YES TO FLORES I
Flores has always been on my bucket list and when the chance came to join for a trip with Manna Encounter, I just had to come along. I have not researched much about Flores as we left and truthfully, I have not even studied the itinerary. Part of it because I was swamped with work beforehand, part of it because I also wanted it to be a surprise.
We departed Bali on a 11am flight with KalStar Aviation. The flight alone only took 50 minutes and I have to admit that the Kalstar plane was quite comfortable.
We landed in Labuan Bajo at noon and got picked up by the crew of our Phinisi and travelled onwards to the harbor, which is just a short 15 minutes ride away.
We boarded our boat, which could fit all 10 of us plus crew very comfortably. The Phinisi boat itself was quite new and a stunner alone. All cabins are located on the lower deck, so the upper deck has a big lazing and dining area.
The first stop on the itinerary: Gili Lawa. The ride from Labuan Bajo to Gili Lawa takes around 2 hours on the Phinisi. We were blessed with very calm seas and smooth sailing was up ahead whilst being surrounded by majestic views of the surrounding islands and hills.
Arriving in Gili Lawa, we were greeted by a stunning white beach bay and pristine clear waters. We dived into the water immediately and went snorkeling. Sadly, the coral bed around the island have been mainly bleached.
Gili Lawa is a favorite tourist spot and many boats dock there for the night - so did we that day and 5 other boats. Around sunset we trekked up the little hill to get a better view around the bay.
Sleeping for the first night on the Phinisi was great and some even slept outside on the upper deck as the weather at night was fantastic with the occasional night breeze sweeping by.
We woke up at 5:30am to take in a majestic sunrise followed by a group morning yoga session on the hill. I skipped the yoga session and decided to trek up the highest tip of the hill accompanied by one crew member to keep an eye on me in case i slip and trip.
The trek was quite steep at some points but well worth it. It takes about 30 minutes and luckily i was trekking up in the shade of the hill.
I was greeted up top by a breathtaking 360 degree view of the whole bay! It was a fantastic way to start the day and the dip into the ocean after coming down was a refreshing way to seize the morning.
Next Stop: Manta Point! We left Gili Lawa and travelled to Manta Point. We were amazed that even from the boat you can see the huge Mantas coming up to the surface of the ocean. We jumped into the blue and followed the Mantas snorkeling, where we also saw a fellow sea resident - the sea turtle!
Our adventure is far from over and I will tell you more in the upcoming post.