As Labuan Bajo has become a very crowded and expensive place now, we looked for something different. Maumere, in the east of Flores, was recommended to us as an insider tip for diving. So we decided to stop in this area and check out, if it is really worth staying there.
The city Maumere is nothing really special, but you can immediately notice, that there are almost no tourists. A little bit outside of the centre, we could finally find a good place to stay. It is not that easy to find accomodation here. Since they don’t have many tourists, there are almost no guest houses available.
We stayed in Pantai Paris Homestay and it is a really special place. The owner speaks excellent English and she runs her homestay as ecologically as possible. In a country like Indonesia, where most of the people give a shit about the enviroment, this is a real surprise.
We were allowed to pitch our tents in their garden, but the rooms are also not too costly. The homestay is right at the sea and you can jump into the water directly and watch beautiful sunsets. There is no space for a beach though. You climb over a little wall that prevents the property to get flooded.
Another worth thing to do in Maumere is to visit Mount Egon, an active volcano just east of the town. You can climb this mountain without any entrance fees. Probably only because there are almost no tourists here anyway. The hike leads to the crater with a great view. You can also descend into it with some effort. The bottom of the crater looks like a dry lake. It is almost completely covered, except of one side where you can still find a deep hole into the main crater. We couldn’t see the bottom, but heared some roaring from the depths. There were also a few spots, where sulfur vapor came out with incredible high pressure. It sounded like a jumbo jet taking off.
The top of the rim of Mt. Egon was very windy and it was again hard to believe, how cold Indonesia can be. So we didn’t want to stay there very long. Luckily the wind stopped a little bit lower in altitude and we had a perfect climate for hiking. We met only three more people while hiking half of a day.
Since we didn’t like it in Labuan Bajo anymore (we had been there already in 2008), we wanted to go diving in Maumere instead. This is also not easy, because there are almost no diving schools in this area.
You can find a Swiss diving resort around 30 km eastwards. However this is mainly for house guests and they only take outsiders, in case of lack of people. The second place was a tiny local diving school in town. We decided to check out this one.
It was really hard to find the building at all, as it was situated in a back yard and almost impossible to see from the outside. The whole team, except of one person, was diving and the only guy available couldn’t really speak English. So we agreed to meet again in the evening when the rest of the team is back.
Luckily the others could speak English and it didn’t take very long until our diving trip for the next day was organised. They gave us an ok price for a private boat, so we were only three people – Miriam, Tobi and our british rider friend Mike. They even picked us up at our homestay in the morning. Unfortunately it seems like the diving school doesn’t exist anymore.
After breakfast the next day, we drove about 1 hour to the small port, where our boat was going to leave. Only one more diving boat was waiting at the pier. This was really surprising, because usually you find dozens of diving boats sharing the diving spots in other places.
The current is strong here in Maumere and all three dives were drift dives along a huge vertical wall. That means you let yourself drift with the current and the diving boat fetches you again. The visibility under water was phenomenal. We have never seen that far before while diving. The variety of corals in Maumere is also unique and the reef is still in good condition.
At the end of the day we were happy, that we skipped diving in Labuan Bajo. It is way more beautiful and unspoiled in the remote region of Maumere.
Conclusion: Maumere is a fantastic place for diving and we are pretty sure, it will develop to a famous diving area in the future. Unfortunately this usually means more people, more pollution and more harm to the reefs.
The nature here is still quite untouched and you can find many places without lots of people. Lets hope, that this place keeps staying like it is as long as possible and they don’t make a second Labuan Bajo out of it.