Dive Advice Travel
dive liveaboard specialists .... the world's finest diving
I've lost count of the number of times I've visited Indonesia's shores ... and I feel impelled to return again and again in my lifetime to try to absorb every drop I possibly can of her beauty, her aura, her bewitcing nature.
I love the land, the people, the culture, the climate . . . and on top of all of that ... the diving in Indonesia is as superior as you can find anywhere. You've probably seen this a thousand times, but I'll repeat it anyway ... the marine diversity simply boggles the mind.
And, to complement nature's bounty, a number of the liveaboards & resorts serving the destination are also the finest you will find anywhere in the world of diving.
The size of Indonesia requires making choices that can be a bit overwhelming, so I've put together brief bits of information to try to help you to isolate the region you may most want to get to know. Whatever you choose, this island nation offers scuba enthusiasts such a complete spectrum of possibilities that I can't possibly recommend it highly enough. For my part, I'll be returning to Indonesia as often and long as the Fates allow ...
Check it all out here on our Indonesia page and when you're ready to hear more, I'm an email away and will respond to your request with any additional details that you wish. Cheers, Dom
No words can describe this massive, complex and fabulous archipelago you'll find exhilarating WALL DIVES, large, throbbing schools of fish, CAPTIVATING COLORS of diverse reef fish and some of the worlds healthiest & most vidid coral & sponge gardens. Of course, you also get the world's best "MUCK" DIVING where you find the tiniest, most extravagant of Earth's creatures (RHINOPIAS, pegasus sea moths, countless varieties of frog fish, PYGMY SEAHORSES, flamboyant cuttlefish, ghost pipe fish and star gazers). Mix in a few large pelagics ... MANTAS, SHARKS, DOLPHINS & WHALES plus calm waters & RIPPING CURRENTS. There's even a bit of wreck diving. ALL of this and much more in Indonesia.
With its immense number of islands, the diving choices in Indonesia are mind-boggling. Perhaps the most important thing, when you're thinking about diving Indonesia, is that you don't dive Indonesia, you dive a region of Indonesia - and only a part of that.
Critters, corals & great pelagic action greet you in Komodo & the Alor Islands, to the south & moving east in Indonesia. In Sulawesi, north and east in the archipelago, you have the finest of the land-based diving and all the infamous critters found in the Lembeh Strait.
The rush of Raja Ampat is in the far eastern region ... with its simply glorious corals, plenty of critters, some nice manta action. Moving north from there, you find the awesome whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay. More coral splendor & superb muck diving lies just to the west of Raja Ampat, in Ambon & the Banda Sea.
Check for details of each region below.
The wonders of Bali & Borneo mustn't be neglected, with excellent diving including a beautiful wreck dive on Bali ... plus all the cultural glory you can find there. Nor should you ignore Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of Borneo, where you can experience terrific diving and can add on a visit to an Orangutan rehabilitation camp. Find diving information about Bali, Borneo & the Derawan Islands below.
The variety of species, from macro to pelagics, is staggering. You'll find different statistics quoted, but it' safe to say that there are more than 1,000 fish species, over 500 coral species and nearly 700 mollusc species! And, can we just add that the scenery above water, everywhere you look, is glorious, the people are warm and welcoming, and island visits are highly recommended.
When you dive Raja Ampat, be ready for virtually everything that our marine environment can throw at you. In terms of underwater topography, you’ll dive channels, plateaus, steps, walls, caves, lagoons, overhangs, crevices, black sand slopes, … and just plain mud, for the delight of “muck” diving.
Thrilling drift dives are common, propelled by some swift, exhilarating currents. Other sites offer the most placid water on the planet … with superb visability.
Corals (hard & soft) abound in a variety & color which is just staggering. Huge, brightly colored sponges take the breath away. Hauntingly beautiful mangroves harbor intriguing tiny resident critters and striking corals growing on or amongst the trees below the waterline.
You’ll meet up close & personal, everything from pygmy seahorses to colossal manta rays. Each site is different from the site before. You can expect to see species that exist nowhere else on earth and a load of captivating species you’ve always dreamed of seeing, including the mind-boggling tasseled wobbegong shark.
If you’re a photographer, be prepared to hit your shutter incessantly to capture flamboyant cuttlefish, bearded scorpionfish & ghost pipefish, schools of snappers, sweetlips, parrotfish & fusiliers, trevallies, batfish, large Napoleon wrasse and the ubiquitous turtles.
Last, but not least, at the sites bordering blue water, you get cruising pelagics: black tips, white tips, grey reef sharks, dog tooth & yellow fin tuna, chevron barracuda, jacks, Spanish mackerel, and blue-fin trevally.
There are seamounts, walls, canyons and pinnacles as well as the spectacular coral gardens. There a hot spring at an underwater volcano, great night dives on black sand slopes and of course, a land visit with a forest walk to see the awe-inspiring Komodo Dragon is included on most every cruise. Komodo should be on every diver's "must-do" list.
South Komodo is a region which has been added in recent years to several liveaboard itineraries from October to May. The waters are clear and warm, the conditions excellent for diving during a season when northern Komodo is cold!
The weather and sea conditions during the traditional Komodo diving season have long made the idea of diving in the South virtually impossible. Your cruise here may well include exciting exploratory diving, but there will also be well known world class sites such as Manta Alley, Cannibal Rock, Torpedo Point, The Three Sisters and Lankoi. Plus you will explore the Southern Sape Strait and all around South Komodo, South Rinca, South West Flores, Gili Mota and the Southern part of Selat Molo.
You may be treated to sightings of the largest living animal in the world, the Blue Whale, but assuredly will view great fish life, vibrantly colored reefs with orange and green cup corals, soft coral heavens and, of course, the most extraordinary critters hidden in the black sand of volcanic islands (which continue to provide exotic displays from time to time for intrepid visitors).
As to the diving in the Banda Sea and Alor regions - you'll experience vertical walls & drop offs, pristine reef, volcanic vents - and you'll see more critters as well as massive barrel sponges, plenty of pelagics, an immense population of sea snakes - even a wreck dive.
Located between Raja Ampat to the north and Komodo National Park to the south, the Banda Sea offers volcanic islands and sea mounts which rise from the depths offering superb wall diving and boundless marine life, including some great macro spots.
In Alor, you'll find pristine waters full of masses of fish, loads of invertebrates ... and more of those alluring critters. As to topography, you'll find shear drops, huge pinnacles, great walls ... all covered with rich & thriving corals which attract diverse fish life. Add to that, visiting pelagics and you have a magical mix.
The dive sites vary greatly, with many presenting exciting pelagic encounters and large, swirling schools of barracuda & makerel ... while others offer up weird and wonderful creatures hidden away in healthy, colorful corals.
You get, at one end of the scale: stargazers, stonefish, snake eels, ghost pipefish, pygmy seahorses, weedy scorpionfish ... while at the opposite end bumphead parrotfish, jacks, giant trevallies, napoleons, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, hammerhead sharks, and on certain trips, divers are treated to a salt-water crocodile at one site!
Although never guaranteed, the possibility of an elusive whale shark or two also exists at those pelagic sites.
It's in April to May and in October to November ... when the seasons (and winds) change ... that the conditions are ideal for diving in this region. The liveaboards which visit the Forgotten Islands offer different itineraries, most of which are at least partly exploratory in nature ... making them true adventure voyages.
Plunging vertical walls with prolific sponge life are found on the outlying atolls, along with great schools of fish. Most of the diving is within the National Park, an immense underwater wilderness, but you will also have the opportunity to dive on Manokwari's excellent WWII wrecks.
You'll find the trips with available spaces listed on Indonesia Availability.
First, Bunaken National Marine Park & Bangka Island, with their amazing steep coral walls, rich with a diversity of species, its huge sponges and beautiful hard corals, and countless critters.
Next, there's the volcanic Sangihe archipelago, with amazing soft corals and critters + access to pelagics.
And finally, the undisputed critter capital of the world - the Lembeh Straits with its weird & wonderful species: stonefish, sea robins, stargazers, devil fish, weedy scorpion fish, ghost pipefish, the list goes on!
Wakatobi: If you love corals of all shapes and sizes, you will love Wakatobi. Although you’ll find far more than corals reefs, it is undoubtedly the profusion & magnificence of those which will create on imprint on your spirit. It’s a cornucopia of marine life abounding with color & excitement.
Of course, with the corals, come reef fish and tiny creatures which call the reefs their home. And, needless to say, where there are reef fish, you always find some of the bigger guys in the food chain including sharks, rays, tuna, Napoleon wrasses, barracudas and plenty of turtles … so wide-angle photographers don’t despair !
You have great topography … slopes, steep walls, overhangs, caverns, shallow coral gardens, sandy bays, ridges, sea mounts, crevasses & plateaus … and some lovely drift diving.
You will be greeted by spectacular gorgonians, huge & lovely table corals, potato coral, lettuce coral, leather coral, colorful crinoids, sponges & pervasive whip corals.
Schooling fish include the small guys (cardinalfish, soldierfish, cometfish, sweepers) and the next step up (batfish, fusililers, butterfly fish, snappers, triggerfish, batfish & sergeant majors). The critter population, features scorpionfish, leaf fish, ribbon eels & garden eels, pipefish, blennies, mantis shrimp, pygmy seahorses.
To top it all of, the land itself holds cultural fascinations galore & beauty beyond the imagination.
The USAT Liberty was a cargo ship which was "drafterd" in WWII and was hit by Japanese fire and scuttled oat Tulamben, Bali. In the 1960's, the wreck was pushed a bit further out by an eruption at Mt. Agung. Today, the ship provides a marine haven for spectacularly colored corals, hard & soft, and for bumphead parrotfish, cod & sea plus nudibranchs, sweetlips, giant clams and plenty of passing pelagic fish.
Land-based diving is the way to go here & our favorite operator is Aqua Marine Diving, who can also arrange land visits ...
Kakaban: Kakaban is known for the non stinging jelly fish lake, located in the middle of the island and a brisk 15 minute walk. The non-stinging jellyfish have inhabited the lake for centuries as there are no known predators. The outer ring of Kakaban island offers a wide variety of dive sites that includes corals, large pelagic and thrilling caves. The most famous area is Barracuda Point which has schooling barracuda which are joined by large tuna and sharks.
Sangalaki: This is a great site for Manta encounters. They live in these waters pretty much year-round. But, you're also going to be treated to plenty of turtles, luscious reefs in a shallow lagoon, & a vast number of species of hard & soft corals, with their accompanying reef fish. Whale sharks are frequently seen off the coast of the island.
Maratua atoll: Here you'll dive "The Channel" and "Big Fish Country" with tornados of barracuda, grey reef sharks, tresher sharks, loads of turtles and schooling eagle rays. Maratua Island has at least 13 known caves with countless more yet to be explored.
Pulau Panjang & Pulau Derawan: This is a macro haven with weird and wonderful life such as satomi pigmys, sea dragons, ghost pipefishe, frogfish, blue ring octopus, harlequin shrimp and tiger shrimp. Photographers get ready!
Pulau Sambit: Diving sites here are known for the large population of hawksbill turtles and for frequent visits from tiger sharks.
Nabucco: This area has currents & drop-offs & channels providing excellent pelagic diving - reef sharks, leopard sharks, tons of barracudas.
Indonesia, land of utter enchantment, stretches along the Equator between the Indian & Pacific Oceans. It borders Malaysia (on the island of Borneo) to the north and East Timor & Papua New Guinea to the east. Across the water lie Australia to the south, Micronesia, the Philippines & Thailand to the north. Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, has 18,110 islands (6,000 are inhabited) & roughly 240 million people. It presents the traveler & diver with perhaps of the most diverse & intriguing opportunities on land & under the sea.