If you are reading this, you probably already know that scuba diving Indonesia is something truly special. To most hard core dive fans Indonesia is a well know scuba destination for places like Bali and Raja Ampat, but to me, Indonesia’s underworld is truly undiscovered. It is truly apparent, when only 4 locations in Indonesia even made it to our Best Scuba Diving in the World list, when there are literally dozens that are just s good or better than any on the list.
As a scuba fan, there was just no information out there about all of the remote locations I knew there had to be in Indonesia, a country with over 17k islands in the tropics, mostly undiscovered when it comes to scuba diving. No where online could I find information about truly remote, untouched scuba diving locations in Indonesia, that only local divers and researchers hinted at. So I decided to head back to Indonesia, and search out the best dive sites of the country. Between the dive locations I visited personally, or the interviews I did with Indonesian scuba authorities, here is all the information I could come up with.
From my first manta rays, to tons of other amazing creatures that I’ve never seen anywhere in the world, I discovered that there is a lot more world-class dive locations in Indonesia than most people know (as you can see from the map above). It would take me tons of time to dive all these locations, but from lots of research, and talking to Indonesian scuba bloggers and experts, as well as dive companies and more, I was able to come up with the ultimate guide to Indonesia for divers who are seeking the very best experiences. I will list each of the 20 locations I found, what you can expect to see there, how to get there, who to dive with and more.
The Ultimate Guide to Scuba Diving Indonesia
Bali is the most know, and most tourist location in Indonesia, for both scuba divers and non. So it is a surprise that Bali remains such an amazing scuba diving location in Indonesia, despite its popularity. I highly recommend trying out some of the amazing site around Bali, and you will be sure to be there anyways is scuba diving Indonesia, as Bali is the most popular hub for flying to the other dive locations in the country. So might as well dive while you’re there.
Best scuba dive sites around Bali
- Liberty Wreck: The Liberty wreck is one of the most known wreck dives in the world, and definitely worth a visit.
- Manta Point: Might just get lucky and run into some mantas
- Chrystal Bay: During the season, you have a good chance of running into some mola mola. (August to October)
- Secret Bay and Seraya Bay: a world class macro diving site.
- Amed, Padang Bay, and Pulau Menjangan are great scuba diving sites for beginners
- Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Candidasa are a little more advanced with more drifts.
How to get to Bali
In my opinion, Bali is the real capital of Indonesia, not Jakarta. There are flights to Bali from EVERYWHERE. You can get direct flights from lots of cities in Asia and beyond.
2. Gili Islands
There are Gilis, Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan, and some scuba diving sites are closest to one or another, but in reality you could stay on any of the three, and your dive resort will still take you to any of the dive sites around the three Islands. So since you can get to any of the good dive sites around the islands from any one of them, choosing where to stay is just a matter of your preference, because each island is a completely different vibe. Here is the difference between each island, and where to scuba dive.
Gili Air is the smallest of the three and the most quiet and relaxing. Lots of honeymooners and couples stay here in the few quiet dive resorts, and thats the vibe here. Not many restaurants or clubs or amenities, just a relaxing stay. None of the islands have cars, just horse and buggies.
Gili Meno is a little more upbeat, with a lot more to do then on Air, but much quieter still than Trawangan. There are a lot more restaurants, resorts and stores, and some pretty walks down the beaches or to the big lake in the middle of the island. Theres even a famous tattoo artist on the island that does bamboo tattoos, and I got one myself after seeing my first manta in Komodo.
Gili T is the biggest, most touristy and busy island, or party island of the Gilis. Its still a small, beachy island with a scuba diving base, but a much more busy place with way more clubs and bars and lounges and resorts and anything else you can think of. There seems to be way more western expats here, that came here to dive and never left. Gili T might be the party island, but it is also the tech diving Gili. I took an intro to tech diving at Blue Marlin Tech, which is a world class PADI and TDI resort.
Click here to check out this comprehensive guide for scuba diving Gili Islands, we put together of all the information you’ll need about where to stay on each island, who to dive with, the best dive sites and more.
3. Komodo National Park
I’ve just finished a dive trip through Komodo for my second time, and it was just as amazing as the first time. Komodo remains one of my favorite, and one of the best dive locations in the world. One of the greatest things about the park, is how many amazing individual dive sites there is, all offering different types of diving and critters. On each of my trips I was on a live aboard, which makes it really easy to get to a lot of the dive sites each day, without going all the way back to the city, and sleeping in some beautiful bay on a different island each night.
There was too much information about scuba diving Komodo National Park to list here, so we put together a comprehensive guide to scuba diving Komodo, with all the information you’ll need about where to stay, who to dive with, how to get there, dive sites not to miss and more.
4. Lombok Island
Lombok Island is a highlight for many. Less touristy that nearby Bali with plenty to see and do, especially for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking and surfing. Lombok may not be the most well-known destination for scuba diving in Indonesia, however if you find yourself on the island the dive scene is worth checking out. Scuba diving in Lombok is divided into three areas: Gili Islands (discussed above), the bays in the south of the island (especially Belongas Bay) and Sekotong in the southwest. The best time of year to scuba dive in Lombok is between the months of March and November.
Best dive sites around Lombok
- The Magnet: Located in Belongas Bay and is probably the most difficult dive in the area, but worth it. There is a large pinnacle about 80m tall that is home to a variety of large fish including barracuda, tuna, and hammerhead sharks.
- The Cathedral: Another large pinnacle with two peaks, the Cathedral, also in Belongas Bay, is best known for the schools of eagle rays that frequent the area. You will also see barracuda, tuna, mackerel, and plenty of sea snakes.
- Gili Sarang: A third must dive site in Belongas Bay is Gili Sarang; a collection of large boulders that attracts plenty of big fish including sweet lips, surgeon fish, giant trevalis, reef sharks, and eagle rays.
- Will’s Beach: Located in Sekotong, Will’s beach is a favourite dive site in Lombok for photographers because of all the marine life. Sandy slopes are home to puffers, nudibranchs, ghost pipefish, a variety of shrimp, and mimic octopus.
- Medang Barat (Sekotong): Sandy bottoms with rocky outcrops are home to garden eels, turtles, sharks and rays. Currents can be strong here, so descent as quickly as possible.
- Batu Gedang (Sekotong): A tricky site that is dependent on the tide, Batu Gedang is for experienced divers only. Expect to see bumphead parrot fish, sweet lips, sharks, rays, batfish and more. Make sure to bring a reef hook!
How to get to Lombok
Travelers can reach Lombok by air or by boat. Several local airlines fly from nearby Bali to Lombok, or you can even get direct flights from a few other SE Asian countries. A cheaper way to get to the island is by boat from Bali. There are both ferry and fast boat options. Travel time is somewhere between 1 and 3 hours depending on the boat you choose. Timetables can be found online ahead of time.
Alor wasn’t on my radar when it comes to scuba diving in Indonesia, only because I had never heard of it (as you probably also havnt). But when I got an invite to come to Alor and show my readers how good the diving was, I gladly accepted. If you are looking for a more remote and less visited dive location in Indonesia, this might be the one for you.
It’s world class dive sites and never ending interesting critters, managed to impress me, and I highly recommend a visit. I put together a longer, more comprehensive guide to scuba diving Alor, so check it out and hope to see you there!
6. Maratua, Derawan, Sangalaki
Maratua, Derawan, and Sanglaki are all islands off the coast of the Indonesian part of Borneo. The three islands are relative close together, but each offers something completely different. All are worth a visit for anyone interested in scuba diving Indonesia.
Best dive sites around Maratua
- Turtle Traffic: A relaxing drift dive best known for turtles; you may see as many as 30 in a single dive. Also keep your eye our for stingrays, barracudas, and Jackfish.
- Shark City: A channel connecting to a lagon, this is a good spot to see hammerheads and eagle rays. Be careful of the tides when planning a trip here.
- Maratua Jellyfish Lakes: Not a popular spot (at least not yet) but filled with different species of jellyfish. Be careful though, there might be a few saltwater crocodiles lurking in the area.
Best dive sites around Derawan
- The Jetty: Perfect for photographers who want to do a bit of muck diving, the jetty is home to flamboyant cuttlefish, bluering octopus, nudibranchs, seahorses, ghost pipefish, ribbon eels, and more.
- Blue Trigger Wall: A small wall, starting at about 18m, covered with red-tooth trigger fish.
Best dive sites around Sangalaki
- Sandy Ridge: Cuttlefish aplenty here; you may even see them mating or laying eggs. Nice corals, crocodile fish and lion fish are also in the area.
- Manta Parade: Mantas from all directions at this popular dive site. They like to swim near the surface, so don’t go too deep.
- Manta Run: Another manta dive site that starts at Manta Parade. This drift dive is best done around 4-5pm where the light catches all the iridescent blue fish in the area.
- Turtle Town: A nice drift dive that ends at a sandy ridge, home to plenty of green turtles. You may see some mating.
- Sherwood Forest: A drift dive over coral reef and sandy bottoms. Keep your eyes to the surface for the mantas.
How to get here:
The easiest way to get to the islands is to start from Balikpapan. There is a small airport here that offers flight from Malaysian Borneo, Singapore, and other SE Asia destinations. From Balikpapan hop on a boat out to Sangalaki. From Sangalaki there are boats that will take you to either Maratua or Derawan.
7. Raja Ampat
If you have the money for the expensive domestic flights to get to Raja Ampat in Western Papua of Indonesia, and want some of the greatest scuba diving in Indonesia, and possibly the world, I would not blame you for having this on your bucket list.
Scuba diving Raja Ampat blew my hair back. I saw many firsts for me such as walking (epelette) sharks, wobbegong sharks, Pygmy sea horses, and even a giant clam the size of a hot tub.
Raja Ampat being on of my top 5 favorite scuba diving locations of all time, deserves a guide of its own. So we put together the ultimate guide to scuba diving Raja Ampat. Believe me, this is one not to miss
Named as one of the best dive destinations in the world by Jaques Cousteau, Waktaobi is high on any avid diver’s list when it comes to scuba diving in Indonesia. The area is actually made up of four main islands and are best known for the beautiful corals and schools of fish.
Best dive sites around Wakatobi
- Mari Mabuk: A long ridge featuring massive sea fans, feather stars, and bright corals. Home to ribbon eels, leaf fish, crocodile fish, scorpion fish, and nudibranchs.
- Roma: The big attraction here is a massive pink rosette coral. Around it you will see fusiliers, trigger fish, turtles and more. Below, small fan gorgonians that are home to pygmy seahorses.
- The Zoo: A great macro site. Expect to see frog fish, ghost pipefish, and leaf scorpionfish. The best time to dive here as at dusk when the shy mandarin fish start to come out.
- Table Coral City: A large pinnacle covered in coral, sponges, fans and anemones. Watch for clown fish, frog fish, and pygmy seahorses and barracuda.
How to get to Wakatobi
Wakatobi is only accessibly by chartered flight from Bali. So, if it’s on your must dive list, make sure to make arrangements in advance.
9. Lembeh, Manado, Bunaken Islands
North Sulawesi Island is another popular sport for scuba diving in Indonesia. Manado is on the shores of the main island itself, while Lembeh and Bunaken Islands are small islands off the coast. All three areas are in and around the Lembeh strait. The area is best known for muck diving and the rich biodiversity, making it one of the best areas for scuba diving in Indonesia and a great spot for those interested in underwater photography.
Best dive sites around the Lembeh Strait:
- Nudi Falls: Descend to about 25m where the ground is covered in soft corals, home to ribbon eels and shrimp. A small wall here is the main attraction and where you will find frogfish, mantis shrimp, pipefish, pygmy seahorses and, as you have problem guessed, an endless amount of nudibranchs.
- Teluk Kambahu: With a depth of 25m the floor here isn’t too exciting; some rubble and wood pieces. However the sheer amount of sea life that can be found here is fantastic: sea moths, leaf scorpion fish, flying gurnards, ribbon eels, giant and painted frogfish, pufferfish, wrasses, mandarin fish, porcelain crabs, dozens of species of nudis, and more!
- Mawali Wreck: A WWII Japanese wreck is covered with corals. Lying between 15m and 30m it is home to plenty of lion fish, scorpion fish, barracuda, nudis, and pipefish.
- Angel’s Window: A rare bit of reef diving in this area, Angel’s Window offers the opportunity to explore a beautiful area covered in corals and a swim through.Expect to see batfish, nudis, angelfish, red octopus and more.
- Aer Perang: Interestingly, this dive site is thanks to a WWII war ship that blasted through the rocks. The rubble today is one of the best spots to see a variety of octopus species including the wonderpus and mimic octopus.
Best Dive Sites around Bunaken Islands
- Fukui Point: A gentle slope with plenty of colorful corals. It’s also a cleaning station so expect to see some bigger fish including eagle rays, napoleon wrasse, snappers, and giant trevallis.
- Bunaken Timur: A steep reef wall with plenty of sea life. A popular spot for those interested in macro photography. With a little luck you may also see white tip reef sharks and turtles.
- Mandolin: Follow the wall down to the bottom where you will find a bunch of caves where a variety of fish live. You may see turtles, banner fish, eagle rays, napoleon wrasses, and groupers. Be careful though; the current can be quit strong so this site is not recommended for novice divers. The top of the reef is a great spot to finish your dive with plenty of macro life.
- Celah Celah: Located close to the beach, Celah Celah is popular for both night and day dives. Beautiful topography with lots of hard and soft corals, and if you go during the day, you can enter the large caves.
How to get to Manado, Lembeh, and the Bunaken Islands
Manado is the gateway to the Bunaken Islands. It has it’s own airport, Sam Ratulangi airport, with faily regular services from Singapore, Jakarta, and Bali. Divers can either stay at a dive resort on Manado or go out to Bunaken Islands; about a 45 minute boat ride from the city. Lambeth resorts are another option, and are approximately one hour by car from Manado city.
Part of the Maluku islands, Ambon is best known as one of Indonesia’s famous spice islands. Divers, however, also know that its a great place for scuba diving in Indonesia. Ambon is known to be one of the best places in the world for good muck diving. Ambon is also the only known location is the world where you can find the psychedelic frogfish (pictured above), and when one is spotted, people fly from all over the world to see it.
Best dive sites around Ambon
- Wreck SS Aquila: This 143m long ship sank in 1953 and today is covered in pink coral and home to a variety of fish.
- Air Manis: A great muck site with frogfish, nudibranchs, ghost pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish, and more.
- Mimic Point: your best chance for seeing the elusive mimic octopus, along with seahorses, ghost pipefish, cuttlefish and scorpion fish.
- Batu Lompa: Known for it’s volcanic activity, Batu Lompa is a relatively shallow dive site (25m) but home to a range of marine life including turtles, lion fish, fusiliers, barracuda, butterfly fish, and more. Currents can be strong neat the top.
- Nusa Ela, Nusa Hatala, Nusa Lain: This chain of three islands offer clear waters, beautiful views, and great visibility. You can expect to see larger fish including triggerfish, bumphead parrotfish, surgeon fish, and trevally.
- Tanjung Setia: A 40m drop this is the best chance (though rare) to see hammerhead sharks. You will see schools of jacks, groupers, barracudas and reef species including batfish and angelfish.
How to get to Ambon
Ambon city has it’s own airport which is easily accessible by direct flights from Jakarta and Bali.
11. Bangka & Belitung Islands
The east coast of Sumatra island is a great destination for those interested in scuba diving in Indonesia. Bang and Beitung islands are great for underwear photographers interested in photographing healthy reefs and plenty of smaller fish. There are over 25 dive sites between the two areas, but these are the top picks.
Best dive sites around Bangka and Belitung Islands
- Batu Sahuang: Several large pinnacles that touch the surface, this dive site is home to plenty of marine life and covered in large sea fans and soft corals. Keep an eye out for frogfish, batfish, angelfish, surgeon fish, fusiliers, and the tiny pygmy seahorse. Please note that the current here can get quite strong.
- Tanjung Toto: Coral covered bottom with two rocky pinnacles. Lots of marine life including trevally, nudis moray eels, and scorpion fish.
- Batu Gosoh: A rocky wall that descends down to 45m. Lot of cracks and crevices so be sure to look for smaller fish. Watch for bannerfish, butterfly fish, and sweetlips. Also watch out into the blue, you just may see some reef tip sharks or dog-tooth tuna.
- Lagoon Sahuang: Sloping down to 30m, Lagoon Sahuang is a colorful coral garden. Expect to see plenty of small reef fish and keep your eye out for mandarin fish as well.
- Cepor Cepor: Pretty coral gardens of varying types including lettuce, brain, and plates. Lots of sea life (be careful of the urchins!) including damselfish, angel fish, wrasse, file fish, and anemone fish.
- Lighthouse Wreck: A colourful spot with plenty of coral, sea stars, fans, and urchins. Also home to a few cuttlefish, feather stars, and blue dragon nudis. The current here can sometimes be quite strong.
How to get to Bangka or Belitung
Bangka and Belitung both have their own airports. Bangka airport is called the Depati Amir airport and is located near Pangkal Pinang, which is the largest town on the island. It’s a new airport (2017) and offers service from several other Indonesian airports.
It is also possible to get to Bangka by flying into Manado (see #9). From Manado divers can either stay in the area and do day trips, join a live aboard that will go out to Bangka dive site, or head straight to Bangka. There are two ways to do this; the first is to take a car (about 2 hours) to Bangka archipelago where you will then need to take a boat to the island. The second option is to take a boat the whole way, starting in Manado (about 4 hours).
Belitung’s airport, Hanandjoeddin Airport (HAS), is quite small offering flights from Jakarta. It is also possible to travel to Belitung by boat from Bangka.
12. Banda Island
Banda Islands are a little known dive destination in Indonesia with big thrills. These isolated islands are often skipped over by divers for more easily accessible dive spots, but for those looking for a remote spot with an abundance of marine life and healthy waters, the Bandera islands are the place to go.
*Note that scuba diving in the Banda Islands is only accessibly by liveaboard and is not recommended for novice divers.
Best dive sites around the Banda Islands
- Batu Belanda: Supposedly the first landing spot for Dutch ships, Batu Belanda is best known for the opportunity to see the Lembeh Sea Dragon, which looks like a cross between a pipefish and a seahorse. There is also plenty of coral, scorpion fish, moray eels, and orangutang crabs.
- Karnobol: This dive site is home to plenty of fish; offering divers the opportunity to be surrounded by butterfly fish, napoleon wrasse, bumped parrot fish, and a variety of corals and sea fans.
- Palau Ai: Your best bet in the Banda Islands for shark encounters. Hammerheads are commonly seen along with silver tip thresher sharks. You may also see mobula rays, wahoo, and giant trevally.
- Batu Kapal: A series of pinnacles with enormous sea fans and barrel sponges. Expect to see triggerfish, butterfly fish, anemone fish and possibly some grey reef sharks and yellowtail barracuda.
- Pulau Keraka: A great spot for a night dive; eels, slipper lobsters, adenoma crabs, and hingebeak shrimp can all be spotted in the crevices.
- Soangi: The descent at the wall may not be the most visually appealing, but its a great spot to see mackerel, dog-tooth tuna, barracuda, and possibly back tip sharks or even a hammerhead. The wall eventually turns into a slope with thousands of triggerfish, jacks, napoleon wrasse, and more.
How to get to the Banda Islands
The Banda Islands are only accessibly to divers staying on a live aboard for the area. Liveaboards leave from the nearby Ambon, (see #10) which is also the closest airport.
13. Pulau Weh
Pulau Weh is a small island off the coast of Sumatra. It’s also an active volcano. There are about twenty dive sites total around the island suitable for all levels and experience. For those only scuba diving in Pulau Weh for a couple of days, be sure to check out the Underwater Volcano and the Canyon; the two top dive sites in the area.
Best dive sites around Pulau Weh
- Underwater Volcano: the abnormally warm water attracts a variety of sea life not normally seen in the area, such as soft shell turtles. Interesting topography and, because it’s a smaller site, usually combined with the nearby Sabang Wreck; a tug boat covered with lots of coral.
- Meuroroe: Great spot for a night dive; great for mantas and milk fish.
- Sophie Rickmer’s Wreck: Sunk in 1940, the Sophie R wreck is home to giant moray eels, growers, and back spot angel fish. Only suitable for advanced deep divers because the main parts of this wreck lie at 37 and 45m deep.
- The Canyon: Sandy patches covered in gorgonians, canyon channels with dog-tooth tuna, barracuda, jacks, trevally, unicorn fish and possibly sharks.
- Pante Peunateung: One of the healthiest reefs on the island, the bottom is covered in giant gorgonians and there is lots to see. Giant barracuda, jacks, and trevllys are common but keep your eye in the blue for more. There have been occasional orca sightings here.
How to get to Pulau Weh
The most common route to Pulau Weh is to fly into Banda Aceh then take a boat. You can get direct flights here from Jakarta, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur. From Banda Aceh you can take either a slow (2 hours) or fast (45 minutes) boat. Depending on where you are coming from, you may also be able to fly into Pulau Weh airport; though it is small with limited service.
14. Togean Islands
An archipelago made up of 56 islands off the coast of central Sulawasi, this area is said to have the calmest deep waters in the world. The Togean Islands are known for their lack of crowds, sandy beaches, and beautiful blue waters. They are pretty remote and relatively unheard of which makes for healthy marine life; a perfect place for scuba diving in Indonesia.
Best dive sites around the Togean Islands
- Dominic Rock: Barrel sponges, whips, and colorful corals cover the rock. Keep an eye out for black frogfish and midnight snappers. The highlight here is the drop off into a deep abyss where you can see swooping eagle rays and grey reef sharks.
- Pasir Tengah: A 3km wide coral atoll covered in sponges, gorgonians, and corals. Sheer walls dropping down 400m offer the opportunity to spot reef sharks and silky sharks. In the shallows you will see plenty of nudis, snappers, fusiliers, and butterfly fish.
- B24 Bomber: The best wreck dive in the Tongean Islands, the B24 Bomber crash landed in 1945. The bomber is still in incredibly good shape, no artifacts have been removed. Sponges, corals, batfish, and lion fish.
- Una Una: A small island with several healthy dive sites around it. Perhaps the best site here is The Pinnacle which is teeming with fish and home to absolutely enormous sponges.
- Batu Gila: Great visibility and exposure to currents makes Batu Gila the place for shark sightings. Scalloped hammerheads, reef sharks, and silvertips can all be found here. Along with manta rays, tuna, and barracuda.
How to get to the Togean Islands
Getting to the Togean Islands isn’t easy. There are no airports on any of the 56 islands so you will have to get to either Ampana or Gorontalo first, and take the boat. Boats run more regularly (and do more islands) from Ampana, so it’s your best bet.
Getting to Ampana itself isn’t that either either, the easiest way is to book a flight to Palu, then take a direct flight from Palu to Ampana.
Getting to the Togean Islands definitely takes a bit of planning, so if its a must on your trip for scuba diving to Indonesia, then take the time to arrange things in advance to avoid disappointment.
Misool is technically in the Raja Ampat region, but deserves a mention of its own. Scuba diving Misool offers some of the best reef in the world, and one of the only places on Earth where it is improving, instead of getting worse. Maybe because of its remote location, sitting at the entrance of the Seram Sea, two degrees south of the equator, about half way between Triton Bay and Sorong, or from cold currents flowing to Banda Sea, the reefs and marine life is one of the best in the world.
What should also be mentioned, is the freshwater jellyfish lake that you can hike to, and swim. There are tons of stingless jellyfish there that make for amazing photo or video subjects. You can’t scuba dive with them, as bubbles can get trapped in their bells and kill them, plus its a tough hike and climb up the mountain to get there with scuba gear. But its definitely worth a visit.
We will cover more of Misool, in our comprehensive guide to scuba diving Raja Ampat, so check that out!
Gorontoalo lies along the coastline of Sulawesi. It’s located on the equator and you can even see the curve of the earth here. It’s also a popular place for those interested in scuba diving Indonesia because it attracts a lot of pelagic marine life including whales and whale sharks.
Best dive sites around Gorontalo
- Honeycomb: Honeycomb is best known for two things. Firstly, the uncommon and unusual fish that can be found in the area. These include blue-headed tilefish and sail fin goby. The second highlight here is the tunnel, which starts at 15m and is filled with sea fans and coral.
- Sentinels: A series of 26 pinnacles, Sentinels is a great place to find a variety of fish including wrasse, gobies, lion fish, fusiliers, angelfish, sea pens and more.
- Japanese Cargo Wreck: Sunk on the reef in 1942, this wreck now lies upside down and is covered in corals, sea fans, and whips. Also a good spot to see large cuttlefish.
- Traffic Circle: Known as the ‘fishiest’ dive in Gorontalo, there is plenty of hard coral here that juts off a bit into the current. Making is a popular spot for schools of reef fish to hang out and feed on the passing plankton.
- Jinn Caves: A split wall with a sunken cavern makes the Jinn Caves a unique and interesting dive site. Look for puffers, scorpion fish, sea horse, batfish, and moray eels.
How to get to Gorontalo
Gorontalo does have a new airport so it is possible to fly here. The best route would be to fly to Manado or Makassar from Jakarta or Bali (Denpasar), then take a domestic flight to Gorontalo. You can also travel from Manado to Gorontalo overland, though it will take you a full day.
As if you didn’t have enough remote dive destinations to choose from on this list, I’ll throw in one more here. Maumere made up for a general lack of a variety of scuba industry infrastructure and dive resorts, with some amazing underwater sites. The industry isn’t as set up in Maumere as it is in the more touristy neighbors, but for the intrepid scuba fans, heading to this largely untouched remote location will make for an awesome experience.
I just finished my own trip to Maumere, and liked it enough to put together a whole guide, instead of just mentioning it here, so if you are interested in exploring dive sites with no other divers around, and sites to still be discovered, check out this guide to scuba diving Maumere.
18. Selayar and Taka Bonerate Islands
Southern Sulawasi isn’t the easiest to get to, but if offers some beautiful diving for those who take the time to visit. Selayar is an archipelago of 73 islands and the gateway to Takabonerate National Park. Takabonerate is the third largest coral atoll in the world and offers some of the best. So if you are looking for off the beaten track scuba diving in Indonesia, this is the place to come.
Best dive sites around Selayar and Takabonerate
- Shark Point: Follow the gorgonian covered wall to a sandy slope at about 30m. Here you will swim though schools of snappers, banner fish, and maybe see the resident barracuda. Drop another 10m where you can spot patrolling reef sharks, eagle rays, and tuna.
- Opera Wall: Perfect or macro lovers, the Opera Wall is home to shrimps, nudis, orang-utan crabs, and plenty of school banner fish, snappers, barracuda, and turtles.
- Doda: A deep sloping reef and wall covered in corals, sponges, and gorgonians. Expect to see plenty of reef fish and ghost pipefish, leaf fish, sea snakes, and green turtles.
- Kolo Kolo: A deep wall dive with lots of macro opportunities including pygmy seahorse, nudibranch, squat lobsters, and leaf fish. Keep an eye our for turtles in the shallower areas as well.
- Canyon: A great spot during stronger currents for eagle rays, stingrays, sharks, and schooling batfish.
*Note: many dive sites around Takabonerate are still being discovered, so take advantage of these relatively untouched waters but always remember to be safe.
How to get to Selayar and Takabonerate
To get to Selayar takes a bit of time and patience. Fly into Makassar then take a car or bus to Bira. From Bira you can take a boat out to the island. If you are staying at a dive resort, they will take care of all your transportation needs for you. For those interested in diving Takabonerate, a livaboard departing from Selayar is the best option. There are no public boats to Takabonerate.
19. Lambata Island
Along with Alor, Lembata is the least visited island and are therefore the most unspoiled regions of East Nusa Tenggara. Just like Alor there are a lot of great hikes up volcanos and lots of traditional culture to experience, and the diving is amazing as well. There are still traditional whale fishing going on, with the whalers using old school harpoons, but hopefully as the dive industry grows, fishermen will be converted into tour guides, and the marine life will flourish even more. Considering they sure so many dive sites and attractions, check out our guide, linked above, to scuba diving Alor.
20. Biak Islands
The Biak Islands are located in the Cendrawasih Bay of Papau. There are 67 islands (the largest is Biak) each of which boast sandy beaches, warm waters, and great visibility. Sadly, though there are plenty of coral reefs throughout the Biak Islands, they aren’t all as love and healthy as others in Indonesia. However, the islands still offer some great diving. For those interested in scuba diving in the Biak Islands, here are the top dive sites.
Best dive sites around the Biak Islands
- Akui Island: Calm waters make this a great spot for underwater photography. There is a coral reef starting at 6m and a steep coral wall at 20m. Curious barracuda that are known to get close to divers, butterfly fish, parrot fish, bat fish, and some jacks swimming in the distance.
- Mioswarek Island: Steep coral walls stretching down to 50m (although, some of the coral is dead). Bold dog-fish tuna who swim close to divers, shyer bat fish, and colourful angelfish roam the area here.
- Undi Island: From the boat you can see a small dark hole; the opening to a cave. Descend to the caver (around 30m) which is surrounded by sea fans and corals. Inside the cave use your flashlight to search out the many soldierfish hiding in the dark crevices.
- Rurbas Island: The south of the island offers the best diving. Drop down to about 20m along a coral wall where you will find angel fish, puffers, and bat fish swimming into the current. In the shallower areas keep your eye out for blue spotted stingrays and lion fish.
How to get to the Biak Islands
Biak island itself has an airport which offers flights from domestic airlines including Garuda Indonesia and Merpati Airlines. It may also be possible to take passenger ships from Surabaya or Makassar.
Best times of the year to scuba dive in Indonesia
Scuba diving is available year round in Indonesia, but each destination has good and bad months. Monsoon season plays a huge role in diving conditions and during this time ( December-June) some dive sites may have poor visibility to be inaccessible. Keep in mind that high season may not always be the best time either, especially if you are looking to see something specific such as whale sharks or schools of manta rays. Research is key when looking into the best time to scuba dive at Indonesia’s best diving destinations, so take the take to plan your visit based on both the dive site’s conditions as well as your wants and needs.
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