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Apart from joining the Semana Santa Festival at Larantuka, we may consider visiting the beautiful sand bar island at East Flores. Mekko Island or Mekko Pasir Timbul (sandbar), the locals called it so. It is about 1 km long and has a nice arched shape at one end. The sand is a bit pink in colour due to the pink corals and shells crushed and mixed with the sand. The water surrounding Mekko is crystal clear and shallow, makes it a great spot to dip in and relax.
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How to Get to Mekko
Geographically, Mekko Sandbar is somewhere between Adonara Island and Lembata Island meanwhile Larantuka is at the far end to the east of Flores Island. There are two ways to get to Mekko from Larantuka. Either way, it will take about the same amount of time for each way. With that being said, it will be up to our preferences or what we want to see and also our budget then.
#1 Via Sea
This is the most straight forward way. We get to the Fishing Port Amaragati and take a speedboat direct to Mekko Island. The journey will take about 1.5 to 2 hours on average, depending on the weather and sea condition. As the travel time on the boat is quite long, it is advisable to pop in some seasick medication in advance, especially if you already know you have that problem. Otherwise, enjoy the sea view or probably catch up some sleep enjoying the breeze.
#2 Via Land
I guess going to Mekko via land isn’t a bad idea either. If we go via land, we have to cross to Adonara Island by taking a short boat ride from Larantuka Port and continuing the rest of the journey overland by car to reach Mekko Village. After we reach Mekko Village, we will take a boat to get to Mekko Sandbar and explore around.
Friends and I went to Mekko via sea that day. As I remember, the sea condition was calm when we were on the way to Mekko. However, it was a little bit bumpy on the way back. It was still an enjoyable one, after all. I believe both ways offer a scenic journey that is different from one to another and that two hours long will pass fast without realising it.
What to Do in Mekko
Now you may be curious, after travelling so far, what exactly we can do in Mekko. Based on the local information I got, there are 14 spots where we can explore around at Mekko. Obviously, it can’t be done in one day. So, based on my previous experience visiting there, at least there are three things we can do if we go to Mekko and I have mentioned two of them earlier.
#1 Mekko Island
Mekko Sandbar or Island was nominated as one of the most popular new destinations in Anugerah Pesona Indonesia Awards 2020 nominees. The local operators and tourism board hope that the exposure will get more people to know about Mekko and eventually attract more visitors – both locally and outside from Flores, to visit Mekko. The sandbar that only emerges at certain times has its own charm to get people to stop by, indeed.
#2 Mekko Village
Situated on Adonara Island, Mekko Village is the nearest village to Mekko Island, and that is also where the sandbar got its name from. When we were there, the villagers welcomed us with the “Hedung” Traditional Dance. In the olden days, this traditional dance from Adonara was usually performed by men and women to welcome warriors back from the battle. War and conflict have long gone. Now, it is only performed as a welcome ceremony or only on special occasions.
In this village, a community called “Kelompok Muda Mudi Mekko” is committed to conserving the marine life in East Flores and practice responsible tourism based on conservation. I am so glad that people have become more aware of the impact on the environment if the bad practice is prolonged. Regarding this matter, I must admit that I also made mistakes in the past because of a lack of knowledge and understanding. However, nothing is too late for a change.
Homestays are available on Mekko Island if we wish to stay for a night or two. If you love collecting traditional woven fabric (kain tenun), do check out their woven fabric uniquely to Adonara. It is uncommon to find elsewhere. If you are at East Flores, you shall try their “Jagung Titi,” which looks like a corn chip. It used to be the staple food for people in East Flores before the rice was introduced. It is good to go snacks on a road trip as well as it is quite filling.
#3 Natural Swimming Pool
This place doesn’t really have an official name yet. From what we can see, it looks like a big swimming pool in the middle of nowhere. It is shallow, only about 50 cm deep, I suppose, with a white sandy bottom and crystal clear water—a unique spot to be at.
Oh well, did I actually said three things only?
Bonus #4 Snorkeling and Diving
There are more than ten snorkeling or diving sites mapped around Mekko. Unfortunately, we only had enough time to do snorkeling once. Looking from the water condition, the underwater world must be comparable good to other diving destinations around East Nusa Tenggara. Not much photo and video documentation I could find online about diving in East Flores. So, for now, I can only imagine. Hopefully, I will get to go there again for diving or at least snorkeling.
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I have been to Flores Island several times. However, every time I always only ended or started the trip from Ende the furthest. That was the usual route I planned out for the Flores overland trip that I organized for the last few years before the pandemic. And that overland trip has already at least a week-long in total – including to sail and stay overnight on the boat in Komodo National Park.
But if I think it over again. If I have known about this place much earlier, I would have included this destination in my Flores overland itinerary, especially after we have traveled so far. Probably, adjust the existing itinerary and add two more days?
What do you think?