Article updated September 2019
From the stunning blue waters, the glistening sunshine and breathtaking marine life – Indonesia is truly a diver’s wonderland. Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago and comprises 10 – 15 percent of the world’s coral reefs. Here you’ll find greater marine diversity than anywhere else on earth. Home to 3,000 different species of fish, the waters of Indonesia are brimming with life. The choice of dive sites in Indonesia is equally impressive, with divers of all levels being spoilt for choice. Below we feature some of the best diving from spectacular Indonesia.
Bali is located between Java and Lombok and is one of the most popular places in Indonesia to learn to dive. But it’s not just the novice diver that is accommodated here. Bali is home to a rich variety of dive sites to please the avid diver as well. Immaculate coral ridges, seagrass beds and volcanic outcrops are some of the amazing marine features you can expect to see. Common sea life includes manta rays, mola mola and different shark species.
Just 30 metres / 100 feet from the shore in Tulamben Bay off Bali’s North East coast is the USAT Liberty Wreck. This 119-metre/390-foot US Army transport ship was torpedoed in the Lombok Strait during the Second World War. The wreck is popular with underwater photographers and has regular sightings of barracuda, napoleon fish, scribbled filefish and pygmy seahorses are common.
Popular dive sites around Bali include Menjangan Island, Zen Beach, Amed, Tulamben and Padang Bai, along with Nusa Penida, Lembongan and Ceningan just off the coast of Sanur. Consistent with the abundant sea life of Indonesia, marine life such as sea turtles, pygmy seahorses, frogfish, shrimps, octopus, sharks, rays, eels and whirlwinds of jacks frequent these beautiful diving locations.
Komodo takes its place in the Lesser Sunda chain of islands and forms part of the Komodo National Park. There is a plethora of dive sites around this Island. South of Komodo are the well-known dive spots of Manta Alley, End of the World and German Flag.
North of Gili Lawa Lautlie is Crystal Rock and Castle Rock. Here you can expect to see an assortment of underwater species such as turtles, barracudas, yellow fin tuna, wobbegong and reef sharks. Lighthouse Reef is close by and popular for drift dives (be sure to bring surface signalling devices).
South of Rinca Island are the Cannibal Rock and ButuTiga. Here the water is cooler and more exposed to the Indian Ocean. Nudibranchs, Frogfish and Pygmy Seahorse and Eagle Rays frequent these waters.
Lombok and the Gili Islands
Sandy white beaches featuring incredible snorkelling and diving. This defines the three Gili Islands of Trawangan, Meno and Air. These casual islands are well known by tourists and provide the perfect backdrop for a diving holiday. Some notable dive sites in the Gili Islands include Magnet and Cathedral in Belongas Bay and Gili Asahan, Gili Gede, Gili Renggit, Gili Yayar, Batu Putih and Wave corner in The South Gili Island. Octopus, rays, sea sharks, turtles, lionfish and scorpion fish are just some of the amazing marine critters you may come across. If your trip coincides with a full moon, you’ll also get to see the school of huge bump head parrotfish that visit the area. The Gili Eco Trust does a great job caring for the environment undertaking initiatives such as beach clean-ups, recycling initiatives and reef conservation activities.
North Sulawesi is one of the world’s top diving destination boasting over 150 popular dive sites. Dive sites include Manado Tua, Siladen, Mantehage and Nain islands. Near Molas Beach, the Molas wreck is also an attraction, which is just outside Mando on the mainland coast. This Dutch freighter sank during the Second World War and its hull is now home to a variety of marine life. The waters of Bunaken Marine Park possess steep walls and world class coral gardens. Marine life that frequently visit the area include spinner dolphins, pilot whales, seahorses, scorpion fish and octopus. Well known dive sites include Manado Tua, Siladen, Mantehage and Nain Islands. Lembeh & Manado are certainly not exempt from incredible marine diversity of the Indonesian waters. Cuttlefish, scorpion fish, seahorses and leaf scorpion fish make up part of the local marine life. Lembeh is a muck diving hotspot with wonderful dive sites such as Nudi Falls, Hairball, Police Pier and Angel’s Window.
Have you heard of Pulau Weh? Think crystal clear waters, lively coral reefs and an abundance of marine life all surrounded by white sand beaches and island palm trees. Pulau Weh is a small island off the province of Banda Aceh and one destination that shouldn’t be missed by divers. Some must-visit dive sites in the area include Pantee Peunateung, Arus Balee and Sophie Rickmers wreck. Here you can expect to encounter anything from rays to giant trevally, small critters or even reef sharks. So if you’re searching for uncrowded dive sites packed with marine life and beauty make sure you head to Pulau Weh, Indonesia’s hidden gem.
Boasting 1,200 marine species, this wonder of Mother Nature is sure to please the diving enthusiast. Raja Ampat, which translates as Four Kings, is home to 74% of all the earth’s known corals. Many of those who have visited Raja Ampat for a diving holiday will talk of the unforgettable diving of Kofiau where the reefs are crammed with soft and hard corals that hide numerous marine creatures. At Northwest Misool, the beauty of the trees meets the blue water mangrove making it a photographer’s paradise – above and below the surface. At The Passage, cuttlefish, octopus and nudibranch delight the curious divers.
If you’re searching for a destination suited to beginner divers, make sure you add Thousand Islands to your Indonesian bucket list. The area surrounding this island is protected from strong winds and bad weather making it a year-round paradise for divers. Here you can expect sloped coral reefs bursting with reef fish, turtles, critters, rays, white-tip sharks, whale sharks, dolphins, barracuda and much more. Just a boat ride from Marina Ancol, this island paradise is one not to be missed by beginners and pros alike.
Known for its stunning resorts and picturesque island scenery, Wakatobi offers more than just diving. However, if you plan to dive at Wakatobi you won’t be disappointed. House Reef is a great diving location in Wakatobi. You may encounter turtle and manta rays, as well as numerous other marine critters. For those in the mood for adventure, night diving at House Reef is a must for any avid diver. Other dive sites around Wakatobi include Teluk Maya, Pastel Reef and Blade. With a mix of underwater features such as sponges and coral garden harbours, Wakatobi dive sites provide sensational variety.
Indonesia is crammed with amazing dive destinations, brimming with a myriad of different marine species. With so many great diving and holiday options, why not locate a PADI Dive Shop and start planning your next diving getaway.