnic origins and a remarkable linguistic diversity. On Flores there are also many descents of the Portuguese. The people of Flores are almost entirely Roman Catholic Christians, whereas most other Indonesians are Muslim. The prominence of Catholicism on the island results from its colonization by Portugal.
The majority of the people who live on Komodo Island and its surroundings are fishermen who come from Bima (Sumbawa), Manggara, South Flores, South Sulawesi, which originated from Bugis Bajau tribe. Bajau tribes originally lived as nomads moving from one place to another. The original inhabitants of Komodo Island were Ata Modo tribes that still exist on the island of Komodo, but indigenous cultures and languages have mingled with newcomers - migrants from other regions. Komodo has a human population of over two thousand.