Indonesia is considered by some to be a scuba diver’s Garden of Eden. If you are looking for some of the best spots to dive, then one of my many recommendations would be Sulawesi, which is home to some of the most varied and incredible diving in the world. To dive in Manado in the Bunaken National Marine Park means being surrounded by marine biodiversity that is the envy of the world — with more varieties of coral than anywhere else.
A short drive from here is the Lembeh Strait — the undisputed King of muck diving destinations. This small calm stretch of water is considered by macro photographers and critter hunters to offer the most impressive diving. Along the black sandy floor you will encounter more bizarre and fascinating marine creatures than you could wish for. Add to this the Sangihe Archipelago and Bangka Island, and you can see why many divers return time and again to Sulawesi, an island that can fulfil 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 as it takes in the critter haven of Ambon as well as the Banda Islands.
How to Dive Indonesia
It all depends on the diving you want to do. I recommend 2 ways: resort stays in Sulawesi and Bali will allow you the opportunity to base yourself close to some of the finest diving in the world.
Alternatively, liveaboard cruises in Indonesia are always a top choice for those who want to see more than any land based stay can offer. Liveaboards can take you around the best of Northern Sulawesi, east from Bali to the legendary island of Komodo, Wakatobi, or into the inspiring frontier territory of the Banda Sea and Irian Jaya. Breathtaking diving, fantastic boats and inspiring topside scenery all await you here.
You can dive in Indonesia at any time of the year. Generally speaking for such a vast country, April to December are the best times to go since rainy season is more or less between the months of January and March. That said, many places, such as Sulawesi, have excellent conditions at this time so be sure to check the diving season details for your particular destination of choice. The Indonesia liveaboard safari season is all year round.
Good for: Small animals, underwater photography, wall dives, wreck diving, drift dives, reef life and health, and advanced divers
Not so good for: Beginner divers
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
Access: Scuba resorts and liveaboard charters
Recommended length of stay: 2 — 4 weeks