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  1. #1
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    Indonesia - August - a review

    Since I've been spamming the board lately asking for info about anywhere and everywhere, I thought I'd do a mini round up of stuff I found in Indonesia over several visits (all August as school hols) - I've put the year I visited each place as things may well have changed since

    Bali - The north

    The Liberty wreck (2014) in the north is a lovely wreck dive - sunrise dives were offered where I saw school bumphead parrotfish, turtles & plenty of macro

    Tulamben area (2014)- I'd never seen so much macro (and haven't since) - pygmy seahorses, harlequin shrimp, nudibranch everywhere, baby stuff (cuttlefish/angelfish/lionfish), ghost pipefish, tiny frogfish

    All north dives done with a hotel dive school

    South East

    Nusa Lembongan

    (2015 & 2017) - stayed in Sanur, dived Lembongan - this was an error (as I found out on a later visit). Dive boats tend to leave Sanur and head to two main sights - Crystal Rock (in search of mola mola) and Manta Point (in search of mantas)
    I've always seen mantas on every visit to Manta Point - the vis is ropey (as expected) and conditions can be very surgey and it's a very busy divesite with day boats etc. Crystal Rock I've never seen mola mola - what I have witnessed was a complete disregard for safety (his own and ours) in pursuit of a fish. Our guide told us to wait quite a way off the main rock at 40 m (we're both deep certified) whilst he swam down deeper (and out of sight) to try and locate a mola. At that point, my buddy had less then 20 dives and was very anxious about our guide disappearing without us.

    (2017) - Stayed on Nusa Lembongan itself - LOVE this island, complete island vibe, quiet, clean, walks along the beach to mangrove areas (I'm slightly obsessed with kingfishers and saw them everywhere)
    The day to day dives are nice - turtles/octopus/reef fish. We had one mad current dive and that was at a site called Mangrove - not a commonly dived site - the current was ripping to the point our guides dive computer came off and was lost somewhere on the divesite. Didn't enjoy that one at all.
    Mola Mola - after a lot of dives at Crystal, during our stay on Nusa Lembongan we requested not to visit Crystal dive site at all - it's a fairly boring site without the mola (especially if the guide insists on sitting out in the blue and just waiting). Instead we plumped for a sunrise dive at Blue Corner divesite - staying on the island meant we could be in the water by 6:30 am - something I didn't see offered from the mainland - we were treated to two mola mola , one literally within a couple of metres of us, the other at depth but still visible - this was an awesome dive, we were completely made up, though we did find out afterwards that during the week that followed 10+ molas were on each sunrise dive, I was very happy with my two though

    Gili Islands (2015 & 2017)
    Pretty much all the same diving from all the islands as they're in very close proximity, island vibes are different though - Gili T is busy, loud and partylike, Gili Air is quieter with a more relaxed vibe. I've not yet visited Meno but believe it to be the quietest of the three islands.

    The diving is really nice - currenty in places (and sometimes stronger currents than Komodo), but plenty to see - literally turtle heaven (seeing 8+ turtles on a dive is normal). I noticed a big drop in shark spotting between 2015 and 2017 (I don't know if that decline has continued). We went here prior to a trip to Komodo (my other half had 20 ish dives and very little current experience before this trip so was a very good warm up for our Komodo liveaboard


    Komodo (2014, 2015, 2017 twice)

    I adore the diving here and would always recommend a liveaboard to get to those further out sites (and to not be tied to a busy divesite - as liveaboards have the flexibility to rejig timetables to avoid a site if its crazy busy.

    The currents - everyone thinks of Komodo as ripping currents and strong drift dives - I've now been 4 times and have to say it all depends on the moon phase - in 2016 we were there 8 - 11 August (for anyone wanting to look up moon phase) and comparably the currents were very gentle, some sites had none at all - to the point a famous drift dive (Tatawa Basar) had no drift at all - meaning it could be explored more thoroughly (it's a favourite of mine so I was more than happy with this)

    Favourite Komodo divesites for us:
    Tatawa Basar - beautiful - coral, fish, colour, vibrancy - just stunning
    Batu Balong - Pinnacle - can go deep for sharks, turtles, coral, colour, macro
    The Cauldron/Shotgun - mantas/sharks/rays/turtles - but the 'highlight' of this dive is the shotgun - an area of the site with strong current and you just fly through, the shotgun itself is only 9m deep so not too scary- again, current strength varies.
    Crystal Rock - really good dive, strong current and quite deep (30m) - but it's all about 'sitting down' in the current and watching the show - sharks everywhere (big grey reef, loads of white tip)

    A word a warning though, get appropriate insurance, including repatriation, it is remote. I was witness to the aftermath of a dive accident, which proved fatal, which has made me VERY aware of not skimping on insurance - she didn't have the correct insurance and repatriation was a huge issue for an already devastated family.

  2. #2
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    Completely forgot - also been to Raja Ampat - out of season for August however had a great time - mantas and reef stuff. I didn't go to many places in Raja Ampat as was volunteering for Barefoot Conservation who monitor the area around Arborek island - brilliant experience and nice diving

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    Cheeky Monkey... Paul Evans's Avatar
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    Bunaken and Lembeh?

    Will do report and pics when I get back 😉
    “Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
    Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

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    Not short, just concentrated awesome ;) smileydiver's Avatar
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    Thanks for this, a great summary! I am off to Komodo and Lembongan next year, really looking forward to it!
    The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever - Jacques Cousteau

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    For me, Indonesia is almost "my backyard" certainly it takes less time to get to Komodo from here than the Red sea:


    We like currents, we dive them all the time so take that into account.


    Tulamben area of Bali - for me isn't' great. Liberty is over rated and the dives aren't that great unless you like macro. Shore entries over the rocky beach plus the long drive to get there from the airport mean I'm not a fan, even though I have a friend with a dive centre there

    Nusa Lembongan is fab, I much prefer it to anything else on Bali, as mentioned above, its nice and chilled and you can walk to most places. The diving generally is drifts which can get tedious. Crystal bay does have a rep but mainly because lots of people don't like current. Mola's come out to play when the currents change and water temps drop. I've yet to see a Mola in strong current they're happy to chill out over cleaning stations when it's not blowing. Blue Corner is a frequent place for Mola's early morning.

    Komodo isn't as scary as it's rep - Best dived from a Liveaboard. Unfortunately it's become so popular and accessible, teh experience of divers can be low. Thus the boats cater to the lowest denominator for the site choices and times. Some of teh better sites do need current. We go with a boutique outfit with only 5 guests on a boat and hit the best sites at the best times. New ish) moon is best for Manta's

    Some of the sites like Manta alley can be a fair with day boas dropping in all over the place as well as snorkelers thrashing around on the surface.

    Further afield Raja Ampat can be stunning especially down south with the Oceanic Manta's. There is a shore based dive resort there (Misool Eco Resort) and it's great, but costs an arm and a leg - fab diving though - but it can be demanding on New or full moon. Liveaboard sdo operate and go to the same sites, although those in Missol are controlled by the island and they get first dibs


    I highly recommend that people get some experience in currents - just so they know how to handle them if it goes a bit pear shaped during a dive. A muck stick can be an asset for gaining stability on a rock and of course "reef hook" correctly placed and used if you want to hang about watch the bigger stuff play

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    Quote Originally Posted by smileydiver View Post
    Thanks for this, a great summary! I am off to Komodo and Lembongan next year, really looking forward to it!
    You will have a great time if you have never been, I enjoyed both places.

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    Can you remember where you stayed in Lembongan and who did you dive with please? It has been some years since I was there and can't remember much about it apart from how quiet it was. However, I am looking to go back with a friend. How was the diving in Gilli please? Any big stuff? Did you prefer gilli or Tulamben for diving? Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by greatwhite View Post
    Can you remember where you stayed in Lembongan and who did you dive with please? It has been some years since I was there and can't remember much about it apart from how quiet it was. However, I am looking to go back with a friend. How was the diving in Gilli please? Any big stuff? Did you prefer gilli or Tulamben for diving? Thanks
    I dived with Blue Corner on Lembongan - thoroughly enjoyed, enhanced by 2 mola mola encounters Also stayed at Blue Corner.

    Gilis - all the islands go to the same divesites so choosing which island you stay on is more to do with personal preference of accomodation/island life. Gili T - loud/party island, Gili Air - more chilled out, but still lots of bars/restaurants, Gili Meno (the only one I've not visited) I believe is more honeymoony. From memory (last visited 2017) turtles were a highlight - seeing 7 or 8 on a dive was normal, white tip sharks were about, nice macro but not as macro'ee as Tulumben.

    Tulumben for me was ALL macro - nudis, harlequin shrimps etc - I personally loved it, but Gilis had the edge as I liked their variety of marinelife a bit more


 

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