Justin Carmack - Updated Jan 30, 2020
If you are looking for a remote island experience, scuba diving Maumere might just be your perfect choice. It is largely unknown and untouristy, yet still has better quality dive sites than 99% of US or Europe dive locations.
DIVING IN MAUMERE
Maumere is in the middle/Middle East part of the island of Flores, Komodo and Lubuan Bajo being on the west side of the island. This puts Maumere almost straight above the island of Timor, in the center of the spread-out Indonesia.
The area itself is beautiful with plenty of colourful reefs close to the islands, and calm waters that often attract whales and dolphins.
Maumere is best known for it’s muck dives and wall/drop-off dives, and is a great spot for those looking for less common places to scuba dive in Indonesia.
BEST DIVE SITES
A slop down to a sandy bottom framed with large gorgonians, sponges, and coral gardens. Ghost pipefish, ribbon eels, frogfish and lionfish are all common finds here. The area also tends to get a strong current so you may see eagle rays, and hunting hammerheads.
An earthquake in 1992 ripped the reef apart leaving a 50cm wide crack where lots of corals and small fish like to hide. As you follow the crack you will come to a steep, coral-filled wall. Be sure to look down for a chance to see sharks and rays.
A deep ledge located at 35m, this is a great spot to see reef sharks nurse sharks and if you are lucky, hammerheads.
Follow the slop down to about 14m to the platform, and make for the wall where you will see a variety of corals and reef fish. It’s a also a popular spot for schooling mackerel and tuna.
A steep wall with several jutting platforms, this site has a little bit of everything. Colourful corals and reef fish, sharks and rays, lobster, frogfish, and octopus, nudibranchs and sea turtles.
Babi Island wall
The wall around Babi (pig) Island is a great drop off with tons of corals, and chilling on the beach in-between dives is pretty sweet too.
BEST TIME TO DIVE
Just like the rest of Flores, Maumere loves its rain. To avoid the rainy season and be able to expect calm seas and great visibility during your dives, plan your scuba diving Maumere between April to October.
If you arrive here during the rainy season, it won’t be the end of the world and you can still get in your dives. But better to try for dry season.
HOW TO GET TO MAUMERE
It’s relatively easy to get to Maumere, considering how remote and unvisited it is. There are actually direct flights from Bali/ Depensar that only take an hour, and that’s the best way.
At the time of writing this I had bought tickets that were less than $150 round trip from Bali.
While scuba Diving in Maumere I did meet a couple from Spain, who had gone over land from Lubuan Bajo to Maumere, which is possible as they are on the same big island of Flores.
They took a few days to do the car ride to Maumere, so that they could stop at all the sites on the way, such as crazy lakes and volcanoes and lookout points.
Not a bad way to see a very unvisited island in Indonesia.
HIGHLIGHTS OF MAUMERE
As apposed to the ever popular Komodo or Bali, people in the know head to Maumere to get away from the crowds, and off the beaten path.
In my 5 days diving in Maumere, I saw only 2 other foreigners that were also diving, as well as a group of Germans who were there for the great local trekking.
Scuba diving in Komodo or Bali or Gili Islands is great, its popular for a reason, but it is also great exploring dive sites that are not seen by divers for big periods of time, and largely undiscovered.
The con side of the coin, is that the industry is new here, and the few dive shops that do exist won’t be the 5 star PADI resorts that your can get other places.
So expect very friendly people, but generally less experienced in the scuba/tourism field, with more raggedy boats (usually converted from fishing boats), little English and more.
Don’t expect a luxury dive trip here, this is for the pioneers to try out before scuba tourism takes off. When it comes to personalities and friendliness however, have no fears there.
As for the diving, any cares you had before will go away once you hit the water. There’s something to be said for having an entire reef or dive site to yourself, and where you don’t have to wait your turn to photograph a Pygmy seahorse or ribbon eel that some one found.
Not only will there not be lots of other people on the dive sites, but during my 8 dives, I never even saw another dive boat going by, let alone anyone else in the water. You’ll feel like you are exploring uncharted territory.
Expect lots of walls around various islands, covered in the biggest stag coral tables and gorgonian fans you’ve ever seen, intertwined with so many varieties of neon colored soft corals and anemones and as many reef fish as you can imagine.
Expect surface intervals on remote islands with white sand beaches at places like Babi Island and various others. Expect the occasional reef shark, stingray, and dolphins.
We even ran into a large school of pilot whales during a surface interval.
Expect muck and night dives in the sand, running into more species than you can imagine, and different varieties of common species you already knew.
Basically expect everything you’ve come to want from Indonesia, but all for yourself.
WHERE TO STAY
MORE THINGS TO DO
Maumere is a developing tourist location, and like any place like it, it was built for the locals, not for entertaining tourists. There’s no cinema, shopping mall, bowling alley or clubs.
The reasons to visit Maumere (besides great scuba diving), is for the traditional local experiences and the natural attractions.
Maumere is becoming well know in some countries for its trekking and biking trails with epic sceneries.
The most popular trek being up to Kelimutu, the three colored lakes on top of a volcano, about an hour drive outside Maumere.
Definitely a view (below) not to miss when above water.