1. Raja Ampat - West Papua
Known as the “Amazon of the sea”, the Raja Ampat Islands are a diver’s wet dream. According to the WWF, the first comprehensive survey carried out here succeeded in finding almost 1,000 species of tropical fish—a large proportion of which had previously been unknown! Raja Ampat comprises more than 1,500 islands, four of which are quite sizeable (Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo).
In an environment such as this, liveaboards offer the best way of exploring the area. “For land based diving, Misool is the best,” explains Cahyo Alkantana. In comparison with Indonesia’s other diving havens, Raja Ampat is comparatively expensive. However, according to Riyanni Djangkaru, the higher prices here are understandable when one considers the riches on offer. “There are no cheap diamonds,” she asserts.
Misool Eco Resort
Batbitim, Raja Ampat, email@example.com, www.misoolecoresort.com
Kri, Mansuar, Raja Ampat, T. 62 0811 480 7610, www.papua-diving.com
Raja Ampat Liveaboards
Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai 46e, Sanur, Bali, T. 62 361 282 664,
How to get there
The nearest airport is located in Sorong. You can fly with Garuda Indonesia from Jakarta to Makassar (vv 14 times a week), and then catch a flight from there to Sorong.
Bandara terdekat dari Raja Ampat terletak di Sorong. Anda bisa terbang menggunakan Garuda Indonesia dari Jakarta ke Makassar (pp 14 kali per minggu), lalu meneruskan penerbangan ke Sorong.
2. Komodo National Park - East Nusa Tenggara
This National Park was recently included among the New7Wonders of Nature and marvels of nature are not only found on the land here, in the shape of those iconic giant lizards, but are also found in the sea in the form of all kinds of fish and coral. “This National Park is like a department store,” says Anton Hendrawan. “It’s all here, starting with the little creatures like crinoid shrimps and stretching right on up to big fish, such as manta rays.” One unique thing about Komodo is the way that sea creatures are relatively easily approached. “I was once bumped into by a turtle here,” Riyanni Djangkaru enthuses.
- Dive Komodo
T. 62 385 41862,
- Reefseekers Diving
Jl. Soekarno-Hatta, Labuan Bajo,
T. 62 385 41443,
- Grand Komodo
Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai 147x, Sanur, Bali, T. 62 361 8085 858, www.komodoalordive.com
How to get there
Labuan Bajo is the gateway to exploring the Komodo National Park. You can fly with Garuda Indonesia from Jakarta to Bali (vv 67 times a week), and then continue on a flight from there to Labuan Bajo.
Kota Labuan Bajo adalah gerbang eksplorasi Taman Nasional Komo-do. Anda bisa terbang menggunakan Garuda Indonesia dari Jakarta ke Bali (pp 67 kali per minggu), disambung pener-bangan ke Labuan Bajo.
3. Weh Island - Aceh
Nine months before the tsunami hit Aceh,
there was a commotion on Weh Island, which lies just off the province’s north coast. A mega-mouth shark became stranded on the island’s shore, and this was only the twenty-first ever recorded sighting of a megamouth shark in the world. Indeed, the megamouths have not reappeared since the tsunami, although Weh still attracts divers by the score due to its great collection of marine wildlife. “There’s a lot of hard coral here and its character is macho, very manly,” says Delien Yusuf Sulaiman. For those looking for new sensations, Fransiska Anggraini recommends the Sunrise Dive package from the Lumba-Lumba Diving Centre.
The so-called “Island of the Gods” is Indonesia’s preeminent beach, nightlife and hotel zone. For divers though, it is the top destination for observing mola-mola (ocean sunfish). “August is the peak time for seeing mola-mola,” Erwin Kodiat elucidates. Nudibranchs are another Balinese diving attraction. According to the Nudi Pixel website set up by Erwin, Bali boasts the most species of nudibranchs in the world. “In his book, Helmut Debelius claims that Bali is the world capital of sea snails.”
5. Lembeh Strait & Bunaken Marine Park - North Sulawesi
Bunaken’s main attraction is a steep undersea wall that is home to hundreds of species of fish and coral. Another strength of
this marine park is its easy access, as it lies just a 30-minute boat trip away from the Manado coast. Meanwhile, nearby Lembeh is a favou-
rite with fans of muck diving. “The amount of trash on the seabed does not make for pleasant undersea vistas, however the trash itself gets used by many strange creatures as places to live,” explains Anton Hendrawan.
6. Cenderawasih Bay National Park - Papua & West Papua
This National Park is famous for its collection of corals. Recently however a new attraction has emerged: whale sharks, the world’s biggest fish. Indeed their bodies can reach up to 12m in length, about the same as an average bus. In many equatorial countries, whale sharks are only seen during certain seasons, however in Cenderawasih Bay, they have been seen swimming all year round. “It doesn’t depend on the month here and there are always a minimum of five of these fish to be seen,” explains Cahyo Alkantana. “Last time I was here, I saw 20 whale sharks ranging from 12 to 15m in length.”
7. Alor - East Nusa Tenggara
Many divers claim that Alor is the best diving destination in the whole of Indonesia. Unfortunately though, to date only four operators offer regular tours to the area. However, from a different perspective, this situation could be said to have its advantages in that you have as much space as you need to conduct your explorations. “Perfect diversity, overflowing quantity,” explains Riyanni Djangkaru. “In Raja Ampat, I struggle to find mandarin fish but in Alor, almost every spot has them.” Alor has around 50 diving spots, most of which are only suitable for experienced divers.