Having grown up in Scotland, where swimming in murky lochs and plucking up the courage to dip a toe into the freezing North Sea was the norm, I was blown away by my first snorkeling trip. I was in Thailand and I couldn’t believe my eyes – I felt like I was swimming in an aquarium! There is something seriously amazing about the beauty and peaceful nature of life on the coral reef. From this moment on, I was hooked. When home, I immediately planned my next snorkeling trip. After a few holidays, I decided to take the next step to learn to dive. I spent 4 days doing my Open Water PADI certificate with a great instructor – one of the best decisions that I ever made!
Since getting my certification, I have been lucky enough to dive in a fair few countries in Asia. Earlier this month, I ventured for the first time to Indonesia to check out some incredible dive sites – and wow, just wow – it was unbelievable! A few reasons why:
- There are thousands of diving sites!
- It is home to over 3,000 different species of fish and 600 coral species.
- The lie of the underwater ground is interesting with deep water trenches and volcanic sea mounts.
- World War II wrecks are present.
- The marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area (one of the best diving spots in Indonesia) is the highest recorded as stated by Conservation International marine surveys.
- It is affordable.
- Even though it is best to travel during the dry season (April-December), it is generally alright to travel all year round.
- The Indonesian archipelago is comprised of no less than 17,500 islands, and as such, it is a varied destination to suit all types of holiday preferences.
- Heading back onto the coast, you’ll find sweeping beaches, volcanoes, jungles and fascinating tribal cultures.
On this trip, my highlights included visiting a manta cleaning station just off the island of Nusa Penida; spotting a vast number of turtles close to the Gili Islands; and seeing a couple of black tip reef sharks. Not to go unmentioned was the vast array of tropical fish. There is so much variety you could visit again and again and always experience something new!
So, you’re now sold on going to Indonesia. Where to start? Let me help you!
The Gili Islands
Whether staying on the Gili Islands or visiting from nearby Lombok you can enjoy the slow pace of life, excellent snorkelling opportunities, trekking adventures and good breaks for the budding surfers. The dive sites here are perfect for beginners and advanced divers alike, currents can be quite strong and drift diving is the norm along the walls, ridges, canyons and slopes. Search for graceful mantas and giant mola mola, explore wrecks or simply enjoy the colourful corals and abundant numbers of turtles.
Stay at Manta Dive, located on the idyllic island of Gili Air off Lombok, it is a friendly boutique resort offering great value for money and a heavenly playground for beach lovers, snorkellers and divers of all levels, with over twenty nearby world-class dive sites.
Komodo National Park
The Komodo National Park is protected not just for the rare Komodo Dragon, only found on these islands, but for the whole biodiversity in the area. The rich nutrient-filled waters are home to a kaleidoscope of colour and life, which is why it offers incredible diving. Spot reef sharks, turtles, barracuda, yellow fin tuna and pygmy seahorses. With strong currents, Komodo is best for intermediate to advanced divers.
The best way to explore the waters of Komodo is to stay on a live aboard boat in Komodo. We highly recommend Tiger Blue, a beautiful traditional Phinisi sailing boat. A Tiger Blue cruise offers once-in-a-lifetime luxury adventures with family or friends looking for Komodo dragons, birds of paradise and dazzling coral reefs.
Instantly recognisable for its bizarre shape, Sulawesi is a mixture of volcanoes, rice paddies, unspoilt beaches and stunning landscapes. However, the real reason for visiting Sulawesi is the diving and snorkelling. The area boasts crystal clear water, steep walls and world-class coral. There are a plethora of dive sites, suitable for divers of all experience levels. You are likely to encounter large schools of fish, spinner dolphins and pilot whales in addition to the 2000 species in the area – including seahorses, scorpion fish and octopus.
Check out our Exclusive Sulawesi itinerary for inspiration about holidaying to Sulawesi.
Moyo Island is perfect for those looking for off the beaten track luxury. Amanwana is the only resort on the island, the tents are unbelievably luxurious and the service is excellent. Surrounding the island is the Flores Sea, which is teeming with interesting water-life such as eagle rays and the harmless white-tipped reef sharks. The resort has its own dive centre so both beginners and experienced divers can explore the nearby dive sites, some of which are no more than a 10-minute boat ride from the resort.
Enjoy night dives just 40 metres away from the boardwalk or enjoy the popular Turtle Street site, where Hawksbill and green turtles frequent the area, along with moray eels, lobster and black- and white-tip reef sharks.
If you want to venture further, board the Amanikan for a 5 night adventure like no other, exploring several islands in Indonesia’s pristine eastern archipelago including a chance to experience the fascinating Komodo dragons up close.