...Highlights: whales sharks, shark action, manta rays, turtles, schooling fish & big pelagics, great macro life/ marine diversity, non diving activities...
...Indonesia's diving environment: healthy reefs, walls, drift diving, advanced divers, off the beaten track...
Generally accepted to be the world's best country for scuba diving, Indonesia has more marine diversity than anywhere on earth. Slap bang in the middle of the 'Coral Triangle' of diversity that extends from Australia to the Philippines and across to Borneo and into the South Pacific, this country is at the core of the ocean's heart, where the marine variety suggests life in the sea began.
With 20% of the world's coral reefs, over 3,000 different species of fish and 600 coral species, deep water trenches, volcanic sea mounts, World War II wrecks, and an endless variety of macro life, Indonesia dive vacations are both excellent and inexpensive.
You can dive here now and experience all the wondrous fish and other marine life in these nutrient-rich seas. From encounters with big pelagics around the cool waters of Komodo, drifting over pristine fields of coral in Raja Ampat, marvelling at the enormous volumes of fish in the Banda Islands, to photographing the outrageous critters of Sulawesi, Indonesia diving cruises are unsurpassable.
There are packages to suit all needs including resort diving in Bali, North Sulawesi and Raja Ampat, where you can stay in comfort on the doorstep of world-class dive sites where marine biologists, photographers and pleasure divers come to marvel at the incredible number, variety and uniqueness of the marine species.
For many, diving is best done on one of the Indonesian liveaboards to Raja Ampat or Komodo, the country's 2 main liveaboard diving destinations. Raja Ampat cruises allow you to explore the most biodiverse waters on the planet, diving pristine, remote sites with all the comfort and ease that a liveaboard safari provides. Komodo is a prime destination offering liveaboard experiences to suit all budgets and delivering vibrant colourful reefs, plenty of fish action, as well as the promise of encounters with mantas, sharks and more, plus of course land visits to see Komodo dragons. Some trips will take you further afield to places like Cenderawasih Bay or Triton Bay in West Papua, the Banda Islands, Sangalaki, Ambon and Alor, where boats are few and only genuine pleasure-seeking divers are to be found. Fantastic times are virtually assured.
Further details on each of the best destinations for diving Indonesia:
Such a vast and varied destination as Indonesia is very difficult to limit to just a few highlights but any consideration of a dive trip here should bear in mind at least the following areas:
Raja Ampat - one of the few destinations left which truly allows you to feel like you are a pioneer - to boldly dive where no man has dived before. You can marvel at the incredible topside scenery of West Papua, sail through waters where so few boats venture and experience some of the most impressive scuba diving in Indonesia ... and therefore the world. For those who want to get away from it all and dive in a remote paradise but not compromise on comfort then Raja Ampat liveaboards are the choice for you.
Komodo National Park - the islands of myth and legend where dragons roam, are surrounded by rich nutrient-filled waters where a kaleidoscope of colour and life awaits scuba divers. Mantas, dolphins and sharks compete with critters galore, all against a riot of soft coral colours. Komodo liveaboard trips allow you to visit the many varied sites around this awesome marine park, some starting in Bali and visiting all the best sites along the way.
Sulawesi is home to some of the most varied and incredible diving in the world. To dive from Manado in the Bunaken National Marine Park means being surrounded by marine bio-diversity that is the envy of the world - with more varieties of coral than anywhere else. Ocean currents sweep nutrient rich water around Bunaken island meaning an abundance of marine life from tiny crustaceans to sharks and rays. Dive sites range from walls to reef flats to critter hunting in the sand. Bunaken is among the most rewarding and relaxing diving in Indonesia, suitable for all experience levels.
A short drive from here is the Lembeh Strait - the undisputed King of muck diving destinations. This small calm stretch of water is where macro-photographers and critter hunters agree offers the most impressive diving. Along the black sandy floor you will encounter more bizarre and fascinating marine creatures than you could wish for. This is why many divers return time and again to Sulawesi, an Indonesian island where you can fulfill all your dive dreams.
Banda Islands - the Banda Sea may be located between the better known destinations of Komodo and Raja Ampat, but for those in the know it deserves its own reputation as one of the world's best dive regions. Scuba diving in Banda means experiencing incredible variety of both large and small. Big pelagics and large schools abound. The reefs are healthy and thriving. Consider on top of this that many different species of whales and dolphins are often sighted, and you begin to get the picture. Diving here is varied, colourful and fascinating.
The Banda Sea is covers a huge area and the diving varies greatly from place to place. Many Banda Sea trips use the port of Ambon which is something of a macro haven. Here you can dive in Ambon Bay along the dark sandy floor beneath local fishing boats. Scraps are tossed into the sea from these boats making the waters a veritable banquet for all sorts of weird and wonderful critters. These include Ambon scorpionfish, fingered dragonets, thorny seahorses and multiple moray eel species - as many as 10 distinct species! There is much wonderful muck diving in Indonesia, and Ambon Bay is up there with the best.
The Forgotten Islands are an area in the eastern area rising in reputation. Otherwise known as the south east Moluccas. This eastern section of the Banda Sea is often dived alongside Alor (to the south) or Raja Ampat (to the north). Few liveaboards venture here, so you will feel like a pioneer diving around islands like Wetar, Nila, Damar, Sermata and Tanimbar. There is often excellent visibility as you dive drop-offs, reef flats and pinnacles. Highlights include schools of hammerhead sharks (September to November), whale sharks, bumphead parrotfish, plus large schools of big-eye trevally and barracuda. There are also plenty of macro delights in the pristine reefs to keep you enthralled when the big pelagics are not in sight.
Triton Bay - lying to the south east of Raja Ampat, Triton Bay is often included in those liveaboard safaris which include the Banda Sea and/or Raja Ampat. It is an excellent dive region in its own right with fabulous soft coral coverage, vast forests of black coral, big schools of fish, epaulette sharks, turtles, whale sharks, pilot whales and more. The topside scenery, with its vaulting cliffs, lush verdant foliage and ancient cave paintings, also contribute to it being a unique and unforgettable destination.
Cenderawasih Bay - further northeast from Raja Ampat in West Papua lies the large and increasingly famous Cenderawasih Bay. It is best known for incredible scuba diving opportunities with large numbers of whale sharks. There are also several World War II wrecks to investigate and some top class muck diving locations with critters galore. Year upon year, as its reputation grows, more divers are experiencing the wonders of Cenderawasih.
Bali - Indonesia's most famous tourist resort island has plenty of options for scuba divers of all levels of experience. Deep walls, drift dives through deep water channels, coral reefs, volcanic muck diving, a world famous wreck, offshore islands, mola mola and mantas, superb island scenery and affordable prices. No wonder Bali remains a popular dive destination of choice for many.
Alor & Flores - Moving east from Komodo you will find the islands of Alor and Flores which, together with other little surrounding islands form an excellent diving region. Less visited than some of its better known neighbours, Alor and Flores liveaboard trips promise some top quality Indonesian diving without the competition for space that can be seen elsewhere. Varied dive sites, superb macro-life, a low human population and excellent visibility make this a relatively undiscovered gem of a diving destination. Sharks, schooling fish, critters like pegasus and bobbit worms, plus underwater lava flows all contribute to this Indonesian dive experience.
Sangalaki and its neighbouring islands of Maratua, Kakaban and Derawan are a remote diving region off the east coast of Indonesian Borneo. More liveaboards have begun to visit the region in recent years attracted by the promise of manta rays, whale sharks, meaty pelagics, large schools of fish and pristine reefs. Add to this snorkelling in the jellyfish lake of Kakaban and some great macro sites, and it is clear why this up-and-coming region is viewed as a leading Indonesia diving destination.
It all depends on the type of diving you want to do. We recommend 2 ways:
Liveaboard cruises in Indonesia are always a top choice for those who want to see more than any land-based stay can offer. These tours can take you east from Bali to the legendary island of Komodo, or into the inspiring frontier territory of West Papua and the Banda Sea. Breathtaking diving, fantastic boats and inspiring topside scenery all await you here: Alor-Flores, Banda Sea, Cenderawasih Bay, Komodo, Raja Ampat, Triton Bay, Wakatobi, Transit Trips.
Additionally, for those of who prefer to book their own accommodation, we offer diving daytips in Lembongan (near Bali), to Komodo (from Labuan Bajo, Flores), and from Manado (to Lembeh Strait, and Bunaken and Bangka islands).
You can dive in Indonesia at any time of the year and there are liveaboards operating in various parts of the country throughout the year. With such a vast and geographically diverse country, it is impossible to give general guidelines. What is possible is to state that Indonesia, being at the heart of the Coral Triangle, boasts unbelievable biodiversity and across the range of destinations within the country, an amazing array of choice. Where in the country you choose to go and at what time of year depends on many factors, not least what type of scuba diving and creature encounters you are seeking.
Komodo has year round diving with some people considering April to November to have the very best conditions, and August in particular being the best month for Mola Mola. Outside of this time plankton blooms may reduce visibility a little but this increases the chances of manta ray encounters which are most frequent between December and February.
Raja Ampat and the West Papua Province have some liveaboard charter boats operating all year although many restrict their season to October to April when there is less chance of rain and choppy seas. Mantas are more frequently sighted during these months. Sea temperatures do not vary much during the year but the frequency of rain, in this amazing (but relatively wet) destination is a seasonal factor.
North Sulawesi is another destination that can be dived all year round. Manado and the Bunaken National Park enjoy the best conditions from March to October with July and August being the busiest months. July and August are also the best months for critter spotting in Lembeh, although this too can be amazing during any given month. November to January are the months where you can be least certain of great conditions throughout North Sulawesi.
Bali is best dived between April and November, with sightings of Mola Mola, sharks and other pelagics tending to be most frequent between June and September, and manta rays between April and June. Outside of this time is officially rainy season, although conditions are often excellent during then too, with visibility a little compromised off the north and west of Bali where less diving is done.
Visitfor a summary on the climate of Indonesia.
Review our maps below of Indonesia and its location in the world. Here, you will find information on how to get to Indonesia.
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 10 - 80m
Currents: Can be very strong
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 19 - 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: ~500
Recommended length of stay: 2 - 4 weeks