It’s hard to believe that a 50 minute flight from Bali (for the reasonable sum of around $100) lands you in a wilderness paradise unlike anything you’ve probably ever seen before.
Yet despite this blaring fact, each year millions of Aussie tourists still pour in, hit the surf, smash a bintang or twelve, and hopefully have a happy ending. It’s painfully common stereotype but there’s obviously an element of truth to it. Anyone who’s been to Bali will have cringed their way through this realisation.
Please don’t get us wrong, Bali is a wonderful place that is home to an incredibly vibrant culture, however there’s a lot more to Indo than Bali. Flores is easier and cheaper to access than you think. In fact, according to this awesome Skyscanner function, you can currently fly there for under $700 return in 2017!*
Anyway, here’s why next time you’re booking a trip to Bali you’d be silly not to reconsider Flores as a preferred option:
The Island for Tropical Escape Artists
The ultimate draw to Indonesia for any Australian escape artist is of course the promise of a tropical paradise; sweeping beaches, swaying palm trees with chilled vibes seeping into every one of your western-societal pores. Flores is part of the East Nusa Tanggara province, a collection of islands of which Flores is the largest. Even flying into it’s main airport in Labuan Bajo, it’s hard to fathom from the window seat how many desolate beaches there are, each one crying out for your metaphorical flag. Our faves? Check out Padar Island and Koka Beach on the mainland. Phwoooar.
No Bintang Vests
Bali can feel incredibly over-subscribed in many areas. It’s the most convenient Indonesian island to fly to from Australia and as such most of the main beaches can feel more congested than a student bar at happy hour. Flores on the other hand is still undiscovered. Yes, the world is slowly cottoning on to this hidden gem, but for the time being you can have beaches all to yourself. You’ll not see the dreaded hoards of westerners here, and locals act accordingly. For those that genuinely seek ‘off the beaten path’, uncrowded destinations – Flores is your answer.
It’s a damn sight cheaper to travel around Flores than Bali. Like anywhere in Southeast Asia though, you have to keep your wits about you and bargain hard, but you’ll find that everything from phone-cards and tourist attractions to accommodation and food is significantly cheaper in Flores. And Nasi Gorengs. Cheap accommodation doesn’t not mean cheap quality though; from boutique hotels to intimate homestays there’s a plethora of choice here for the hardcore explorer and the credit-card adventurer.
An Adventurer’s Paradise
Flores is packed to the rafters with incredible adventure experiences (did you see the top 8 we uncovered over there?). Whether it’s volcanoes, reefs, beaches or waterfalls that tickle your pickle, there is something for everyone. Whilst Bali is also one of the main surfing meccas in Indonesia, don’t forget the Sumba Islands next to Flores…this place also kicks off when the conditions are right.
There are only two places in the world where you can grab a selfie with a dragon, and they are both islands just off Flores: Komodo Island (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Rinca Island. Komodo Dragons grow to a whopping 3m in length and are almightily impressive creatures. Whilst irritating monkey’s in Bali may steal your wallet, the Komodo Dragon will literally eat you given half the chance. If they do take chase though, the supposed strategy is to run in a zig zag motion (they’re slow to change direction), or just straight up a tree (they’re crap climbers). Intense.
Getting There & Booking Tips:
There are no direct flights from Australian cities to Flores so you’ll need to get a connection from Bali (Denpasar) and take the 50 minute flight to Flores.
Labuan Bajo is the major airport for Flores and the gateway to Komodo National Park (in the Western part of the island and therefore) closest to Bali. Maumere Airport is the second largest (in the East of the island) and Ende Airport is in the centre; the prime location for accessing Kelimutu Volcano.
*price accurate as of October 2016.