Tourists relax on the Pink Beach in Komodo National Park in Labuan Bajo, West Manggarai, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara on May 10, 2017. (The Jakarta Post/Markus Makur)
This year, the Tourism Ministry has compiled numerous annual events across the archipelago to draw in tons of adventure-seekers and travel enthusiasts like yourself, for a whale of a time.
Nearly every month reveals more highlights, ranging from cultural festivals and art fairs to wildlife appreciation trails, set in one or more of Indonesia's 34 provinces. East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) is not an exception.
The southernmost province has been steadily winning the hearts of globetrotters worldwide with its lush jungle greenery and iconic pink-sand beaches, not to mention the thriving diversity of its local traditions.
Don’t know where to start? Below are our recommendations:
Komodo is cold blooded. In the morning, they would climb the hill to sunbathe and then go back to shady areas to cool down (JP/Intan Tanjung)
The Komodo National Park, located in Labuan Bajo is ranked as one of the world’s top wildlife tourist destinations. Just recently, Labuan Bajo emerged as runner-up for the world’s best snorkeling spot, beating the popular Raja Ampat Islands.
This brings Labuan Bajo a level above the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador — notable for being home to over 300 species of reptiles. Outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Komodo National Park to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s largest exotic reptiles in motion. The Komodo Festival was initiated in the hopes of accelerating the development of tourism in Labuan Bajo.
The festival offers a range of activities with the highlight being a series of cultural arts performances featuring various traditional Flores dances unique to West Manggarai. In addition, visitors can look forward to tree planting activities, beach volleyball competitions, craft exhibitions and more.
When: March 5-10
Tour de Flores
Thomas Lebas of France, who races for Japanese Kinan Cycling team, enters the last stage of the Tour de Flores in Labuan Bajo while Iranian Arvin Moazambigodarzi from Iran's Pishgaman Cycling finishes second and Filipino Marcelo Felipe of the Philippines 7 Eleven Cycling Team finishes third on July 23, 2017. JP/Markus Makur (JP/Markus Makur)
Tour de Flores is an annual multi-day cycling event that has boosted tourism in the province tremendously in the past three years. The event might sound familiar as it was inspired by the prominent Tour de France race, which was first organized back in 1903.
Similarly, other Indonesian provinces were also encouraged to establish their own bicycle event adapted from the renowned race, namely Tour de Singkarak in 2009 and Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen in 2012.
With Tour de Flores successfully attracting cyclists from all over the world each year, the event has contributed greatly toward tourism and the economic growth of the island — nicknamed the Land of a Thousand Smiles. The 743-kilometer route is divided into five stages — with participants setting off from Larantuka and venturing through the bucolic outskirts of eastern Flores, before finishing in Labuan Bajo.
Read also: Tips for a beginner’s solo trip to Flores
Tour de Flores is a challenge for all who are ready for an adrenaline rush.
When: May 6-16
Parade Sandalwood and Ikat Weaving
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo sits on a sandalwood horse as he talks to Northeast Sumba Regent Markus D. Tallo (right) during the 1001 Sandalwood Parade in Waetabula, Sumba Island, on July 12 2017. (State Palace Press Bureau/Kris)
Following Labuan Bajo is Sumba, an island fast becoming the new prima donna of tourism in the archipelago. Exotic grasslands, rolling hills, horses, unique adat villages, unspoiled beaches, you name it, Sumba has it all.
Albeit a remote and outlying island, the paradisiac scenery and rustic charm of Sumba continues to enthral both local and international sightseers. In fact, several films and documentaries produced on the island in recent years have successfully sparked immense curiosity and interest in the region's exoticism.
Boasting varied cultural, historical and natural assets, Sumba indeed holds considerable tourism potential. To strengthen the region’s promotion of tourism, Sumba will host the Wonderful Sumba Island Festival (WSIF) 2018 from Aug. 2-9.
One of the main highlights of the event will be the sandel (sandalwood) horse parade — the sandalwood ponies actually originated from Sumba Island itself. Another featured highlight will be the ikat weaving demonstrations, in which traditional ikat fabric is handwoven by the island’s finest artisan weavers. WSIF will be held in Tambolaka, Southwest Sumba, and will also present various cultural performances, craft exhibitions and culinary bazaars that are not to be missed.
When: Aug. 2-9
Likurai Festival of Timor
A young female dancer hits a tihar, a small traditional drum, during the Likurai dance. JP/Djemi Amnifu (JP/Djemi Amnifu)
Read also: Photos: Likurai dance for victors
This festival aims to showcase traditional music and dances originating from Belu, East Nusa Tenggara. Generally performed by male dancers, the dance involves movements that appear to portray a group of people fighting.
The male dancers often carry swords, whereas female dancers usually bear a small tihar or kendang — a two-headed drum distinctively used by Southeast Asian folk music ensembles.
This upbeat festival is bound to be a spectacular experience like you've never had before. The event is expected to promote Indonesia’s unparalleled cultural diversity, and at the same time boost the tourism potential of Belu. (dev/kes)
When: Oct. 27-28
Chicha Francisca is an avid writer and travel enthusiast, who enjoys sharing many of her thoughtful experiences while on voyage.
Giovanna Santoso is an avid conversationalist at heart who every so often, gets way too immersed in the sea of ideas. She founded and currently manages the Library at Trikora, a non-profit based Children's Library on Bintan Island.
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