Alor islandhas an area of about 2800 km², making it the largest island of the Alor archipelago. It has a population of around 168,000 people of which 75% are protestant. The other 25% is either Muslim or Roman Catholic. Animistic rites and traditions are still strongly practiced.
Alor is of volcanic origin and has very rugged terrain. The region near Kalabahi is the only flat area.
With its smoldering Volcanoes reaching down into crystal clear waters fringed with pristine coral reefs, coconut fringed pure white sandy beaches and traditional villages built half way up mountains, the scenery is as spectacular above as it is below the waterline. Alor island is so mountainous that it is almost impossible to pass from one side to the other and many of the villages on the island itself can only transport themselves via small wooden ferries. Place to stay in AlorAs Alor is not often visited by tourists yet, it is one of the most unspoiled regions of Nusa Tenggara Timur.
Guide in Alor Miss Mila Highly recommend
HOW TO GET THERE
Alor island (Kalabahi) can be reached by aeroplane (TransNusa Trigana Air from Kupang Timor, Denpasar Bali and Surabaya on Java.
Pelni every 2 weeks, ferry service from Flores and Kupang to Kalabahi. This service can be disrupted in the wet season due to high waves.
Diving and Snorkelling at Alor
Alor island is generally regarded as one of the best diving destinations in the world today. It has more than twenty-five splendid dive sites and great beaches.
Nevertheless, Alor still is a relatively unknown destination since travellers have only just started to discover it, roughly since 1991. Due to this fact there is an increasing trend in tourism to the Alor archipelago nowadays.
As the currents can be rather strong at times, however, it is best to snorkel or dive with someone who knows the area well.
Beach at Kalabahi Bay, Alor island
The people of Alor island live mainly on agriculture and some fishing. Farmers around the villages of Alor cultivate among others vanilla, tamarind, almonds and other nuts In the forests areas sandalwood is cut down for trade.
The latest geological explorations have discovered valuable resources such as ipsum, kaolin, petroleum, natural gas, tin, gold and diamonds.
Also, income from tourisme has started to increase since Alor is becoming more and more known in the travel world.
Visit Alor Island Arriving in Kalabahi you will have a first taste of Alor. Probably not the one I prefer but still this crowded main city (for a small island) is worth a stop to feel the local lifestyle. Kalabahi is also a good starting point for day trips around the island. You can go to the Air Terjun Binafui, a nice waterfall after a broken road, where you will have a taste of adventure, or for a more easy journey just go through the north-east coast until you reach the Air Panas Tuti: hot springs with a surprisingly weird shaped geyser. Another wonderful day trip would be to go around the north-west part of the island with a motorbike as you will reach several beaches with clear water and corals (Sebanjar, Batu Putih, Canary…). At a point you’ll need to go through a broken road in the cliffs which will offer you nice views on the coast and a real taste of adventure. Also worth the stop: you can go with a fisherman’s boat near the airport to spot a dugong which lives in the area and observe him playing with the boat.
After all this exploration trips, you can go to Kepa island (especially in La P’tite Kepa diving resort, even in you don’t dive) for a well deserved rest. You will find a well preserved tiny island surrounded by corals, perfect to relax, from which you can spot dolphins every day. From the beach (ask for advice as currents can be dangerous) you can easily spot numerous types of fish and small reef sharks or you could join the boat for a half day trip to either dive or snorkel. If you want to explore more remote villages in Alor, just ask to la P’tite Kepa staff: they will happily share tips & secret places!
By Benjamin Sanguinetti (France)
Active volcano Mt Sirung, Alor island
Culture of Alor
Lego Lego dance of Alor island
More than fifteen different indigenous languages are spoken on Alor, the majority of them classified as Papuan or non-Austronesian. These include Abui, Adang, Hamap, Kabola, Kafoa, Woisika, Kelo , and Kui. In addition, Alorese (Bahasa Alor) is a Malayo-Polynesian language which is spoken along the coast of the western and southern Bird's Head of Alor Island and in places on surrounding islands.
Many of the Papuan languages of Alor are endangered and are no longer being actively acquired by children. Some languages have fewer than 1000 speakers remaining. Significant linguistic documentation efforts have been undertaken recently by Leiden University in The Netherlands.
The language of daily communication is Alor Malay, a unique Malay variety with some similarities to Kupang Malay. Indonesian is taught in schools and used widely in media.
Alor's traditional culture has been influenced over the ages by the Indian, Chinese and Javanese traders as well as by the Islamic and Christian religions. This can be seen in the silk thread woven into the original weavings and the mix of Mosques and Christian churches dotted throughout the Island. The traditional dances and the architectural style vary greatly from area to area.
The typical Moko drums of Alor, which are not found in large numbers anywhere else in Indonesia, can be traced back to the Dongson period (Vietnam) of around 350 BC.With more than a dozen traditional villages within one hours drive from the capital Kalabahi, Alor is a true cultural paradise.
The motifs of the Ikat weavings from Alor. like the traditional dances and the architectural style, vary considerably from area to area on the island.
The picture at the right shows a ritual bridal sarong from the village of Kolanawhich is located at the remote eastern shores of Alor island. It has been hand spun with local cotton and colored with natural dyes with the exception of the turquoise blue. Color saturation is soft and the hand spun is thick and rough. A very rare example of a type.