Flores, Indonesia… Paradise for families!


By Katrina Griffiths

My good friend who lives in Bali was amazed and maybe even a bit shocked that we were travelling by air all over Indonesia. She would never take her children on the local airlines. I have to admit, I am quite a nervous passenger but I’d rather be scared for 1 hour on a plane than for 12 hours on a leaky old boat. So off to Flores we flew, on Aviastar/Transnusar, which is proud to announce that it’s finally officially an “airline”. We were very pleased to see that the small plane we boarded had jet engines rather than propellers, and apart from the muddy footprints on the toilet seat, the flight was thoroughly enjoyable.  We flew out of a torrential rainstorm in Bali and into the glorious sunshine of Labuan Bajo on the west side of Flores. They run 13 flights per week to Labuan Bajo from Denpasar so they do know where they are going, and we felt completely safe in their capable hands.

It took an hour by boat to Kanawa Island where we were staying for the next 6 days, and oh the excitement!  We were practically senseless with anticipation.

I was the worst. I kept clapping my hands and shrieking at random things like an idiot.

The island came into view and all we all wanted to do is jump in and swim.  That includes the adrenaline junkie, who yelled at me in gobbledy goop, and stamped her feet furiously because I wouldn’t let her dive over the side.  Travelling with a toddler is challenging to say the least, and our toddler is either indulging in risk taking behaviour or clinging to me like a baby monkey.  I know this trip is unsettling for her, but she seems to be taking full advantage of her situation and is either running amok or regressing into her infancy.  Fortunately for her she is incredibly cute and when she is good, she is very, very good, so nobody minds toooo much.

The accommodation on Pulau Kanawa is very basic.  We had 2 wooden bungalows beside each other which to be honest are very run down, with an outside Indonesian style “Mandi” (a tub of water with a scoop used to flush the toilet and bathe with). The island doesn’t have its own water source so water is scarce, brought over from the mainland. There are some solar panels, which generate enough electricity for the bungalows to have lighting between 6pm and 11pm but NO FAN! Oh my god it is soooo hot at night. As well as that no telephone and no internet, which was blissful. Anyhow, we were there for the reef that surrounds the island, not the accommodation so a little bit of discomfort wasn’t about to dampen our spirits.

I wont even bother trying to describe the beauty of the beach and the surrounds. My words could never do it justice. What a magical experience to be able to take our children to a place where they are safe and able to snorkel freely in the waters surrounding the island.  We spent our days doing just that, the girls jumping off the jetty straight into huge schools of fish that they had fun trying to “round up” pretending they were sheep dogs. We saw

INCREDIBLE fish, sea turtles, eagle rays, reef sharks, sea snakes, and every coral and sponge imaginable.

We took a day trip to Rinca Island in the Komodo National Park to see the Komodo dragons, which are native to the island in their natural habitat. This was great fun, and they are huge and beastly! But the guides were freaking out about our little one running about and instructed me firmly to carry her or else she might get eaten.  At the time this didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Most people would keep such thoughts to themselves but I thunk that one out loud within earshot of my terrified eldest daughter who spent the next couple of hours trekking in fear, sure that I would let the Komodo dragons get her baby sister.  OH she of little faith. I am shocked. Fancy thinking I would do a thing like that!