Entries by Jorge Mezcua



Los 10 mejores destinos de buceo en verano (parte I)



 

Buceo en Azores

 

Imagen cortesía ©James R.D. Scott

 

Whether because we have to or simply because it is the time of year that we like the most, we usually (especially in the northern hemisphere) take a large part of our summer vacation, mainly July and August. It is true that it is a trend that is changing but we know well, because of the many requests we receive for trips in August, both individual and group quotes, that many divers decide to make their expected annual diving trip during these months. We tend to believe that between monsoons in the Indian Ocean and heavy rains in Asia or extreme heat in such popular areas as the Red Sea, the options are few... but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, summer it is the best time to dive in some of the best destinations in the world!

These 5 destinations are the first part of "The best diving destinations in summer" post:

 

1. Galapagos (Ecuador)

Yes, we know that any time is good for diving in Galapagos, we get it. But if want to dive with the biggest whale sharks in the ocean, it is from June on when you have to consider your scuba diving trip to Galapagos.

 

In Galapagos we have two diving seasons, the wet and the dry. During the dry season, more or less from June to December, the Humbolt current runs from the Antarctic bringing cooler water but loaded with nutrients and plankton passing directly through Galapagos Islands. That's what whale sharks have known for millions of years, they go to binge and save reserves during this time.

 

Although the water temperatures are cold (between 19 and 23 ºC) and the sky may be cloudy, in summer there are more chances to find spectacular schools of hammerhead sharks. In this video you can see this glorious whale shark passing through the Galapagos during the month of July, by the way.

 

Whale shark from H. Stefan Olafsson

 

One thing we always advise is to book your diving trip to Galapagos at least 6 months in advance to find the best life boats on board and get the cheapest plane tickets.

You can find all-inclusive diving trips to Galapagos by diving travel agencies from around € 6,000. You can also organize flights on your own and book online your liveaboard in Galapagos PADI website from only € 3,700. No, it is not a cheap destination, but it is the best place in the world to dive with big fish!

 

 

2. Azores (Portugal)

Azores is a near destination (for Europeans, of course), budget and exciting, able to offer diving with blue or mako sharks, mobulas and the possibility of interesting excursions, both on land and sea in search of cetaceans. Also you can take with you your family or non-divers companions as there are many interesting things to do for them.

 

Summer, it is the only time of the year in which diving can be done in good conditions in Azores. From June to October will be when diving centers (here there is only one liveaboard in Azores) will take you to the seamounts of Princess Alice, Condor Bank or Dollabarat to dive with sharks and jacks near the island of Faial, or take you from Santa Maria in search of the mobulas. And if you are very, very lucky you will have the opportunity to spot whale sharks followed by large schools of tunas.

 

/DIVING/ The Azores from salt motion

 

There are several agencies with which we collaborate that are offering diving trips to both Faial and Santa Maria for about € 1,300 per person final price.

 

3. Komodo (Indonesia)

Although we can consider April as the best time to dive in Komodo, just after the rainy season, during the summer months, from June to August, there is a greater concentration of plankton in Komodo which attracts manta rays and dight dives are even more spectacular. The night dives in Komodo are specially beautiful this time of the year, when your torch will reveal how the waters of Komodo, especially in the south, become a soup loaded with microscopic animals that feed the ocean. Macro diving during summer time is very interesting in Komodo with lots of amazing critters like frog fish, flamboyant cuttlefish, orangutan crabs...

 

In summer the visibility is reduced slightly by that amount of food and the currents, already strong in Komodo anytime of the year, intensify, but the experience of diving with dozens of huge manta rays in areas such as Manta Alley is priceless. During the summer months the rain is almost non-existent which also allows to make super interesting excursions to, among other places, the National Park to visit the Komodo dragons.

 

Komodo June 2017 with Mermaid I (part 1) from Johan Nurminen

 

In Komodo you can find many liveaboards in many different routes. We have dived Komodo in the Mermaid II and is highly recommended.

4. Bali (Indonesia)

Following with Indonesia, ideal country as you see to dive in summer (the Lembeh Strait is also a good option), Bali is another perfect destination to include in this article, especially if you look for destination for August.

 

Very suitable for those who prefer to dive from shore, stay in a resort and avoid liveaboards, Bali is one of those places where you can dive all year round but where the best conditions are from April to August. During the dry season in areas such as Tulamben, where lies one of the best wrecks in the world, the USAT Liberty, in summer you can have up to 40 meters of visibility and in Bali it is at this time of the year when you can find more pelagic creatures find such as manta rays, sharks and the famous giant sunfish in diving spots around Bali like Crystal Bay.

 

Sunfish (Mola Mola) at Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida (Bali - Indonesia) from Antonio Barzaghi

 

5. Cocos Island (Costa Rica)

Unlike in Galapagos, summer is the wet season in Cocos Island and its waters are also more loaded with nutrients than usual, attracting manta rays and the largest schools of hammerhead sharks that you can find throughout the year. Also dolphins, white tip sharks and whale sharks can be spotted in summer although in smaller size and quantity than in Galapagos.

 

The water is quite cold at this time, the visibility is somewhat worse (especially in July and August) but mainly because of the large amount of nutrients that call the largest pelagic creatures of the ocean. Sea conditions for navigation can be somewhat heavy at this time but the reward is extraordinary as you can see here: 

 

Berkley White - Cocos - One Dive, Two Hundred Hammerhead Sharks from Backscatter

 

As it happens in Galapagos, it is a very demanded destination and the liveaboards of Cocos are usually fully booked months before departure, here you can see availability of liveaboards in Cocos in the coming months.

 


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Top 10 liveaboards in 2017



 

Top 10 liveaboards

 

 

The prestigious British diving magazine Dive Magazine has released the results of the pole of its more than 200,000 readers from 165 countries on the best liveaboards in which they have dived and enjoyed the most during this year 2017 that already it's over.

 

Its diving readers have selected 10 liveaboards in the most extraordinary diving destinations: Maldives, Red Sea, Cocos, Papua New Guinea or Galapagos among others attending to criteria like space per diver, value for money, equipment, overall comfort, experience of the team of divemasters and crew or food.

 

1. Sea Hunter, Cocos Island (Costa Rica)

Sea Hunter Costa Rica Cocos Liveaboard

 

Cocos Island, located about 300 kilometers off the coast of Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world for diving with and home to at least 27 endemic species, and its main attraction is its big schools of hammerhead sharks, giant oceanic manta rays, dolphins and occasionally whale sharks.

 

The liveaboard selected by Dive Magazine's readers, the Cocos Sea Hunter, one of the 5 liveaboards operating in Cocos, was originally a commercial diving support vessel, built for the long haul and re-equipped as a liveaboard in 1994. It has 10 cabins for a maximum of 20 divers and in its trips of up to 11 nights it is common to find special trips in which marine biologists participate giving an extraordinary bonus to the cruise.

 

Price

The trips of the Sea Hunter have a duration of between 10 and 11 nights with a price from USD 3,795 including full board, transfers, NITROX, guides and travel insurance. To the price of the cruise you must add park fee (USD 490). No, it's not a cheap trip, but it'll be worth it. it's definitely one of those trips that you'll make once in a lifetime.

 


2. Pelagian, Wakatobi, Sulawesi (Indonesia)

pelagian liveaboard

 

The Pelagian is the liveaboard of the Wakatobi resort in Sualwesi, Indonesia. This cruise, one of the more than 50 liveaboards that you can find in Indonesia, combines the best of all this country's diving in reefs that are rarely visited, including the remote Tukand Besi archipelago.

 

With only 10 divers per trip, the Pelagian claims to be the cruise with more space per guest than any other liveaboard in the world. In fact, according to the readers of Dive Magazine, their cabins are similar to a luxury hotel room rather than a liveaboard.

 

Price

The trips in the Pelagian have a price from 315 USD per night in standard stateroom.

 


3. Bahamas Aggressor (Bahamas)

Bahamas Aggressor

 

The Aggressor fleet is one of the most complete fleets and with the largest number of liveaboards in the world, covering up to 27 different destinations. One of them, is the Bahamas Aggressor, a 30 meters length boat, built in 2012 and renovated only 3 years ago, which has only 6 cabins to accommodate 12 divers.

 

This cruise has three different itineraries, exploring Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, a 176-square-mile protected area with more than 350 small islands and cays, and West End Northern Adventure, with some of the richest coral reefs in the Caribbean. The new charter flights to Tiger Beach allow you to explore the far north of the Bahamas, more remote and less traveled, with dives specifically designed to dive with their famous tiger sharks.

 

Price

The dive trips of the Bahamas Aggressor consist of 7 nights with about 24 dives and include accommodation in full board from USD 2,050.

 


 


4. MV FeBrina (Papua New Guinea)

Febrina Liveaboard

 

M / V FeBrina has been exploring the waters of Papua New Guinea since 1991, when it went from being a fishing vessel to one of the 3 liveaboards in Papua New Guinea. With only 7 cabins, this steel-hulled ship makes diving trips in the areas of Kimbe Bay and the surrounding waters along the northern coast of New Britain. In its usual itineraries it crosses the practically unexplored reefs of Witu Islands and Fathers, with some seasonal variations according to the climatological conditions. This cruise makes special charters on the south coast of New Britain, with an excellent macro diving mixed with the pelagic Milne Bay.

 

Price

The FeBrina has itineraries of up to 12 nights for a price from USD 3,400 that includes full board, up to 32 dives depending on the itinerary and nights, transfer and a dinner at the Walindi Resort.

 


 


5. Nautilus Explorer, Socorro Island & Guadalupe (Mexico)

Nautilus Explorer Mexico

 

The Nautilus Explorer is a boat of 35 meters in length, reconstructed only two years ago, designed exclusively for diving in the best diving areas in Mexico. This boat has specialized in hosting avid divers looking for encounters with the largest oceanic predators in both Socorro Island and Guadalupe.

 

In Socorro she offers itineraries of 8 to 12 nights including trips dedicated to the search and diving with humpback whales during the migration season around these islands in February, where they are also famous for encounters with oceanic manta rays, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, gray sharks, tiger sharks... As of July, the Nautilus Explorer is heading to Guadalupe, home of at least 228 great white sharks, to have from three to four daily dives in cages during their 5 night trips.

 

Price 

The Nautilus Explorer has a wide range of prices in Socorro, ranging from USD 2,650 of the 8-night trips to € 3,600 for its 12-night itineraries. In Guadalupe they extend the season until November with 5-day trips with a price of USD 2,550.

 


 


6. M/V Galapagos Master (Ecuador)

Galápagos master liveaboard

 

Very few divers are unaware that the Galapagos Islands are recognized as one of the best diving places in the world and the best if we talk about diving with large predators. Home to many different species of sharks (including gigantic pregnant female whale shark) with which you'll dive in all dives, in its waters we can also find the giant mola-mola, marine iguanas, or have very close encounters with dolphins or playful sea lions.

 

The Galápagos are only accessible by liveaboards and Dive Magazine readers selected the M/V Galapagos Master, built in 2004 and renovated only 3 years ago as one of the best in the world. The boat, build in steel hull, has eight cabins, being one of the most eco-friendly liveaboards in the area.

 

Price

The Galápagos Master has itineraries of between 7 and 10 nights and yes, as you could imagine, diving in the Galapagos is expensive... but it is possibly the diving destination that offers the best value for money if we consider the extraordinary nature of the species what you will dive with. Standard stateroom prices range from USD 5,100 to USD 6,750 for 10-night trips with 30 dives.

 


 


7. Scuba Spa Yang, Maldivas

Scuba Spa Yang Maldivas Liveaboard

 

The Scuba Spa Ying in a diving boat designed as a luxury floating hotel of 50 meters in length. It has a large deck area, a lounge with an extensive area for outdoor relaxation, mini gym, jacuzzi, daily yoga sessions and 6 professional spa therapists on-board. This liveaboard has been designed for the enjoyment of non-divers as well but do not be fooled, it is a diving boat with extraordinary divemasters that takes you to know one of the best and most requested Maldivian routes, covering routes of the central atolls.

 

Price

From USD 2,350 per person you can embark on an authentic luxury hotel, enjoy its multiple spa services, staying in a 5-star floating diving hotel.

 


 


8. MY Blue Seas, Red Sea (Egypt)

MY Blue Seas Red Sea

 

The M / Y Blue Seas is a 38-meter long liveaboard with capacity for 24 divers. She explores the best that the Red Sea has to offer, with a total of 18 itineraries that range from the northern routes of the Red Sea like the Strait of Tiran, to Ras Mohammed, Northern Wrecks route to Southern Routes like Brothers, Elphinstone, Daedelus, Fury Shoal and even until the more distant Egyptian south in St Johns. It is one of the cruisers in the Red Sea with the biggest range of diving spots, excellent equipment and one of the most experienced divemaster teams in the whole area.

 

Price

Having so many routes also has a great diversity of prices, from USD 950 on the Northern Route to € 1,650 on the St Johns route, with free NITROX in every itinerary.

 

 


9. Ocean Sapphire, Maldives

Ocean Spapphire Maldives liveaboard

 

The Ocean Sapphire is a wooden yacht of 35 meters in length and three decks, built in 2012, specialized in luxury diving cruises between the north and south of Male, with a change of seasonal itinerary to the deep south in March of each year. Its spacious cabins allow a maximum of 22 people per trip, with a jacuzzi for six people on the terrace to relax after a long day of diving.

 



10. Carpe Vita Explorer, Maldives

Carpe Vita Maldives liveaboard

 

The carpe Vita is the most luxurious version of the 4 liveaboards of the the Explorer Ventures fleet. Winner in 2016 of the prize for the best Liveaboard in Maldives awarded by Maldives Tourism Board, this liveaboard has capacity for a maximum of 20 divers and offers four daily dives. It has a huge selection of itineraries covering 21 different atolls, from the deep north to the south, with more than 300 different dive spots around the Maldives.

 

Price

Being a luxury liveaboard is not hard to imagine that it is not cheap. Their rates range from USD 2,442 per person for 4 Atolls Route, 7 nights itineraries, to USD 3,780 for 10-night trips through the central atolls of Maldives that include up to 32 dives.

 

 


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Best liveaboard diving routes in Indonesia



Indonesia Liveaboards

In Indonesia you can find some of the best liveaboards in the world, many build in traditional Indonesian style

 

The challenge to summarize the best liveaboards routes in Indonesia in only 5 in a country like Indonesia, with more than 13,000 islands, located in the heart of the Coral Triangle and having some of the best dive sites in the world, is highly complicated and, yes, we admit it, quite risky... but we will try.

 

These are 5 of the best diving routes in Indonesia, routes that all of them have something that makes them really unique. They are all little crowded areas and the quality and amount of sea life is extraordinary. We have only selected premium liveaboards... which does not mean that they are extremely expensive. From only USD 2,300 you can have one trip with 20 dives in one of the best places in the world like Komodo. 

 

In each route we have included a video. Like us, you know it's the best way to show the highlights of every site, especially when we are talking about areas of enormous diversity, full of life and pristine reefs. Are you ready? 

 

1. Bali-Komodo

 

This route, one of the most popular, is not where you will find the largest pelagics and in the greatest amount, but you will find a truly impressive biodiversity. If you have never dived in Indonesia this route could be a good starting point since it is considered a summary or the diving in Indonesia and the different types of fauna you can find in this country. Without forgetting a truly extraordinary dive, perhaps the most famous and valued, "Manta Alley", where you'll dive with dozens of curious manta rays that hover within inches of your regulator wondering what are those bubbles that come out of those strange beings. We counted 18 the last time we were at that point, in the summer of 2016. This route also gives you the chance to join a shore excursion that attracts divers: the Komodo dragons. You'll be able to see them up close (and even smell them) in the National Park of Komodo.

 

This route is subject to changes and variations, like all the routes that you'll see in this article. But basically departures from Bali visiting the Komodo Park and returning to Bali it could arrive to Labuan Bajo spending a couple or three more days on the south of Komodo. There are several interesting combinations to dive in Komodo, both north and south of the Park and it is worth studying before booking your liveaboard holidays.

 

The Komodo National Park, the heart of this route, is home to more than 1,000 species of fish, 260 species of corals and 70 species of sponges. On this route you will find easy and relaxed diving in shallow reefs, in warm water, calm and full of color coral gardens... but also drifting dives besides walls full of corals where you don't see the bottom, visits of black tips sharks, grey sharks, white tip sharks, or giant sunfish. You will also dive with extreme currents where you just have to let yourself go with it like in the dive site "Shotgun". Here in Komodo you will also have the opportunity to see dolphins and some whales if you are lucky enough.


Liveaboard specials in Indonesia

 


In Komodo you should not miss a single night dive, ideal time to discover the amount of food that goes through these islands, plagued with plankton, and where you can see lots of frogfish, orangutan crabs, flamboyant cuttlefish, loads of Spanish dancers (with impressive sizes), pygmy seahorses... to en the dive and find youself under a sky full of stars in one of the most remote areas and farthest from the light where one can dive. What else can you ask for? 

 

Diving in Komodo

Komodo National Park is full of huge coral gardens where from time to time you'll find nice surprises. Pic by Alex Lindbloom from Mermaid II Liveaboard

 

The cruise usually starts on Moyo Island for a check dive in "Angel Reef" where it is very possible that a curious a black tip shark that lives there will come to check you out. Among the large number of sponges there are turtles, a large number of surgeons, eels or an occasional sea serpent searching for food among the holes in the reef, huge mooray eels...

 

Before getting into the Komodo National Park some really interesting dives take place but it is in the National Park where the coral gardens begin to become bigger and bigger, the huge schools of fish get bigger, more and more turtles you'll see, the sea fans are wider, some black corals start to appear in the depth...

 

This route is suitable for all levels, and will be enjoyed by both macro and wide-angle lovers. It is ideal for those divers who continue to be moved by feeling like children searching through rocks and corals finding amazing invertebrates and small, colorful fish... and I assure you that your interaction with the manta rays will be unforgettable.

 

Diving Season in Komodo

This diving route is active throughout the year, with more cruises from May to October-November. Then many cruises go to Raja Ampat. From November to January the visibility is better, but it is during summer when there are more concentrations of food and plankton in the water and the activity, especially of manta rays, is greater. The sea is somewhat more agitated but it will not be a bigger problem than a littel bit more unconfortable cruise. 

Recommended liveaboards in Komodo

SY Adelaar

Mermaid II

SMY Oceanic

Adelaar Indonesia Komodo Liveaboard Mermaid II liveaboard in Indonesia SMY Oceanic Liveaboard Komodo

2. Banda Sea & Ring of Fire

 

This cruise is (usually) a 11 nights dive trip due to its long crossings. I has a mix of macro and big animals hard to match, combining the best of the Banda Sea and Misool, in the south of Raja Ampat. 

 

This route allows modifications according to the sea conditions and, depending on whether the cruise includes more or less nights, you can dive also in the Forgotten Islands. Departing from Ambon or Maumere the cruise will take you through the Banda Sea and the "Ring of Fire" (named for the presence of numerous active volcanoes) on a route steeped in history and blessed with some of the best dives site in Indonesia, with a vast diversity of species, both large and small. Traveling around 550 nautical miles, you will visit many different islands and a wide variety of diving sites in an area of ​​very clear and nutrient-rich waters that attract pelagic species such as giant sunfish, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, sailfish... and if you are very luck you'll see sperm whales or whale sharks crossing the channels.

 

With an amazing visibility of up to 30 meters and walls full of coral that fall hundreds of meters into the abyss, the cruise starts in Ambon, where there is excellent macro diving and a top world muck diving, with lots of scorpion fish, frog fish, cockatoo fish, many different types of leaf fish, pipe fish of different species, mimic octopus, mandarin fish, sea horses... The list is spectacular, incredible.

 

In Misool, one of the 4 main islands of Raja Ampat, you'll dive in more than 9 spots where we can find from cleaning stations of manta rays to huge jacks in big schools, white tip sharks, gray sharks, wobbegong sharks, the beautiful humphead wrasse... all of them living in an environment of spectacular white and hard corals. 

 

A very interesting area, perhaps the most valued by lovers of strong emotions, is located in the Dampier Strait, a channel where strong currents creates a marine life blooms and where big fish feel especially comfortable: mantas, sharks, tuna, jacks and barracudas come to these areas where to hang with the reef hook to watch the ocean go by.

 

Pulau Manuk diving banda sea

Pulau Manuk, one of the islands of the Banda Sea, common stop in liveaboards. Image courtesy of MV Ambai

 

Banda Neira, the main island of Banda Islands, is an important part of this cruise. This island, one of its 10 small volcanic islands, has incredible hard coral gardens. Around the island you'll find a few channels that flow towards the Banda Sea, completely loaded with nutrients, which guarantees a beautiful spectacle with huge schools of fish very much wished by any diver: giant groupers, big shoals of barracudas, snappers, surgeon fish or sweet lips living around beautiful corals. The currents, sometimes pretty strong, can not guarantee the best visibility, but there is a great possibility to see manta rays, hammerhead sharks, mobulas or schools of eagle rays.

 

Diving season in Banda Sea

The best moment to visit the Banda Islands are the months of March and April and from September to December. Outside of this time the weather is unstable and there are few liveaboards operating that route.

 

Recommended liveaboards in Banda Sea and Ring of Fire

Ambai

SMY Ondina

Raja Ampat Aggressor

Ambai liveaboard diving Indonesia Ondina diving boat liveaboard indonesia Raja Ampat Aggressor liveaboard indonesia

3. Forgotten Islands

Diving the Forgotten Islands, Indonesia (2016.Nov) from Dancing Shark Studio

This route to the "Forgotten Islands is a journey through time. They are called "forgotten" because of the little contact they have had with the rest of Indonesia for centuries. Less than 1% of Indonesians inhabit the 1,000 sparsely populated islands that belong to ​​the Moluccas and extend east from Alor and reach as far as Ceram and Ambon.

 

Due to the changing climate and the possibility of storms in the area the itineraries of this route, up to 13 nights, can change. The cruise usually departure from Ambon, the capital of the Moluccas, and finishes in Saumlaki on Tanimbar Island but they can also start from Labuan Bajo or Saumlaki.

 

This cruise has the character of adventure that gives visiting areas that have only recently opened to diving cruises, diving and crossings around volcanic islands. In addition this route can be done in some of the best sailboats made with Indonesian woods in the traditional way, making this diving trip something exceptional. 

 

Through this route in the "Fogotten Islands" you'll dive in some of the most extensive and intact coral reef systems that Indonesia has in its more than 850,000 sq km, with steep walls but also on comfortable slopes sheltered from the current, easy and relaxed dives but at the same time exciting and super interesting. 

 

As you can imagine from such a remote area, the quantity and quality of life, as you have seen in the video above, is extraordinary, both small and pelagic life: large schools of reef fish as well as frequent sightings of large tuna, barracudas, giant jacks, dog tooth tuna (Gymnosarda unicolor) that can exceed two meters, thresher sharks, white and black tip sharks, grey sharks, humphead wrasse, huge clouds of fusiliers...

 

Forgotten islands diving

In the Forgotten Islands we can find a high quality muck diving. Picture of Tiare Liveaboard

 

Among the most outstanding areas and dive sites we have to note "Nusa Laut", a reef full of beautiful corals and a great macro diving where scorpion fish, pipe fish, frog fish of a thousand types, rhinopias, blue ring octopus and larger animals like barracudas, white tip sharks, humphead wrasse, manta rays and even hammerhead sharks sometimes. Another diving area in which liveaboard stops for a couple or three dives to meet with pelagic fauna and big fish is "Koon" where a channel receiving currents will let you dive with with giant groupers, white tip sharks, manta rays, mobulas, schools of barracudas, sweet lip fish, tuna or sea snakes.

 

Diving Season in the Forgotten Islands

 

The best time to join this cruise are the months of October to late December and the months of March and April, times of less tropical rain and calmer seas, although cruises are also extended to the months of September and May, but the conditions are usually worse.

 

Recommended liveaboards in the "Forgotten Islands" 

Aurora

Damai II

Indo Aggressor

Aurora Indonesia liveaboard Damai II Indonesia liveaboard diving boat Indo Aggressor Indonesia liveaboard

 4. Flores & Alor


 

Once again we have selected a remote route, far away from overcrowding and even any kind of modern civilization. This fact usually ensures reefs in a state of incredible shape, almost immaculate, where only a few lucky divers and local fishermen come into play. During your dives along this exciting and relatively new diving route you can expect to see an incredible underwater biodiversity. Waters that arise from great depths along with currents between islands bring nutrients to the reef. And if there is life on the reef big fsh will come looking to feed on it: sunfish, thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, spearfishes, sailfish and even humpback and blue whales!

 

If you participate in this cruise it is very likely that you will embark in Maumere, on the large island of Flores in the east of Indonesia, on your way to Alor to dive in the surroundings of the islands of Kumba, Ternate and Pura (which are all in the Strait of Pantar) in the following days. The cruise continues to the islands of Marisa, Kawula, Solar and Adonara before returning to Maumere. 

 

On the island of Kumba there is a spectacular volcano where you can enjoy one most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen in Indonesia. The surrounding waters of this island allow to accumulate currents rich in nutrients that create fantastic conditions for encounters with some of the largest fish in the ocean, from white tip and grey reef sharks, to giant groupers and even whale sharks.

 

A curious experience will be the encounter with young fishermen (under 15 years old the most of them) with their homemade swimming goggles that dive without shoes or fins to check their fish traps. They will be happy posing for you:-) You will also find giant barrel sponges, hard corals, huge schools of crystal fish, sweet lip fish, emperor angel fish, turtles, marine snakes, innumerable cleaning stations full of blennies... 

 

Most of the diving cruises that make the route Flores and/or Alor make almost compulsory stops in the islands of Pulau Buaya, Ternate and Pura, three small consecutive islands located between larger islands that form a channel full of life. The water is usually colder than the rest of the route, between 20 and 22 C degrees, and you will find unforgettable dives like "The Bullet" or "Sharks Galore", loaded with sharks, turtles or mantas and where, be careful, the current can take you regulator away! A truly exciting dive where the most attractive octopus of the ocean also appear: mimic, wonderpus or blue rings are easy to find in these islands.

 

Diving Alor

The white tip sharks are very common in Alor dives. Image courtesy of Damai I

 

Muck diving is also first class in Alor, in areas such as the great island of Kawula, home to frog fish, all kinds of sea horses, pipe fish, commensal shrimps, boxing crabs, all kinds of nudibranchs...

 

Some routes include a visit to Lamalera, an area where whales and manta rays are still hunted in a traditional way, with harpoons housed in large bamboo poles. It is a meat that is eaten later in the village, of about 2,000 inhabitants. It is an unpleasant experience that many liveaboards avoid but others include it in their routes. And there is a chance, if the villagers allow it, to visit that village. Very interesting experience.

 

The cruise is usually comes to an end in a great muck diving area "Muck Central" in Maumere where you will be amazed with the large amount of frog fish, the incredible Ambon scorpionfish, leaffish, mandarin fish, black corals, seahorses, harlequin shrimp... an essential dive to confirm that Indonesia is one of the best (if not the best) muck diving destinations in the world.

 

Diving Season in Flores and Alor

You can dive in Alor throughout the year, but the best conditions can be found from March to December. Outside of these months the surface conditions can be unstable, navigation somewhat unpleasant, and there is a greater chance of rain reducing visibility.

 

Recommended liveaboards in Flores-Alor route

Indo Siren

Samambaia

Mutiara Laut

Indo Siren Indonesia Komodo liveaboard Samambaia diving boat liveaboard in Indonesia Mutiara Laut liveaboard indonesia

 5. Raja Ampat

 

In Raja Ampat there are dozens of different diving routes and we could not leave it out of this selection... or choose just a single route. It had to be included because for many who know Indonesian diving very well, including the crew and guides I met in Komodo on my last trip to Indonesia, there is something in common: Raja Ampat has the best diving in Indonesia.

 

Why is Raja Ampat so extraordinary? Mainly because its biodiversity is even higher than other areas of Indonesia. It seems difficult to overcome areas like Komodo or Alor, but that's the way it is. More than 1,200 species of fish, 600 of coral, almost 700 species of mollusks...

 

There are a lot of routes that go through and focus on Raja Ampat, with many variations from those that start and end in Sorong, those which include Lembeh and end up in Manado, soem that include the Ring of Fire... Raja Ampat is a box of surprises that never ceases to amaze even those who have dived all over the world. A place where in the same dive you can see from the smallest seahorses to the largest oceanic manta rays and between them a huge variety of species of all sizes.

 

Generally the dives in Raja Ampat will be drifting, following the currents that fill with life the more than 1,000 small islands of Raja Ampat. Some areas have huge schools of fish and regular sightings of sharks, such as the Wobbegongs. In Mansuar it is very likely that you will find large groups of manta rays and turtles. From the boat, and often near the coast, it is possible to see families of resident dolphins and even whales!

 

Manta rays in Raja Ampat

Manta rays ar one of the thousand attractions of Raja Ampat. Image by Indo Siren

 

Raja Ampat is possibly the place in the world with the greatest variety of dive sites. For example, in Misool, one of the first stops of some of the Raja Ampat diving cruises, there are more than 100 different dives and where liveaboards usually spend a couple of days, with 6 to 8 dives in total. It is an area full of pinnacles with an extraordinary density of fish, surrounded by giant gorgonians, the most colorful soft corals, pygmy sea horses, oceanic manta rays in large groups, sharks, turtles, huphead wrasse, jacks .. Also in Misool you'll have the chance to dive in beautiful mangroves with much of the small life that will soon occupy the coral gardens and the ocean... and where occasionally a saltwater crocodile appears.

 

Other extraordinary dives in the cruise to Raja Ampat take place in the Dampier Strait, where a stop is made at the manta ray cleaning station where, like happens in Komodo, dozens of mantas will approach curious to play with our bubbles. In Raja Ampat you will also dive in areas of black volcanic sand where the muck diving and the macro are of a very good level: frog fish, pygmy and pontohi seahorses, blue ring octopus, nudibranchs, rhinopias...

 

Another curious dive takes place in Alyui Bay and its pearl farm where you can also see how they are grown. This bay also has dives with walls covered with soft corals and gorgonians with many nudibrachs and pygmy seahorses. The night dives are especially interesting where with luck you will find the curious epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum), that small shark that seems to walk with its fins, along with wobbegongs, crocodile fish and frog fishes of different kinds and sizes.

 

Diving season in Raja Ampat

 

Most liveaboards make the Raja Ampat route during the months of October until the end of April, although it is possible to find some liveaboards that make trips throughout the year. During the months of July and until mid-September there are strong winds and waves, which makes the boats schedule other areas to visit. The usual thing is to finish the good season of Komodo in September and start to make routes around Raja Ampat.

 

Recommended liveaboards in Raja Ampat route

MSY Waow

La Galigo

Pearl Of Papua

MSY waow indonesia liveaboard La Galigo indonesia diving boat Pearl of Papua indonesia liveaboard

 

Any of these routes around Indonesia can become the best diving trip of your life, a trip in which you will have at your fingertips all the underwater jewels that have made you fall in love with this sport. You will dive with the largest predators and the most delicate creatures of the ocean in a wild environment, completely isolated and full of peace aboard ships where you will find dozens of strangers of which ten days later you will say goodbye as new friends with whom you share your great passions: scuba diving and the underwater world.

 

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