Flores is surrounded by one of the world’s richest marine environments and offers unique diving and snorkeling experiences.
Komodo National Park (West Flores) is the most popular area for diving and snorkeling. Scientists describe it as one of the most diverse marine habitats on Earth. The park features a range of mangrove forests, sea–grass beds, sand banks, seamounts, semi-enclosed bays, deep-water habitats, and different types of coral reefs – all supporting their own unique assemblages of marine species.
Here you can find more than 1,000 species of fish, 385 species of reef-building corals, 105 species of crustaceans, 70 species of sponges, ten species of dolphins, six whale species, green and hawksbill turtles, dugongs, and various species of sharks and rays (Source: Arnatz Mehta Erdmann 2004).
Some of Komodo’s dive sites are famed for their elegant manta rays, with 40 or more individuals congregating in one place. Imagine being surrounded by a group of flying, whirling, playing mantas during your safety stop – it is difficult to end the dive!
Maumere Bay (East Flores) and Riung 17 Islands (West Flores) are other areas that offer a uniquely diverse marine environment, with the additional advantage that they are still little visited. Maumere Bay is particularly famous for its incredible muck diving, where Ambon scorpion fish, mimic octopuses, wonderpus, bobtail squids, skeleton shrimps, wasp fish, pipe horses, frog fish, ghost pipefish, pygmy seahorses, and colorful mandarin fish mating at sunset are just a few animals to observe during an early night dive. In total there are about 30 dive sites in Maumere Bay, including the spots around the Pemana Island chain.
If you are not into scuba diving, you can also snorkel in many beautiful places around Flores – such as the islands around Labuan Bajo, the Pemana Islands at Maumere Bay, or around the Riung 17 Islands Marine Park. Trips can be perfectly combined with island-hopping or an overnight stay on the respective island, as the islands often lie close to each other.
Bear in mind, though, that on most of the islands it is not possible to rent snorkeling gear. The best option is to rent it beforehand for an extended period in Labuan Bajo or Maumere. You should also ask the dive operators which sites are suitable for snorkelers.