No matter where you are from, what is your experience as a diver, what is your budget for a diving holiday… Indonesia is on every diver’ s bucket list!
The greatest part of the famous “coral triangle” is part of Indonesia, making it the country with the highest marine biodiversity on earth.
Indonesia has already many diving hotspots. Well known places like Komodo, Bali, Lembeh are visited by thousands of divers every year.
In this article, I want to tell you about the off-grid dive destinations in Indonesia, where very few divers have been. Looking up online to these spots will definitely not result in a myriad of photos and videos. These places still offer the feeling of the pristine Indonesia, just like once were Bali, Lombok and Lembeh. The experience of scuba diving without the crowd, only you and your group of divers is still possible here. The feeling of surfacing after a dive and have no other dive boats around is daily routine for off-grid Indonesia.
1. Ambon Island
This port island in the Moluccas archipelago is a muck diving haven. The huge Ambon Bay is known as “The twilight zone” and offers a variety of weird, small and mimetic marine life. The very few divers that have been here, consider Ambon superior to Lembeh in term of critters and keep on coming back here on every dive trip.
Ambon Island also offers interesting historical sites dating back to the Dutch colonization.
Ambon has an international airport in Ambon City, the capital city of the island.
2. Moyo Island
This tiny island is a small tropical paradise right off Sumbawa Island. The island offers perfect scuba diving conditions: the water is crystal clear, currents are mild, hard and soft corals are huge and healthy, it is plenty of fish and pelagic. This is one of the very few places on earth where it is guaranteed to dive with sharks. No cages, no feeding. Just natural interaction. Moyo island is a marine protected area and a national park. This preserves both marine life and the monkeys, buffalos, birds and other animal that inhabit the island.
The island is accessible only by boat. The nearest airport is Sumbawa Besar. You can read here how to get to Moyo Island.
3. Cenderwasih Bay
Located in the northern part of the island of Papua, this huge bay has been declared marine conservation area in 2002. Cenderwasih bay offers the chance to have a close encounter with the famous whale sharks. There are numerous fishing platforms scattered across Kwatisore Bay, in the south west of Cenderawasih. Whale sharks visit these platforms in search of food. At present, the platforms of Cenderwasih Bay are reachable only by Liveaboard boats and by the only resort that, long ago, was allowed to operate here.
Getting here by plane requires a stop at Sorong airport and a short flight to the tiny airport of Nabire.
Located in North-East Sumbawa, this small but busy Indonesian city is completely unknown by tourists. There are no resorts or proper dive centers. The area is only visited by a couple of Liveabord boats on their way from Bali to Komodo. The very few divers that plunged with their scuba gear in the Bima bay, have no doubts about admitting that this muck diving is on another level, even compared to Ambon or Lembeh. Pygmy seahorses, all kinds of frogfish, ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish, blue-ringed octopus… are all here for hungry photographers amusement.
Bima boasts a city airport. Those travelling here by plane, will need to get in touch with some local Bimanese dive compressor owners and agree with them about price and logistics.
This port town is where public ferries leave for their 15 hours journey to the Komodo region.
The west coat of Sumbawa, where Sape is located, offers among the best muck diving in Indonesia. But that’s not all because the nearest islands belonging to the Komodo National Park, are just 1 hour away by speedboat. The position of this small town offers the chance to kill two birds with one stone: visit the unknown critters-filled muck dives of Sape and dive with the sharks and pelagic of the famous Komodo National Park.
There is only one Dive Resort operating in the area and it is about 15 km from Sape.
The nearest airport is Bima.