Flores lies just next to Sumbawa and is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands, extending east from Java. It has a population of roughly 2 million people and while its largest town is Maumere, it also hosts the port of Labuan Bajo – the gateway to Komodo National Park. Flores is Portuguese for ‘flowers,’ named by traders and missionaries who came here in the 16th century.
This is one of the few places inhabited by the legendary Komodo dragon, protected by Flores’ Kelimutu National Park. Kelimutu also features three sacred coloured lakes, changing hue from green to black, blue to red depending on the levels of oxidation. Extinct prehistoric creatures once inhabited this mysterious island. In 2004, the remains of homo floresiensis, a 4ft hobbit-like relative to man, were discovered in a cave in the highlands of Ruteng.
The landscape here is one of famous pink sands (tinted by red coral), ancient stone age structures, mangroves, caves, lakes and waterfalls, not to mention small villages where you’ll find the traditional ‘whip dance’ played out. For underwater activities, the waters around Labuan Bajo are sometimes visited by whalesharks, while Riung’s 17 Islands National Park is a snorkeller’s delight and the bay of Maumere in the east is one of the most diverse marine sites in the whole of Indonesia. Rumour has it that Flores will be the next big thing after Bali, so make sure this enchanting island is on your list of places to see.
WHEN TO CHARTER A YACHT: Flores is best visited in the dry season between May and September, though it can be visited year-round.