Indonesia is clearly one of the best diving destinations in the world. The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the best regions to dive in Indonesia but also to the best dive sites by region. And believe us, this marvelous country of nearly 17500 islands scattered over nearly 5000 kilometers has many great surprises for divers of all levels.
Diving in Indonesia consist mostly in enjoying an exceptional underwater coral structure thanks to the fact that the country is part of what is called the Coral Triangle. This 6 million square meter space accounts for nearly 76% of the world’s coral species. But the fauna of Indonesia is also pretty special and interesting. You will be able to dive with Mola Mola, dugongs, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, reef sharks and many others.
Keep in mind that Indonesia usually has strong currents as the pacific and the indian ocean meets there. So if you would like to learn scuba diving in Indonesia, check your destination carefully.
PULAU WEH – SUMATRA
Located in northern Indonesia, this beautiful volcanic island is located at the tip of the large island of Sumatra and is the meeting point between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. Although tourism is becoming more established, Pulau Weh keeps a wild and untouched nature. You will not find here the same facilities as in Bunaken or other more visited islands but, if you are looking to dive a remote island destination in Indonesia, unspoiled and not very touristy, we recommend diving in Pulau Weh. Totally in contrast with Bali, her distant sister, Pulau Weh is a haven of peace. But get there quickly as, in about ten years, the landscape may change. In our opinion, this is by far the best place to dive in Sumatra.
This part of Sumatra has been declared a protected reserve and you should see many rare species underwater but also on land.
The best time to dive in Pulau Weh is during the dry season from April to November.
THE BEST PULAU WEH DIVE SITES
Beautiful Indonesian dive site filled with underwater life. In particular, there are huge Napoleon, gargantuan groupers and black tip sharks.
The wreck Sophie Rickmers.
For open water divers and experienced divers, this beautiful deep wreck dive is extraordinary. The magnificent ship, nearly 134 meters long, still rests at nearly 55 meters deep and goes up to 37 meters. The ship was sunk by the Dutch on May 10, 1940, to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Nazis. This diving wreck could have been one of the best diving wrecks in the world.
Here you will see schools of barracudas, big tunas and if you are lucky, devil rays.
SANGALAKI – DERAWAN – KALIMANTAN ORIENTAL
It is one of the best places in the world to dive with manta rays. Around this isolated reef of the east coast of Borneo, you can swim with manta rays, even at shallow depths. You can even dive with twenty rays at the same time because cleaning stations are numerous here. Note that visibility is often relatively poor during the rainy season from November to March.
BUNAKEN MARINE PARK – SULAWESI
Of all the destinations for scuba-diving in Indonesia, Bunaken Island is often cited as a favorite among divers from all around the world. This is not surprising, as the Bunaken Marine Park is full of marine life. The area is particularly known for its crystal-clear waters. There are beautiful corals as well as sea turtles, eagle rays, white and black tip sharks and saltwater crocodiles. Keep in mind that the area is particularly known for its macro life.
Although there are many diving centers around Bunaken, prices and quality of services vary greatly depending on the centers. Do not hesitate to contact us to obtain additional information and to book a serious center at the right price.
BEST BUNAKEN DIVING SITES
For the best dive sites in the Bunaken Islands, you should check Lekuan, Celah Celah and Fukui Point.
Our favorite, the Lekuan dive site is fully covered with colorful corals and visited by huge Napoleons, tuna and sea turtles.
A paradise for underwater photographers. An extraordinary underwater architecture with beautiful cracked drop-offs covered with colorful sponges.
This site is reserved for level 2 or experienced divers. The current is strong enough and you will see a lot of red-toothed triggerfish.
LEMBEH – SULAWESI
Located about a two-hour drive away and a short boat ride from Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi, is the beautiful island of Lembeh, particularly famous for its seabed. Many of the species in the region are endemic and only found here. This is the only place in the world where you can observe these species. Most dive sites are only a few minutes away by boat from the island. Lembeh is therefore naturally in the list of the best islands for diving in Indonesia.
Another special feature is that the seabed is often covered with dark black sand. We dive there all year around but the best time to observe marine life is around the months of July and August.
RAJA AMPAT – WESTERN PAPUA
For those who do not know Raja Ampat, this is probably one of the best places but also one of the best known are for diving in Indonesia. Raja Ampat, nicknamed “The Four Kings” is an archipelago of more than 1500 small islands including Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo. According to some marine biologists, Raja Ampat would still be the most biodiverse waters in the world with more than 1,500 species of fish and 550 types of corals, about 75% of all known species. Yes, it’s impressive. You will see different types of sharks, manta rays, dugongs, leatherback turtles, beautiful pygmy seahorses and a multitude of fish. Definitely one of the best diving destination in the world.
There is a reason why Raja Ampat is, in our opinion, one of the best dive sites in Indonesia. Diving at Raja Ampat means that you will be able to dive on a pinnacle one day, then dive a plane wreck of the second world war the next day while favoring a small cave diving in the morning. We do not even talk about the setting, out of the water which is, for us, one of the most beautiful in the world of scuba diving. A must.
BAY OF AMBON – MALUKU
Ambon Bay is becoming one of the top scuba diving destinations for underwater photography. Blue-ring octopus, wonderpus, flaming cuttlefish, rhinopias and mandarin fish.
WAKATOBI – SULAWESI
Diving in Wakatobi is definitely for nature lovers. The island is isolated in the heart of the Tukangbesi Archipelago, off the southern tip of Sulawesi. Wakatobi is actually a group of islands such as Wangi-Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko. These islands are a underwater national park. The currents are relatively weak and Wakatobi is perfect for scuba diving.
You will need to take a small plane to explore these beautiful reefs. But Wakatobi is not for small budget and represents one of the best destinations for luxury diving. It is also a particularly exclusive destination because you will find on the island only one luxury resort specialized in scuba diving. The hotel is wonderful. To be honest, if Wakatobi was easier to access, it would certainly be one of the most famous island in Indonesia. If you have the means, do not hesitate and go dive in Wakatobi.
There are nearly forty diving sites, usually not really explored. The island is perfect for underwater photographers with some of the most vibrant reefs and one of the richest biodiversity on the planet.
The Wakatobi Islands are home to 25 coral reefs and 900 marine species, and are known for their moray eels, dolphins, manta rays and sea turtles.
BEST WAKATOBI DIVING SITES
Obviously, each island offers a slightly different experience, but the best Wakatobi dive spot is undoubtedly the House Reef. This dive site is known as one of the best in the world, especially for night diving. We also practice so-called fluorescent diving, to be tested.
This is one of the best places for a liveaboard in Indonesia. Indeed, the island of Alor is not on the main tourist routes and is relatively difficult to access. Thanks to its isolation, underwater life is particularly rich and there are a multitude of species such as hammerhead sharks or pilot whales and dolphins.
The current can be strong so some experience is required, but there are sheltered places. Diving in Alor is not just for experienced divers, but you will enjoy much more if you have a Level 2 or PADI Advanced open water.
In addition, because of the volcanic nature of the island, the seabed is often covered with black sand. The dive sites of Alor are superb and all quite different. We dive there all year around but the best time to dive in Alor is from September to November, when the currents are the strongest and the pelagics more numerous.
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK – FLORES
Komodo National Park, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, is best known for its famous Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard and endemic resident of the island, but the marine diversity is also spectacular and deserves a nice diving trip at Komodo.
The park includes the islands of Padar and Rinca, as well as 26 small islands, and offers the opportunity to explore different marine environments such as pinnacles, impressive drop offs and beautiful drift dives. But, as often in Indonesia, while diving in Komodo, the currents can be relatively powerful and it is better to be advanced open water diver or more.
The northern areas of the park, filled with large, colorful corals and reef sharks, are generally warmer and lighter than the southern areas of Komodo Park. When diving south of Komodo Park, where cold runways cause nutrients to surface, you will experience a lower visibility but attracts manta rays.
BEST KOMODO DIVE SITES
Komodo Island offers many dive sites. The best diving spots of Komodo are often considered to be Batu Bolong, Tatawa Kecil, Manta Point and Batu Tiga
Bali is the most touristic island of Indonesia. But it must be said, diving in Bali is still beautiful. There is a kind of synthesis of all the dives of Indonesia with large drop offs, volcanic seabed with black sands, wrecks of the Second World War and magnificent seagrass meadows.
Bali diving is particularly suitable for beginner or open water divers. Indeed, the currents are generally much lower than anywhere else in Indonesia. From our point of view, this is the perfect place to learn scuba diving in Indonesia or pass an open water in indonesia. Experienced divers will certainly prefer to extend their trip to other islands. Besides, be aware that Bali has some of the most beautiful macro diving sites in the world. The island is therefore particularly suitable for underwater photography.
BEST BALI DIVING SITES
The best dive spots of Bali
are often considered to be Malibu Point, Manta Point, Crystal Bay and Gili Biaha. In Manta Point you will see many mantas rays. Crystal Bay is known for its amazing visibility. Malibu Point is a great dive site for watching large pelagics for relatively new divers and Gili Biaha is its equivalent for experienced divers. For wreck lovers, do not miss the USS Liberty in Tulamben.
NUSA PENIDA, LEMBONGAN AND CENINGAN – BALI
Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are three islands located about 30 minutes by boat southeast of Bali. The largest island of the three is called Nusa Penida and is particularly well-known for diving with Mola Mola around the Crystal Bay dive site as well as for washing stations on the south of the island that attracts many rays.
Although in general, dives are not excessively difficult, the islands have strong currents. Aside from manta rays and occasional visits from other large pelagics, there is a lot of macro for underwater photographers.
LOMBOK AND THE GILI – BALI ISLANDS
Although right next to the famous island of Bali, the island of Lombok is still relatively untouched, and its dive sites are amazingly well preserved. With many coral reefs and magnificent pinnacles, this is the ideal place for a diving trip to Indonesia if you want to enjoy a short trip whose destination is easy to access and relatively wild. The island is also suitable for both experienced divers and new divers. You will also be able to dive with hammerhead sharks. If you go diving in the Gili Islands, you should know that those islands are a little more touristy but stunning and could by themselves, be presented as one of the best destinations to dive in Indonesia.
BEST LOMBOK DIVING SITES
Some of the best dive sites in Lombok are Belongas Bay and Gili Islands. Belongas Bay has amazing diving spots and an abundance of macro life as well as hammerhead sharks. Diving in the Gili Islands is known for its turtles.
BANGKA AND BELITUNG ISLANDS
The Bangka and Belitung Islands are among Indonesia’s wildest and best-preserved diving destinations. With thick carpets of colorful corals, vertiginous drop offs and large pinnacles, the diving is picturesque and varied. With relatively calm and shallow waters and 25-30 dive sites, the area is ideal for beginners and open water divers, but will also delight experienced divers. It is definitely one of the best place to learn scuba diving in Indonesia if you are looking for a remote island.
Diving on the Banka and Belitung Islands makes for particularly pleasant drifting. Some consider it to be the best dive region in Indonesia for drift diving.
BEST DIVING SITES IN BANGKA AND BELITUNG ISLANDS
This dive site is actually a huge channel that separates the two large granite islands. This is a one of the great drift dives of indonesia.
Wreck dive, a bit more difficult and exclusively for experienced divers, the Lighthouse wreck is also located in the huge canal between the two islands.
The Togian Islands is a bit like the Raja Ampat of thirty years ago. This is a group of islands still largely unexploited on which you will feel like an adventurer discovering a small tropical paradise. The waters are filled with wrecks of great bombers planes of the Second World War.
The islands are as intact on land as underwater. This place is a real discovery, so if you are looking for solitude and tranquility, this is probably the best place to dive in Indonesia.
BEST DIVING SITES IN TOGIAN ISLANDS
The dive site is perfect for divers who enjoy exploring small caves and underwater cavities. Armed with a torch, you will be exploring surrounded by hundreds of fish and reef sharks.
The dive spot is perfect for snorkeling but also great for shallow dives. Here you will find a lot of crabs, shrimps and huge parrot fish.
The spot offers a great wreck dive on a beautiful bomber wreck.
This Togian dive site is an example of the volcanic seabed found on some diving spots in Indonesia. You’ll find there this characteristic and impressive black sand of Indonesia.
This little-known island is full of healthy coral reefs, gorgonians, sponges and reef fauna. A bit like the Togian Islands, you will feel in Banda like these early explorers discovering a pristine and untouched island for the first time. Honestly, this island is a paradise and one of Indonesia’s best kept secrets.
Obviously, as for the island Togian, you will have to travel a few days to reach this paradise but believe us, it’s worth it. Although the currents are calm on most sites, others have particularly strong currents and we recommend you to get there with an advanced certification or to pass your advanced open water level there in order to to take full advantage of the Banda diving sites.
BEST BANDA DIVING SITES
Original and amazing diving site. It is actually a small volcanic island whose lava flows have destroyed coral outcrops. Today we observe the reborning flora. This is a must dive if you go diving in Banda.
The site is on the underwater protected part of the island. There are therefore beautiful corals and a great diversity of underwater fauna. There is also a very high concentration of large groupers.