Indonesia is a massive country with over seventeen thousand islands so it’s understandable when people get confused about what location is where. To help with that this short video will break down all of Indonesia’s top snorkeling destinations including what you can see and how we arrive. Don’t hesitate to ask any further questions, we are always happy to help!

Indonesia is a massive country, and because it’s broken up into over seventeen thousand islands it can be a bit confusing to know what is where, especially if you are a bit geographically challenged as I was before I moved here. I don’t want to make broad assumptions about people I have yet to meet, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people might not know a lot that Borneo is not it’s own country and in fact three countries, the majority of which is Indonesia and known as Kalimantan. Or, that Indonesia also occupies about half of the world’s second largest island, which I’m sure you’ve all heard of—New Guinea. The Indonesian side is known as West Papua and is the home of Raja Ampat, while east of the border is Papua New Guinea. If you already knew all this, gold stars for you! Anyway, the objective of this blog isn’t to make you self conscious of your Indonesian geography, I know for a fact that many Indonesian people couldn’t point out Wakatobi on a map. The point of this is to simply break down one of the most beautiful countries in the world, by focusing on the locations which also conveniently happen to be Snorkel Venture destinations!

Indonesia map with Snorkel Venture locations

Fun Indo Facts

  • 17,000 Islands
  • 127 Volcanoes
  • 300 Different Languages
  • Center of Coral Triangle
  • World’s Highest Coral and Reef Fish Diversity

Jakarta and Bali

I’m not going to spend a lot of time with these two locations but they do deserve mentioning as a lot of our trips will begin at either one of these locations. Jakarta as you probably know is the capital of Indonesia and located on the island of Java. Jakarta is, for lack of a better description, a big city really well known for it’s traffic jams. Lucky for us this is just a transitory stop where we are essentially just using the airport and it’s comfortable hotel to relieve some of the jet lag before taking off to our final destinations.

bali rice fields and volcano

Bali on the other hand, while we also use the airport and it’s hotel the same way as we do Jakarta’s, is well worth a visit beyond the boundaries of the Airport. I would even suggest spending a bit of time here before or after the tour just to get a better feel for the island as it really is amazing. The island is full of interesting cultural sites, luxurious villas and boutique resorts, amazing food, jungles, and wonderful beaches.


Komodo Resort Aerial Perspective

Moving onto one of Indonesia’s most famous locations, Komodo. Komodo National Park is just a short one hour flight from Bali, and also one of Indonesia’s most iconic destinations. The park is made up of twenty nine islands, four of which are home to the Komodo Dragons. The snorkeling here is exceptional with over seven hundred species of fish and two hundred and sixty coral species. There is such a concentration of marine life in this park that you can readily predict what each snorkel session will be like. Manta rays are all over the place and can, quite frequently, be encountered in large numbers. Turtles are also prolific as well as other creatures like cuttle fish and large schools of fish. One of the beauties of Komodo is that the reefs are so diverse that no two snorkels will be the same. There are mangroves, sloping reefs, plateaus, walls, drifts, bays, manta cleansing stations, and of course the resort’s pier which attracts a ton of marine life.

A quick video showcasing our Komodo Tours


Pristine coral reef in Alor

Alor is a small cluster of islands just east of Komodo and accessed by a short flight from Jakarta. Alor is still quite un touched by tourism and with only a couple snorkel and dive resorts in the area. This is not to say the snorkeling is any less spectacular than some of Indonesia’s other top destinations. It’s quite the opposite. Because Alor is only now just becoming familiar with snorkelers and divers, and the local villages have really looked after their reefs by practicing more sustainable fishing methods, the areas reefs have remained in a near pristine state. Fringing the entire coastline of the area you can find a truly some of the most colorful and diverse reefs on the planet. The cold water rising from the south brings in nutrients that sustain the smaller fish which in turn bring in the larger animals like super pods of dolphins and melon head whales, mola mola, and if you are lucky a blue whale or two! These larger species are difficult to snorkel with as they are quite shy, but no less spectacular when they pass just in font of the boat. Much like Komodo, the reefs in Alor are very diverse not only in coral species and marine life, but also in style. We have a few piers that make fantastic and highly unique snorkeling spots—one of which is our resort’s pier and only a few feet from your bungalow, but also some fantastic mellow drifts, walls, and sloping reefs, all of which just seem to keep going and going.

A quick video showcasing our Alor Tours

Bunaken- North Sulawesi

Split shot of sea stars in sea grass and a sunset

One of the other major islands in Indonesia is Sulawesi, it’s the big silly shaped one in the middle. It is also home to some fantastic snorkeling, outstanding resorts, and really easy to arrive to from Bali. In the north we have five island just off the coast known as the Bunaken Natioanl Park, and in the south east we have another marine reserve known as Wakatobi. But now, lets talk about Bunaken.

View of pool and bar at Siladen Resort

To arrive to Bunaken we have to take a short one and a half hour flight from Bali to Manado, and then hop on one of the resorts large boats for athirty minute ride to the resort. So easy! The snorkeling here is really amazing with shallow hard coral plateaus that fringe the varying islands and then suddenly drop into the deep blue. Back in the day sea turtles were hunted here for their meet and eggs, but since the tourism industry has established itself and the declaration of the marine reserve the local turtle population is booming! Green sea turtles frequent the white sand beaches in front of the bungalows to nest and with a bit of luck you can witness an emergence of hundreds of baby sea turtles as they make a mad dash to the sea. Currents are vey mild here in Bunaken and the visibility and conditions are fairly consistent year round. Many of the other locations around Indonesia have a distinct high and low season which coincides with the wet and dry seasons.

A quick video showcasing our North Sulawesi tours which are either combined with Raja Ampat or Borneo

Wakatobi- South East Sulawesi

aerial view of wakatobi resort

Whether it’s the private charter flight from Bali to the resort’s own air strip, the idyllic palm studded islands fringed by white sand beaches, or the surreal underwater world, Wakatobi is definitely a place you wont forget.

Wakatobi is located quite a ways off the south east coast of Sulawesi in the Banda Sea. The islandscape looks very similar to the Maldives as the area is made up of many small low lying islands with white sand beaches. The robust reefs start at the surface, and at times when the tide is low the reefs actually break the surface. From here they gradually slope away from the atolls eventually dropping of into the blue water. There is no shortage of colorful reef fish here and the reefs are actually some of the most diverse in the world with seven hundred different species of coral. Currents do tend be be quite mild as well, similar to Bunaken, and also like the Bunaken, Wakatobi’s weather and sea conditions remain pretty consistent year round.

A quick video showcasing our Wakatobi Tours

Raja Ampat

Split shot of coral reef below and raja ampat islands above

Raja Ampat is, as I said in the beginning, part of West Papua. Raja does take a bit more effort to arrive to as the flight from Jakarta is about four hours, but I promise it is absolutely worth the couple extra hours in the plane. Raja Ampat is often referred to as the crown jewel for snorkeling in Indonesia, and for many people, the world. It’s reefs are teeming with life, big and small, and astonishingly vibrant.With over 1,766 fish species and counting and over 550 coral species, Raja Ampat is the most biodiverse marine environment in the world. What’s more is that since this massive area has been declared a marine sanctuary, the marine life is thriving, and species like sharks and manta rays which were nearly wiped out years ago are coming back fast and showing some really impressive numbers. Don’t worry, the sharks are honestly more scared of you than you should be of them.

Something to make note of with regards to Raja Ampat is that it is a very very big area. If you compare Komodo National Park with Raja Ampat, it’s like six times bigger and made up of over 600 islands with endless bays, sea mounds, lagoons, and mangrove labyrinths. In light of the the marine sanctuary’s large size, it’s a good idea to have a rough idea of the different regions of Raja before you book a trip as each region is slightly different. If you choose a resort which os located in the norther portion of Raja, that’s where you will concentrate your snorkeling, in the north. If decide to do the option in the south, and area known as Misool, then your tour will be focused there. There is the liveaboard option which will do a bit of the north and the south, but once again, even with a liveaboard the area is so big you still won’t even come close to seeing it all. In my own personal experience, I worked on a liveaboard in Raja for five consecutive years and every year we would still be finding new places to explore. It’s a truly exciting place full of mystery and beautiful surprises.

Large school of fish over coral reef

What’s the snorkeling like in Raja? Well, it has it all, and a vast quantities. Big schools of batfish, jacks, barracudas, mantas, sharks, the occasional whale shark, all the reef fish you could ever imagine, and the odd chance of a whale spouting on the horizon. It’s epic.

A quick video showcasing the liveaboard option for Raja Ampat, for more videos of our different Raja Tours check out our Youtube Channel or click here

Kalimantan- Indonesian Borneo

Kalimantan has more than some of the oldest, densest jungles in the world where giant ginger primates dwell, it also has chains ofidyllic islands surrounded by beautiful reefs. A remote island off of Borneo might seem like a real trek to arrive to, but it’s really only two short flights from Jakarta and a thirty to forty minute boat ride to the Nunuken Island, then it’s snorkel time! The reefs that surround the island are typical Indonesian reefs—abundant, vibrant and thriving.

There is also good chances to encounter mantas feeding or cleaning on one of their cleaning stations. But what is most intriguing, at least for me, is the ‘lake’ full full full of stingless jellyfish and fringed by beautiful mangroves.

A quick video showcasing our Borneo Tour which includes a stop in Bunaken National Park

The Coral Triangle is a rough triangular area that starts with the Philippines in the north and runs southwest along the east coast of Borneo where it then follows the the southern chain of islands in Indonesia to the Solomon islands where it then heads north west up the coast of Papua New Guinea back to the Philippines. What’s the significance of this obscure triangular shape that is really more blob than triangle? Within this imaginary boundary lies what marine biologists refer to as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity. This area only occupies 1.6% of the world’s oceans but it holds 76% of all known coral species. Basically what this translates to is hyper-dense and diverse reefs which is home to thousands of different marine creatures that range from tiny nudibranchs, six of the seven species of sea turtle, both species of manta ray, lakes full of stingless jellyfish, shoals of fish, and everyones bucket list animal—the whale shark. What does all of this translate to? A seemingly endless supply of predictably epic snorkeling!

Even though the Coral Triangle area occupies less than two percent of the worlds oceans, it is still a massive area and literally full of islands. Indonesia alone has over seventeen thousand and the Philippines has nearly eight thousand. I suppose technically you just just pick a point at random within this magical blobby triangle in the tropics and have a pretty good chance of the snorkeling being awesome, but we wouldn’t recommend that. There are some destinations which may be better for divers as the reef and marine life start a bit deeper, while there are others areas which are really more suitable for snorkeling because the reefs and marine are quite literally at the surface. Here’s a quick break down of areas we believe to to offer some of the best snorkeling in the Coral Triangle. 

Raja Ampat Indonesia

Aerial view of Raja Ampat Islands

Raja Ampat  is a stunning islands off the west coast of Indonesian Papua, aka West Papua. Raja is usually referred to as the Kingdom of Coral as holds some seriously impressive records for marine diversity. Because of it’s large size and sheer volume of marine life and coral one could literally snorkel the area for years on end and not run out of new things to see. 

Alor Indonesia

Pristine coral reef in Alor

Alor is a cluster of twenty islands in south-east Indonesia and most famous for it’s undeveloped islands and truly pristine reefs. Also, because of the large movement of water through these island it also makes it a great place to encounter larger pelagic species on the surface like the giant ocean sun fish and blue whales!

Komodo Indonesia

One of Indonesia’s most iconic national parks made famous by the giant prehistoric Komodo dragons. Large terrestrial reptiles aside, Komodo is also very well known as a place for big action in the water with regular encounters from manta rays, turtles, sharks, giant schools of fish, and the occasional dugong if you are really lucky!


Nunukan Resort rooms

Ok, so Palau is not technically within the boundaries of the Coral Triangle but it’s so close to the imaginary line that you’ll still be blown away with the diversity of marine life and coral. While Palau hosts a healthy population of reef sharks and mantas thanks to it’s massive preservation efforts, what it’s most famous for is it’s highly unique lake full of stingless jellyfish. 

Moalboal Philippines

Coral Reef Scene with beautiful light in pescador island

Moalboal is a small coastal town in the south of Cebu island and it’s endless  fringing plateaus of reef which abruptly turn in to vertical walls that plunge into the blue abyss are iconic to the Philippines. The disco colored mandarine fish are found in colonies along the shallows while one of the largest residential shoals of sardines swarms just just meters off the soft coral covered walls. 


The group met for dinner on the first evening, after arriving in Bali and checking into the airport hotel. We shared a delicious traditional Balinese meal, served family-style while getting to know each other a little. As expected, people were tired from the long journey and jetlag so we went to bed early.

The following morning we reconvened in the lobby and met a local English speaking guide who accompanied us (and our luggage) to a waiting bus. As we drove through Bali, towards Uluwatu, he told us about the local people and customs and about the historical and religious significance of the beautiful places we were to visit that morning.

First stop was Uluwatu Temple- a traditional style- old Hindu temple, built on the edge of a high cliff, with spectacular views of the ocean down below. We also got to watch some local kids who were there practicing playing their musical instruments and dancing. So sweet. We went in search of some Macaque monkeys as we did not immediately see them around.

Uluwatu temple and ocean cliff

We then returned to the bus and went to the GWK park, a government cultural and tourist park on the way back to the airport. It is most well known for the 263m statue of Lord Vishnu on the back of his Garuda (eagle). It is a magnificent sight.

Upon return to the airport, we received packed lunch from the guide before leaving to check in for our onward flight to Kupang. Here we transferred to the hotel to check-in, and meet in the restaurant for a well deserved cold beer and a few giggles before dinner, and bed.

This meant by the next morning we were all feeling well-rested and fresh and knew each other a little better so the real fun could begin. A short transfer and flight later, we were on our way to Alami Alor resort. Located on the eastern island of Alor, the drive took about an hour and gave us a chance to take in the scenery.

Upon arrival at the resort, we were met by some of the friendliest staff, who quickly figured out who was who and which bags belonged to each of us, before taking the bags to our rooms for us. The rooms are individual bungalows, well-paced from each other for privacy, built on the rocky shore of the island, with large private verandas, partially outdoor garden bathrooms, huge beds and spectacular views over the bay and surrounding volcanoes.

After settling in we met in the communal lounge and dining area, a large open-sided structure with a stunning view of the calm blue water. Here we settled into the comfy couches and had a welcome briefing before lunch- a delicious spread of local food fit for royalty.

Alami Alor Resort

After lunch, we got to the really good stuff- snorkeling! We were eager to hit the water, and none of us was disappointed. We visited two sites that afternoon, one form the boat and the other from the resort’s jetty, the house reef. We were all instantly taken by the stunning (25m+) viability, the lush reef teeming with small fish and critters, and the schooling fish hanging around off the side of the reef. We returned for showers and evening cocktails as very happy people.

Diamond spadefish below jetty in Alor

The following days were spent more or less as follows- breakfast (pre-ordered the evening before from a menu) and freshly ground and percolated coffee, followed by aa trip on the boats out to two sites. We would spend about 1h15 – 1h45 at each site exploring the wealth of marine life that varied so greatly depending on the location. From sandy bottoms with coral bommies to sloping reefs, to boulders dropping off into the deep, to volcanic geysers bubbling through the substrate, we were constantly entertained and enthralled. We were treated to tea and water, and homemade baked goods and fruit on the boat between snorkel sessions! After a leisurely lunch back at the resort, we would go to one more site for the afternoon before returning to home base to relax in the lounge while looking at our photos and trying to identify all the previously-unseen creatures in the fish ID books the resort has on the coffee tables.

Aerial view of Blue Whale

The week was not without much excitement. Highlights were- Blue Whales in the bay!! Schooling dolphins and tuna hunting small fish leaping out of the water putting on a fantastic display! A mola-mola (sunfish) coming to say hello to us on the reef! Loads of tropical fish, nudibranchs, octopus, small critters, and Mandarin Fish mating!! Every day we thought “wow, this could not get better”, and the following day we would be proven wrong. Simply amazing.

After a spectacular week we traveled together to Labuan Bajo, western Flores, were we transferred by boat to the stunning island resort- Komodo Resort. The boat ride over treated us to the best view of the red-skied sunset.

Komodo Resort Beach Bar

After arriving and checking into our beachfront luxury bungalows, we met for dinner and a drink before bed. The following morning, we were back at it! Here we spent our days on a large wooden boat, leaving the resort around 9 am and staying out until about 4 pm. We would visit two sites in the mornings before lunch on the boat (a yummy buffet of local dishes and fresh fruit) and then another site after lunch. The first day we were lucky enough to snorkel with 5 manta rays, and we knew right then that we week was going to be special. And boy was it ever. From watching a cuttlefish lay her eggs into the hard coral, to drift snorkeling, more manta rays, countless turtles, octopus, eagle ray, eels and more, we were simply delighted at every turn.

Green sea turtle sleeping on reef

The house reef at Komodo Resort is utterly exceptional, and we snorkeled it several times, with many people agreeing it is one of the best reefs in and around the Komodo National Park.
Evenings at the resort were spent watching stunning sunsets from the beach bar, while chatting, looking through photos, exchanging funny stories and generally recapping the day’s events and new sightings.

Komodo Resort Island

By the end of the tour, we felt like we had all known each other for ages (far longer than the two weeks it had been) and were sorry to have to say goodbye when we got back to the airport in Bali.