Diving in Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Nusa Tenggara, which means “Southeast Islands” in Old Javanese, is a string of sparsely populated, closely spaced islands east of Bali.

The islands, stretching from west to east for 1300 kilometers, are divided into two groups:
Western Nusa Tenggara (Lombok and Sumbawa) and Eastern Nusa Tenggara (Sumba, Flores, Timor, Alor and others).

In total, the archipelago includes 566 islands, 246 of which are named and 42 are inhabited. This area, separated from the equator by a couple of degrees, is notable and interesting because the depth of the sea and straits here is so great that even during the Ice Age, when the level of the World Ocean was 200 meters lower than the current one, there were no bridges between them.

Type of reefs – dumps, walls, still; availability – by safari boat or speedboat;
visibility – from 5 to 30 meters, but in most cases good; current – from moderate to very strong, from 8 knots and more;
corals – in very good condition;
fish – in large numbers, very diverse;
the main advantages are whale sharks, manta rays, underwater formations, interesting invertebrates.

According to Homethodology, Komodo Island has become world famous primarily due to the giant lizards known as Komodo dragons. The colony of these aggressive and rather vicious predators, reaching three meters in length, has 2,000 individuals on Komodo, about 600 on Rinca Island and several dozen on Flores. Once upon a time, employees of the Komodo reserve arranged for tourists a demonstrative feeding of dragons, hanging carcasses of goats on trees. Today, this is not practiced, although tourists can see pangolins during a tour of the island.

From a geological point of view, Komodo and Rinca are part of Flores, separated from Sumbawa by the Sape Strait. In the center of irrigation, the depth of the sea reaches 300 meters. The large number of islands and the relatively shallow waters between Flores and Komodo create strong currents at high and low tides. Diving in the area of ‚Äč‚ÄčKomodo and Rinca Islands can be safely called one of the most exciting in the world. Everything is here: from underwater hills washed by the currents, surrounded by flocks of sharks, tuna and other large fish, to colorful, almost transcendental reefs inhabited by hundreds and thousands of colorful tropical fish and invertebrates.

The water temperature ranges from +22C to +30C. Visibility reaches 25-30 meters on a horizontal plane, but can drop to 3 meters due to the abundance of small fish and plankton. Underwater flora and fauna are so rich and diverse that you can count on your fingers all over the world places that can compete with Komodo. To the north and south of the narrow straits separating the tiny islands, the depths are more than impressive, and the plankton-rich currents provide abundant food for all, without exception, underwater inhabitants – from polyps to sharks.

The underwater relief is as varied as the underwater life: vertical walls going down to an unknown depth; caves, grottoes and faults; canyons and dumps; hills and columns; sandy and muddy bottom. Due to their remoteness, the waters around the Komodo National Reserve have been little explored.

Experienced captains and dive guides choose dive sites based on their own experience, as well as nautical charts, information received from fishermen and pearl divers, and analysis of the land landscape and currents. This means that with an experienced group, many dives take place in places where no one has ever dived before.

Recommended dive sites in North Komodo:
Banta Island (five species of sharks, tuna, barracuda, surgeons, very beautiful corals and invertebrates, strong currents).

Sabolan Kecil (soft corals, blacktip, whitetip and silvertip sharks, gray reef sharks).

Tatawa Island (strong currents, coral caves, walls, reef rays, sharks, turtles);
Sebayur Kecil (Napoleons, groupers, huge stingray colony, lots of fish).

South Komodo: despite the fact that the rainy season in and around Bali supposedly lasts from November to March, in the south Komodo region you can almost always see blue skies and feel the scorching rays of the southern sun – even in December and January. But in the summer, which is the peak of the tourist season, the southern islands adjacent to Komodo and Rinca cannot be reached due to strong winds and storms. At this time, you need to dive on the northern Komodo. In December, January and November, visibility reaches its maximum for waters rich in plankton – from 10 to 15 meters.

Recommended dive sites in South Komodo:
Tala Island (a small island in Langkoy Bay: vertical walls, whitetip sharks, turtles, reef rays, surgeons, coral gardens, grottoes, breaks).
Pillarsteen (40m caves, canyons, rifts, mines, sharks, mobul rays, magnificent corals).

Nusa Kode (shoals of fish, groupers, whitetip sharks, triggerfish, whale sharks).

Gili Motang (manta rays, whale sharks, coral gardens, a variety of invertebrates including sea apples).

Type of reefs – mostly sheer walls, often vertical; availability – up to 2 hours by speedboat;
visibility – from 10 to 20 meters, in most cases good;
current – from moderate in coastal zones to very strong between small islands;
corals – in some places in good condition;
fish – a lot of large fish;
the main virtues are sharks and tuna.

The local coral reefs were once considered among the best in Indonesia, but an earthquake and subsequent tsunami 8 meters high in December 1992 almost completely destroyed them. And a month later, in January 1993, Hurricane Lena swept across the Flores Sea, destroying what was left after the earthquake. Today Flores is, first of all, beautiful deep-sea walls and sharks. You can stop here during a safari for a couple of dives, but it makes no sense to dive purposefully.

Recommended Flores sites:

Pamana Kecil (walls, tuna, whitetip and gray reef sharks, hammerheads, napoleons, turtles, nurse sharks);
South Pangahbatang (whitetip and blacktip sharks, coral gardens, crocodile fish, tuna, rays, napoleons).

Reef type – banks and walls;
availability – from 15 minutes to 2 hours by speedboat or safari boat;
visibility – from 12 to 20 meters;
flow – moderate;
corals – in very good condition, varied;
fish – exceptional quantity and variety;
the main advantages are sharks, groupers, the richness of the underwater world.

Alor is a small island north of West Timor, at the very end of a small archipelago to the east of Flores. Diving in these places can only be called first-class and even fantastic. The first sites were discovered in 1993 by Australian divers looking for a suitable location for a pearl farm. There are no hotels and other fruits of civilization here and are not expected in the near future, so it is best to dive on Alora from a safari boat. The epithet “end of the world” corresponds to this place, and meeting tourists here, especially if they are not divers, is a rarity.

Recommended Alora dive sites:
Kal’s Dream (sharks, shoals of tuna, barracudas, triggers, surgeons, unicorns, snappers, a huge number of reef fish, napoleons, strong currents).

Clown Valley (a lot of sharks – up to 10-15 individuals on one dive, huge tunas and barracudas, dolphins, sometimes you can see whales).

Three Islands (walls, caves, sharks, a lot of different corals and reef fish).

Type of reefs – walls, dumps;
availability – from 30 minutes to 4 hours by speedboat from Baa or safari boat;
visibility – from 8 to 10 meters;
current – weak;
corals – in good condition, especially soft corals;
fish – diverse, sharks and rays are often found;
the main advantages are walls and manti.

Roti is a small dry island off the southwest coast of Timor. Snow-white limestone cliffs stretch along the coastline, effectively shading the transparent turquoise lagoons. About 100 thousand people live on the island, mostly fishermen and peasants. The underwater world of Roti deserves attention: walls of multi-colored soft corals, a lot of fish, especially large ones. The only downside is poor visibility. Other than that, this is a first class place.

Recommended dive sites in Roti:
Batu Termanu (sharks, caves, schools of fish including lionfish and barracuda);
Termanu Beach (underwater craters, manta rays).

Gili Islands
Type of reefs – coral dumps, sandy bottom, walls;
accessibility – 15 minutes by speedboat;
visibility – an average of 15 meters;
flow – moderate;
corals – in good condition, diverse, in places damaged by dynamite;
fish – in large numbers, varied;
the main advantages are whitetip sharks.

The Gili group, located very close to the western coast of Lombok, includes three islands – Trawangan, Meno and Air. These beautiful small islands with white sandy beaches, surrounded by coral reefs, are very popular with both divers and ordinary tourists, mostly coming here from Bali. Hotels on the islands themselves leave much to be desired, but those who do not pursue comfort and luxury can stay in good air-conditioned rooms for an average of $15 per person per day. The rest is left to choose between the cozy Holiday Inn, the chic Sheraton Senggigi and a couple of other “trendy” hotels in Lombok,

For many, a trip along the scenic mountain road along the coast is a pleasure, so you can safely settle in Lombok. You can relax on Gili almost all year round, but the best time for diving is from April to August, when the water temperature rises to 30C, and the sea is calm and clear. As for diving, amateurs will not find anything extraordinary on Gili.

Good corals, colorful fish, turtles, sharks, sometimes manta rays come across – all the same can be found in neighboring Bali. But the technicians will surely like the walls (behind the island shelf the depth of the sea reaches 1200 meters), currents and deep-water wrecks.

Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia