Maumere is the largest city in Flores, even larger than Labuan Bajo at the west coast of the island. Maumere used to serve as an alternative entry gate for tourists to travel to the Komodo National Park, A side from Labuan Bajo. While, those wishing to attend Easter celebrations in Larantuka, They would also start off from Maumere, which was more easily connected by air to other parts of Indonesia.
Maumere being located at the narrowest section of this long island, when one stands at Koting village near the town of Nita, One will have a vantage view to as far as the Flores Sea to the north and the Savu Sea by the Indian Ocean in its southern horizon.
Today, Maumere is also the hopping off point to climb to the Tri-Coloured Lakes on Mt. Kelimutu located on the route to Ende.
You must not miss a visit the village of Sikka, some 30 km from Maumere, center of the legendary Flores hand-woven clothes. On request, visitors can watch, the complete intricate process of ikat-weaving, including dying the threats with natural colors. Another village known for its weaving is Watublapi, which distinguishes itself by the use of symbolic motifs of animals such as lizards, horses, birds, and geometrical patterns.
Maumere used to be the favorite snorkeling and diving spot for tourists, made famous by the Sao Wisata Resort built by Flores’ own hero, Frans Seda. Unfortunately, the 1992 tsunami devastated parts of the coral reefs and the city. Before that, Maumere was considered by many as the true illustration of “Flores” or Flower of the East Nusa Tenggara Archipelago. After nearly two decades, the town is finally reviving back to its former beauty through the newly renovated Frans Seda Airport (formerly called Wai Oti Airport).
Before the Dutch merchant ships arrived here in the 16th century, Maumere was known as Sikka Alok or Sikka Kesik. Here, traders from China, Bugis, and Makassar came to trade with the locals. These traders often stayed for days near the seaport called Waidoko. With the arrival of the Dutch, however, the Dutch eventually built government offices in Sikka and gave new names to the area such as Maunori, Mautenda, Mauwaru, Maurole, Mauponggo, and obviously Maumere in Sikka.
Since the majority of its people are Catholic, the town’s existence cannot be separated from the church of Larantuka. Catholicism was first introduced here in 1566 by two missionaries from Dominica named P.Joao Bautista da Fortalezza and Simao da Madre de Deos. They first started their mission in Paga, a small town about 45Km west of Maumere, sent by P.Antonio Cruz from the town of Larantuka. Today, every year congregations from Maumere head to Larantuka to join in the Semana Santa Easter Holy Week Ritual.
Koka Beach, 45Km west of Maumere has the legendary white sand which is as soft as powder. Not too far from the beach, you can find the traditional village of Mau Lo’o with its unique traditional houses.
You can also visit the Old Catholic Church of Sikka which was built by St Francis Assisi followers from Europe. The church features classic European architecture which is still well reserved to this very day. Maumere also offers beguiling sunrise at Nilo Hill. Here, you can watch the sun rising over the city with all its enchanting surrounding. Radiating a distinct serene ambience, Nilo Hill is also known as the park for prayers where Catholics can conduct prayers solemnly. There is also the Bukit Salib or the Hill of the Cross near Kajuwulu Beach which also offers spiritual tranquility.
At Kewapante sub-district, there is the Geliting Traditional Market where sellers from all over Sikka and other regencies offer various freshly picked crops as well as other products.
Donot forget to visit the uniqe Bikon Blewut Museum located in the campus of Sekolah Tinggi Filsafat Katholik (The Catholic Philosophy School) of Ledalero, a Catholic seminary, some 6 km. south of Maumere. Here you can find a large assortment of the history of Flores in artifacts collected by the priests. Here are rare ikat cloths, Stone Age tools, musical instruments, Ceramics from China, traditional weapons, and fossil bones from the Mastodon, an extinct huge elephant like a mammoth which inhabited this island between 400,000 – 10,000 BC.
The Museum opens Mondays to Saturdays in the mornings from 07.00 to 13.00 hrs.
How to Get There
Flights to Maumere are available from Bali and Kupang, the capital city of east Nusa Tenggara Province. Airlines that serve flights to Maumere are Garuda Indonesia, Wings Air, NamAir, Kalstar, TransNusa, and Susi Air.