Diving in Ambon
Dutch Ichthyologist Peter Bleaker was probably the first to demonstrate that the diving in Ambon would be something very special when in 1863 he discovered 783 species of fish, just in Ambon Bay alone.
You can put this achievement into some kind of perspective when one compares that number with, for example, the less than 700 in the whole of Thailand. His technique of cataloguing fish species at that time was to catch them with a small net; if only he'd had scuba equipment or a liveaboard dive boat!
The bay of Ambon is 563 metres deep and 8 kilometres wide at its mouth, and cuts 23 kilometres back into the island. Modern history of the last century witnessed the battle of Ambon in 1942 between Japan and the Allied Forces.
Since that event, the local people used coral to rebuild roads thus destroying the fringing reefs, and later dredged the bay's shallows to allow bigger ships, so what is left in the bay now is just some world class muck diving.
The eponymous Ambon scorpionfish is one of the rare creatures that can be found here with some frequency. This incredible critter comes in shades of pink, green, brown yellow or red, with variable skin flaps and filaments; but is characterised by its very long growths above each eye.
Also a rare find anywhere are Halimeda ghostpipefish. This cryptic creature has green-grey rounded fin lobes resembling leaf-like segments of Halimeda algae, where they shelter in pairs or solitarily. To spot this one, look closely at anything that resembles a twig!
Dive Site Descriptions
Laha - About 3 kilometres inside the bay, on the northern coast, is the best macro dive site called Laha. The reef here consists of a slope from 2 metres deep, overgrown with a few simple corals and rubble substrate, featherstars, fire urchins and sea squirts, on a sandy bed. The slope levels off a little at 12 metres before continuing down again into Ambon Bay's murky depths.
As you make your way into deeper water from the shallows, you'll see inquisitive black-saddled tobies considering your movements, and ringtail cardinalfish lurking motionless amongst the rubble. Small orange painted frogfish can be found perched on the coral branches, and shrimpfish and white cockatoo waspfish gently sway back and forth in the light water movement.
A little further into your dive, and you'll approach the nearby jetty, used by the local Ambon fishermen. Here you'll see loads of discarded rubbish and fish remnants from the fishing trawlers, scattered across the sea bed. This simple and accessible feast acts as an attraction for plenty of marine life. In this small area alone it's easy to spot upto 10 moray eel species - white eyed, snowflake, starry, undulated. you name it, it's here - and several species of lionfish and stonefish, including the evil looking spiny devilfish and spotted devilfish.
Glass bottles have become homes to striped fangblennies and catfish, fingered dragonets crawl across the sand, and sandperches squat on the rubble. Orbicular porcupinefish - the smallest species in its family - stare up at you with their innocent-looking eyes, and large trumpetfish stalk through this aquatic town. Take a close look at the spiny sponge branches in this section of the dive as you may be able to find pink thorny seahorses.
Then finally at a depth of around 10 metres and as dusk approaches, the waters of Ambon Bay come alive to the sight of mandarinfish performing their mating dance. These spectacularly coloured fish put on quite a show, and for most divers in Ambon, to witness this scene is worth the entrance money alone.
How to Dive Ambon
Although there are some dive resorts on Ambon, we recommend you join a Banda Sea liveaboard trip. That way you can enjoy the diving the Ambon region, together with the amazing Banda Islands.
Got a question?
Have a look through our Frequently asked questions
Dive conditions in Ambon are good all year round but our Banda liveaboards season runs only in March and April and during the September to December period.
Good for: Small animals and underwater photography
Not so good for: Large animals and snorkelling
Depth: 5 - 35m
Visibility: 5 - 15m
Currents: Gentle but can be occasionally strong
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 26 - 29°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: ~20
Distance: ~200 km east north west of the Banda Islands (14 hours), 280 south west of Sorong (West Papua, 15 hours)
Access: Banda Sea liveaboards
Recommended length of stay: 5 - 6 days
• Banda Sea travel information
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• Ambon & Banda Islands - Indonesia
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