The Dive Sites of Maumere
Diving in Flores gives you the perfect chance to add new, small fish and aquatic animals to your knowledge base since it is known for its endemic species. The combined effects of dynamite fishing and the earthquake and tsunami of 1992 caused damage to certain areas including Maumere. However, the regeneration of the reefs here is cause for celebration.
These natural phenomena cleared space, which has allowed new corals to flourish and bring an even greater diversity to the sites. Maumere was once considered among Indonesia’s finest dive locations and it is well on its way to a full recovery and provides some excellent and interesting diving.
At South Pangah Balang you may have some current to deal with as you descend over the masses of large leather corals which are present in numbers along the sloping wall that plateaus at around 28m. Soft corals abound here too in impressive sizes and spectacular colours. The sight is enough to take your breath away but faces competition in this regard from the finning you may be doing to combat the current!
Just above the sandy floor you may catch sight of any number of sharks and eagle rays lazily hanging in the current, and garden eels easing themselves into their bottom holes as you pass above. All the while colour will surround you in the shallows where you may find mantis shrimps, several leaffish and other small interesting animals. Humphead parrotfish a metre in length are also often seen as they storm over the reef. When air dictates, you will emerge from this dive, perhaps a little drained, but certainly energised by this excellent Flores dive site.
Wai Terang – This Japanese World War II freighter lies on its side just off the coast of mainland Flores. It lies at a depth of 25m up to about 12m. Over the years the coral growth on this wreck has improved considerably and now the old ship plays host to a fair number of hard and soft corals harbouring small fish life.
You should try to avoid kicking up the silt here since a careless hand or leg in poor visibility could bring your skin into contact with one of the many resident lionfish, a very painful sensation. Other pleasurable sights here include eels, cuttlefish and anthias on what is a very rewarding wreck dive, if not one that allows too much penetration.
Despite bearing the worst of the 1992 tsunami, Babi Island is a surprisingly good dive. The tsunami killed one thousand inhabitants when the wave swept over the island but, over a decade later, the reef wall is now in pristine condition. Although the wall drops down to a depth of about 50 metres, visibility can be so good that it is sometimes possible to see the sea floor from the surface. A more usual visibility is about 15 metres. This site includes snappers, angelfish, parrotfish and damselfish. There are several species of moray eel as well as ribbon eels.
All along the wall, there is a good covering of soft corals, sponges and the brightly coloured crinoids that like to jump off the wall to attach themselves to wetsuits of unsuspecting scuba divers who get too close. Numerous sea apples add splashes of gold, blue and red colours. The extent of the regeneration of the reef is highlighted by the number of gorgonian seafans along the wall, the biggest ones found at depths of 35m and below. This can be an excellent drift dive when currents are strong.
Adonara Island in east Flores has a few established dive sites like Magic Log where frogfish and ribbon eels are common. Wonderpus octopuses have been seen here, as has the very rare weedy scorpionfish (Rhinopias). All around the island there are headlands and channels that are gradually being explored by visiting liveaboard dive boats but there is still a lot of un-dived territory to discover in this area.
Also well worth exploring is Lambata Island. The headland next to Lamalera Village is worth several days diving alone. The shadowy shape of reef sharks tempt you out into the depths from where you can make your way back up through the boulders and coral. Huge angelfish are common as are parrotfish and schools of fusiliers. Successful searches in the gorgonian seafans will discover pygmy seahorses. Also, as Lamalera is one of only 2 traditional whaling villages left in Flores, you never know what you might see in the surrounding seas.
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The best Flores diving conditions are from April to December.
Great for: Small animals, drift diving and snorkelling
Not so great for: Beginner divers and non-diving activities
Depth: 12 – 28m
Visibility: 8 – 30m
Currents: Can be strong
Surface Conditions: Can be rough
Water Temperature: 25 – 30°C
Experience Level: Intermediate – advanced
Number of dive sites: ~10
Distance: 20 km east of Komodo (2 hours), ~300 km west of Alor (15 hours)
Access: Indonesian liveaboard diving
Recommended length of stay: 3 – 4 days