Divesites in Indonesia
With more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has more than 15% of the worlds coral reefs. Despite this enormous potential Indonesia has only two places with a well-developed dive industry; Bali and Manado. The infrastructure in the country is bad and aeroplanes to remote provinces are few and are often cancelled. Indonesias state owned passenger liner PELNI is reliable and has some good routes, but unfortunately you could wait up to 2-4 weeks between departures. It is inconvenient and time-consuming to travel to the best divesite, but it is worth it. Unfortunately Indonesias coral reefs are being destroyed with alarming speed. The allied left thousands of tons of explosives after W.W.II which the locals have used in fishing. Furthermore the reefs are under treat from sewage and silt caused by the expanding population.

Komodo: 2-3 days from Bali with bus and boat. Komodo and the surrounding rugged and barren islands are best known for their dragons (Varanus comodoensis). Almost no people live here and most of the inhabitants are descendants of convicts. This is the scene for some of the best diving in Indonesia. Often the current is fierce, but the selection of coral and fish species is top of the pops. Visibility between 5 and 50 meters. When I visited Komodo in January and February I saw a lot of mantarays, but visibility was bad.
Sabolan Kecil (****): Slope. Beautiful soft corals, gorgonians and sponges. Few hard corals. Large selection of smaller reef fish, especially many schools of blue triggerfish. Octopus and larger fish like napoleonfish and many sharks (black- and whitetip reefsharks). Some current.
Sabolan Besar(****): Slope. Beautiful soft corals, gorgonians and sponges. Few hard corals. Large selection of smaller reef fish. Large royal-, sixbanded- and emperor angelfish. Many  sharks (black- and whitetip reefsharks). Slight current.
Tatawa Kecil(*****): Slope. Very strong current! Beautiful hard- and soft corals and sponges. Incredible selection of fish both large pelagic and smaller reeffish. Sharks, mantarays, napoleonfish, groupers, etc. Everything you could wish for!
Sabayar Kecil(*****): Drop off to 30 meters ending in a sand bottom. Hard current. Beautiful corals. Mantarays, large angelfish, groupers and napoleonfish.

Maumere, Flores: Once one of Indonesias top divesites, but an earthquake destroyed many corals in 1992. Since then the corals have started to regenerate, but it will take many years for the reefs to recover completely. Althoug Maumere is no longer a top divesite it is pretty good and still a lot better than the Gili islands and many places in Thailand. Visibility 5-20 meters.
Pangabatang south (****): Slope ending in a sandy bottom around 30 meters of water. The corals are beautiful and have recovered well since the earthquake. In the deeper part you will see big fish like sharks (white + blacktip reefsharks), napoleonfish, bumphead parrotfish, big angelfish and tuna. There are a lot of moray eels and  spiny lobsters on the slope. I was lucky to see a mantaray.
Pangabatang south-east (***): Slope ending in a sandy bottom around 30 meters of water. I sandy bottom bluespottet stingrays, garden eels and crocodilefish (flatheads) can be seen. Below 15 meters you see larger fish like barracuda and tuna. There are a lot of lobsters and moray eels on the slope.

Riau to Anambas: There are no diveshops in Anambas, but the area are accessible by live-aboards operating from Batam or Singapore. These waters hides several large shipwrecks as they are among the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Visibility varies alot dependent on proximity to land, current and the time of year.
Seven Skies (*****): This Danish build supertanker was on its way back from Japan to Sumatra when it sank in 1968 following an explosion caused by welding. The wreck is broken into two. The superstructure is standing upright on the sandy bottom at 80 m. The top of the wreck is at around 25 m. The wreck is overgrown with beautiful softcorals, sponges and hydroids. There are plenty of rooms to penetrate on the superstructure, but you need double tanks, as these are below 35 m. The fish life are plenty with schools of barracudas, snappers, fusiliers and jacks.
Igara (****): Also known as Turtle Wreck, this huge freighter stands upright on a sandy bottom at 40 m. The top of the wreck is at only 16 m. The ship sank in 1973 after hitting uncharted rocks. The superstructure of the 300 m long ship was salvaged, but the remaining ~180 m are intact with only a few cracks in the hull. Of the 4 cargobays, 2 are completely opened, one partly cowered and one closed. 3 resident nurse sharks are sometimes spotted in the storage rooms in the stern. The wreck is overgrown with softcorals, sponges and hydroids and the fish life is plentifull. Expect to see schools of barracudas, snappers and fusiliers. There are many angelfish and groupers and the inquisitive batfish are everywhere.
Pulau Damar(***): About one hour sail from the Seven Skies, you will find this big rock fringed by a slope with reasonable hardcorals and ending in a sandy bottom. During a nightdive here I saw a turtle, a big moray eel, a pufferfish being servised by a cleanershrimp, a large cuttlefish, a scorpionfish and several crabs and shrimps.
Katoaka Rock (***): An underwarter rock about one hour sail from the Seven Skies. The top is at 10 m with a gradual slope ending in a sandy bottom around 20 m. The hard corals are nice but nothing special. Expect to see angelfish, bluespottet stingrays and batfish. During  a one hour dive here I saw several pairs of eaglerays.
Pulau Mapor (***): About one hour sail from the Igara. Some of the divesites here are nice vith good hard corals and many gorgonian seafans below 20 m. In the sandy bottom at 25-30 m there are bluespottet stingrays, shrimpgobies and lizard fishes. There are many turtles, angelfish, batfish and smaler reef fish. During a short night dive I saw several large red squids, flatworms crabs and numerous shrimps.

Bali: Even though Bali is not one of Indonesias top divesites, the island has surprisingly good diving. You will find diveshops on every beach visited by tourists, and the island has one of Indonesias best infrastructure. Most divesites can be reached in one or two hours from Denpasar or Kuta.
USS Liberty, Tulamben (***): 30 meters from the coast lies this W.W.II wreck, which is broken into several pieces because of an earthquake in 1963. The wreck is scattered over more than 150 meters and is so damaged that it is hardly recognisable as a ship. The overgrown canon is clearly visible You can swim through the wreck, but because of the damage you will always see sunlight. The dept is between 3 and 29 meters, and you can easily snorkel over the top of the wreck. In and around the wreck lives schools of  tuna, jackfish, napoleonfish, parrotfish, groupers, garden eels, big angelfish, unicornfish, bluespottet stingrays and 400 smaller species of reef fish. 50 meters from the wreck is a colony of garden eels.
Drop off, Tulamben (****): Wall ending in a sandy bottom at 30-40 meters of water. A few larger reeffish like parrotfish, snapper, grouper, big sweetlips and angelfish. Solitary tunas and octopus. The corals are nice but in one place they are damaged by dynamite fishing. Schools of smaller jackfish, snappers and fusiliers can be found in the shallow.
Batu Kelebit(***): Wall/Slope ending in a sandy bottom below 45m. Mostly cowered in hard corals with some gorgonians, but interrupted by sandy patches. Bumphead parrotfish, big snappers and sweetlips, jackfish and fusiliers as well as the usual smaller reeffish are abundant.
Gili Selang (*****): Wall/Steep slope with nice hard and soft corals and gorgonians. Gentle slope to about 10m with a steeper slope or wall below ending in a sandy bottom. Very strong and unpredictable current. This is a divesite only for the experienced as strong up and down currents are garanteed. Large whitetip reefsharks with suckerfish, large snappers and sweetlips are abundant. In deeper waters banded seasnakes, jackfish, tuna, napoleon fish can be found and in the shallower water ribbon eels and the usual smaller reeffish are plentyfull.
Gili Selang Village & East, Amed (****): Gentle Steep slope to >40m. Softcorals almost completely cowers the sandy bottom. Only a few hardcorals and some gorgonians deeper. The currents are very strong and the direction unpredictable. This is not at dive for the inexperienced. Larger predatory fish like sweetlips, snappers, barracudas and tuna are abundant as well as the myriads of smaller reeffish. Bluespotted stingrays and banded seasnakes can be seen below 10m.
Gili Tepekong (Batu Tiga), Candi Dasa (****): Slope with strong current. Here are a lot of big fish. Sharks (white tip reefsharks), tuna, sweetlips, big angelfish and titan triggerfish. Moray eels, lobsters and shrimps hide in the corals. A small school of bumphead parrotfish lives here. Between 10 and 20 meters the corals are beautiful, but below 25 meters the corals give way to a sandy bottom. The great selection of fish more than compensate for the slightly damaged corals in the shallow. 
Gili Mimpang, Candi Dasa (*****): Slope with big rocks, pinnacles, caves and some current. Beautiful hard and soft corals and many sponges. A lot of big fish like tuna, sweetlips, groupers, unicornfish, parrotfish, and bluespotted stingrays. Cuttlefish and octopusses hide among the rocks and juvinile whitetip reefsharks can be found in the caves and crevices. In season (between october and december) mola-mola or oceanic sunfish can be seen here although we only managed to spot one with the caracteristic fin sticking about half a meeter out of the surface.
Blue Lagoon, Padangbay (***): Sandy Slope with good coral cower. Small wall with nice hard corals. Nudibranches, leaffish and frogfish inhabit the shallow waters. Boxershrimps and cleanershrimps are abundant. Larger predatory fish like sweetlips, snappers and jackfish can be found deeper.
Tanjung Bungsol, Padangbay (***): Sandy slope with various degree of coral cower. Nice soft corals in the shallow. Some seafans in deeper waters and many hydroids. Barrelsponges inhabited by frogfishes, nudibranches and the usual smaller reeffish are found in the shallow water.

Bira, South Sulawesi: 3-4 hours by bus from Ujung Pandang (Makasar) is Bira, a resort (mostly for Indonesians) which has seen better days. Two diveshops both with run down equipment are situated at Pantai Bira (the beach). Be aware, when we surfaced after my dive off Pulau Kambing we drifted in the water (the strong current was away from the shore) for one hour before the boat picked us up. Although we swam towards the coast we drifted several kilometres into open see. After that dive the divemaster told me that in 1998 six Japanese instructors dissappeared after a dive off Pulau Kambing and their bodies was newer found. Although the dive was on of my best ever, I doubt I would have made it if I had this knowledge.
Pulau Kambing (*****): Drop off ending at 50-70 meters. Slight to fierce current. Here are lots of whitetip reefsharks. Constantly you see at least one shark. On the 60 minutes dive I stopped counting at 20! Schools of blue triggerfish, bluespottet stingrays, moray eels and many angelfish. Especially the soft corals are nice.
Maru Masa (****): Slope ending in a sandy bottom with sporadic coral cover at 30-40 meters. Here are a lot of green turtles. In a one hour dive I saw three and another three when I snorkelled after the dive. Many blue triggerfish, angelfish, snappers, bluespottet stingrays and schools of batfish.
Cape Bira (***): Slope ending in a sandy bottom with sporadic coral cover at 30-40 meters. Here are a few whitetip reefsharks at 20-40 meters of water. Lots of blue triggerfish and some moray eels and bluespotted stingrays. Beautiful soft corals.
Pantai Bira (****): Drop off ending in a sandy bottom at 20 meters. On the sand lives different kinds of stingrays and some crocodilefish (flatheads). I a 60 minute dive I saw two schools of bumphead parrotfish, a whitetip reefshark and three mantarays. Here are nice soft corals and a few green turtles.

Manado, North Sulawesi: With at least ten diveshops and direct flight to Singapore and Davao on the Philippines, Manado have become Indonesias best known dive destination. Visibility is between 10 and 30 meters, limited by the high concentration of plankton. Almost all the divesites are drop off's.
Bulao, Manado Tua (***): Drop off until 40-50 meters. Beautiful soft corals. Lots of nudibranches. Napoleonfish, seasnakes, lobster (spiny lobster), many titan triggerfish and royal angelfish.
Muka Gereja, Manado Tua (****): Drop off until 40-50 meters. Nice soft corals. Lots off nudibranches.
Bunaken Timur II (****): Drop off until 80-90 meters. Many bluespotted stingrays, moray eels, barracuda, big angelfish, sweetlips, schools of fusiliers and solitary groupers. Here I watched a cuttlefish laying eggs.
Raymond, Bunaken (*****): Drop off. Sometimes strong current. Many big fish below 15 meters. In a 70 minute dive I saw two green turtles, three eaglerays, two blacktip reefsharks, five bluespotted stingrays, several napoleonfish, a school of bumphead parrotfish, barracudas and different species of tuna. Many shellfish; spiny lobster, hermit crabs, shrimps, porcelain crabs, etc.
Lobster Cave, Bunaken (****): Drop off with a small cave. Some times strong current. Like Raymond.
Leukan 1, Bunaken (****): Drop off to more than 100 meters. Napoleonfish, turtles (green turtles), schools of bumphead parrotfish, seasnakes (banded colubrine seasnakes), sharks, groupers and other big fish. Nice soft- and hard corals and sponges. Many giant clams and other shellfish.
Leukan 2, Bunaken (****): Like Leukan 1.
Leukan 3, Bunaken (****): Like Leukan 1.
Alumbanua, Bunaken (****): Drop off. Beautiful soft corals and sponges. Many nudibranches and giant clams.
Kampung Bunaken (****): Drop off. Big fish like black- and whitetip reefsharks, barracuda, tuna, etc. Many shellfish; shrimps, lobster (spiny lobster, slipper lobster), crabs (swimming crabs, porcelain crabs) and giant clams.
Murex Beach (Murex Housereef), Manado (**): Slope. Corals on a sandy bottom. Many moray eels and bluespotted stingrays. No larger fish. Only for Murex's dive courses.
Tobelo, Halmahera, North Maluku: It is not easy getting to Tobelo. First one has to go to Ternate which can be reached by aeroplane or ferry from Manado (North Sulawesi) or Kota Ambon (central Maluku). From Ternate it's one day by speedboat and jeep to Tobelo. It is difficult and time demanding travelling around Maluku. Nobody understands English and it's necessary to speak a little Indonesian (Malay). But it's worth the trouble. Here are some of the Worlds top divesites, and there are several wrecks from W.W.II within snorkelling range.
Kakara SW (*****): Drop off. Exquisite hard- and soft corals and sponges. An impressive amount of smaller fish inhabits the reef. Many different kinds of nudibranches and shellfish like trumpet triton lives in the corals. Schools of batfish and big angelfish.
Pawole NW (****): Drop off. Many big fish like tuna, sweetlips, groupers, jackfish, schools of batfish. Lots of nudibranches.
Pawole NE (*****): Drop off. The amount of pelagics are impressive. Schools of several different tuna species, jackfish, bumphead parrotfish, fusiliers and batfish are always within sight. Several stingrays and napoleonfish.
W.W.II wrecks, Kao: Two Japanese freighters was sunk by American fighter planes about half a kilometer offshore Kao. The top of both wrecks is above the surface. Visibility is below 10 meters. The wrecks are home to schools of fusiliers, lionfish and sweetlips. Some soft corals, oysters, sponges and tunicates grow on the wrecks. A great place for snorkeling. 
WW2 wreck, Malifut: A 100 meters long Japanese freighter about half a kilometer offshore Malifut. Another good place to snorkel. Again the top of the wreck is above the surface and visibility is below 10 meters.The wreck is overgrown with soft corals, oysters and sponges. Schools of fusiliers swim in and out of the wreck. Lionfish are lurking around the wreck.
Shipwreck, Galela Harbour: A five years old wreck that was sunk because of a fire. The dept is between 2-20 meters The wreck is home to lionfish, nudibranches and lots of smaller reeffish. Already sponges, oysters and soft corals grow everywhere in the wreck. Another great place for snorkeling. 

Gili Islands, Lombok: Can be reached in one day from Kuta or Denpasar on Bali by bus and boat. The diving around the islands is nothing special. Most of the corals are damaged by dynamite fishing. A lot of turtles live around the islands, but they are best observed by snorkeling. When I visited Gili islands in January I saw a lot of mantarays, but they don't hang around all year and the visibility was bad. Gili Trawangan has about ten diveshops and Gili Air a few. All do PADI courses.
Shark Point (***): Slope. The name is no exaggeration. Many whitetip- and blacktip reef sharks. A few octopuses and cuttlefish. The corals are damaged.
Turbo Reef (**): Octopus) and giant clam is the only thing worth mentioning. Damaged corals and few fish.
House Reef/Harbour (*): Only octopus and cuttlefish are of any interest at this site. No living corals and very few fish.


Underwater Photos

Indonesian Divesites

Philippine Divesites

Malaysian Divesites