Divesites in Indonesia
With more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has more than
of the worlds coral reefs. Despite this enormous potential Indonesia
only two places with a well-developed dive industry; Bali and Manado.
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
to travel to the best divesite, but it is worth it. Unfortunately
coral reefs are being destroyed with alarming speed. The allied left
of tons of explosives after W.W.II which the locals have used in
Furthermore the reefs are under treat from sewage and silt caused by
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
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
is fierce, but the selection of coral and fish species is top of the
Visibility between 5 and 50 meters. When I visited Komodo in January
February I saw a lot of mantarays,
Sabolan Kecil (****): Slope.
Beautiful soft corals, gorgonians and sponges.
Few hard corals. Large
selection of smaller reef fish, especially many
schools of blue triggerfish.
and larger fish like napoleonfish
sharks (black- and whitetip reefsharks).
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
(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,
groupers, etc. Everything you
could wish for!
Sabayar Kecil(*****): Drop
off to 30 meters ending in a sand bottom. Hard current. Beautiful
Mantarays, large angelfish,
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
many years for the reefs to recover completely. Althoug Maumere is no
a top divesite it is pretty good and still a lot better than the Gili
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
and have recovered well since the earthquake. In the deeper part you
see big fish like sharks (white +
blacktip reefsharks), napoleonfish,
parrotfish, big angelfish
There are a lot of moray eels
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
(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.
(*****): 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.
(****): 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,
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
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.
Even though Bali is
not one of Indonesias top divesites, the island has surprisingly good
You will find diveshops on every beach visited by tourists, and the
has one of Indonesias best infrastructure. Most divesites can be
or two hours from Denpasar or Kuta.
Tulamben (***): 30
meters from the coast lies this W.W.II wreck, which is broken into
pieces because of an earthquake in 1963. The wreck is scattered over
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
snorkel over the top of the wreck. In and around the wreck lives
of tuna, jackfish,
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
Drop off, Tulamben (****): Wall
ending in a sandy bottom at 30-40 meters of water. A few larger
like parrotfish, snapper,
grouper, big sweetlips
and angelfish. Solitary
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
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
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
are abundant. In deeper waters banded
seasnakes, jackfish, tuna,
napoleon fish can be found and
in the shallower water ribbon
the usual smaller reeffish are plentyfull.
Village & East, Amed (****): Gentle Steep slope to >40m.
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 (****):
with strong current. Here are a lot of big fish. Sharks
(white tip reefsharks), tuna, sweetlips,
big angelfish and titan
triggerfish. Moray eels,
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
of fish more than compensate for the slightly damaged corals in the
Gili Mimpang, Candi Dasa (*****): Slope
with big rocks, pinnacles, caves and some current. Beautiful hard and
and many sponges. A lot of big fish
and bluespotted stingrays.
Cuttlefish and octopusses hide among the
rocks and juvinile whitetip
reefsharks can be found in the caves and crevices. In season
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
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.
Sulawesi: 3-4 hours by bus from Ujung
Pandang (Makasar) is Bira,
a resort (mostly for Indonesians) which has seen better days. Two
both with run down equipment are situated at Pantai Bira (the beach).
aware, when we surfaced after my dive off Pulau Kambing we
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
several kilometres into open see. After that dive the divemaster told
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
Maru Masa (****): Slope
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
bluespottet stingrays and schools of batfish.
Cape Bira (***): Slope
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.
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
mantarays. Here are nice soft corals and a few
With at least ten diveshops and direct flight to
and Davao on the Philippines, Manado have become Indonesias best known
dive destination. Visibility is between 10 and
meters, limited by the high concentration of plankton. Almost all the
are drop off's.
Bulao, Manado Tua (***): Drop
off until 40-50 meters. Beautiful soft corals. Lots
seasnakes, lobster (spiny
lobster), many titan
triggerfish and royal
Muka Gereja, Manado Tua (****): Drop
off until 40-50 meters. Nice soft corals. Lots off
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
Raymond, Bunaken (*****): Drop
off. Sometimes strong current. Many big fish
15 meters. In a 70 minute dive I saw two green turtles,
three eaglerays, two blacktip
reefsharks, five bluespotted
a school of bumphead
and different species
of tuna. Many shellfish; spiny
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.
turtles (green turtles),
schools of bumphead
parrotfish, seasnakes (banded
sharks, groupers and
other big fish. Nice soft-
and hard corals and sponges.
Many giant clams and other
Leukan 2, Bunaken (****): Like
Leukan 3, Bunaken (****): Like
Alumbanua, Bunaken (****): Drop
off. Beautiful soft corals and sponges.
Kampung Bunaken (****): Drop
off. Big fish like black- and whitetip
Many shellfish; shrimps, lobster
(spiny lobster, slipper lobster), crabs (swimming
crabs, porcelain crabs) and giant
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.
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
(central Maluku). From Ternate it's one day by speedboat and jeep to
It is difficult and time demanding travelling around Maluku. Nobody
English and it's necessary to speak a little Indonesian (Malay). But
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
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
Many big fish like tuna, sweetlips,
schools of batfish. Lots of nudibranches.
Pawole NE (*****): Drop off. The amount of
are impressive. Schools of several different tuna
species, jackfish, bumphead
within sight. Several stingrays and
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
lionfish and sweetlips.
Some soft corals, oysters, sponges and tunicates
grow on the wrecks. A great place for snorkeling.
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
Lionfish are lurking around
Shipwreck, Galela Harbour: A five years old
that was sunk because of a fire. The dept is between 2-20 meters The
is home to lionfish, nudibranches
and lots of smaller reeffish. Already sponges,
soft corals grow
everywhere in the wreck. Another great place
be reached in one day from Kuta or Denpasar on Bali by bus and boat.
diving around the islands is nothing special. Most of the corals are
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
Shark Point (***): Slope.
The name is no exaggeration. Many whitetip-
reef sharks. A few octopuses
The corals are damaged.
Turbo Reef (**): Octopus)
and giant clam is the only thing
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.