Flores means ‘flowers’, although this might be a bit misleading as it implies that people should come here for fields of tulips or roses. Despite the name, the floral situation on Flores is not the best, and actually it is better known for what lies beneath the clear waters that surround it as well as the creatures on the land.
Komodo National Park
When people talk of Flores they almost immediately mention one thing, the Komodo dragons. With this in mind, a trip to Flores usually includes a visit to Komodo National Park which is one of two places where the dragons live in their natural habitat. The Komodo ‘dragons’ are actually large lizards but their saliva is toxic so you don’t want to get bitten, and for that reason a guide here is mandatory, although they are only armed with a large forked stick which is said to upset the dragons and stop them attacking. The park itself is also as much a part of the attraction as the dragons with some amazing flora and fauna and there is something graceful and deeply beautiful about these modern day dragons in their natural habitat.
Found off the coast of Labuan Bajo, Kanawa Island is the place to come in Flores if you want to dive beneath the sea and experience the underwater beauty of this part of the world. The island is encircled by pretty coral and divers can expect rays, turtles and small sharks. There is only one dive shop, resort and restaurant on the island, so the focus here is really on aquatic life. Still, it is highly recommended if you are in the area and you can easily get there by ferry from Labuan Bajo.
Although relatively close, Flores is a world away from Bali and even Lombok, and much of the time, especially out of high season, you will feel as if you have the entire place almost to yourself. A lot of travelers choose not to venture this far ‘down’ Indonesia but access from Bali and Lombok is becoming increasingly easy and it’s not often you can visit such beautiful yet deserted tropical islands and national parks, so it is well worth the small effort to get there.