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Go East! Explore Indonesia’s Caribbean

Bali and the necklace of tropical islands a short distance eastward are becoming known as the Caribbean of Indonesia for three reasons, proximity, diversity and complimentarity.
If you visit the West Indies or the Maldives while each island is different cultures and peoples are broadly similar whereas in Bali and the islands east peoples and cultures are amazingly different.
Bali is the only Hindu outpost on earth outside India and for a century Western visitors have been mesmerized by its rituals, ceremonies and traditions many of which have long ago died out elsewhere.
Tourists still flock to Bali in their millions but increasing numbers are making side trips eastward to see the world’s last ‘dragons’ in Flores and to explore the islands in between and beyond.
If visitors are looking for natural beauty and either luxury hotels or local home stays these are available throughout the islands and not only on Bali.
You can fly from one unique destination to another or go by sea and if you sail by private charter or even public ferry you instantly enter a waterworld of boats large and small, shimmering seas, fantastic sunrises and sunsets, dolphins, flying fish, barbeques on the beach, wind in the sails and your hair and sheer exhilaration.
Lombok is famous for desert island holidays and also for the ancient villages of its native Sasak people influenced in the west by the Balinese who once ruled the western part of the island.
Sumbawa is an Islamic island, famous for surfing and for  its horses and in the east influenced by the Bugis of Sulawesi.
Flores feels remote from Bali and its Christian population look very different from the Balinese and the people of Lombok.
The most famous attraction in Flores are the giant Komodo lizards whose habitat forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You reach the islands of Komodo and nearby Rinca by boat from Labuanbajo.
There are fourteen volcanoes on Flores and a famous attraction is the three coloured lakes at Kelimutu. Ancient villages include Luba and Bena and in  2003, at Liang Bua Cave skeletans of dwarfs were unearthed. Diving and snorkelling is available around the island but diving is best around Komodo.
You can drive through Flores or even bike, starting at Labuanbajo and finishing at Maumere. You can island hop using public ferries and either a car or motor bike.
Reached from Flores, Sumba is an unspoiled island famous for the fact that megalithic burials, are still used as they have been for millennia. Fabulous hotels and resorts await you – but not too many.
Bali is known as the something for everyone island but if you travel east there is so much more!
Around Bali you can use the same sort of outriggers used by local seamen or enjoy a day’s voyage to an outer island such as Lembongan or enjoy a day out diving and snorkelling from a pleasure boat.
Interisland voyages will take you to where it seems no visitors or even people have ever been but you need to plan and book trips like this well in advance. There are numerous converted traditional sailing boats plying between the islands. Depending on what you want, you can book from Bali and also from Lombok and Flores.
If you are looking for a less crowded holiday packed with beauty, adventure and exotic cultures balance your visit to Bali with a trip east. You can be somewhere ‘out of this world’ in an hour or less.

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