Flores, or ‘flower’ in Portuguese, is an island which owes its name to the phrase ‘Cabo das Flores’, which means the Cape of Flowers, so named by Portuguese explorers in the sixteenth century due to the fascinating colours of the marine life around the island. It is situated in south-eastern Indonesia, in the Lesser Sunda Islands, one of the 566 islands in the province of East Nusa Tenggara.
Flores is an amazing place, best known for its rich cultural diversity, with five ethnic groups and 12 sub-ethnic groups. Apart from being an island of many different cultures, Flores is also known for its natural wonders, such as the three crater lakes at Kelimutu, that often change colour, and the world’s largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon. The lizards, which can grow to up to three meters in length and 90 kg in weight, are mainly found in the nearby Komodo National Park, which has been declared one of the Seven New Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The perfect spot for diving is around Komodo National Park. It is said that there are more than a thousand different kinds of colorful fish and 76 coral reefs to see, as well as sharks, dolphins, turtles, and whales. Other recommended spots for diving on Flores are Maumere Bay and Riung Marine Park.
Flores is topographically mountainous and lies right in the ‘Ring of Fire’, the area in the Pacific that is home to more than three quarters of the world’s active or dormant volcanoes. There are 14 volcanoes on Flores, which often attract visitors interested in trekking.
Travellers can also do a village to village adventure travel trip to learn the differences between the local cultures, enjoy local food, listen to oral histories and participate in ritual ceremonies, as well as enjoy the freshness of nature in the countryside, listen to the birds and experience many more things they might not have seen before in other parts of the world.
Places to Visit in Flores
- Komodo National Park
- Riung Marine Park
- East Flores cultural heritage sites such as Kawaliwu and Wae Rebo village
Unique Things to See and Do in Flores
- Spot a Komodo dragon, the largest living lizard in the world
- Learn about the many different cultures and languages in Flores
- Take part in a village to village tour
- Trek to one of the many volcanoes on Flores
- Spot whales, sharks and turtles while snorkelling around one of many recommended spots
Flores’ Diverse Culture
Each of the sub-ethnic groups in Flores has one or more spoken languages and practise different cultural rites and ways of life. Most of the inhabitants lived sporadically on the hilltops and slopes and around the valleys until a few hundred years ago, and some of the villages were not able to travel from one place to another, which led to a difference of accents.
Although roads to villages are now built, locals still need to walk some hours to get to their home village. Travellers can visit these remote villages in Flores. At the village gates, there is often a homemade bell used to let the people know that guests are coming so the chief can prepare everything for a welcoming ceremony before the guests are sent to a family for their accommodation and meals.
At night, the guests are normally invited to visit their neighbouring family to drink coffee and try some local meals and, of course, the local wine, while the people relate histories about their aboriginal cultures. Usually the guests are purified with the blood of a chicken, with which they are meant to receive the blessing of the spirits of their ancestors. The people of Flores are mostly Christian but they still practise their old traditions. Places of worship are normally located at the corner of their houses for the spirits of their ancestors and also under big trees, rocks or places where a person in the village had a fatal accident.
When visiting villages, travellers must not wear transparent clothes or kiss in public, and must always respect the people by saying “Mohon maaf saya sudah beli banyak. Maaf ya!” This means that when the villagers offer their wares to visitors who cannot buy it, they are saying “I am sorry, I have bought a lot already. Please forgive me!”
Getting Around Flores
Public transport with air-conditioning, such as buses or cars, four wheel drives, minivans and minibuses are available and affordable in Flores. The roads are mostly in good condition, though, in the countryside, some parts of the roads may be bumpy, but it is always safe to drive in Flores.
Did you know…?
A Komodo dragon’s saliva has more than 50 strains of bacteria, meaning any animals that survive an encounter will likely die from the dragon’s toxic bite within days.
Did you ALSO know…?
The three Kelimutu crater lakes are different colours, generally blue, red and green, and change colour periodically, including black and even white, due to chemical reactions initiated by volcanic gas.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Flores
The best months to travel to Flores are from March to October. It is a little bit frustrating with the temperature in Flores: around the coast it is mostly hotter than the high lands but the average temperature is from 25 to 29 degrees Celsius in the morning and around 30 to 35 degrees Celsius at noon. Generally, July through September are the hotter months of the year.
In the high lands, the temperature is around 20 to 25 degrees Celsius at night and around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius from 10 am until 3 pm. Flores has only two seasons, the rainy season, which goes from October to March, and the dry season, from April to October.
Ready to plan your visit to Flores? Check out these popular guides and trips.