On the east coast of Kalimantan, a little south from the world famous Sipadan area, are more equally impressive, but less well-known islands & reefs. These difficult to reach dive sites are now beginning to open up to divers – and the intrepid travelers who make it this far will not be disappointed. Just like the Sipadan area, East Kalimantan has a lovely combination of big fish dives and critter dives. The area is most famous for its Manta Rays, which can congregate here in huge numbers. There is also a very unusual jellyfish lake dive.
The abundance of life in Java and Nusa Tenggara is due to the currents flowing through the straits between the islands. These waters are a frequent resting spot for sperm whales and their calves, orcas, dolphins and other mammals are spot here as well. The diving is excellent for both wide angle and macro lovers, nice drop offs, huge fans and sponges and some of the best muck in the country. The diving in the region is always unforgettable, but in this particular case we will go back home with some added memories in our hard disk: faces, expressions and a sense of envious that we will get after interacting with the remarkable friendly locals.
At the eastern end of the vast Indonesian archipelago lay the 1000+ islands of the Mollucas, now known as the province of Maluku. It was in this remote area, with its lush tropical climate and rich volcanic soil, that the exotic spices of cloves, mace & nutmeg originated. There are so many species of fish present in the Maluku region that specialists cannot give the exact total number. What is known is that there are more than 3000 species of fish and several hundred species of corals accounted for with the numbers still rising. Even the healthiest of Caribbean reefs has only 10 or 20 percent of the species diversity of a comparable reef in Maluku island.
In the north east of Indonesia is Irian Jaya, the western half of the island of New Guinea and now referred to as West Papua. For a very long time, few people had heard of them as almost no-one lives there and only visitors were scuba divers. In 2001, Australian scientist, Dr. Gerald Allen, took an expedition there and in a single one-hour dive, spotted 281 different species of fish and registered 950 species overall. There’s plenty of schooling fish, soft and hard corals, crustaceans, cephalopods, even a couple of small wrecks. There are several known manta ray feeding stations and the landscapes are spectacular, limestone pinnacles ringed by turquoise lagoons with birds everywhere.
The waters surrounding Sumatra cannot offer the stunning visibility found at other Indonesian dive sites however its prolific marine life and proximity to Singapore more than make up for it. Sumatra is more renowned for its tigers and orangutans, its volcanic lakes, and high mountain treks, and is relatively unknown as a diving destination. Its west coast faces the Indian Ocean, making for a slightly different distribution of species than elsewhere. The Indian Ocean also brings rough conditions, so the best diving is found in the shelter of smaller islands such as Pulau Weh on the northwestern coast. There are many undiscovered dive locations around Sumatra and a couple of well known ones where encounters with big pelagics are common.
The sprawling fingers of Sulawesi give this island over 6,000 km of coastline, against which laps warm water rich in marine life. The dramatic topography continues offshore, with abyssal trenches and sheer drop-offs right up against the shoreline. Once you’ve dived here – usually at Bunaken and Lembeh – you will understand the enthusiasm of frequent visitors, many of who claim that there is nowhere else on earth that offers such diverse and exciting underwater experiences. Given the enormous number and variety of dive sites so near to the shore, Sulawesi is quite possibly one of the best resort diving destinations in the world. There is a huge choice of highly affordable accommodations to stay in and only a few liveaboards.