Diving in Nusa Tenggara

* GILI ISLANDS * KOMODO NATIONAL PARK * MAUMERE BAY * ALOR

Diving in Nusa Tenggara

Gili Islands

Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are the part of Gili Islands located just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia. The islands are a popular destination for Western tourists looking for a remote island experience. Visitors from all over the world are attracted to the simple pleasures of sun, snorkeling, diving, beautiful beaches, and socializing. The absence of cars, motorcycles, and hawkers adds greatly to the leisure of staying on the Gilis - although there is now a wide range of accommodation available, the islands have maintained the lazy rustic charms of a tropical paradise.

The islands have become popular for beginners and experienced divers alike. It is one of Indonesia's top areas for scuba diving and has a reputation for being the 'turtle capital of the world', with water temperatures about 28 degrees Celsius all year round. Fortunately all the three Gili Islands will not permit any type of motorized transport on them and therefore rely on bicycles or horse and carts, locally known as I Cidomos I . Gili Trawangan now boasts itself as a great destination suitable for families of all ages, although originally discovered by backpackers in the mid eighties, and a reputation as a party destination.

There is an area known as Goodheart, the best place for snorkeling and swimming is along the main beach area a few hundred meters from where the boats pull in. From any of the dive shops or the kiosks in the street, you can find masks, fins and snorkels rented by the hour or day. You can see all types of marine life just by snorkeling including the turtles, but please be careful not to touch the coral. As the currents in the channel can be unpredictable and very strong, please do not try to swim between the islands.

Gili Islands Dive Site

Gili Island Dive Sites

GILI AIR   |   GILL MENO   |   GILI TRAWANGAN

GILI AIR

The remains of a 20 meters World War Il Japanese patrol vessel can be found in 45 meters of water to the South of Gili Air. It is home to a large number of lionfish and scorpion fish and often attracts schooling barracuda and jacks. Due to the depths involved decompression or enriched air diving is recommended on this site. To the Northeast of Gill Air is this reef of bommies and rocky outcrops. This is a great site for macro life and juvenile fish, keep a lookout for frogfish, pipefish and octopus. Air Wall dive offers a drop off to around 32 meters, some good coral formations can be found here with plenty of overhangs and arches filled with glassfish. There are concrete blocks that serve as a cleaning station at 22 meters and a sandy patch that can also be explored.   Back to top

Gili Air Dive Site

GILi MENO

Malang reef between Gili Meno and Air offers a plateau at around 12 meters that drops away to around 40. There are several big coral heads with some impressive canyons, overhangs and swimthroughs. Plentv of healthy coral, sponges and gorgonians can be found here along with a vast array of marine fish. Simon's reef, which is close by, also offers similar action with eight big coral bommies in a rough figure of eight formation. The soft coral carpeted wall drops to around 22 meters and is home to all manner of crustaceans. Some big groupers and turtles are often seen at this spot, which is also a popular night dive destination. Spanish dancers and cuttlefish are the delights after dark.   Back to top

Gili Meno Dive Site

GILI TRAWANGAN

The largest island in the Gili l s this one is aimed at budget travelers and is considered the party island. All of the Dive Sitess in the Gill Islands can be reached from any of the three islands but this one is the most popular. The sandy bottom at 30 meters has a number of huge sea mounds that rise up to around 20 meters. There are plenty of overhangs and cracks to explore that house morays, crabs and fish. Coral growth is good here and there are some resident garden eels in the sand. The reef ends at around 20 meters and attracts the usual fish life. Shark Point the most popular Dive Sites on the island, it is a vast open site with a series of ridges that fall away into deeper water. Coral cover isn't as impressive as other Gili spots but this is one of the better places to see whitetip, blacktip and even the possibility of grey sharks. There are also other big visitors such as rays, turtles and bumphead parrotfish. Manta Point, a little further south, can offer the opportunity to spot seasonal visiting mantas.   Back to top

Gili Trawangan Dive Site

Komodo National Park

A small island of 280 square km, Komodo Island is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores It is famous for its giant pre-historic lizards, considered the last of their kind remaining m the world today. Called " ore' " by the local people, Komodo 'dragon " (Varonus Komodoensis) is actually a giant monitor lizard. Growing up to 3 to 4 meters in length, its ancestors roamed the earth up to about half a million years ago. The only human population on the island is at the fishing village called Komodo who supplement their income-breeding goats, which are used to feed the lizards. Law protects the Komodo and although they are considered harmless, it is advisable to keep them at a distance. Komodo Island is now a nature reserve, home to a number of rare bird species, deer, and wild pigs, which are prey to the lizards as well. This island can be reached by boat from Labuan Bajo.

The park boasts one of the world's richest marine environments including coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds, seamounts and semi-enclosed bays and is declared as World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. These habitats harbor more than 1,000 species of fish, 260 species of reef-building coral and 70 species of sponges. The climate of Komodo National park is hot, dry and relatively barren compared to their lush, jungle-filled neighbors. Here you can catch a guided tour to the famous dragons, monitor lizards that can reach a length of 3 m (10 ft) large, ferocious predators, the dragons are capable of consuming fully grown human as they slowly sashay past, their eyes leery staring menacingly and their forked tongues flickering, it is easy to imagine the strength of their massive laws and powerful claws. With their short legs, it is difficult to comprehend that these lumbering creatures can run as fast as a dog. The dragons are also excellent swimmers and it is common for them to travel between the islands. Although the stunning pink and grey beaches of these islands are open for visitors, you should watch out for the dragons' foot and tail prints in the sand.

Komodo National Park Dive Site

Komodo National Park Dive Sites

PINK BEACH   |   CANNIBAL ROCK   |   GILI LAWA   |   PILLARSTEEN   |   TATAWA ISLAND   |   YELLOW WALL OF TEXAS   |   GPS POINT   |   WHITE ANGEL'S   |   END OF THE WORLD

PINK BEACH

Pink Beach is located just in front of the old dragon feeding station in East Komodo, directly across the bay from Komodo Village. Snorkeling here is excellent over a healthy shallow reef. Diving is at the reef edge where the bottom drops down to 25 meters. Thousands of fish of every color and shape are here including regal angelfish, checkerboard wrasse and masked unicorn fish, against a beautiful backdrop of acripora corals, gorgonian fans and sponges. Mantis shrimps are always in attendance with their housekeeping as they remove rock from their burrows. Their darting bulbous eyes are thought to 6e the most complex in nature, and they can strike prey with a crustacean karate chop from its claw, hard enough to crack a pane of glass.   Back to top

Pink Beach - Cannibal Rock - Gili Lawa Dive Site

CANNIBAL ROCK

Cannibal Rock lays in the channel just to the South of Rinca Island and one kilometer off the Northern coast of nearby Nusa Kode. It is a truly world-class Dive Sites and one of the top sites in Komodo scuba diving. Out of the depths, you may be visited on your dive by curious blackblotched stingrays, out on a hunting foray. Black snappers are also prevalent here with many juveniles, conspicuous in their black and white striped colors. Making your way to the east and the north you'll be astounded by the sizes of the purple gorgonian fans, some over two meters tall. These fans are home to the pygmy seahorse. Be on the lookout for yellow-ribbon sweetlips - endemic to Komodo - and sweeps of gold-striped fusiliers.   Back to top

GILI LAWA

This pinnacle just breaks the surface off the Northern side of the two small islets to the North of Komodo main island. Diving with cuttlefish is another excellent Dive Sites and very similar topographically to the famous GPS Point. The reef is packed with bronze and rust colored sponges and soft tree corals. You'll see black snappers, large cuttlefish, pyramid butterfly fish, and several red octopuses. Strong currents normally prevent dives on Gili Lawa and the correct conditions must exist before undertaking any dive here. One of the delights of diving in Indonesia is that the area is so large and the Dive Sitess so numerous that it is possible to come across fantastic sites, which are still relatively unchartered.   Back to top

PILLARSTEEN

Pillar Rock lays a couple of kilometers to the South East of Padar Island, between Komodo and Rinca Islands. The best plan at this top notch Komodo Dive Sites is to drop at a pinnacle at the Southernmost point and let the strong current and surge take you west. To the South lays deeper water and a series of caves, chimneys and rocky outcrops. Here you'll find large mid night snappers, huge boxfish, and six-banded angelfish. To the West Pillarsteen l s walls are painted yellow, green and orange by the dense colonies of soft corals. Yellow and white sea squirts are found here in thousands. With funnel-shaped bodies and spout shaped open mouths, these colorful creatures can easily be mistaken for aquatic versions of pitcher plants.   Back to top

Pillar Steen - Tatawa - Yellow Wall Dive Site

TATAWA ISLAND

The first stage of your dive can happen rather quickly and will require all of your attention as you are hit with an up current just before you reach the North-West corner. Once you round the corner the rollercoaster is over for this dive and you'll have time to appreciate the remainder of your stay at this beautiful Komodo scuba diving site. Turtles are everywhere and you can expect to see many as you navigate the site. Before you leave the currents behind watch out for the grey reef sharks and black-tail barracuda. Manta rays also make occasional guest appearances. Further South and slightly West of Tatawa Island is a rocky islet called Batu Besar, meaning big stone, and this is the location of a Dive Sites called 'Current City'. Diving in Komodo often takes the form of drift dives. East of the Batu Besar, as the name suggests, currents can regularly exceed three knots, making for some serious drift diving. The West face of Batu Besar offers a series of steep drops to about 30 metres, and several interesting coral caves. The soft coral cover is very good, and there are lots of fish, including large schools of sweetlips. Sharks are again common here, as are turtles and very large fantail stingrays.   Back to top

YELLOW WALL OF TEXAS

Yellow Wall of Texas is the wall running down the East coas of Nusa Kode, to the South of Rinca Island. The shallows are very rich in fish life, partiCularIy planktonffeeders. Fork-tailéd fairy basslets swarm around the grop-pffs.ingreay.grangeand purple schoolssPairs of colorful butterfly fish forage in the reef cranniesfor small crustaceans or coral polyps. Clown triggerfish, perhaps the most distinctively marked fall the reef fishes with its black body, round orange mouth, yellow face band, white-spotted underbelly and yellow tail, stake out their territory along the face of the reef. In the deeper waters a couple of white-tip reef sharks may swing around to give you a close look. Red snappers with bright yellow eyes will keep a wary distance, and green turtles often row by. Yellow Wall of Texas is best e afternoon, when the sun provides more natural lightning.   Back to top

GPS POINT

Located off the North East point of Gili Banta, the famous GPS Point is a must on any live aboard cruise here and is often considered the best Northern site in Komodo scuba diving. The top of this small seamount rises to just five meters of the surface and it attracts lots and lots of fish. GPS Point is often swarming with dogtooth tuna, and big schools of barracudas and surgeonfish. The soft coral growth at GPS Point in particular is excellent, and the entire surface of the sea mound is richly overgrown with invertebrates. The deep waters provide the opportunity for encounters with hammerhead sharks and Napoleon wrasse as well as the more common whitetips and nurse sharks. Strong currents often to three knots sweep the top of the mount. Things settle down around 25 meters or so, but this is not really a beginner's dive. Visibility here is variable, and can drop below ten meters due to plankton, but it is usually clearer at depth.   Back to top

GPS Point - White Angel's - End the World Dive Site

WHITE ANGEL'S

White Angels steep reef and wall are at their best early morning when pelagic fish are out to feed on the bounty provided by the swift currents. From a shallow sheltered bay the reef quickly drops to 35m and then beyond. You'll need to swim against a current over a short distance to gain the corner of the bay, but once around it do the currents with queen mackerel, yellowtail tuna and grey reef sharks as you drift along assist all plain sailing. A quarter of an hour or so into your dive and you'll come into a shallower reef section in still water. Here you'll find a fantastic array of sponges and corals. Lionfish, batfish and oval-spot butterfly fish are here, along with countless and colorful nudibranches.   Back to top

END OF THE WORLD

Tala Island is a tiny island in Langkoi Bay, just South of the Southern most part of Komodo Island, offering some excellent Dive Sitess. It is one of the most Southern Komodo live aboard diving sites. The inner passage between Tala and Komodo proper is shallow and has ripping currents, but the southern point of the island has The End of the World to the west in very deep water. Here is a sheer wall of rock, broken up by some nice cuts, overhangs, and sandy shelves down to about 40 meters, and from there on a flat, black plane. There are white-tip sharks, rays, morays and rich coral growth in the cuts and shelves. The flat areas of the wall are covered with extensive fields of marigold cup corals, a beautiful and vivid effect against the dark rock.   Back to top

Maumere Bay

As the tourism hotspot of Flores, Maumere is the biggest transportation center of the island, there is a big variety of accommodation and many attractions on Flores can be visited during one-day trips from Maumere. In the direct environment of the city you will find great places for snorkeling and diving, a traditional weaver, beautiful nature and old relics from the Portuguese time and the only museum of the island.

You can visit the lakes of Keli Mutu from Maumere directly. However, since Ende is a bigger city, we advice you to take Maumere as a starting point, especially when you decide to stay in one of the bigger and better hotels outside the city.

Maumere Bay Dive Site

The most beautiful of the island is the mountainous and the villages in Ngada District around Bajawa. But the public transport around Bajawa, high in the mountains and far inland, isn't very reliable and comfortable like in and around Maumere.

Surrounded by volcanoes and other mountains, Maumere Bay is very beautiful beach. The islands on the outer edge of the bay have nice coral reefs with steep walls covered with hard corals and large sea fans. The largest of the islands with high mountains and together with Dambilah and Pangahbatang, is the Besar Island. It forms a barrier to the water flowing in and out of the bay. For this reason the bay is calm at most times and dolphins, sperm whales and whale sharks like to come here.

Maumere Bay Dive Sites

BESAR ISLAND, DAMBILAH AND PANGAHBATANG   |   MARA GAJONG   |   THE CHANNEL   |   BABI ISLAND   |   THE CRACK   |   THE VILLAGE

BESAR ISLAND, DAMBILAH AND PANGAHBATANG

One of the few barrier reefs in Indonesia occurs here at Besar Island (another one is found in the Togian Islands and Sumbawa) where the reef also forms a large lagoon in the East. The group of islands can be reached from Maumere or Wodong by boat and can also be visited while traveling on one of the live boards, which pass by on their way to and from Alor or Komodo.   Back to top

MARA GAJONG

You start the dive in a kind of small valley with huge coral blocks, which are cleaning stations for sweetlips and batfish. With some patience you can see the sweetlips opening up their mouths and the cleaner wrasses flittering in an out of it. Then you swim over the reef edge and reach a steep slope. The visibility here was incredible, about 40 meters and down to the huge gorgonians fans and ton sponges while out in the blue mackerels and small tunas passed by and a large schools of long-jawed mackerels were opening their mouths always in synchronous movement. Just beautiful!   Back to top

BABI ISLAND

Babi Island lies beyond Besar Island and was hit especially hard by the 1992 tsunami. The two villages located on the flat sandy land in the South were totally wiped out by the waves who topped 5.6 meters. Of the population of 1 1 093, 263 humans were victims of the tsunami. The area was declared as too dangerous to be inhabited and therefore the villages had to be abandoned and no rebuilding was permitted. Today you can see only make shift bamboo huts here, which are used just part of the year for fishing. The beach is a nice snorkeling area, though.   Back to top

THE CHANNEL

Between the mainland and Pangabatan there is a channel, which is about 2 km wide. The current flowing through can be quite fierce, so this diving site is only far experienced divers. You dive down through a coral garden interspersed with sand until you reach the deeper part, a large plateau of sand with coral blocks and sea fans. Here at about 30 meters you should take some time to look out in the blue, there is a good chance to see eagle rays, mackerels and tunas and on the sand between the corals often lie whitetip sharks. Continue with the current and reach a beautiful coral garden. With the morning light it is magic! Continue drifting to a sandy slope, be specially careful here if there are currents, because sometimes they sweep down from above and on sand it is difficult to hold on to anything. Finish the dive between hard corals, sea fans and lots of small reef fish. A good place for large fish and sharks but you also found on each dive some interesting small animals for example a rare whiskered pipefish, nudibranchs and several leaf fish, mantis shrimps and cuttlefish. Often large groups of bumphead parrotfish gather in the sandy areas, on one spectacular dive easily a hundred of them pasted us, going in the other direction!   Back to top

The Channel - The Crack and The Village Dive Site

THE CRACK

You dive at a place; where the earthquakes caused the 1992 tsunami, formed a huge crack, about 18 to 20 meters down and reaching into the reef for about 30 meters. The crack is about 70cm wide, so it isn't possible to swim in, but if you swim on top you can see down into the inner structures of the reef. The diving here is very nice, a beautiful and colorful wall covered with sea fans, coral bushes, hydroids, sponges and lots of sea squirts going down to 25 meters and then becoming a slope. It is well worth looking in all the crannies and overhangs, because a lot of small animals are hiding here. Apart from plenty of nudibranchs, shrimps and crabs we also found several species of flatworms and on the very edge of the reef two yellow-brown leaf fishes and further down a beautiful purple one in a sponge under an overhang there was even a small giant frogfish! If you are lucky it is possible to see hammerhead sharks here, eagle rays and turtles, since you are facing towards open water   Back to top

The Village

A bit to the North of the small fishing village lays a great Dive Sites. When you enter the water you go down on a sandy slope, straight away there was usually a large school of silvery long-jawed mackerels around you. First five black-tipped reef sharks, all starting to circle around, then other fish like jacks and tunas came. Continue the dive on a nice miniwall with lots of soft corals and beautiful gorgonian fans, many of them are of the species Muricella, a gorgonian known to be the habitat of the pygmy seahorse. So looked closer and you might found one. Dived further towards the coral garden, all the time seeing a few sharks, jacks and also a very large tuna. The coral garden is a nice place to finish the dive, specially the large coral blocks there, which are cleaning stations with dancing shrimps underneath and glass fish clouding everything.   Back to top

Alor

This is the most unspoiled region of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) because it's the least visited place. Trek to the rim of Pantar volcano, visit the traditional whaling village on Lemhata or dive the straits of Alor at a dive destination rated by all to be amongst the best in the world. Ponder on the existence of the Moko drums, which are not found in large numbers anywhere else in Indonesia and can be traced back to the Dongson period in Vietnam around 350 BC and you start to realize that Alor is truly a land lost in time. Alor traditional culture has been influenced over the ages by the Indian, Chinese and Javanese traders as well as by the Islamic and Christian religions. This can be seen in the silk thread woven into the original weavings and the mix of Mosques and Christian churches dotted throughout the island. The traditional dances, Ikat weavings motifs and varies architectural style greatly from area to area. With more than a dozen traditional villages within one hours drive from the capital Kalabahi - Alor is a cultural tourist's heaven.

Alor diving is known as the best in the world with Its smoldering Volcanoes reaching down into crystal clear waters fringed with pristine coral reefs, coconut fringed pure white sandy beaches and traditional villages built half way up mountains, the scenery is as spectacular above as it is below the waterline. Alor Island Is so mountainous that it is almost impossible to pass from one side to the other and many of the villages on the island itself can only transport themselves via small wooden ferries.

Alor Dive Site

KAL'S DREAM

This probably the most well-known Dive Sites in the area. The submerged pinnacles, which can only be dived on slack tide, are teeming with schools of small fish including anthias and fusiliers. You need to fin down to it since the current is usually quite strong, once there keep a lookout for barracuda and black tip however they aren't guaranteed to show. "The Dream" can be hit or miss, on a good day the viz can begin clear, large grey reef shark and even hammerheads have been known to visit this spot.   Back to top

SHARKS GALORE

Off the coast of Pura Island at Sharks Galore you can take a breather from the currents without compromising your fun. Not surprisingly, given the name, there is a good chance of you seeing plenty of sharks here in what is normally a still or gentle drift from your Alor dive live aboard. Big grey reef sharks and white tips tend to cruise around in the company of hefty dog-toothed tuna sometimes combining to make the human tourists feel very small indeed. Depending on the conditions you may finish this dive in the adjacent site known as Clown Valley.   Back to top

Alor Dive Sites

MANDARIN HOUSE AND THE BOARDROOM

The North side of Pura Island offers this healthy reef slope where mandarin fish can be seen dancing in the daylight. Dusk often yields the opportunity to witness them mating. A 50-meters deep wall at the boardroom just East of Mandarin House offers caves filled with glassfish and schooling jacks and snappers at depth.   Back to top

PERTAMINA PIER

This relatively new site is a black sand slope in the harbor that forms a haven for critters. Keep a look out for ghost pipefish, seahorses, hairy crabs and even wonderpuss - a bizarre species of octopus. Night diving here can be even more interesting!   Back to top