Love Indonesia ? Here are 11 Must-dive Indonesian Dive Destinations

by    DiveSSI    30th July 2019
A colorful, healthy, tropical coral reef at dawn
A colorful, healthy, tropical coral reef at dawn.
Whale shark feeding below a floating fishing platform, Cenderawasih Bay, West Papua, Indonesia.
Whale shark feeding below a floating fishing platform, Cenderawasih Bay, West Papua, an Indonesian dive destination.
Beach of Gili Meno, indonesia
Beach of Gili Meno, Indonesia.
Manta ray filter feeding above a coral reef in the blue Komodo waters
Manta ray filter feeding above a coral reef in the blue Komodo waters - an Indonesian Dive Destination
Zentral-Sulawesi, Unterwasser
Zentral-Sulawesi underwater
Landscape view from the top of Padar island in Komodo islands, Flores, Indonesia.
Landscape view from the top of Padar island in Komodo islands, Flores, Indonesia.
Painted Frogfish
Painted Frogfish
Pygmee seahorse yellow. Indonesia Sulawesi. Indonesia Sulawesi Lembehstreet
A yellow Pygmee seahorse which was seen at the Indonesian dive destination Sulawesi.
Fam islands
Fam islands
Healthy Corals in Wakatobi National Park
Healthy Corals in Wakatobi National Park

Indonesia, one of the best-loved liveaboard diving destinations in the world, has so much to offer it can be overwhelming choosing where to go. But have no fear! We’ve done the hard work for you. Here are our 11 must-dive Indonesian dive destinations to explore.

Dive Destinations in Indonesia

1. Komodo National Park

An iconic Indonesia dive destination, the Komodo National Park has something for everyone.
Not only is the diving world-class at Komodo, you can visit a rare pink sand beach (one of only 7 in the world), cruise among 29 islands, go hiking, and enjoy dramatic island vistas with sweeping white sand bays. All of which confirms Komodo National Park’s understandable status as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Don’t miss these Komodo highlights while you’re there:

  • Swimming with huge sunfish at Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida (July to October)
  • Walking with iconic Komodo dragons on Rinca
  • Diving with numerous manta rays (December to February)

Who is the diving suitable for: Intermediate and advanced divers due to very strong currents and shifting tides

Top liveaboard choice: Emperor Raja Laut for safaris including Nusa Penida

2. Raja Ampat

Seeing the striking and much-photographed 1500 islands of Raja Ampat first-hand is reason enough to explore this idyllic destination. Go diving at Raja Ampat and you’ll discover a world of exceptional marine biodiversity, with colourful soft corals, abundant hard corals, reef sharks, wobbegongs, numerous schools of fish and plenty of macro life.

Don’t miss these Raja Ampat highlights:

  • Swim at Misool’s jellyfish lake. It’s teeming with thousands of non-stinging jellies
  • Go Manta Ridge diving to witness groups of up to 25 manta rays at cleaning stations
  • Search for Indonesia’s famous ‘walking sharks’, epaulette sharks, at Misool

Who is the diving suitable for: Intermediate divers comfortable with drift diving

Top liveaboard choice: Tiare for luxurious Raja Ampat cruises with just 12 other guests.

 

3. Cenderawasih Bay

Although technically in Raja Ampat, Cenderawasih Bay diving deserves a mention of its own. This special destination is renowned for its approachable whale sharks. All along Kwatisore Bay in Cenderawasih, fishermen use floating platforms to secure their nets and have always given part of their catch to the whale sharks.
This special relationship has resulted in a unique dive destination where the whale sharks are completely at ease with divers and snorkellers, allowing you to get close to these spotty giants.

Who is the diving suitable for: Intermediate divers given the occasional strong currents.

Top liveaboard choice: Calico Jack offers Cenderawasih Bay safaris during August to September each year.

 

4. Wakatobi National Park

Wakatobi National Park has long been known as one of Indonesia’s top dive destinations and is a huge UNESCO Biosphere Reserve covering 1.39 million hectares. This remarkable conservation-focussed destination is home to some of the healthiest reefs in the world, perfect for both snorkellers and divers who love exploring coral reef life.

Don’t miss these Wakatobi highlights:

  • Visiting short-finned pilot whales (November to April)
  • Fish spawning in their thousands (July and August)
  • Roma dive site; one of Wakatobi’s finest pinnacle dives, known and loved by all

Who is the diving suitable for: All experience levels

Top liveaboard choice: Duyung Baru for an intimate Wakatobi cruise with just 6 guests maximum.

 

5. Lembeh Strait

If you’re a fan of tiny marine life, especially weird and wonderful critters, Lembeh Strait is for you. This unique dive destination is known as the ‘muck diving capital of the world’ and doesn’t disappoint.

More than 30 black sand dive sites are busy with brightly-coloured nudibranchs, mandarinfish, pygmy seahorses, frogfish, scorpionfish, ghost pipefish and more.

The list of critters is almost endless.

Don’t miss these Lembeh Strait highlights:

  • Peak critter season during July and August
  • Mawali Wreck, a Japanese WWII cargo ship completely encrusted in corals
  • Pink pygmy seahorses at Angel’s Window

Who is the diving suitable for: The many shallow dive sites make Lembeh suitable for all divers.

Top liveaboard choice: Raja Ampat Aggressor for 13-day safaris that include Lembeh, Halmahera and Raja Ampat.

 

6. Alor

Another excellent choice for black sand diving, Alor’s sands are full of life. The old lava flows of Alor are caked with corals and there are plenty of schooling fish to find.

Don’t miss these Alor highlights:

  • Biangabang beach is critter paradise, with sea moths, mantis shrimps, frogfish and excellent night diving
  • Surround yourself with numerous grey reef sharks and schools of tuna at Sharks Galore

Who is the diving suitable for: Experienced divers comfortable with strong currents.

Top liveaboard choice: Damai II for all-inclusive Alor cruises and an onboard spa for easing tired dive muscles.

 

7. The Gili Islands

If you’re looking for a laid-back dive destination, the Gili Islands are for you. These peaceful islands are known for their relaxed lifestyle, as well as easy diving, making them perfect for truly getting away from it all. The islands coral reefs are vibrant and busy with life, plus there’s a sea turtle conservation initiative you can visit at Gili Meno. Being small, the Gili Islands are often visited as part of Lombok liveaboard diving cruises. Alternatively, they make an excellent addition before or after your liveaboard safari.

Don’t miss these Gili Islands highlights:

  • Swimming with sea turtles at Han Rock, Gili Air
  • Exploring underwater caves and overhands at Deep Turbo
  • Diving with sharks and mantas at Shark Point

Who is the diving suitable for: All experience levels

Top liveaboard choice: Sea Safari VII includes the Gili Islands during some Bali and Komodo cruises.

 

8. Halmahera

A liveaboard safari to Halmahera is something special, during which you can dive an unexplored region of Indonesia. It’s the largest island of the Moluccas and has a species diversity comparable to neighbouring Raja Ampat, as well as diverse diving. There are muck dives, drift dives, coral gardens, caverns, swim-throughs, overhangs and more.

Don’t miss these Halmahera highlights:

  • Wall diving at Napo Siko, where you can see numerous turtles and sharks
  • Pisang Island’s dense coral gardens with huge vases and branching corals
  • Halmahera Strait’s pelagic action

Who is the diving suitable for: Experienced divers who enjoy exploratory diving

Top liveaboard choice: The elegant Mutiara Laut, which specialises in far-flung Indonesian dive safaris.

 

 9. Ambon

Ambon is as world-famous for muck diving as Lembeh, but with a difference. Unlike Lembeh, the sands are white and dotted with coral bommies, offering a welcome change for Indonesian muck divers.

Don’t miss these Ambon dive highlights:

  • Finding rare Ambon scorpionfish and Halimeda Ghost Pipefish
  • Watching the mating dance of the prettiest fish in the world; mandarinfish

Who is the diving suitable for: All experience levels

Top liveaboard choice: The Tambora offers luxury cruises to Ambon.

 

 10. Banda Islands

These tucked-away Indonesian islands were historically known as the Spice Islands and have healthy reefs and exciting wall dives far from any dive crowds. Pelagic fans can enjoy schools of dogtooth tuna, mobula rays, spinner dolphins and whales as they cruise the Banda Islands. Easy reef dives show off the abundant tropical fish and there is plenty of macro life to find.

Don’t miss these Banda Islands highlights:

  • Pulau Ai’s current dives with numerous sharks, barracuda and mobula rays
  • Spotting sea turtles and eagle rays at Batu Udang
  • Batu Payong’s shallow reefs, full of hard coral fields and stunning soft corals

Who is the diving suitable for: Intermediate to experienced divers

Top liveaboard choice: Mermaid I offers cruises to Raja Ampat and Ambon that include the Banda Islands.

 

11. Forgotten Islands

Last but by no means least, a Forgotten Islands liveaboard will take you through the Banda Sea and all the way to West Papua. These remote islands are perfect for adventurous diving. As the islands are so rarely visited and, in some case, not at all, the dive sites are utterly unspoilt. There are hundreds of coral and fish species, plus visiting whale sharks and crocodiles patrolling some of the islands coastlines. The volcanic landscapes are a striking backdrop to your dives and there are pinnacles, overhangs and swim-throughs to explore.

Don’t miss these Forgotten Islands highlights:

  • Large schools of barracuda, plus mantas and giant groupers at Manawoka
  • Nusa Laut’s pretty coral gardens with vivid turquoise vases
  • Palu Island’s black sands, patrolled by whitetip reef sharks and eagle rays

Who is the diving suitable for: Experienced divers who love an adventure.

Top liveaboard choice: The Oceanic liveaboard cruises the Forgotten Islands and offers adventurous safaris with no fixed route.

 

This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard.com

 

[caption id="attachment_5407" align="alignnone" width="550"] Pygmee seahorse yellow. Indonesia Sulawesi. Indonesia Sulawesi Lembehstreet[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5405" align="alignnone" width="550"] Landscape view from the top of Padar island in Komodo islands, Flores, Indonesia.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5403" align="alignnone" width="550"] Manta ray filter feeding above a coral reef in the blue Komodo waters[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_5402" align="alignnone" width="550"] Beach of Gili Meno, indonesia[/caption]

Written by
DiveSSI
Date
30th July 2019
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