Indonesia has around 17.000 islands. Most tourists go to Bali (some of them even think it’s a country!), Java and Sumatra. Also Lombok and the Gilis are quite well known and visited. But, what about the rest?
Scuba Divers and Off-the-beaten-track travelers know about Flores island. Located conveniently close to reach the hundred islands of the Komodo National Park. With about 15.000 square kilometer it is three times bigger than well know Bali. It is adventurous paradise! Go and discover the island. Best on a motorbike since buses are rare and slow. But the landscape is amazing and the bike gives you all the flexibility to stop by villages and enjoy the view over the islands of the national park.
Flores is facing a fast change those days and the challenges are just the same as in most developing countries. Especially when it comes to plastic pollution: lack of infrastructure and education make it hard for the locals to dispose their trash correctly. Especially Labuan Bajo, Flores capital and tourist hub is drowning in plastic. If you want to contribute and meet likeminded locals and travelers, you can contact the TRASH HEROES. Every Friday 3pm they meet to clean up one beach or area around Labuan Bajo.
Accommodation wise, Labuan Bajo is home to some resorts (non of which is operating in a green or eco way!) or really cheap backpacker hostels. Stories of bed bugs, old mattresses and dirty bathrooms are the norm. Happily, since 2017, CIAO Hostel opened its doors. It is, and I am not exaggerating, Backpackers heaven. Located on a hill overviewing Labuan Bajo and the closest islands of Komodo, it has the best sunset spot. Which you can enjoy from the rooftop terrace. Movie night, morning yoga, chill out areas, scooter rental and well informed stuff add to this. Alex, who opened this place with his business partners, came to Flores two years ago. Watching the sunset with his friends from the hill, he found this the perfect place to build a place. One month later, he was already cutting bushes and starting to build Ciao Hostel. Not without challenges. Most of the construction material is locally sourced but many needed details made him go to Bali very often for shopping. Also, training the staff was a long task. English trainings, hygiene trainings, fair wages. All this is part of Ciaos philosophy. Also, Ciao is doing its best to train the staff (and the guests) in their recycling system. It is a big thing on an island where plastic and organic waste are just trashed on the street and wash up in the oceans and on the shores. Also the water refill helps to lower plastic waste (so don’t forget to bring your reusable water bottle).
For more information on Flores, you can contact us on Facebook.
CIAO HOSTEL Labuan Bajo, Flores
Article and Fotos:
Isabel Gür and Étienne St. Jean