Oct 04 2013 Written by:Marg O'Connor

Flores – the Island of Flowers – in Indonesia is one of the friendliest places on the planet! The distant sound of “hello mister” accompanies you wherever you go on the island. Situated to the east of Bali, with a population of 1.8 million it is home to the famous Komodo Dragons. The simple subsistence lifestyle allows life to crawl by at a very relaxed pace.

We started our Flores adventure in Labuan Bajo on the western side of the island. It felt like we had landed, not only in paradise, but on the set of a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. The harbour is dotted with the traditional phinisi watercraft, as well as numerous fishing and squid boats. Needless to say the seafood is always fresh and abundant.

We took a private boat overnight to Rinca Island where we snorkelled enroute in some of the most fecund waters on the planet. Having been privileged to lived and dived/snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef for the past 30 years it was difficult to drag ourselves out of the colourful underwater world.

The walk on Rinca Island amongst the Komodo Dragons was a heart-starting/heart-stopping adventure. It is not a place to be complacent or to let your guard down. These ancient creatures are truly awe-inspiring.

Traditional life in the villages continues at the same slow pace it has always moved at. The unique spider rice paddies were a magnificent sight and a testament to the Indonesian skill for engineering the environment. The people were incredibly friendly and the scenery was breathtaking. Flores is only starting to embrace tourism and as such remains true to itself and offers a rare opportunity to experience a destination as yet untrammelled by excessive tourists.