Banda Islands Tourist Information

Visit the Historic Banda Sea Region

The Banda Sea lies more or less in the middle of the sprawling mass of islands that comprise Indonesia, lapping the shores of Sulawesi to the east, Alor to the south and with Irian Jaya to the west. It is little wonder that the Banda region is considered one of the finest dive destinations on the world.

It is generally considered by those in the know to be the big fish and fish volume capital of Indonesia. If you join a liveaboard cruise in the area you can expect to see practically anything there. Have a read through our Banda dive site descriptions to learn of some of the wonderful creatures and breathtaking dives this part of the country has to offer.

The Banda Islands are a group of 10 small volcanic islands forming part of the province of Maluku and which support some 15,000 inhabitants. Up until the middle of the 19th century this was the only place on earth where the spices nutmeg and mace could be found and as a result they were crucial hub for the spice trade. Foreign visitors are therefore nothing new, but these days the intrepid visitors come not to trade for spice and fill their ships with booty, rather to photograph marine life both large and small and wonder at the richness of the local seas.

• View map of the Banda Islands

The rest of this page contains information about:

  • How to get there
  • Climate
  • Sightseeing and things to do
  • History
  • People of Banda
  • Entertainment, shopping and dining out
  • Local transport

Got a question?
Have a look through our Frequently asked questions

How to Get There

The Banda Islands are best visited by liveaboard, and there are several different points of access depending on the boat and its itinerary. While some trips that visit the Banda region begin in Raja Ampat and others in Alor and Flores, the most common access is from Ambon.

The vast majority of liveaboard operators take care of domestic flights on behalf of their guests, so you need not worry about the trouble of dealing with the Indonesian airlines. Otherwise, we advise customers to book domestic flights in Indonesia through our recommended ticketing agent:

Manado Safari Tours
Telephone: +62 431 857637
E-mail: info@ManadoSafaris.com
Skype name: jhbmanado

Manado Safari Tours make the reservations, have the tickets issued and delivered as e-tickets (by email) or upon arrival in Manado, Jakarta or Bali. They may also courier them to you, if this is your wish (extra charge applies). Dive The World has no involvement whatsoever with the booking arrangements, we simply recommend this ticketing agent due to their professionalism and reliability.

Flights to Ambon are daily and from the major airports in Indonesia – JakartaBali, and Manado – all travel via Makassar (Ujung Pandang). These flights generally retail at around US$ 350 for the round trip, but prices can fluctuate depending on booking timeframe and with the variations in fuel costs which Indonesia experiences.

Visit our tourist information sections for details on how to get to Bali and how to get to Manado.

Banda’s Climate

Dry season in the Banda Sea runs from approximately May to November, with more likelihood of rain in the months of January and February. The temperature is quite constant between 27°C and 32°C. September to December and March to April are normally the periods with optimum diving conditions.

Sightseeing and Things to do

Ambon

Ambon is often the start and end point for Banda liveaboards and, while many guests simply fly in and out, some choose to spend some time enjoying the many wonderful beaches and other activities the region has to offer.

Among the finest beaches are Namalatu, 16 km to the south of the town, which enjoys excellent coral shallows, making it a great spot for snorkeling. 21 km from Ambon, you can visit Poka-rumahtiga beach, where many watersports events are held such as local canoeing competitions. Other beaches include Natsepa and Pantai Liang, and all of them offer the kind of white sand and sparkling clear water that beach-lovers dream of. They are often deserted too so you can have the shore to yourself.

For those not content to laze in the sun there is an interesting museum at Siwa Lima, only about 20 minutes from the town. Here you can immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the region. The Commonwealth War Museum set in beautiful serene grounds, can be a welcome break from the noise of the city. There are also lots of churches around including the impressive cathedral and the Maranatha Church, which has been fiercely protected from damage over the years.

Banda

Banda Neira is the major town in the Banda Islands and is where you kind find a bus tiling local market where all the aromas, colours and characters are concentrated. Colonial Dutch architecture is evident and while many are in ruins, some have been restored and carry an air of faded grandeur.

Other islands offer their own activities although they are much less developed than Banda Neira. However, Neira may have roads but it has very few cars. The other islands such as Banda Besar are characterized by rugged, mountainous interiors with small developments scattered around the shoreline. Trekking up Gunung Api gives amazing panoramic views of the islands surrounding Banda Neira.

Tourists, particularly divers, are beginning to visit the Banda Islands more and more, although you will still feel like you are a pioneer adventurer since it is still very much a region off the beaten track and tourist facilities remain largely undeveloped.

History

The Banda Islands have had a long and fascinating history, including being among the most expensive real estate in the world! Spices, foreign traders, wars and earthquakes have all featured heavily in their checkered past. Banda’s unique history.

The People of the Banda Sea

The majority of the inhabitants of the Banda region are descended from migrants and labourers who arrived from various different parts of Indonesia and mixed with the indigenous population. However, immigration from many parts of the world are evident in the people including from Java, the Bay of Bengal, and indeed Europeans who mixed with locals during and after the time of the spice trade. The unique cultural identity of the pre-colonial Bandanese is still very much in existence.

Language is one such example with a form of Malay dialect, distinguishable from Ambonese Malay, being spoken by the Bandanese. Ambonese Malay is the main language of the greater area however, the more local dialect with its Dutch influences and sing-song character sets it apart.

Approximately 95% of the local population are Muslim and 5% are Christian.

Agriculture and fishing remain the two main sources of employment. Nutmeg, the main source of Banda’s fame, is still an important crop to this day as are cloves and bananas. The sea is also an important source of employment with tuna and, increasingly, scuba divers represent a considerable source of income.

Entertainment, Shopping & Nightlife

Ambon

Ambon is a bustling city of markets and local businesses, and you can find quite a variety of restaurants serving a wide selection of food. The higher end hotels probably serve the best food in comfortable surroundings, and the Mutiara Hotel is a cozy little spot for a coffee and to unwind. There is plenty of Indonesian food to choose from including Malukan food like papeda and sweet potato.

Banda

Since tourist numbers are still low, you will be considered a novelty and you may find yourself the greatest entertainment in town. You may be roped into dancing sessions with locals, who enjoy dangdut parties where gyrations are to the sound of a strange but interesting blend of Arabic and house music – the closest you will find to a disco!

Aside from local markets in Banda Neira and the outlying islands and the occasional curio stand, there is not much in the way of retail which might interest the international market. If you need to be within touching distance of an Ikea or a Tesco then perhaps Banda is not for you.

Similarly, dining options are restricted to a few small restaurants serving tasty local fare, where you can expect plastic chairs and less-than-salubrious surroundings.

Local Transport

Getting around Ambon is probably best done on foot, but for longer journeys you can use taxis, minibuses and becaks. A taxi from the airport to the city takes about 45 minutes.

There is nowhere big enough in the Banda Islands to need public road transport. Indeed, only Banda Neira has proper roads. Most of the Banda Sea transport you will use will be boat.

Interested?

If you’re keen to visit Indonesia’s schooling fish capital, the Banda Islands, then click below to check your options now for:

  • Banda Islands diving sites
  • Banda Sea liveaboards

Be sure to book up in plenty of time to avoid limited choice! The best Irian Jaya scuba diving vacations are booked by repeat customers who book well in advance to ensure their reservation!

Diving Sulawesi Tourist Information

Celebes – The Spice Island

This section contains tourist information for Sulawesi:

• Manado
The world renowned mecca for diving in Sulawesi at Bunaken and Lembeh

• Wakatobi
Imagine a paradise archipelago with superb reefs, untouched and untroubled by the modern world. That world is Wakatobi

Sulawesi – an oddly shaped island in the north of Indonesia is home to world-famous dive destinations such as Wakatobi, Lembeh Strait, Bunaken and Bangka near Manado, places high on the wishlist of divers everywhere. You always know the diving is good where there are lots of photographers. With the amazing array of macro-life and sheer numbers and variety of fish to be found in this most colourful underwater world, it is little wonder that so many come back here for diving vacations year after year. For them, and many other divers, there is nowhere quite like Sulawesi.

It is believed that the name Sulawesi originates from “sula” and “besi” combining to mean island of iron, due most likely to the rich iron deposits in the Danau Matano region.

The island is divided into five provinces: South, Southeast, Central, Gorontalo and North Sulawesi, has a coastline estimated at some 5,650 km and an overall area of around 190,000 square kilometres. Unlike the other regions of Indonesia there are few active volcanoes here, just some on the north east and south east parts. The island is surrounded by deep waters. The Sulawesi Sea north of the island reaches an approximate depth of 6,200 m. This is why the surrounding waters of the island offer the chance to dive with big pelagics as well as some of the finest and most colourful coral scenes on earth.

• View a map of Sulawesi

The rest of this page contains information about:

  • How to get there
  • Where to Stay
  • Climate
  • Sightseeing and things to do
  • Entertainment, shopping and dining out
  • History and people of Sulawesi
  • Religion
  • Local transport

Got a question?
Have a look through our Frequently asked questions

For more information on current news and affairs in Sulawesi visit the North Sulawesi Information Pages.

How to Get There

Sulawesi lies to the east of Borneo, to the west of the Moluccas and has a common border with the Philippines due north. Makassar in the south and Manado in the north are the two main cities, both having good connections to the rest of Indonesia.

Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado has regular international flight service to / from Singapore (Silk Air – www.SilkAir.com) and Kuala Lumpur (Air Asia).

There are also flights from Jakarta and Bali. These can be booked through our recommended ticketing agent:

Manado Safari Tours
Telephone: +62 431 857637
E-mail: info@ManadoSafaris.com
Skype name: jhbmanado

Manado Safari Tours make the reservations, have the tickets issued and delivered as e-tickets (by email) or upon arrival in Jakarta or Bali. They may also courier them to you, if this is your wish (extra charge applies). Dive The World has no involvement whatsoever with the booking arrangements, we simply recommend this ticketing agent due to their professionalism and reliability.

Where to Stay

Our affiliated hotel reservation agents Agoda.com have several accommodations in Sulawesi. Browse their website choices, use their on-line chat to ask your questions, or simply use your credit card to make your booking.

Take your pick from mid-range resorts to backpacker inns, and everything in between. There’s something to suit most people’s taste and pocket. And you can be sure that whatever option you go for, it will be backed up with their ‘Low Price Guarantee’ to ensure you get top-dollar value for money.

Sulawesi’s Climate

Although November to April normally sees the wet season here, in the central and northern parts the rain is more evenly spread during the whole year. The southeast province tends to see the smallest rainfall. The climate and temperature also vary a lot between lowland and highland. This allows for cool, misty walks in the hillsides and working on that tan by the beach.

Sightseeing and Things to do

North Sulawesi is a great place to take in some Minahasan culture such as the main traditional dances. The most exciting is a war dance called the Cakalele a word derived from the words for “fight” and “shout”. That says it all. Warriors bedecked in blood red outfits with an array of hornbill beaks and feathers on their heads stomp around in goggle-eyed fury. They scream and engage each other in a fight which thankfully these days has no more grisly purpose than to entertain tourists.

In the south, a little over 11 km from Makassar is the magnificent Ballalompoa Museum which houses a vast display of royal regalia including a remarkable stone-studded gold crown weighing 1,769 grams. This you must specifically request to see.

Anti-colonial hero, Sultan Hasanuddin (1629-1690) has his huge crypt along with other kings of Gowa) in a secluded cemetery about 8 km from Makassar. Just outside the cemetery is the Tomaurung stone on which the kings of Gowa were, in all their magnificence, crowned. Nearby is the oldest mosque in the area which was built in 1603.

140 km from the capital you will find the largest cave in South Sulawesi, the legendary cave of Mampu. Amazing stalagmites rise up from the floor and stalactites grow down from the ceiling (tights come down!) and there are innumerable tales to hear about those formations that resemble animals, spirits and legendary figures of the past.

The delightful Bantimurung waterfalls are about 41 km from the Makassar. In addition to this fantastic cascade are the brightly-coloured ornithoid butterflies (indigenous to this area) which are considered among the most beautiful in the world.

The Moramo Waterfall in the south east is widely believed to be the finest example in Indonesia. It stands at a height of some 100 metres traversing a two kilometre plateau and has 127 separate terraced plumes. In all, an awe-inspiring scene. Only 65 km east of Kendari, Moramo Waterfalls is easily accessible by car, or by making the very pleasant crossing of Moramo Bay by boat.

First-time visitors should make sure to take a trip to the Torajan communities of Tan Toraja in the South. Here are the famous Toraja Tombs; man made caves cut into sheer cliff faces, with eerie effigies on suspended balconies staring out across the jungle. This is a great place to visit but can get busy during funeral high season in July and August.

Entertainment, Shopping & Nightlife

Both the cities of Makassar and Manado have a good number of hotels and restaurants as well as bars and karaoke lounges, and are really the only option on the island for any kind of nightlife.

Throughout the island you will find plenty of simple Rumah Makans selling inexpensive Chinese and Indonesian dishes with baked fish always high on the agenda.

Spices are what the north is known for and you can buy vanillacinnamon, and nutmeg in souvenir shops throughout the region. Cloves are also omni-present and, for a change, why not take home a figurine made of cloves as a memento?

History and the People of Sulawesi

Among the 13 million who live on the island there are over 50 different languages. The principal ethnic groups are the Minahasa in the north, Bugis in the south, and Toraja in Central Sulawesi. The highest profile tribe here are the Toraja, known for their unique funerals and offerings.

There is evidence of Indonesia’s earliest inhabitants throughout this island whose history is a catalogue of internal and external battles.

As early as 670 AD the leaders of the different disparate tribes of the north, who all spoke different languages, met by a stone called Watu Pinabetengan. It was there that they founded a community of independent states bound together to fight any common enemies that might attack.

Sulawesi was given the name as Celebes by the Portuguese who, in 1512 were the first European arrivals, shortly followed by Spanish missionaries preaching their way down from the Philippines.

1530 saw the first kingdom on the island, Gowa, whose capital was Makassar (then renamed Ujung Pandang for some years). Makassar was a busy port and a centre for the trade with the eastern parts of the Indonesia. In the early 1600’s a battle raged between Gowa and Bone their rival in the southern area where the Bugis people ruled. The triumph of Gowa saw Islam spread to the entire South Sulawesi.

Not until the middle of the 1960’s did a period of sustained peace come about here and since then, the people of the island have been enjoying economic dividends in the form of rapid growth and prosperity unprecedented in Indonesia.

Religion

Due to the proximity of the Philippines, North Sulawesi is pre-dominantly Christian. Most in the south are Muslim, despite the late arrival of Islam in the 17th century. In the central region the tribes maintain their old, traditional religions. The 19th century Ban Hin Kiong temple, the oldest in east Indonesia, is the worship place of Chinese Buddhist believers and can be found on Jalan Panjaitan in the centre of Manado.

In February a traditional Chinese parade dating from the 14th century is held to mark Toa Peh Kong.

Local Transport

Mikrolets
Blue minibuses (Mikrolets) are the most popular form of transportation in most areas. Check out the front windscreen to see the destination, but unless you are travelling a great distance these tend to cost almost nothing.

Buses
There is a pretty good bus service in the north of the island. Get to any bus station around Manado via Pasar 45 for destinations outside town. Makassar and the south west is also well served but it should be noted that overland journeys here can take a very long time. Buses to Gorontalo (about 10 hrs) leave several times a day from Malalayang terminal in Manado, south of town. The highway goes all the way to Makassar, so give the buses a go if you can tolerate the three-day haul. Allow for possible delays during wet weather.

Bendi
Trundling along in a traditional horse-drawn cart is surely the most picturesque mode of transport in the north. Say Cheese!

Taxis
Some taxis don’t use meters (Dian Taxis do), so if you need a taxi, negotiate wisely. On Sundays, late at night and during rush hours taxis can be hard to find. Using a Kijang in the south west is probably your best bet as the bus service can be erratic.

Car Rental
Another option for touring is to hire a car with driver (rates per hour or per day).

Ojek
Ojek is the name for a motorbike taxi which, although quick and convenient can sometimes be expensive.

Boats
Boats sail on a fort nightly basis from Makassar and Manado to various destinations around the island and are often a better choice than overland trips.

Interested?

If you’re keen to discover the world famous waters of Sulawesi, then click below to check your options now for:

  • Sulawesi diving sites
  • Manado diving resorts
  • Sulawesi liveaboards

Be sure to book up in plenty of time to avoid limited choice! The best Sulawesi scuba diving vacations are booked by repeat customers who book well in advance to ensure their reservation!

PADI Scuba Diving Courses in Indonesia

Learn to Dive in Bali and Sulawesi

Search for your:

PADI Dive Course List
• Price List

Or receive your shortlist of PADI course adventures:
• Send your diving enquiry now

Where better to improve your scuba skills than in Indonesia, the most diverse waters on the planet? Choose your PADI course, from Open Water to Assistant Instructor with plenty of specialties in between. Choose Bali where above and below the water there is plenty of action, or Manado, Sulawesi where you can learn in the world-famous Bunaken National Park. There’s something for everyone here …

Get Qualified!

Are you interested in:

  • Exploring planet Earth’s last undiscovered frontier?
  • Earning your ticket to a lifetime of ultimate adventure?
  • Revving up your scuba skills to the next level?
  • Attaining leadership experience as a diving pro’?

Then we have a PADI diving course that’s right for you!

Simply decide on…

  • Which course?
  • Your preferred destination – Bali or Sulawesi?
  • When you’d like to start

Choose your Indonesian diving course below…

PADI Dive Courses

For course details and prices visit…

• Open Water Diver    Full scuba license recognised worldwide

• Advanced Open Water Diver    Licensed to dive down to 30 metres

• Emergency First Response    New first aid medical programme

• Rescue Diver    Learn how to can help a fellow diver in difficulty

• Divemaster    Change your life and … Go Pro!

For specialty course details and prices visit…

More specialties available on request.

Indonesia scuba diving course prices normally INCLUDE: use of scuba equipment, PADI instructor, use of all the latest PADI training materials and study manual, certification costs and pool training.

Study languages available: English, Italian, French, Scandinavian, German and Bahasa Indonesia.

All courses can start every day, all year round.

We recommend that you take out insurance to cover diving and travel activities, including trip cancellation. See our insurance programme for a competitive quote. If you require hotel accommodation you can get the best value rooms with Agoda, our affiliated hotel reservation specialists.

• Send your diving enquiry now

Raja Ampat Diving Sites

Cross Wreck

Named after the large cross on the shore nearby, this Japanese Navy patrol boat has laid here at a depth of around 18 m since World War II. It is probably the most accessible of all the wrecks in this part of Raja Ampat as it is close to shore and reasonably shallow. That is not to say that you will not find this dive entertaining, indeed quite the opposite. The ship’s lamps still stand in place or lay on the deck, blown down by the explosion. On the rear of the ship you can see two rows of depth charges.

There is no shortage of coral cover on the exterior and there are plenty of wreck dwellers such as lionfish hanging around inside. More interesting however, is exploring the various rooms of the vessel. You can poke around in the communications room, engine room and front hold checking out such features as the switchboard and ammunition. This also makes for a great night dive as huge Napoleon wrasse and bumphead parrotfish choose the Cross Wreck for their evening’s resting place. Raja Ampat diving reports are of regular sightings of two huge Napoleon wrasse of two metres in length as well ten bumphead parrotfish each over one metre long.

Back outside the wreck as you head for home you would be wrong to expect an uneventful swim back up the slope to the island. Keep your eyes out for all manner of critter action going on here from octopus to leaf fish, from devil fish to mantis shrimp, your decompression time on this dive can, figuratively speaking, leave you breathless.

• Irian Jaya tourist information

• View map of Irian Jaya

Cross Wreck Reef Basics: Wreck diving
Depth: 10 – 18m
Visibility: 10 – 30m
Currents: Gentle
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water Temperature: 27 – 30°C
Experience Level: Intermediate
Number of dive sites: 1
Diving Season: March to November
Distance: ~300 km east of Sorong (15 hours), at Mansinam Island, Manokwari Bay
Access: Indonesia liveaboards from West Timor or Irian Jaya

Use our short form to grab your options for
• Indonesia scuba diving enquiries

Bali Diving

Macro and Pelagic Paradise

One of the most beautiful islands in the world, Bali is Indonesia’s most popular holiday destination. Many visitors find the attraction of good shore-based diving set against a stunning back drop of huge, magnificent volcanoes and picturesque rice paddy terraces, simply irresistible.

The greatest feature of scuba diving in Bali is the rich and varied sites – deep drop-offs and steep banks, coral ridges and bommies, one of the most famous wrecks in the world, volcanic outcrops and seagrass beds. With the colourful and diverse marine life, there’s enough here to keep you coming back for more.

To the east of the island lies the Lombok Strait. This is the first deep water trench directly east of the Asian continental shelf. This channel sees the the greatest volume of tidal water on earth. The Pacific Ocean creates some powerful currents and rollercoaster rides that characterise some of Bali’s dive sites. It also promotes the regular visits from large and unusual pelagic fish like the incredible sunfish, or mola mola. The strong currents also clean the water and create fantastic visibility.

If you wanted to record all the animals you can see here, you’d need to bring along a mini-library of marine guide books. From hairy frogfish, cockatoo leaf fish and pygmy seahorses in Secret Bay and Menjangan on the north west tip of the island, to bumphead parrotfish and reef sharks in the north and east at Tulamben and Candi Dasa, to the sunfish and trevallies of nearby Nusa Penida and Lembongan islands; the sights are truly fascinating. Allow yourself to be surprised for you really never know just what you might see in this ever-changing underwater jewel.

The Dive Sites

The USS Liberty Wreck is one of the first dive sites on anyone’s lips when they mention Bali. Few wrecks in the world are so accessible, lying in shallow water just off the shore, or are quite so engulfed in life as this one. Every inch of the structure is encrusted in colourful sponges or adorned with hard or soft corals and featherstars. Many varieties of fish and marine creatures lurk in the quieter sections of the wreck while angelfish, surgeonfish and Napolean wrasse cruise around outside.

Gili Tepekong is a little rocky islet off the east coast of Bali with steep coral walls and a current-washed canyon which deliver a memorable scuba diving experience. The rush of nutrients brings in large schools of rainbow runners, big-eye trevally and white-tip reef sharks. There are more calm sections of the reef where table corals and fallen boulders are frequented by large groupers and schools of yellow-ribbon sweetlips.

Amed is home to Cemeluk Bay where healthy vibrant reefs of staghorn coral, gorgonian fans, barrel sponges and tube sponges host fish species including cardinalfish, sailfin tangs, bluefin trevally and Indian triggerfish. On the sea bed you should look out for blue-spotted stingrays or ribbon eels straining from their burrows. Other creatures to look out for on the reef include red octopus, moray eels, lionfish and scorpionfish.

Blue Corner off Nusa Lembongan, south of Bali, is a potential roller coaster of a dive with a seriously rare headlining creature. This is one of the premier sites in the world for encounters with Mola Mola (sunfish), something you won’t forget in a hurry.

Due to potentially strong currents this is not one for beginners, and care must be taken to follow your divemaster’s advice. Large pelagics are often present but the appearance of a huge and odd-looking sunfish, or several, will really make your day!

Manta Point – When diving Nusa Lembongan at the right time of year there are some sites where Mola Mola are the star of the show, others, like here, where manta rays gather to put on a special show. This is a shallow rocky site with considerable surge and the visibility is further compromised by the large amount of plankton in the water. When you find a little spot on the reef to take in the action you will often see small groups of mantas swooping in and around the shallows. It is difficult to know where to look since there is so much action.

Dive The World Indonesia Recommendations: Nusa Penida, Tulamben, Amuk Bay and Menjangan.

More detailed information about the Bali dive sites available on our www.dive-the-world.com website.

• Send your diving enquiry now

Staying at Bali

Tulamben resorts on Bali’s north-east coast is one of the little towns where scuba divers gather in Bali. There is a range of accommodation options all of which are close to the dives sites. Images of local women transporting scuba tanks on their heads along the dark pebbly beaches is one you won’t soon forget. Off the southern coast of Bali, Lembongan Island resorts offer you the chance to stay close to some of the most exciting dives in Indonesia. Mola Mola, manta rays, fields of pristine hard coral and variable currents all add to the excitement. The accommodation here tends to be chalets or villas on a sloping hillside in a quiet bay creating a very different atmosphere from the overdeveloped southern region of Bali. Pemuteran’s Aneka Resort is another option if you want to get off the beaten track and dive in some interesting places like Menjangan Island, or the excellent muck dives in Secret Bay, plus the local reefs of Pemuteran. This pleasant resort has a spa and swimming pool.

Resort Scuba Safari is a great option if you want to taste all that Bali’s dive sites have to offer. These pre-arranged tours take you to various best spots on the island, transporting you over land while the dive boat follows your progress by sea. Packages run for 5-12 nights and include 3 dives per full day.

Bali Day Trip Diving packages are an option for those who do wish to stay in the main population centres of the south of Bali. There is a selection of around 80 sites around the island with sometimes long journey times. Each daytrip includes 2 dives, refreshments and lunch.

If you need a place to stay in Bali or elsewhere in Indonesia then Agoda, our affiliated hotel reservation specialists, have a large range of choices:

Choose from dozens of accommodation options, from luxury beach resorts to low budget guesthouses and everything in between. Whatever option you select, it will carry Agoda’s ‘Low Price Guarantee’ to ensure you get the best value for money from your booking.

Diving Season

The dive season in Bali runs all year round. Overall, the best diving conditions exist from April to December, with sunfish, sharks and other pelagic fish visiting from June to September.

December to March is rainy season, reducing visibility in the north and northwest – Tulamben, Amed, Gili Selang, Pemuteran and Menjangan. From June to September dry monsoon winds bring rough seas and nutrient rich upwellings to Nusa Penida, Padang Bay and Amuk Bay.

How to Get There

You can fly internationally into Denpasar – Ngurah Rai International Airport on direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Tokyo, Taipei, Hawaii, Guam and various Australian cities. Many people fly into Jakarta and then on to Bali.

If you are going to Nusa Lembongan we recommend Scoot Cruise who will pick you up from your southern Bali hotel and drop you and your luggage off to your new place in Lembongan. It takes about 30 minutes. If your destination is Tulamben, it is a good 3 hour car journey from the airport.

Reef Basics

Great for: Large animals, small animals, drift dives, visibility, advanced divers and non-diving activities
Not so great for: Underwater photography and snorkelling
Depth: 5 – >40m
Visibility: 10 – 45m
Currents: Can be very strong
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water Temperature: 19 – 26°C
Experience Level: Beginner – advanced
Number of dive sites: ~50
Access: Dive resorts
Recommended length of stay: 1 – 2 weeks

Indonesia Liveaboard Safaris

Diving in Komodo, Raja Ampat, Sulawesi, Alor, Banda…

Select a destination for your cruise:

• Banda Islands and Ambon
• Komodo Island and Flores
• Raja Ampat and West Papua
• Sulawesi – Wakatobi or the Lembeh Strait and Manado

Or receive your shortlist of Indonesia diving safari adventures of a lifetime:

• Send your diving inquiry now

You might find it useful to use our boat departure calendar on our dedicated website to help you plan your trip: Liveaboard departures.

Clubs and groups will want to review our Dive Groups section for a summary of the best value deals available.

Scuba Charter Adventures

Looking to venture further so you can experience dive destinations with the highest marine life diversity in the world?

You’ll discover that we offer dozens of adventure-laden Indonesian liveaboard cruises for diving in Komodo, Raja Ampat, the Banda Islands, Wakatobi and the Lembeh Strait in Sulawesi, Alor and Flores.

Simply decide your

  • Budget
  • Destination
  • Trip dates

Then…

• Choose your liveaboard adventure!

Liveaboards in Indonesia

Indonesia has such a superb array of liveaboard diving destinations that any one of its lesser known attractions would be major drawcards elsewhere in the world. Your choice of destination is important since some itineraries such as those in Komodo and Sulawesi cover one distinct area. There are also specific Raja Ampat and Banda Islands cruises, as well as transit trips which combine both destinations. Time available is also a factor since the range of tour duration can be from just a few days in the Komodo National Park to 2 weeks in Raja Ampat.

The Komodo Island National Marine Park, located in the Nusa Tenggara region of Indonesia, continues to be our most popular scuba destination. Strong currents sweep rich plankton harvests into the shallow water channels around these islands, attracting large, feeding pelagics such as whale sharks and manta rays. The walls field an incredible amount of colourful filter feeders, such as sea apples, sea squirts, tunicates and crinoids. Numerous protected bays are havens for macro life with frogfish and pygmy seahorses quite common.

Komodo tours typically include land visits to see the legendary Komodo dragons, and average between 7 and 11 nights long, although lower budget boats cater for short stays. Most of the diving cruises will include well known sites such as GPS Point and Cannibal Rock. Extended charters continue on to Maumere Bay in Flores and Alor.

West Papua liveaboards to Raja Ampat attract more than their fair share of praise from experienced divers. Said to be home to the greatest number of fish and coral species anywhere in the world, the beautiful and remote mushroom-shaped islands of Raja Ampat harbour amazing macro opportunities, dense schools of fish as well as manta rays, and stunning reefscapes. More intrepid itineraries now venture even further into this remote region to visit Triton Bay and Cenderawasih Bay, famed for its whale sharks and countless World War II wrecks.

The routes in Raja Ampat cover a huge area of sea in this eastern section of Indonesia. Trips tend to be between 8 and 14 nights’ duration. Safaris of such length attract serious scuba divers and the remoteness of the locations means that the normal clientele on these liveaboards are divers who have experienced many other countries before treating themselves to the pinnacle of liveaboard destinations.

The waters of the Banda Islands and Ambon promise riches beyond the wildest dreams of many dive destinations worldwide. The Banda Sea has historically lived in the shadows of other Indonesian diving areas but is now recognised as an excellent liveaboard region in its own right with many unique characteristics. In addition to the critter haven of Ambon, big pelagics and large schools of fish abound, and the reefs are healthy and thriving. You will see squadrons of mobula rays, good shark action, and some impressive dog-toothed tuna. The volumes of reef fish in the Banda Sea need to be seen to be believed.

Trips involving Banda range from 7 to 14 nights, with longer ones being more common. They are popular with experienced divers looking for new, world-class locations for their liveaboard cruise. This tends to be an area favoured by higher quality boats.

Sulawesi is home to liveaboards both in the well known northern regions of Bunaken and Lembeh, as well as further south in the Wakatobi region. If underwater encounters with the unusual and bizarre is your interest, then look no further than liveaboards in the Lembeh Strait, Bangka, the Sangihe Archipelago and Bunaken Island; any scuba itinerary here cannot fail to impress. The world renowned waters of Lembeh are home to some of the world’s most amazing creatures. Mimic octopus, hairy frogfish, snake eels, spiny devilfish, pegasus, stargazers and mandarinfish are just some of the critters that attract many an underwater documentary camera crew.

Currently there are not a great number of North Sulawesi liveaboard tours but they provide an alternative to the many resorts in the area and cover several high quality diving regions. Trips range from between 7 and 11 nights’ duration, and from high-end luxury to the more affordable.

Luxury charters also visit the renowned Wakatobi Archipelago for cruises of 7 to 14 nights duration. These dive safaris focus on the outer atolls of the region which are virtually untouched by man, and the coral reefs are simply exquisite. Come diving in paradise while there are still vacancies!

Specifics

All Indonesian liveaboard trip prices normally include:
Diving, air-conditioned cabins, catering, non-alcoholic drinks, transfers, weights and weight-belts, torches and tanks, professional divemaster and all taxes. Your shortlist quote will include no ‘hidden extras’.

Please note that marine park fees vary with destinations visited and the cost will be stated in the shortlist that we send you.

Full sets of scuba equipment can be rented from US$ 20 per day.

We recommend that all our customers take out insurance to cover diving and travel activities, including trip cancellation. See our insurance programme for a competitive quote.

Ports of departure:
Komodo liveaboards often depart from Benoa Harbour in Bali. Transfers are provided free of charge from all areas of Bali (unless otherwise stated). Other trips depart from ports nearer to the Komodo National Park; these are Labuan Bajo, Bima and Maumere, and all involve a short flight from Bali.

Raja Ampat: Sorong is the port of departure and return for most Raja Ampat cruises. If Banda is included, Ambon may feature as the port of departure or return.

Banda Sea: Ambon is the port of departure and return for all Banda Islands tours. If Raja Ampat is included, Sorong may feature as the port of departure or return.

Sulawesi: Manado is the starting point for North Sulawesi liveaboards. They depart from Manado or Bitung near Lembeh. Wakatobi is the port of departure and return for dive charters in the Wakatobi area.

For other destinations in Indonesia, departure point details will be sent to you by email.

Dive The World rating system:
The customer rating displayed for each liveaboard safari indicates our customers’ satisfaction. 5 star is excellent4 star is very good3 star is good2 star is average, and 1 star is below average. We ask each and every one of our customers to rate their adventure. The rating earned is an average of ratings received over the last season. This way, we ensure our recommendations and ratings are truly impartial and reflect up to date performance based on the most important indicator – your satisfaction!

• Choose your diving cruise

Komodo Diving

Dragons on Land, Paradise Underwater

Few places enjoy Komodo’s reputation for being a remote and inspiring place and diving here and in the surrounding area evokes the same feelings. These small, brown scorched-earth islands fringed with sandy beaches are lapped by the clear waves of the national park, where you may even see the dragons patrolling the beach or viewing you from a high rocky outcrop.

Unlike other parts of Indonesia, the reefs around the south of the islands have suffered relatively little damage from dynamite fishing. Much of the area now lies within the protection of the national park. The shallow reefs between Flores and the northern region however, were bombed in the past but are now recovering their former splendour. The affected area covers around 15% of the archipelago, and even here steep drop-offs and current-swept points offer excellent Komodo diving.

Besides the sheer excitement of simply being somewhere like Komodo, you are also cruising over some of the most exciting dive sites in Indonesia. The water is not always warm, in fact it can be decidedly cool. The seas are not always calm, in fact the currents can rage. But the abundance of pelagics, more critters and interesting macro-action than you could imagine, the dazzling colours and diversity, make scuba diving here truly the stuff of legend.

The Dive Sites

GPS Point is often heralded as a highlight of the park and is often visited ob Komodo liveaboard cruises. Topographically, it is a sea mount that rises to a few metres from the surface where converging current can make the first few metres of descent quite interesting!

Currents normally mean fish and this site is blessed with large numbers and plenty of action. The sea seems thick with barracuda, dog-toothed tuna and surgeonfish. Napoleon wrasse and an array of sharks, maybe even including hammerheads, can also join the fray. The shallows are full of macro life living among the soft corals and staghorns, which you can check out when conditions are calm.

Yellow Wall of Texas is one of the Komodo National Park’s signature dive sites, so called because of the proliferation of robust sea cucumbers – they are all over the place and their bright yellow hue dominates the vista. The wall is located on the east of Nusa Kode and is best dived in the afternoon when the natural light can best illuminate the scene.

You can also feast your eyes of clown triggerfish cruising around the reef among the thousands of fork-tailed fairy basslets and butterflyfish. Not only does the wall itself promise much in the way of entertainment but sharks, manta rays and turtles are all frequent passers-by.

Cannibal Rock is unlike many of the other Komodo diving sites, in that there is little heart-stopping action here. However in terms of colour and activity there are few better spots. There is just so much going on around this sea mount: purple gorgonians, anemones, yellow and white spiral corals and sea apples that together create a riot of colour. In and around this vibrant sessile tableau live all sorts of sea-life, making night diving here simply awesome. All the while rays, snappers, sweetlips and turtles cruise around the rock. Night or day, Cannibal Rock inspires.

Pillarsteen is another site atypical of the usual riot of colour and fish action that is often found at Komodo’s sites. In the right conditions this dive is an exercise in drifting in and around an ever-changing seascape. You will explore rocky outcrops, caves, caverns and chimneys.

Sections of the reef are bedecked with thousands of yellow and white sea squirts, and, more usually for Komodo, tiny bright yellow sea cucumbers. Other creatures to capture your attention as you move around the reef include midnight snappers, 6-banded angelfish and huge boxfish and purple fire urchins.

There are multiple dive sites around Gili Lawa Laut and Gili Lawa Darat. Crystal Bommie is a submerged pinnacle with great schooling action. Castle Rock is another exposed site with sharks, trevally and even dolphins regularly spotted. The Passage can be a great site for manta rays and mobula rays and also makes a stunning night dive. These are not the most regularly visited sites in Komodo, but when the conditions are right, they can showcase some of what makes scuba diving here so special.

Dive The World Indonesia’s Recommendations: GPS Point, Gili Lawa, Cannibal Rock and Pillarsteen.

More detailed information available on the Komodo dive sites (on our www.dive-the-world.com website).

 

Staying at Komodo

If you need accommodation in Nusa Tenggara or elsewhere in Indonesia then Agoda, our affiliated hotel reservation specialists, have a wide range of choices:

Take your pick from dozens of options for places to stay, from luxury beach resorts to low budget guesthouses and everything in between. Whatever option you choose, it always carries the Agoda ‘Low Price Guarantee’ to ensure you get the best value for money from your booking.

The Diving Season

The scuba season is year round at Komodo with November to January seeing the best conditions as far as visibility is concerned. The seas can kick up a little in different areas, such as the northern sites during January to March and the southern sites during July and August, although these rarely interfere with the liveaboard schedules to any great extent.

How to Get There

The most common route is to fly from Bali or Jakarta to the point of departure, which is usually Labuan Bajo, Maumere (both on the island of Flores) or Bima (on Sumbawa). Some Komodo trips depart and/or return to Benoa harbour in Bali.

Reef Basics

Great for: Large animals, small animals, wall dives, underwater photography, drift diving, reef life and health, and advanced divers
Not so great for: Wrecks and beginner divers
Depth: 5 – >40m
Visibility: 5 – 30m
Currents: Can be very strong – up to 8 knots
Surface Conditions: Can be rough
Water Temperature: 20 – 27°C
Experience Level: Intermediate – advanced
Number of dive sites: >35
Distance: ~490 km east of Bali (24 hours)
Access: Liveaboard cruises from Bali, Sumbawa and Flores
Recommended length of stay: 6 – 11 days

Other sites that can be visited as part of a Komodo liveaboard cruise:

Raja Ampat Diving Sites

Dive Sites of West Papua Province

Raja Ampat in Indonesian Papua is not one of the most frequently visited scuba diving areas in the world which is strange since almost everyone who knows anything about the area agrees that there can surely be nowhere better on earth. Boasting the highest marine diversity on the planet, beautiful topside scenery and awesome underwater topography, diving the Raja Ampat islands is as close as you can get to an underwater heaven.

Not many Indonesian liveaboards cover the Raja Ampat scuba diving sites around West Papua, making the exploration of this fabulous area even more special. Some of the highlights include the innumerable war wrecks, both ships and planes (with new wrecks being discovered constantly), encounters with dolphins, and the simplicity of drifting effortlessly over some of the most pristine and fascinating coral scenes imaginable.

The Dive Sites

Everyone has their own special spots but no liveaboard trip would be complete without checking out Cape Kri. If you want lots of big stuff and to be enveloped by fish then roll in here and both desires will soon be sated. Meaty Queensland groupers, sharks, snappers, Napoleon wrasse, barracuda, dogtooth tuna, trevallies, you name it … They are all here and they are all here in numbers.

This is also a great place for divers to spot wobbegongs, the curious tassled shark mostly seen in Australia, but you should also take time to study gorgonian fans for pygmy seahorses clinging to its branches.

By contrast Misool Island, in the southern section of the Raja Ampat islands, is all about investigation through the holes and tunnels where lie all manner of macro wonders. No swirling schools here but rather soft corals galore and critters by the bucketful such as sea horses and ghost pipefish. Great by day, unbelievable by night.

Misool is home to an astonishingly colourful reef-scene, considered by some to be unbeatable. The slopes and walls are bedecked in soft corals in a kaliedoscope of colours.

Bird Wall is one of the best sites around Waigeo, an island that plays an important role in any Raja Ampat liveaboard that tours the northern region. On the south of the island, this sloping reef makes a great investigative dive with cuttlefish, pipefish, Indian lionfish and a variety of nudibranchs all waiting to be found.

Larger creatures known to frequent the area include green turtles, mappa pufferfish, Napolean wrasse and jacks, while the eagle-eyed may pick out a couple of pygmy seahorses and sea dragons.

Fabiacet is another dive site that you won’t want to come up from. The 4 islets are home to large groupers and large schools of various snapper species. You’ll be dazzled by the schools of fusiliers and surgeonfish, overwhelmed by the masses of triggerfish and bannerfish, and in awe of the numerous Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish, turtles and occassional great hammerhead.

Deeper sections are home to huge sea fans of purple, lilac and pink in areas where orange-spotted trevally hunt fusiliers in sudden flashes of motion. When the current is running the inter-island channels can be great spots for watching the big fish action.

The Jef Fam Group is in central region of Raja Ampat, to the west of Batanta Island, so it’s quite likely that you’ll visit it whether you are joining a southern or northern cruise route. It’s quite a large area with some impressive cabbage corals, sheet corals and mushroom corals, and worth several dives. What makes Jef Fam special is its diversity of marine encounters.

At the larger sized end of the animal spectrum, it is the best place to find wobbegongs. You can also see huge giant clams, Spanish mackerel, great barracuda and manta rays. At the smaller end of the scale, Jef Fam hosts pygmy seahorses, mimic octopus, crabs and shrimps of every shape and size, and spine-cheek anemonefish.

Manta Ridge is a popular central site, thanks to a cleaning station which delivers some awesome manta ray action to scuba divers who lucky enough to be there. This is one of the best dive spots in Raja Ampat to see mantas with regularity, in such impressive numbers and partaking in interesting behaviour.

In current, you may have to hook into place at only about 6m depth, before enjoying the show which includes some almost pure black mantas, some barrelling, and all seemingly unconcerned by the audience. Bumphead parrotfish and turtles, which might otherwise be the stars of the show, often go barely noticed here.

When your small group stops at a site where there are no other divers you will feel like a pioneer slipping into waters that you feel you are the first to dive. Amazing quantities of fish as well as beautiful topside topography and critters in their millions, your memories of diving in Raja Ampat will stay with you forever.

Dive The World Indonesia’s Recommendations: Fabiacet, Farondi Island, Misool and Manta Ridge.

More detailed information available on the Raja Ampat dive sites on our www.dive-the-world.com website.

Staying at Raja Ampat

If you need a hotel in West Papua or elsewhere in Indonesia then Agoda.com, our affiliated hotel reservation specialists, have a good range of choices:

Choose from dozens of accommodation options, from international beach resorts to low budget pension houses, with everything in between. Whatever option you select, it will be supported by Agoda’s ‘Low Price Guarantee’, ensuring you always get best value for money from your reservation.

Diving Season

Raja Ampat is simply superb for diving just about all year round, although some of the liveaboards only operate here part of the year. Rainy season is generally May to September when showers and some surface swells are more likely. However, the weather is tropical so all times of the year can see occasional showers between sunny periods.

How to Get There

Liveaboards that visit the regions of Raja Ampat depart from Sorong. Sorong is also the town from which resorts will collect and transfer you to your holiday accommodation. Flights to Sorong can be accessed from Bali or Jakarta and are often via Ujung Pandang or Manado.

Reef Basics

Great for: Reef life and health, large and small animals, underwater photography, advanced divers
Not so great for: Non-diving activities
Depth: 5 – >40m
Visibility: 10 – 30m
Currents: Can be strong
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water Temperature: 27 – 30°C
Experience Level: Intermediate – advanced
Number of dive sites: Unknown but >200
Distance: ~1,200 km north east of West Timor (60 hours)
Access: Liveaboard cruises from West Papua
Recommended length of stay: 10 – 16 days

Other sites that can be visited on a liveaboard cruise through Raja Ampat:

Banda Islands Diving

The Banda Sea Dive Sites

Seemingly insignificant islands in the middle of nowhere in the Banda Sea, in fact the Banda Islands are steeped in history and blessed with some of the finest scuba diving in the country. Central to the spice trade of old, and former home to exiled freedom fighters, the islands are now enjoying a growing reputation for what goes on below the water’s surface.

If big pelagics are your thing then an Indonesian dive vacation here could be for you, but from a wider perspective the real beauty of diving in the Banda Islands is the immense variety and volumes of both large and small fish species.

The islands are remote in the wide open Banda Sea, and the sparse human population has meant less fishing pressures, and a vibrant, natural and healthy reef system. This has resulted in incredible numbers of fish, huge seafans and sponges, and some monumental hard coral reefs.

Everyone likes different things, and while a whale shark might be heaven to you, your buddy could be more keen on spotting pygmy seahorses. However, the beauty of Banda is that there is such a wide range of creatures that most scuba divers will be delighted with their underwater encounters. Even the most world-weary diver will be in raptures at the sheer density of marine life.

Creatures worthy of special mention that characterise diving in the Banda Sea are the numerous dogtooth tuna and mobula rays. At many sites you will see enormous schools of fusiliers and thousands of redtooth tirggerfish. At the other end of the size scale, there are a prolific number of mandarinfish and the native Ambon scorpionfish. Banda liveaboards also often report sightings of spinner dolphins, orcas, and various whale species, including melonhead, blue, pilot, and humpback whales. It is a certainty that you will see plenty of big stuff as well as plenty of colourful reef life.

Conditions are usually comfortable, with mild currents, good visibility and calm waters, but some of the dive sites are subject to stronger currents that make them suitable for experienced divers only.

Topside, these Banda Islands boast climbable volcanic mountains which are covered in lush green vegetation. For a taste of historic atmosphere going ashore in Banda Neira is a must for its remnants from the old spice trade of colonial times.

The Dive Sites

At Karang Hatta you’ll be mesmerised by flashing, yellow clouds of never-ending schools of fusiliers; and watch out for eagle rays, barracuda, tuna and scalloped hammerheads. Check out the sponges, so huge you won’t believe your eyes, and enjoy the vast variety of life including turtles, mobula rays, trevally and more in this rich and diverse dive spot.

Batu Kapal is unique in the area with its series of pinnacles. It features towering barrel sponges and awe-inspiringly huge gorgonian fans, as well as colourful fields of tunicates and soft corals. Add to this the big pelagics, potato cod, barracuda and grey reef sharks near the pinnacles’ bases and the myriad little reef dwellers in the shallows, and you begin to see why this site is among the favourites of those lucky enough to be diving the Banda Sea.

Dive The World Indonesia’s Recommendations: Karang Hatta, Batu Kapal and Pulau Ai.

More detailed information available on the dive sites of the Banda region (on our www.dive-the-world.com website).

 

Staying at the Bandas

If you need accommodation in Indonesia then hotelscombined.com, our affiliated hotel reservation specialists with the ‘Lowest Price Guarantee’, has a wide range of hotel options:

Diving Season

The months of March and April, and mid/late-September to early/mid-December are the best times for diving in the Banda Sea, based upon surface conditions. Any trips arranged outside of these times would be reliant upon the weather and should be avoided.

How to Get There

The Banda islands are normally accessed via Ambon. Ambon and Banda are included in liveaboard safaris which may use ports such as Kalabahi in Alor, Sorong in Raja Ampat or Saumlaki in Maluku.

Reef Basics

Great for: Large animals, small animals, visibility, underwater photography, wall dives, reef life and health, and advanced divers
Not so great for: Diving for beginners
Depth: 5 – >40m
Visibility: 15 – 30m
Currents: Gentle, but can be strong
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water Temperature: 26 – 29°C
Experience Level: Intermediate – advanced
Number of dive sites: ~25 (plus ~30 more in the greater Lucipara and Ambon/Seram/Nusa Laut region)
Distance: ~200 km east southeast of Ambon (14 hours), 1,650 km east northeast of Bali (83 hours), 320 south west of West Papua (16 hours)
Access: Indonesian liveaboards
Recommended length of stay: 7 – 14 days

Other sites that can be visited as part of a Banda Sea liveaboard cruise:

Lembeh Diving Sites

Crazy Critter Heaven

Mention the Lembeh Strait to anyone who has been and their eyes go all misty. Diving here, whether from a dive resort or a liveaboard, is like nowhere else on earth. An hour from Manado airport lies the strait of water that separates the mainland from Lembeh Island.

Under the calm surface, there is more going on than even the wildest imagination could envisage. On a floor of dark sand scuttle a mind-boggling array of unusual and rare critters – mandarinfish, hairy frogfish, mimic octopus, Ambon scorpionfish, stargazers, pegasus, flamboyant cuttlefish, dragonets to name just a few. Lembeh is a photographer’s dream and a total eye-opener for anyone with even a passing interest in the smaller things in the ocean.

The Lembeh Strait Dive Sites

It is difficult to accurately convey just how many weird and wonderful creatures that a dive at Hairball can reveal, both by day and by night. How many sites can promise so many seahorses and frogfish that by the end of the dive you are thinking “Yeah, yeah – another one”? It doesn’t end there. This site’s usual line-up includes some the oddest and most fascinating creatures of the sea. Even the most water-weary scuba divers emerge at the surface here to excited chatter about what they have just witnessed.

In a muck diving paradise, there is often an impressive array of nudibranchs. Nudi Falls is one of the best places in the Lembeh Strait for nudi hunters and you can expect many varieties in this one small area alone, whether on the black sandy floor, or feeding on ascidians or hydroids on the wall. However, there are more macro wonders here too including ribbon eels, pygmy seahorses, frogfish and mantis shrimps. It is one of those dive sites that will have you reaching for the I.D. books as soon as you are dry.

Representing a break from the black sand sites that typify Lembeh, Angel’s Window is a reef dive around a submerged pinnacle cloaked in orange and green soft corals, sponges and gorgonian sea fans. You can expect to encounter batfish and schools of angelfish as you work your way around the pinnacle. The eponymous window is a swim-through at around 25m which is covered in crinoids and featherstars. Keep an eye out for pygmy seahorses on the gorgonians, red octopus and an array of nudibranchs.

An excellent day dive too, Jahir is one of the most spectacular night dives in the strait. The black sandy floor is host to a succession of crazy critters. Tiny frogfish, hairy frogfish, mimic octopus and long-horn cowfish are among the sights you can see here. Also look out for the submerged facial features of the fascinating stargazer scowling up at you from the sea-bed.

There are also wrecks and more traditional reefs to explore which only adds to Lembeh’s claim to be a unique and special scuba diving destination.

Dive The World Indonesia’s Recommendations: Angel’s Window, TK 1, Nudi Falls, Jahir and Hairball.

More detailed information available on the Lembeh Strait dive sites on our www.dive-the-world.com website.

 

Staying at the Lembeh Strait

If you need accommodation while visiting Sulawesi or elsewhere in Indonesia, our affiliated hotel reservation specialist hotelscombined.com has a range to choose from:

Select from dozens of accommodation options, from exclusive island hideaway resorts to low priced guesthouses and inns. Whatever option you pick, it will be backed up by the hotelscombined.com ‘Low Price Guarantee’, ensuring value for money from your booking.

The Lembeh Dive Season

You can dive in Lembeh all year but the conditions do vary. January to June sees variable (but still fine) conditions and fewer scuba divers. July and August have the coolest water temperatures but the richest numbers of critters. During the rainy season in January and February some of the more distant sites might be closed as the strait can become quite rough. September to October are probably the best months overall.

Liveaboard season in the Lembeh Strait area runs year round.

How to Get There

Once you arrive in Manado, you will be transferred to your Lembeh resort. It is about 45 km (1 hour) by road from the airport. If your accommodation is one of those on the island then you’ll have an additional but short 10 minute boat ride ahead of you too.

Lembeh Strait Reef Basics

Great for: Small animals, underwater photography and advanced divers
Not so great for: Large animals, walls, drift dives and non-diving activities
Depth: 5 – 30m
Visibility: 10 – 25m
Currents: Gentle
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water Temperature: 26 – 29°C
Experience Level: Beginner – advanced
Number of dive sites: >30
Distance: ~45 km east of Manado (1½ hours)
Access: Resorts and liveaboards
Recommended length of stay: 5 – 10 days

Other nearby Manado diving sites that you can visit together with Lembeh: