Indonesia – A scuba diver’s paradise

31st August 2015   |   Bridget Pearson

Indonesia offers unbelievable diversity: The crystal clear waters house incredible creatures, both great and small. There are dive sites scattered all across the archipelago, where coral reefs and fantastic rock formations are the norm. With over 34,000 mi (54,000 km) of coastline, diving is sublime on any of the over 17,000 islands that make up this exceptional nation.

All about Indonesia

Spread across over 740,000 miles (1,919,000 km), Indonesia is one of the largest countries in the world. Of the thousands of islands that make up this volcanic archipelago, over 6,000 are uninhabited. The Indonesian people have been living off of the sea for eons. Evidence of prehistoric man that dates back more than a million years has been found on these isles.

Today, Indonesia is a melting pot of cultures, an independent nation since the late 1940’s. Though political troubles have occurred several times throughout the past several decades, the last few years have been a time of explosive economic growth and prosperity. Tourism rages strong, and scuba diving has certainly contributed to Indonesia’s success.

Best times to dive

Indonesia Tightrope Diver Photo by Eva Funderburgh

Beautiful year-round, there is never a bad time to go scuba diving in Indonesia. The dry season runs from April to October, and is generally considered the best time to dive. The visibility is clearer and the wildlife more active. During the wet season (November to March) the manta rays come to breed, making for some of the most exciting dives around.

Because Indonesia is spread across such a vast expanse, weather varies fantastically from locale to locale.

Conditions

Warm and humid, yet comfortable throughout the year, temperatures range from 25 -35°C on land. In the water, 26 -30°C is common, but currents can pull cold water between the islands, sometimes as chilly as 16°C. These cold currents can be particularly strong, making for incredible drift dives.

The visibility off the coast of Indonesia is unbelievable, casually reaching more than 160 ft (50 m).

Best dive sites

If you are a certified wreck diver (or are looking to attain your certification), check out some of the many WWII wreck dives scattered throughout the Indonesian waters. Outside the village of Tulamben in Bali is the majestic USS Liberty, a large WWII cargo ship that was sunk in 1942. Found in the shallows, this wreck is not to be missed.

Take a trip to the primordial island of Komodo, where strong currents bring rich water, ideal for the local wildlife. While drifting along you can see dolphins, manta rays, and a wide array of shark species.

With long, pristine beaches and healthy reefs, the Gili Islands are a sublime scuba destination. These jewels are often referred to as “the turtle capital of the world,” and two species of turtles lay their eggs here each year.

Marine life

Indonesia Purple Nudibranch Photo by Klaus Stiefel

The Great Barrier Reef has 1,500 different species of fish. Indonesia, on the other hand, boasts over 3,000, offering a diverse and exciting selection of dives; this is the most biodiverse aquatic region in the world. Marine life fluctuates throughout the year, yet there is always abundant wildlife to discover.

In addition to the millions of colorful fish that call Indonesia home, there are plenty of other creatures that are not to be missed on your dives. Small creatures like octopi, sea turtles, and eels congregate on the vibrant reefs, where healthy hard and soft corals grow to massive sizes. Manta Rays are common, here, and often travel in majestic groups. Whale sharks idle by the islands, enjoying the warm waters on their seemingly endless travels.

Off the coast of Bali you can dive with the odd Mola Mola, the heaviest bony fish on the globe, weighing up to 2,200 lbs (1,000 kg). Also known as the sunfish, the Mola Mola is bizarrely shaped, narrow and disc-like. Its fins are found on the top and bottom of its body, and it swims with a graceful yet awkward gait. They eat almost entirely jellyfish, which they consume in massive numbers.

Pertinent information

Language: Indonesian
Currency: Indonesian rupiah
Time Zone: GMT +7:00 - +9:00
Calling code: +62
Visa: Visa on arrival
Electricity: 220 V
Major airports: Jakarta International
Emergency number: 110

Other exciting activities

Indonesia Horseback Sunset Photo by Jimmy McIntyre

After stepping out of the water dry off and traverse this gorgeous country. Spend some time on the ancient island of Komodo, where you can see wild Komodo dragons sauntering among the trees. In Sumatra, extremely rare Sumatran Tigers wade through the shallows, all stripes and teeth, so don’t miss your chance to watch these big cats in action.

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