- If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney
Flores takes its name from the Portuguese for "flowers" and while it isn't particularly known for its flora, it is nevertheless a beautiful place. If you've got the time, it should be on the itinerary of any traveller to Indonesia.
Dotted by volcanoes that are often surrounded by terraced valleys, then ringed by glorious beaches, the island of Flores is a fabulous destination for independent travellers happy to endure a little discomfort. Despite this, outside of July and August, Flores is devoid of big numbers of tourists, so you can have large portions of it as a traveller mostly to yourself.
The western reach of the island is the heart of the tourist scene. Here, from the port town of Labuan Bajo, people can visit both Komodo National Park and a number of other islands, including Kanawa Island and Seraya Island. Many people -- especially divers -- visit on liveaboard boats and barely venture ashore, which is one reason the tourism infrastructure here remains relatively poorly developed.
Heading east, highlights include the remote and traditional village of Wae Rebo, the "hobbit cave" outside Ruteng and the Ngada village of Bene outside Bajawa, which offers spectacular views of one of the island's most beautiful peaks, Gunung Inerie.
Further east again takes visitors to Ende, with its volcanic backdrop and beautiful green stone beach and east again to the impressive three-lake peak of Kelimutu, which is best accessed from the village of Moni. The port town of Maumere offers diving and pretty beaches further along the coastline, while Riung, on the dry northern coast, is the jump-off point for snorkelling and hopping around the white-sand beaches of the Seventeen Islands. Laruntuka, at the very tip of eastern Flores, retains a green, cool maritime flavour distinctly unlike Labuan Bajo.
Part of the joy of Flores is the travel itself, along relatively good roads winding through magnificent forest scenery in parts. Take it as slow as you can.