8 Diver’s Paradise in Indonesia
More than 5 million square meters of water surrounds the island archipelago of Indonesia. Undoubtedly, it is a grand settlement for hundreds if not thousands of underwater species and beautiful, colorful coral reefs. At once, this country offers plenty of spots that many diving enthusiasts can only dream about.
Thanks to the unusual political turmoil and usually exaggerated travel warnings, you’ll rarely find this country on the average traveler’s itinerary. Fortunately for the brave and adventurous, that means less tourists, more peace and quiet, and a better chance of enjoying all the serene beauty on your own sweet time. Here’s a list of Indonesia’s 8 Amazing Dive Spots for you to dream about, and one day try on your own!
Bintan Island, Riau
Probably the most accessible island from outside Indonesia, this diving hotspot is less then an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore. The island boasts of 18 km of pristine white beaches with rich marine life, and various dive spots for your enjoyment and perusal.
Not far from the northern coast line there is a small gorge 8 meters deep with a flat bottom, a perfect site for those trying out scuba diving for the first time. Another unique site here is Ship Wreck Point, where you can explore the remains of an old tanker boat sunk years ago in the depth of the sea.
Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands), Jakarta
This unique area consisting of over a hundred small islands (thus the exaggerated name), has always been the playground for divers from Jakarta. From the various islands, a few of the more popular ones are Pulau Kotok Besar, Pulau Kotok Kecil, Karang Bongkok, Pulau Sepa and Pulau Pantara.
Pulau Seribu is very accessible, you can simply rent a speedboat from the Marina, or a fisherman’s boat from one of the various piers. About one to two hours worth away from Jakarta and you’ll be able to dive to your heart’s content. Some of the larger islands provide better accommodation such as resorts and villas, but you’ll have to rent a boat to visit the smaller islands – that’s where the beautiful corals are!
Karimun Java, Central Java
Another side of Java Sea that’s also a diver’s paradise is the island across the sea at Semarang, Central Java. This area, called Karimun Java, is a collection of 27 smaller islands surrounded by ocean water rich with blue coral Acropora reef. Divers can explore the remains of Indonour, an ancient merchant ship that sank long ago in 1955. An additional treat here is the various sea turtles that hatches in the conservation park.
Derawan Island, East Kalimantan
About 50 miles away from the Tanjung Redeb, Berau Province’s capital, is an area covering several smaller islands. Its filled with spectacular corals and underwater caves for adventurous exploration. Derawan has more than 17 dive spots across the area, each with its own unique attractions for you to consider. Some of the more popular sites are at Pulau Sangalaki, Pulau Kakaban and Pulau Maratua.
At Sangalaki, you can find eagle rays, sting rays, leopard sharks and cuttlefishes as well. It is also the preferred hatching spot for giant green turtles, which you can view every night. The main attraction at Pulau Kakaban is the 5 square meters saltwater lake filled with stingless jellyfish and goby fish. And finally, at Pulau Maratua, you’ll find plenty large-sized fishes such as barracuda, tuna and mackerel. Sightings of hammerhead sharks, and up to eight species of whales are also often reported here.
Scuba diving enthusiasts should also check out our photographic journey through the marine paradise of Raja Ampat, long renowned as the Holy Grail of Scuba Diving.
Komodo Island, Flores
This island is usually associated with the Komodo Dragons, with it playing host to these fiery gigantic lizards species. But in regards to scuba diving, this area also plays host to a score of dive spots that are known to be some of the best in the country. From Sebayour Kecil, Pulau Tengah Kecil and Pantai Merah, various underwater attractions are on offer, such as various mackerel, cod and grouper fish.
At Pantai Merah, or roughly translated as Red Beach, you’ll find not far from the coast a 5 meter drop-off filled with colorful fishes. There are more dive sites at the western coast of Flores, such as Pulau Tatawa, Pulau Tatawa Kecil, Pulau Rinca and Pulau Nusa Node.
Nusa Penida, Bali
Pulau Nusa Penida, located east of Bali, is a popular dive spot amongst both local and international divers. About one hour away from Bali, this island has some of the healthiest coral reefs, with exceptional visibility of 15 to 35 meters.
For beginners, there are various dive spots at the northern coast of the island better suited for exploration. At the southern coast, there is also Blue Corner, Nusa Lembongan and Gamat, for those more experienced divers looking for a challenge. The sun fish is often sighted at Crystal Bay, while manta birostris are common occurrences at Manta Point.
Bunaken, North Sulawesi
This is another hotspot that is better known internationally compared to the rest, consisting of the smaller islands of Pulau Sialdoen, Gangga, Mantehage, Nine and an old volcano in the middle of the sea, Manado Tua (Old Manado). Snorkeling and diving are both extremely popular, with up to 16 dive spots spread amongst the islands in the area. Bunaken features a slope with up to 30 meters drop-off housing various species of fishes and marine life. Sightings of shark are not uncommon, so beware!
Indonesia is home to so many amazing diving destinations, its simply impossible to write about them all at one go! Here’s another diving-related article – Diving in the 3 Pearls in Indonesia.
Selat Lembeh (Lembeh Straits), North Sulawesi
Still at North Sulawesi is another icon of the diving world, Selat Lembeh (Lembeh Straits). This dive site is famed internationally with its diversity of marine life, some unique to the site. Here you can find the mimic octopus, pygmy seahorse, flamboyant cuttlefish and hairy frogfish among others. It’s a haven of underwater photography, and is often called the “Mecca of Macro Photography”. Be warned however, that the delicate nature of Lembeh Straits means it is only appropriate for experienced divers.
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