Alor – Eastern Indonesia
The Alor area is a part of the Nusa Tenggara region of south east Indonesia. Located east of the island of Flores, we visit this extraordinary destination during the Komodo cruising season. Although we label the cruise as an Alor trip, we in fact visit the entire Lesser Sunda region ranging from central Flores to Alor. This is one of the least visited cruising locations in Indonesia as well as one of the most pleasurable. This is the perfect cruise for those who love a mix of unique culture, amazing landscapes, and abundant marine life.
The city of Maumere is the gateway to Alor and eastern Flores. Located on the NE coast of Flores, there are direct flights here from Denpasar. This makes it an easy location to start and end our cruises in the area. Although many folks love to get on the boat straight away and head to sea, we think arriving a day or two early has benefits. Maumere is the best starting point for a trip to the Kelimutu National Park. Kelimutu is a stunning area featuring three different volcanic lakes on the summit of a volcano. It requires an early departure from Maumere and is a great way to spend a day or two before getting on the boat.
Volcanoes in Alor and the Lesser Sunda Islands
Once on the boat, the fun begins almost straight away. There are a variety of different anchorages only a few kilometers from Maumere that are perfect for diving and snorkeling. There is no better way to refresh yourself on a private cruise than jumping in the tropical Pacific Ocean for a swim. Cruising along the northern part of Flores is magical. There are dozens of volcanoes in the area and on a good days it’s possible to see five or six of them at the same time.
One of the most interesting is Batu Tara on Komba Island. Lying approximately 20 nautical miles north of Flores, this uninhabited island is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the country. The eastern side of the island is where the lava fall happens and it’s possible to see the occasional puff of smoke from the top. The coral reef here is also beautiful for a swim.
Off the eastern end of Flores, before reaching Alor, lie the large islands of Adonara, Lembata, and Pantar along with dozens of smaller satellite islands. The dry hills are reminiscent of Komodo and boast a never ending series of coastal villages. The wonderful people here are welcoming and kind. It’s possible to visit them and wander through the area. They don’t get a lot of visitors so a new group of people in town always creates a great deal of activity. You may feel a bit like a rock star as the children follow you about the town to practice their English. In Waihingi Bay, beneath the towering Ile Api volcano, a full skeleton of a large whale is enshrined at one of the villages.
Beaches and Beautiful Islands
Between the islands of Lembata and Pantar lies the Sawu Strait. This sparsely populated area features some of the most wonderful beaches in Indonesia. There are a series of fantastic dive sites here as well. However, they are only for experienced divers as the currents can be swift. For those with experience, the sites offer endless amounts of fish including brightly colored tropicals as well as pelagic such as trevally and tuna. It’s also possible to spot giant manta rays in the area and it’s also a major throughway for migrating whales. If we are lucky, we may spot the spout of a humpback or sperm whale as they pass through the area.
East of Pantar lies Alor itself. This interesting island features a long and protected bay that is perfect for anchoring. The Pantar Strait is dominated by the extinct volcano of Pura, an 1100 meter behemoth located smack in the middle of the strait. This beautiful island is ringed by a seemingly endless number of villages along its slopes. It’s also home to some of the best diving and snorkeling sites in the area. The aptly named “Clown Valley” is perhaps the most famous with its endless number of anemones and attendant clown fish. The other dives in the area include fast moving drift dives along richly colored walls as well as interesting critter dives on sandy slopes.
Cultural Riches and History
One of the more interesting attractions to the area is a visit to watch a ceremonial dance. The entire Nusa Tenggara region has a rich history of hundreds of distinct cultures and languages. Each region has it’s own history and the people proudly continue it to this day. Alor offers a wonderful tour to one of these well preserved villages where local people perform a dance. They sing and chant while performing a traditional harvest dance. The intricate beat is enhanced with foot stamps while wearing brass bracelets around their ankles. Taking the opportunity to leave the boat and explore this unique area of Indonesia is certainly worth it.
Cruising Indonesia is such an incredible experience. There is an endless variety of landscapes and cultures throughout a nation of over 17,000 islands. On the Samata, we are endlessly exploring new and exciting destinations. However, it’s often the least busy routes that bring the greatest satisfaction. That is why we love cruising the Alor and East Nusa Tenggara region. If this sounds like an exciting opportunity for you then please let us know and we would love to host you in this incredible destination.