Indonesia is one of my favourite countries to visit. Above the water the 17000+ islands differ in landscape, culture and wildlife, but as an avid diver it is the variety of marine life and landscapes that keeps me going back. Widely considered the epicenter of marine biodiversity, this country is right in the middle of the Coral Triangle and boasts over 3000 fish and 600 coral species, deep drop offs, volcanic sea mounts and several wrecks within its waters.
Far too vast a country to cover in one post, I will attempt to summarize some of my favourite Indonesian dive destinations below:
Komodo National Park is well known as home of the elusive Komodo dragon, its wealth of reefs and abundance of fish, sharks and manta rays. My most recent trip there was in May 2016, and it certainly lived up to its reputation. From the surface the water was calm, the boat rides a pleasure, like sliding on glass, but from below one could feel the currents famed in this area. Experienced guides judge the tides and guests experience levels when determining dive sites ensuring that the currents are manageable and enjoyable for all. There are manta cleaning stations all throughout the archipelago and it isn’t uncommon to encounter several of these majestic animals on a dive. Sharks and turtles are spotted on most dives, and dolphins are often seen riding the bow waves. The coral is in pristine condition and the sheer number of fish is at times overwhelming.
Raja Ampat diving is considered the best of the best. The remote location allows visitors to feel like explorers- diving remote uncrowded locations. Situated on the eastern most islands of Indonesia, the reefs here are unparalleled in terms of variety and health of hard and soft corals. Here one can enjoy the most lively reefs, and see everything from large pelagics to tiny macro life. With breathtaking topside vistas of lush green uninhabited islands and cobalt blue waters, even the boat rides out to the dive sites are unforgettable. The region can be enjoyed from one of the few resorts in the area or from a liveaboard.
Diving from North Sulawesi is another of must while in Indonesia. Here one can dive the gorgeous reefs of Bunaken National park; known for its pristine reefs and world class walls, proliferation of turtles (5 species) and possible sightings of dugongs and salt water crocs! Also, easily accessible and not to be missed is the well known Lembeh Straights, arguably the best muck diving in the world. The mostly sandy terrain is jam packed with the weird and wonderful, from mimic octopus to flamboyant cuttlefish, hairy frog fish to pegasus sea moths. The relatively shallow and relaxed dives allow for long bottom times and jaw dropping critters. This is a macro lover’s dream destination, and one of my personal favourites.
Wakatobi, a group of small islands in the Banda Sea, offers magnificent barrier reefs brimming with fish and healthy coral. Only recently developed for diving, the sites are untouched and virginal. Expect to enjoy beautiful sunsets on white deserted beaches, with world class diving to boot.
Banda Islands is one of Indonesia’s best kept secrets. This little known diving destination offers magnificent reefs and sea mounts bursting with critters and fish life alike. The untouched hard corals, sea fans and sponges have been allowed to flourish and have reached mammoth sizes and provide homes to all sorts of creatures. It’s also common to see pelagics while diving this area.