Going to Alor feels like going back in time, you’ll find yourself taken back to the days of folklores, legends, and myths. The secluded beaches, unspoiled nature, and abundance of wildlife (Not only do they have frequent dolphin, orca and sunfish sightings, you can see whales migrating every October) have lured many to the Nusa Tenggara Timur archipelago, despite its limited travelling facilities.
The Alor Archipelago is located at the eastern side of the Lesser Sunda Islands (Bali, Lombok, and Komodo are some of the better known islands). The biggest islands in the archipelago are Pantar and Alor, while business and activities are centered in the town of Kalabahi.
Fly to Kupang with Garuda Indonesia or Lion Air. From Kupang, fly to Alor Island with TransNusa, the only operating airline from Kupang to Alor. Beware of sudden changes in the TransNusa schedule, there have been more than just a couple of travellers stranded in Alor despite having paid their tickets in full. For a more fixed schedule, travel by PELNI Ferry (Wednesdays and Sundays), speedboat (Tuesdays and Saturdays), or charter your own flight with Susi Air (12 people max per aircraft).
Visit the pristine beaches of Alor: Maimol, Batuputih, and Sabanjar. Since the island is not touristy at all, remember to bring your own food, drinks, mats, and towels. No tropical beach experience would be complete without drinking fresh coconut, so ask the locals if they can pick and open a couple for you. This lux service will set you back about Rp. 2,500 per coconut. Public toilets are also a luxury in Alor, so prepare your best smile and approach a local to use their toilet.
Take your adventures off dry land by chartering a boat from Pelabuah Alor Kecil. Ask the captain to take you where the dolphins are and keep a sharp eye. You might also spot traditional fishermen using spears on the catch of the day!
Wan to take a closer look? There is scuba diving available but beware, the currents are quite strong. Beginner divers should look up Thomas Schreiber from Alor Dive, he’s a great guide for people getting their feet wet. While advance divers might enjoy exploring with Donovan Whitford from DiveAlorDive, he conducts really thorough trips.
For culture vultures, visit the traditional village of Takpala in the Lembur region of Alor which is inhabited by the Abui tribe. Guests are greeted with the lego-lego dance, a spectacle involving up to 20 dancers circling around a stone altar, accompanied by the sound of gongs. Another destination is the Museum 1,000 Moko that showcases bronze drums from the Dongson era.
Museum 1000 Moko, Jl. Diponegoro, Kalabahi. Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm.
Need to do a little shopping? Go to Pasar Kadelang at Kalabahi to buy everyday goods, fruits and Alor traditional snacks like kenari (canarium nut), jagung titi (corn crackers), and kue rambut (“hair” crackers – made of tapioca, rice and sugar). Bargaining in Indonesian is a must, as English is not spoken by most of the locals. It’s time to bust out those Bahasa Indonesia language lessons!
From red snapper to giant trevally to grouper, Alor is your seafood heaven – and the fish come in gigantic sizes! You’ll find fresh seafood at the stalls at the open-air Pantai Reklamasi. For Chinese food, go to Restoran Tiga Berlian, or Restoran Jember for Javanese cuisine.
Pantai Reklamasi, Jalan Binongko, Kalabahi.
Restoran Tiga Berlian, Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, Kalabahi, p: 62-386/21-242.
Restoran Jember, Jalan Panglima Polim No. 20, Kalabahi, p: 62-386/21-385.
Two hotels frequented by travellers in the business district are Hotel Pelangi Indah and Hotel Nusa Kenari Indah. Both are situated in the center of Kalabahi, so public transport is easily accessible.
For a more homey choice, pick Homestay Cantik, owned by Christian Dami. If you stay there, he would gladly take you around like a personal guide (believe us, he knows his way around town – even to the neighboring islands!) and his wife, Lily, who cooks wonderful meals. Toiletries and towels aren’t provided, so be sure to bring your own.
If you want your vacation to be really secluded, head to La Petite Kepa Homestay and Diving on the neighbouring island of Kepa. Book your stay and get acquainted with French owners, Anne and Cedric. They fell in love with Alor and decided to set up shop for good.
Hotel Pelangi Indah, Jl. Diponegoro No. 24, Kalabahi, p: 62-386/21-251.
Hotel Kenari Indah, Jl. Diponegoro No. 11, Kalabahi, p: 62-386/21-074.
Homestay Cantik, Jl. Dahlia No. 12, Kalabahi, p: 62-386/21-030 or 62-81/33229-9336.
La Petite Kepa Homestay and Diving, Pulau Kepa, Alor Kecil, p: 62-386/21141, 21146, 62-81/339102403, 353709719.