Komodo diving topped off with a visit to the dragons made for a fabulous adventure!

Greg Hamman

Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat dive trips cruise the West Papua province of Indonesia which encompasses 1,500 small islands, cays and shoals surrounding the four main islands of Waigei, Batanta, Salawati and Misool. The itinerary can include Misool National Park, Dampier Strait, Penemu, Farondi and Arborek depending on length of the trip.

The remote nature of these islands has protected the marine life and maintained their status as the world’s most biodiverse and healthy reefs. Raja Ampat is home to over 1,500 species of fish, 500 species of coral and 15 species of marine mammals. Raja Ampat is a scuba diver’s dreamland where divers can hope to see manta rays, pygmy seahorses, wobbegong sharks and a rainbow of colors along the coral gardens.

Dive Cape Kri, for most species of fish identified (374) on a single dive.

  • Number of dives:  26 to 42 depending upon trip length
  • Highlights:  Enormous schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as wobbegongs, large groups of manta rays and turtles
  • Reefs:  Soft and hard corals, sloping reefs, vertical walls, tunnels, caverns
  • Shore excursions:  An oyster farm, hikes to Penemu Landing’s scenic overlook, a local fishermen village
  • Skill level:  Intermediate to advanced, mostly drift diving, recommended at least 50 dives experience
  • When to go:  November to April
  • Water temperature:  81-86F, 27–30C

Komodo

Discover one of the most species diverse locations in Indonesia, reputed for the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard species on earth. The island also forms part of the Komodo National Park and is only one of seven locations in the world with pink sand beaches (white sand mixed with red foraminifera). Dive Komodo’s world famous site Manta Alley where you can spot up to a dozen oceanic manta rays swirling through a feeding station. The Cauldron, also known as Shotgun, is a swift drift that will send you on a ride to remember. The night dives in Komodo are one of the highlights with colorful nudibranchs, crustaceans, eels, frogfish and octopus.

  • Number of dives:  18 to 29 depending upon length of stay
  • Highlights:  Manta rays, ocean sunfish, pygmy seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, eagles rays and dolphins
  • Reefs:  260 reef-building corals; 70 sponges and 1,000 fish, wall dives, pinnacles, sea mounts, shallow reefs and deep swim-throughs, tidal changes currents originate from deeper, cooler water holding large amounts of nutrients and planktonic organisms that fertilize reefs
  • Shore excursions:  Komodo dragons in Komodo National Park, pink sand beaches
  • Skill level:  Advanced open water, mostly drift diving due to currents, recommended at least 50 dives experience
  • When to go:  May to October
  • Water temperature:  79-83F, 26-29C

Forgotten Islands (Alor)

If you dream of perfect isolation, crystal clear waters and eye popping corals then liveaboard diving in the Forgotten Islands (see also Banda Sea details) is definitely for you.  Here you will find good visibility and currents but luckily that means the chance to see bigger animals as well as the usual host of unusual critters associated with this part of the world. The itinerary can include Kuwala, Pantar, Alor Strait, Kalawasi Bay and East Flores (see also Banda Sea details) depending on length of the trip. These islands have the Indian Ocean to the south and Pacific Ocean to the north so water temperatures can vary depending upon the side of the island.

  • Number of dives:  23 to 40 depending upon trip length
  • Highlights:  Mandarinfish, blue ringed octopus, frogfish, snappers and barracuda, sea snakes, white tipped and gray reef sharks, possible mola mola and thresher sharks
  • Reefs:  Chock full of vibrantly colored hard and soft corals
  • Shore excursions:  View an active volcano and visit hot springs
  • Skill level:  Advanced open water, mostly drift diving, recommended at least 50 dives experience
  • When to go:  March to May or October to November
  • Water temperature:  South of islands 75-77F, 24-25C, north of islands 80-84F, 27-28C

Banda Sea

Located between the two top diving destinations Papau and Java, the Banda Sea is an absolute underwater playground for scuba divers. The plankton blooms mean the reefs and sea mounts are overflowing with marine life. The Banda Sea is also home to a group of the Moluccas Islands to the north and the Forgotten Islands (see separate details) to the south. The itinerary can include East Flores (see also Forgotten Islands (Alor), Komba, Ring of Fire, Nusa Laut and Ambon depending on the length of trip.

Visit Manuk, also known as Snake Island, one of the best spots to view sea snakes. Be sure to keep your eye on the blue on the wall dives as sharks, barracudas, tuna and trevallies are often observed. Ambon (in the Moluccas) is the best place in the world for muck diving with only Lembeh Strait as a close second. This is on every macro photographer’s wish list with frogfish, nudibranchs, cuttlefish, seahorses, pipefish, juvenile spadefish and batfish and harlequin shrimp, all waiting to be found and captured digitally.

  • Number of dives:  23 to 40 depending on length of stay
  • Highlights:  Huge shoals of mobula rays, eagle rays, white tipped reef sharks, and if fortunate schooling hammerhead sharks too
  • Reefs:  Lush hard and soft corals
  • Shore excursions:  Hot springs
  • Skill level:  Advanced open water, mostly drift diving, recommended at least 50 dives experience
  • When to go:  April, October
  • Water temperature:  North of islands 80-84F, 27-28C except south of Forgotten Islands 75-77F, 24-25C

Maluku

The Maluku trips cover a variety of dive areas from Raja Ampat, Misool, Maluku, and Ambon with many areas only visited by dive liveaboards like the All Star Indonesia. The marine biodiversity in this area is unsurpassed. You will see a large variety of fish from the small pygmy seahorse to large mantas and sharks. Ambon is the best place in the world for muck diving. This is on every macro photographer’s wish list with frogfish, nudibranchs, cuttlefish, seahorses, pipefish, juvenile spadefish and batfish and harlequin shrimp, all waiting to be found and captured digitally.

  • Number of dives:  28 to 40 depending on length of stay
  • Highlights:  Schools of surgeonfish, big eye trevallies, fusiliers, dogtooth tuna, eagle rays, barracudas, turtles, batfish, barracuda, giant groupers, manta rays and wobbegong sharks
  • Reefs:  On the reef, soft corals, leather corals, tunnels, caverns, walls, coral gardens
  • Shore excursions:  Local fishermen village, birdwatching,
  • Skill level:  Intermediate to advanced, mostly drift diving, recommended at least 50 dives experience
  • When to go:  April and November
  • Water temperature:  81-86F, 27-30C