Scuba Diving in Indonesia, a unique experience
Indonesia has become one of the best tourist destinations in the world in recent years. Its attraction lies not only in the capital city, but also in the more than 17,000 islands which transport the visitor to paradise. Since it is the largest archipelago in the world, with unique biodiversity, the richest on the planet, it offers one of the most exciting experiences that exist, diving in Indonesia. Keep reading and you will discover some of the best destinations for practicing diving in Indonesia.
Keep reading and discover the best destinations for diving in Indonesia.
What’s Special about Scuba Diving in Indonesia?
Lovers of scuba diving should know that the archipelago of Indonesia boasts an enclave that is unique in the whole world. Situated right on the equator, it borders on the Indian Ocean, to the East, and on the Pacific, to the West. It is the country with the longest coastline (54,000 kilometers) and it encompasses part of the “Coral Triangle,” which gives it the greatest marine wealth on the planet.
Compared to other, better known and more developed diving zones, like those in Australia and the Philippines, Indonesia has more than 3000 different species of fish (sunfish, sharks, dolphins, toadfish, etc.) and 600 species of coral (containing 20% of all the coral reefs in the world.) In Australia, for instance, the Great Coral Reef has no more than 1500 species of fish.
The experience of scuba diving in Indonesia is enhanced by observing the underwater volcanoes, the depths of the marine basins, and the drifting objects from World War II. The colorful sea beds mingle with the most surprising and extravagant of creatures, in an atmosphere of relaxation that is truly fascinating.
Warm, crystalline waters all year long, which help keep the marine flora and fauna healthy, and allow the adventurer to never miss a detail, offer one of the most extraordinary diving experiences, with an average underwater visibility of between 25 and 30 meters. The outside temperatura on the islands doesn’t go above 31 degrees (87.8 degrees Fahrenheit) year round, making it a gentle, perfect climate for enjoying activities on land, as well.
Nocturnal Scuba Diving in Indonesia
Diving at sunset is another of Indonesia’s greatest attractions. Having the possibility of observing creatures that only travel at night is astonishing. There are ideal zones for diving at night or before dawn, for instance the zone of Komodo, to the East of Bali, where you can reach a depth of 40 meters.
Nocturnal diving is appropriate for intermediate and advanced level divers; it is advisable to go with someone who is experienced in the practice, and to follow established advice when you practice nocturnal diving; for instance, always carry two diving lanterns with you.
Muck Diving in Indonesia
This activity, known as muck diving, is practiced in less crystalline habitats filled with mud. Its interest lies in enabling you to see the strange, exotic organisms living in this habitat, like prawns, pygmy seahorses, angelfish, nudibranchs, poisonous species, etc. It offers an opportunity to come into contact with fauna adapted to darkness, murky sites, unknown to most divers.
It is possible to practice this activity in zones of great volcanic activity, with both lava and sand. The best places in the world to practice muck diving are found in Indonesia, concretely in the Strait of Lembeh, Bali and Komodo.
Fairy-Tale Locations for Diving in Indonesia
Although Indonesia is one of the most populous countries, only one third of its islands are inhabited, which helps preserve the natural resources and makes Indonesia one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world. Diving in Indonesia can be practiced in many excellent sites, of which the following stand out:
Without a doubt the most astonishing place to practice diving in Indonesia is Raja Ampat, where you can sink into crystalline waters in which no man has ever dived.
It is the archipelago closest to New Guinea and is made up of four main islands (Salawati, Batenta, Misool and Waygeo). 40,000 kilometers long, it is the largest archipelago in Indonesia. Its location, in the heart of the “Coral Triangle,” makes it one of the most valuable and exhuberant marine parks on the planet, a privileged location where you feel yourself to be the first person who ever visited it.
Among its more than 1700 species of fish and mollusks, Raja Ampat is the home of stingrays, toadfish, mimic octopuses, orangutan crabs, hammerhead sharks, whales, dolphins, etc., and other such rare endangered species as the ghost pipefish, and the dugong. Scientists assure us that this island involves the richest marine reserve on the planet. Diving activities take place around the imposing colonies of protected coral, where you can see more than 600 different species of coral, 75% of all the coral species known in the world.
Each of the 1500 islets that make up the island of Raja Ampat is a diving enclave with certain unique characteristics, including fauna and flora. Some examples are:
Boo Island, where there are abundant green turtles and soft coral.
Fam Jef, where you can find giant clams and angelfish; it also includes the most valuable coral on Raja Ampat.
Wofo island, where you will find black coral and some of the strangest sea creatures in Indonesia.
One of the advantages of Raja Ampat, not shared by the other islands, is the option of staying at a comfortable resort, from which to plan your daily dives. It is also possible to dive through liveaboards (diving live aboard cruise ships), and the ideal date for doing so is between October and April, since during the summer months, storms are more likely. In the resorts of Raja Ampat, you can stay during the rest of the year.
To disconnect from everything around you, to navigate through unknown waters filled with unimaginable diversity, in a tropical paradise surrounded by virgin beaches and unexplored coves, is a dream come true on the island of Raja Ampat.
For more information, please check Diving in Raja Ampat.
2.Island of Bali
This is the most popular and developed island in the archipelago, and perhaps one of the best known places for diving in Indonesia. Situated in the Western part of the Minor Islands in the Sound, Bali has traditionally been a major destination for tourists and surfers. Nevertheless, in recent years, its rich submarine landscape has sparked the interest of divers and amateurs.
Bali boasts a vibrantly colorful, highly photogenic underwater landscape. Amid its waters, the largest sunfish in the world, along with whale sharks and manta rays, predominate. Its sea beds of exuberant coral hide an infinity of species and secrets, like one of the best wreckages in the world, the USAT Liberty, a cargo ship in the United States Navy that was sunk during the First World War.
In Bali there are three diving areas, each of them with zones recommended for different types of divers, depending on their level of expertise and experience.
-The Southern Zone: is composed of the islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Sanur. It is a zone with crystalline waters and stunning coral in which large-sized species predominate, along with more dangerous species, like the sea serpent. There is one zone appropriate only for experts, given the strong ocean currents.
–The East Coast: is formed by Padang bai, Camdadasa, Tulamben and Amed. It is a destination for carrying out simple dives. In its waters you will find a great variety of sea life (coral sharks, squid, octopus, humphead wrasse. . .) Tulamben is the most famous diving zone in Bali, visited by millions of underwater photographers. It has the greatest marine diversity on the island of Bali.
-Northeast of Bali: with Menjangan, Pemutaran, Lovina and Gillmanuk. This zone of Bali is characterized by its crystalline waters and its dives appropriate for all levels. Here you will find oceanic whitetips, triggerfish, moray eels, batfish and sunfish.
The best time to dive in Bali depends on the zone. If you are planning to explore the South of the island, it is advisable to do so between July and October.
Bali is a meeting point for biologists, divers and photographers, who seek recreation amid the deepest marvels generated by Mother Nature. It offers a great variety of dives, which makes it the perfect destination for less experienced divers.
Located to the Southeast of the archipelago of Indonesia and to the East of Bali, Komodo is known for its dragon legends. But further on, Komodo is situated in the well known “Coral Triangle,” and boasts a rich and interesting sea floor. Its reserve and extraordinary biodiversity are considered Patrimony of Humanity by the UNESCO, since 1991, and its national park, made up by the islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, has been declared a nature preserve.
Komodo is the ideal place to practice professional diving (given its strong currents) and nocturnal diving. Furthermore, it is a great lure for devotees of macrophotography, thanks, among other things, to the high visibility of its ocean depths. Among its more common species, the manta rays or ringed octopuses stand out, along with a wide variety of colorful invertebrates.
There are several well known diving spots on Komodo, among them:
-Cannibal Rock: filled with enormous toad fish, pygmy seahorses and clownfish.
-Batu Bolong: one of the most interesting spots on Komodo, a habitat of hawksbill turtles and sharks, as well as both hard and sponge coral.
-Horseshoe Bay: an excellent zone for practicing muck diving, inhabited by the characteristic mime octopus.
One advantage provided by this island is the possibility of practicing diving at any time of year; that is, if you want to dive on Komodo, you should do so on liveaboards (since there is no option to stay in a resort). That is the only way to go into the natural coral zones and enjoy their infinity of marine treasures.
In 2011, Komodo was included among the seven natural wonders of the world. Its mixture of contrasts, light, colors and volcanic sand make Komodo a unique paradise that you must visit.
Situated to the East of Indonesia, it is characterized by warm, clear waters filled with marine life. It covers a surface area of 180,000 square kilometers, and the central zone of the island is of mountainous origins. Sulawesi is formed by very distinct zones, each with its own peculiarities, which allows for a wide variety of dives. Thanks to the strong ocean currents that occur in particular areas, this island boasts one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.
Among the sea life of Sulawesi there is a great variety of small species, and depending on the area of the island (North, South, East, West), you can find a great variety of corals (soft and hard) and of fish.
The key places for practicing diving on Sulawesi are:
-The Strait of Lembeh: it has more tan 50 diving spots and is one of the best places in the world to practice muck diving. Here you will find a great diversity of rare, little-known species that you never imagined even existed. Amid the mud and darkness there are hidden scorpion fish and seahorses of every size and color.
-The National Marine Park at Bunaken: is one of the ten best diving destinations in the world. Its very deep waters hide a sea bed filled with fantasy, accesible to every type of diver. Among its many attractions are its coral reefs, its caves and ravines swarming with all kinds of fish (parrot fish, Mandarin fish, nudibranchs, starfish. . .) This makes it one of the most photographed destinations in the marine world.
–The Cape of Bira: to the extreme South of Sulawesi is the Cape of Bira, famous for hosting a great variety of sharks, tunas and rays. Its coral beds are also outstanding.
Exploring the island of Sulawesi and diving in its waters is an experience recommended for those who wish to connect with a great variety of biological and underwater spaces.
Do You Need to be an Expert to Dive in Indonesia?
As we have seen, it isn’t necessary to be an expert diver, in order to enjoy the oceanic marvels of Indonesia. There are distinct zones for less experienced or amateur divers, like the East Coast of the island of Bali, and other areas reserved for the most intrepid and seasoned divers, like the zone of Raja Ampat on Komodo, where the mixture of water from different oceans creates strong currents.
Without question, scuba diving in Indonesia is a unique, exotic escape that all adventurers and diving lovers must experience. With regard to the price, there are very economical offers, depending on the destination you have in mind. It is worth investing in something more than a trip, in an experience, which you will no doubt remember for the rest of your life.
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