Bijgewerkt: 21 jun 2018
The island of Flores in Indonesia can be reached by an adventurous boat trip starting from Bali or by booking a cheap flight to the airport of Labuan Bajo. Komodo Dragons, Pink beaches, stunning views and authentic island experiences awaits.
The paradise experience of Bali is still real. It's an endless journey of waterfalls, epic jungle views and amazing beaches. Literally everybody is going to Bali these days so it's important to know there's unexplored territory with few tourists just a short flight away. Lombok isn't just the Gili islands but sadly a lot of tourists don't get past that. So I'm going to talk about Flores as it's not overpopulated by mainstream tourists... yet.
Labuan Bajo will probably be your first stop if you're visiting Flores. The port city doesn't have a whole lot to offer. But after seeing Bali it's an opportunity to see an authentic piece of Indonesia. An open sewer and rats racing around are all part of this city on the rise. Don't get scared away though, there are nice places to get some food here as well. When we arrived we took our first pitstop at Le Pirate.
We stayed in the Puri Sari Hotel after recovering from my illness in Uluwatu (read about it here). We deliberately booked a higher-class hotel than we usually do to make sure I could continue to recover. The hotel is very recommended. The staff is really friendly, they get treated properly and they love what they do. The hotel also has a shuttlebus that takes you to the city center and to the airport for free. Oh and it also has amazing sunsets!
You're here for a reason
Of course you're trying to get to Komodo island or Padar island when you're going to Flores. There are a lot of 'offices' in Labuan Bajo who'll take you on a trip to visit the ones you want to visit. We picked a trip that got us to Padar Island, Pink Beach, Komodo Island and manta snorkeling in the Komodo area. The price we paid was around 1.000.000 rph or €60 for two people, including food and water during the trip. We got up at 5AM and received a breakfast package from our hotel. The guys who organized the trip picked us up and drove us to the harbor where we had fin fittings etc.
When the boat started we were shocked how much noise the engine made. We were going to be on this boat for twelve hours! My advice here: try to ask the organization what kind of boat it is before you book something and if there aren't any alternatives maybe it would be a good choice to spend some extra money and try to book a sailboat. We saw some of them cruising through the ocean and we were mad jealous :D
Prepare yourself for epic views! The transparent blue water, the Jurassic Park type hills and the sun that creates a light spectacle. Arriving at Padar Island, we raced to the top to see the view you always see on Instagram. Let me say this, there are a lot of views that aren't that spectacular in real life but Padar Island is right up there with Nusa Penida's KelingKing Beach as something you should see in person (read about it here). It's ridiculous. We were the only two people on the island that took the entire hike to the top, which I could not understand at all. Believe me, it's worth it!
After waiting on two Indonesians for 30 minutes we departed from Padar and went for a quick boat ride to Pink Beach. Pink Beach is only pink at certain times of the day when the sun has the right angle on the beach. Adding to that, a lot of tourists grab a bit of sand and take it home which is causing the special sand grain to be very limited.
A disappointment? Yeah, a little bit.
But the snorkeling is worth it. Just be aware that the ocean is unpredictable. Cold water streams are just behind every corner and the current can take you a couple meters further without you even noticing it.
Komodo National Park wasn't so spectacular. You have to pay a 300.000 rupiah entrance fee on weekends and a 150.000 rupiah entrance fee during weekdays. You get a 45 minute hike with a licensed guide who'll bring you towards the Komodo Dragons. The whole experience feels fake as you see the Dragons laying around in the woods looking drugged up.
My advice would be to skip the hike and spend some time snorkeling in the bay while you're waiting on the group to come back. We saw turtles, little sharks and all kinds of fishes when we made our way back to the boat. It's not worth paying that 'much' money for a little walk between sleepy lizards.
But seeing a Komodo Dragon is still cool though 8-)
Off we went into the ocean! Again, spectacular views are all-around you. I just didn't get tired of watching the blue water and tiny islands that were popping out of the ocean. After some time sailing into deep waters our captain gave us the go to dive in and go watch the manta's.
I've seen some manta's before but when you see oceanic manta's your mind gets blown away. These beasts have a 5-metre span and flow effortlessly through the water with serious speed. When you dive in the ocean the current takes you places you don't want to go and the manta's just flow wherever they want to go. Pretty frustrating stuff and you realize how strong Mother Nature is.
For example: My girlfriend Kate jumped into the water to swim with the manta's while I remained on deck. From the exact moment she jumped into the water she was pulled away by the current while the manta kept swimming next to the boat! Super cool experience though! (not for her :) )
That was it! That was our trip and the only thing we needed to do was cover our ears for the horrific sound of the engine. When we arrived in Labuan Bajo we were dead tired!
We had a wonderful dinner in La Cucina which is nicely decorated and clean. But during the meal we still heard the engine sound. We were brainwashed!
So Much More
Our plan was to take another boat trip the day after, but the Komodo - Padar trip really took a lot out of us. We decided to have a chill day the day after at our fine hotel. I do advise to check out all of the nearby islands because the entire area is so beautiful. I definitely can't wait to go back and explore the tiny islands which aren't that far from Labuan Bajo.
If you're a diver, this is paradise. You can't walk through Labuan Bajo without seeing Dive clubs! They did say it's more of an area for experienced divers, so do think about your skill level before deciding to dive here.
Sadly our travel schedule didn't allow us to stay longer. I hope I can get back soon because the best views are here!
Any questions? Leave a comment!
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