Indonesia is one of the most diverse countries for scuba divers. The list of world class diving around the 17’000 islands seems endless.
Through its location in the coral triangle the highest biodiversity of our oceans can be found here. From the smallest critter to massive creatures and from muck diving over black sand to the most beautiful coral reefs – Indonesia has it all.
A great way to explore as many different dive sites in this massive county is to take a liveaboard trip.
Just south across the boarder from the famous dive sites in Malaysia around Sipadan and Mabul lie the islands of Derawan, Maratua, Nabucco, Kakaban and Sangalaki. If you do wanna cross from Malaysia there make sure to get your visa before.
These islands are famous for a jellyfish like in Kakaban and mantas gathering around Sangalaki. In general the diving offers some large pelagics like sharks, eagle rays, tuna, barracudas and trevally as well as macro.
Visibility can be low due to sediments brought in by the river on the main island. Dive operations are only on Derawan and Sangalaki, alternatively a liveaboard can bring you here.
The north of Sulawesi is home to the best muck diving in Lembeh. The variety of special critters that can be encountered there seems limitless. It includes (hairy) frogfish, all kinds of cephalopods like coconut octopus, mimic octopus, wonderpus and flamboyant cuttlefish, as well as an incredible amount of different nudibranchs, pipefish, seahorses, crabs and shrimp.
Another famous region is the islands around Bunaken with stunning walls which are home to diverse coral and reef fish.
Bangka lies between these two famous destinations offering a bit of both and it is possible to visit Lembeh or Bunaken on day trips.
Gorantalo a bit further south impresses the visitors with incredible landscapes, walls and caverns. During the right season and with a bit of luck whale sharks, dolphins and even whales can be observed. In addition the region is home to several endemic species.
Donggala (Palu) in central Sulawesi offers some macro life, reef shark, bumphead parrotfish and napoleon wrasses.
All three types of coral reefs – barrier, fringe and atoll – can be explored around the Togian Islands. These paradise islands are little visited and offer some amazing wildlife encounters with small critters, rays, turtles, huge schools of barracuda and possibly even hammerhead sharks.
South of the Togians lies the island group of Banggai with steep walls and overhangs swarmed with marine life. The currents might get strong along the walls which allows for encounters with big pelagics.
Reef sharks are a regular sight when diving from Bira and Pulau Selayar. Also other large pelagics including hammerheads frequent the waters around the white sandy beaches.
The walls, ridges and pinnacles around the islands of Wakatobi are most famous for the coral diversity. The scenery changes several times during each dive with different types of sponges, hard and soft coral. The marine life includes massive schools of barracuda as well as tiny pygmy seahorses.
The islands off the north of Sulawesi connecting Indonesia with with the Philippines Siau, Sangihe and Talaud (Forgotten Islands) are best visited via liveaboard. There is one small dive operation in Siau. The volcano Karangetang on Siau is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. The black sand around the islands offer amazing muck diving with nudibranches, pipefish, frogfish, cephalopods and much more. It is also possible to dive at an underwater volcano.
Ambon is one of the best destinations for small stuff. The macro/muck diving is incredible with a huge density of different critters including nudibranchs, shrimp, crab, frogfish, bamboo shark, eels and many different rhinopias. The night diving is some of the best I have ever done.
Banda Neira can be reached from Ambon and offers wall dives with diverse and pristine coral. In the waters around it is not uncommon to see whale sharks and mantas.
Ternate is another destination for macro enthusiasts with a huge variety of nudibranchs, bearded gobies and other small stuff plus the endemic Halmahera walking shark.
Halmahera offers diverse coral reefs with hundreds of corals species surrounded by tropical fish.
Raja Ampat in West Papua is regarded as one of the top areas to dive in for a reason. The reefs are the most diverse of the world with massive coral formations teeming with colorful reef fish.
Over 1200 fish and 700 mollusc species are known to live in these turquoise waters. In the blue water enormous tornados of barracuda are forming while reef sharks, schools of jacks and mantas are passing by.
On the reefs regular encounters include pygmy seahorses, pipefish, crab, shrimp, cephalopods, walking sharks and wobbegongs.
The most famous area to dive here is Pulau Weh, an island at the northern tip of Sumatra. When the conditions are right divers can expect encounters with reef sharks (mostly white and black tips), eagle rays, barracuda, tuna, groupers, bumphead parrotfish and napoleon wrasses.
The underwater hot springs are an unique experience. Take off your fins and warm your feet in the warm water bubbling up from the ground. Some macro life like nudibranchs, ghostpipefish, seahorses, crab and shrimp complete the experience here.
The diving around the most populated island of Indonesia is not very famous. There is possibilities to dive around the volcano Krakatau. Another option close to Jakarta is a region called thousand islands.
The diving around Bali is diverse and offers some of the best muck diving, a famous wreck, mantas and mola mola.
The best muck diving can be found in Padangbai, the sites between Amed and Tulamben, as well as Puri Jati and Secret Bay with a huge variety of nudibranchs including some possibly endemic species.
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida are the are to find the bizarre mola mola and mantas.
The Liberty wreck in Tulamben is teeming with wildlife.
The island of the deer (Menjangan) offers the best coral of the area.
The Gili Islands in Lombok are very popular with backpackers and a place to take an open water course. Turtles are a guaranteed sight here and it is also possible to find some small critters like ghostpipefish, shrimp, nudibranches and even rhinopias. Be aware of the crowds.
In the south of Lombok the new Gilis (Seketong) with white beaches and pristine reefs and Belugas Bay with schooling hammerheads during the season are located.
The Komodo National Park is regarded as one of the top diving destinations worldwide. Divers can expect to see pristine coral reefs teeming with small colorful fish, mantas, sharks, schooling fish and nudibranchs as well as other macro highlights plus the craziest currents. It is definitely a destination for more experienced divers.
Flores (Maumere) does offer more amazing macro diving, colorful reefs and schooling fish.
Alor is one of the top muck/macro areas in Indonesia with many different types of rhinopias, frogfish, seahorses, nudibranchs and much more. Possibly one of the largest anemone gardens offers a home there to all different types of clownfish.