The Indonesian archipelago, with thousands of kilometres of coral reefs, pristine remote islands and an enormous biodiversity, is one of the world’s best destinations for scuba diving.
Listing the 30 best dive sites of Indonesia is challenging because some areas are still very poorly explored, however here is a list of dive sites that I recommend you visit.
Sumatra is normally not a diver’s dream destination, since often its coastal waters are quiet from the flow of mud and sand coming from the rivers. But the little paradise of Pulau Weh, north of Banda Aceh, is an extraordinary exception.
1.Batee Tokong (Pulau Weh—Sumatra)
A huge coral pinnacle about 20 min from Pulah Weh. Currents, sometimes strong, bring nutrients to the reef and the coral life is astonishing where sea fans, hard and soft coral, can flourish. One area of Batee Tokong is called Shark Plateau – you can imagine why.
2. The Canyon (Pulau Weh—Sumatra)
Another coral pinnacle with an interesting geological feature; the top of the rock is split in two parts, creating a deep canyon where divers can enjoy a thrilling experience especially during drift dives.
Java doesn’t offer much in terms of diving. Densely populated, it’s also almost impossible to find a dive centre with the exception of ones based in Jakarta and Pulau Seribu. Even if these islands are not the best for diving, they are worth a mention since they are easily reachable from the Capital.
3. Papa Theo Wreck (Pulau Seribu—Java)
Papa Theo was a ship that sunk in 1982. The vessel, about 20 metres long, became an easy wreck dive and the coral reefs offer interesting encounters. An easy and relaxing dive and the island itself is beautiful.
The most touristic destination in Indonesia offers some astonishing dive sites, mainly located in the North and around the Island of Nusa Penida, one hour by speed boat from Sanur.
4. Manta Point (Nusa Penida—Bali)
The Island of Nusa Penida, especially on the southern side, is the place to go to see the majestic Manta Rays. Swimming with these peaceful and elegant fish is an amazing experience. It’s an easy and shallow dive.
5. Crystal Bay (Nusa Penida—Bali)
Crystal Bay is a wonderful little bay famous for great visibility and the presence, from May to September, of the majestic Mola mola or Oceanic Sunfish. This possibility brings thousands of divers every day. A difficult dive – consider your level of experience before planning a dive there, and be safe.
6. Blue Corner (Nusa Lembongan—Bali)
Probably the fastest drift dive in the world. Ready for the thrill? Good chances to spot sharks, Mola mola and other big stuff. For experienced divers only!
7. Liberty Wreck (Tulamben—Bali)
Probably the most famous wreck in Indonesia. Easy shore dive, a little too crowded during the peak season, but it’s worth a visit.
8. The Biorock (Pemuteran—Bali)
A very interesting coral restoration project, directly off the shore of the Pemuteran village. Easy dive full of sea life.
Except for the Gili Islands, Lombok is still underdeveloped. Maybe for this reason, there are some interesting new destinations, especially in the southeast of the Island.
9. The Magnet (Belongas Bay—Lombok)
Pinnacle located in the open ocean. Very challenging dive due to the surge and strong currents, but in some months of the year you can spot the famous Hammerhead shark.
KOMODO AND RINCA
Very small islands, famous worldwide for their dragons, Komodo and Rinca offer some of the most amazing dive sites of the country. The area around Komodo is a World Heritage Site.
10. Crystal Rock (Gili Lawa Laut—Komodo)
Probably the most famous dive spot of Komodo. Amazing reef, teeming with life, schools of fusiliers, tunas and mackerels. Absolutely a mustdive spot.
11. Castle Rock (Gili Lawa Laut—Komodo)
Thrilling drift dive, not far from Crystal Rock. Another submerged mountain covered with hard and soft corals.
12. Cannibal Rock (Horseshoe Bay—Rinca)
One of the top ten dive sites in the world. Water is cold and full of nutrients, nourishing an amazing amount of hard and soft corals, and an impressive amount of fish and other invertebrates.
Alor is still a remote island, where scuba diving is becoming popular. With muck diving and wonderful coral reefs, Alor is one of the next big dive destinations in Indonesia.
13. Anemone City (Pura Island—Alor)
As the name says, this site is really covered with sea anemones and anemone fish of different species (think Nemo).
Ambon is probably the world’s capital of muck diving. Don’t expect wonderful walls and colourful reefs, but instead an amazing variety of critters – very strange animals inhabiting sandy or muddy bottoms.
14. Rhino City (Laha—Ambon)
The world’s highest concentration of the strange colourful fish, Rhinopias. A Holy Grail for many underwater photographers.
15. The Twilight Zone (Laha—Ambon)
This is where the so-called “rarest fish of the world”, the Psychedelic Frogfish, have been spotted (only nine times in total).
A group of ten small volcanic islands in the Banda Sea, quite remote and difficult to reach, but for this reason it is still unexploited.
16. Gunung Api (Kepulauan Banda)
If you have a fear of snakes, this is not the place for you. Around this island, thousands of black-banded sea snakes populate the reefs. They have been observed hunting in collaboration with big jackfish; a unique phenomenon never observed in any other place of the world.
The eastern part of Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, offers several reefs ideal for scuba diving.
17. Manta Run (Sangalaki—Kalimantan)
Another wonderful Manta Ray dive. Hundreds of these majestic animals populate the waters around the little island of Sangalaki. Good snorkelling too, since Manta Rays are very curious and can get very close if not harassed.
18. Jellyfish Lake (Kakaban—Kalimantan)
Shallow lake with thousands of non-stinging jellyfish. A wonderful example of natural evolution, since these jellyfish lost their defence system without the presence of predators in the closed lagoon.
19. Big Fish Country (Maratua—Kalimantan)
Located at the entrance of the channel that connects the lagoon of Maratua with the outer sea. Currents can be very strong, but the possibility of observing large sharks and big predators is quite high.
From magnificent coral walls to exciting muck dives, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone.
20. Likuan 1-2-3 (Bunaken—North Sulawesi)
An amazing vertical wall, starting from just a few metres and going down straight into the deep blue. An incredible variety of fish and lots of sea turtles complete the scene. This wall is so long that it has been divided into three different dive spots.
21. Hairball (Lembeh Strait—North Sulawesi)
A desert of black sand, it offers exciting glimpses of hairy frogfish, many different strange scorpionfish, mimic octopus and many more incredible animals.
22. Apollo (Togian Island, Central Sulawesi)
Located in the volcanic island of Una-Una, Apollo is a coral slope with lots of currents and amazing visibility. Big groups of barracuda and jackfish are almost always present.
23. The Drowned Village (Sangihe Islands, North Sulawesi)
A volcanic eruption in 1963 drowned a little fishermen village. Many buildings are still intact and covered by hard and soft corals. A wonderful experience, but very difficult to reach since no diving operators are present in the area.
The dreamland of every diver. Still largely unexplored, the Indonesian Papua offers the best diving sites of the entire world, in particular the area called Raja Ampat (Four Kings). Until now, very few resorts and liveaboards are available in the area, but the offer of accommodations is likely to increase in the next few years.
24. Sardine Reef (Sorido Bay—Raja Ampat)
In not many other dive sites can the incredible number of fish obscure the sunlight – an explosion of marine life.
25. Misool (Misool Island—Raja Ampat)
Misool is famous for soft coral gardens and wonderful mangrove areas where you can even see the saltwater crocodile. Can be quite dangerous, so take care.
26. Manta Sandy (Misool—Raja Ampat)
Another extraordinary dive site, known as the aggregation point of thousands of Manta Rays.
27. The Passage (Waigeo Island—Raja Ampat)
Soft coral and magnificent sea fans meet a mangrove forest at the surface. A unique passage between two worlds.
28. Happy Ending (Batanta—Raja Ampat)
Probably one of the best muck dives of Raja Ampat. Lots of incredible sightings, including the Bobbit Worm.
29. Eddy Cave (Wagmab Area—Raja Ampat)
An extraordinary dive in a cave, surfacing in a large hall, where stalactites can be seen.
30. Whale Sharks Bay (Cendrawasih Bay—Raja Ampat)
In this remote bay, magnificent whale sharks are fed by local fishermen, believing they will bring good luck. You can dive or snorkel in the middle of dozens of these spectacular gentle giants.