With spectacular Coral Triangle biodiversity and diverse diving, Indonesia has something for every diver. From thrilling current dives to easy reefs, you’ll be immersed in a world of mantas, whale sharks and vibrant macro critters.
Bali Province offers world-class macro diving and thrilling pelagic encounters, this is truly a diver’s paradise. Witness huge groups of feeding manta rays, hammerhead sharks and if you're lucky, the elusive mola mola. Or just relax diving one of Bali’s flourishing soft coral reefs full of marine life.
Consisting of more than 500 islands, East Nusa Tenggara offers an incredible array of Indonesia’s best dive areas and sites, including Komodo National Park. Whether you prefer fast-paced current dives and negative entries on seamounts or easy coral reefs, you can discover endless macro life and marine megafauna you’ll never forget.
The Riau archipelago, with 1769 islands, has some of the most remote and best-preserved reefs in the South China Sea. Learn to dive in the calm waters surrounding Bintan Island, spot whale sharks at the Anambas Islands or head into the less discovered areas to experience dive sites unexplored by most of the scuba diving community.
Sulawesi is a paradise for scuba divers, offering diverse marine life of all sizes and access to some of Indonesia’s best-loved dive areas. From Bunaken’s world-class wall dives and Wakatobi’s astonishing coral reefs, to Lembeh ‘the muck diving capital of the world’, there’s something for every diver to enjoy.
From diving the famously laid back ‘turtle capital of the world’ in the Gili Islands to encounters with both scalloped and great hammerhead sharks, West Nusa Tenggara is buzzing with special marine life encounters. Dive here to experience abundant tiny critters, graceful manta rays, Mola mola, whale sharks and more.
West Papua, is home to the famous Raja Ampat, which divers all over the world are keen to visit. With over 1,300 fish, 600 coral and 57 species of mantis shrimp, it’s not hard to see why. In this remote haven, dive with manta rays, whale shark and sea turtle among striking pinnacles, walls, and swim-throughs all with pristine reefs.
Diving in Indonesia
Diving in Indonesia is best described as some of the richest in the world. The waters are teeming with life and there is such a variety it is hard not to find what you love in this country. The waters conditions are also for the most part crystal clear and wonderfully warm. The weather conditions are such that diving in many areas is possible year-round. This offers divers the chance to enjoy all the wonder of the underwater world in Indonesia with fantastic visibility and easy diving conditions. With all this available and calm conditions, Indonesia is the perfect place to learn to dive, the number of dive centers and resorts makes it easy to find the perfect course from beginner to advanced. From the bustling shores of Bali where you will find a dive resort on every corner, to the more remote areas of Raja Ampat, Komodo and West Papua, there is so much underwater beauty in Indonesia.
The range of dive types meant there is something to pique everyone’s interest. If your passion is diving with mantas and huge whalesharks then Raja Ampat, Komodo and West Papua are for you. These areas are available somewhat by boat from dive resorts on the islands or in full by a multi-day diving liveaboard. Those more interested in the macro will find Indonesia has plenty to offer them as well, Lembeh on the coast of Sulawesi is home to some of the best macro diving in the world. One of the greatest features of Indonesian diving is the vast choice on offer, not only in what type of diving you want to do but also in the boat, liveaboard and budget you have. There is something on offer to suit every diver in Indonesia.
Best time to dive
Indonesia is so vast and has such a diverse range of seasonal weather that there is always somewhere to enjoy underwater. Some areas such as West Papua and Raja Ampat have their best conditions from early October to the end of April, although it is possible to dive at other times when the area will be quieter. Komodo is available all year as well although if you are hoping to see molas then August is the best time and the winter months are best for manta encounters.
Critter aficionados will find that Lembeh’s high season is July and August when the most activity is taking place although the entire year the area is still beautiful underwater. The conditions on the surface, however, are at their least predictable during the winter months. The same conditions can be found in the Banda Sea which is normally at its best, with the most settled weather, around March to April and later on from the start of September to December.
Types of diving
Due to the geographical diversity of Indonesia the range of dives available is enormous. Shore diving is very popular in Bali and from the island resorts in Gili, Raja Ampat and Komodo. Although much of the diving is still by boat, there are many beautiful house reefs and even some shipwrecks in Bali that can be reached from the shore. These make for some very impressive spots to learn to dive with a huge range of general and specialist dive courses at very competitive prices. Day boat-trips for dive centers can take divers to a huge array of sites especially in areas such as Lembeh, where the concentration of world-class dive spots is very high.
Muck diving for the perfect macro shot is the name of the game in Lembeh where divers often spend weeks searching in some of the most biodiverse waters in existence. Those who are seeking more far-flung sites will find a range of diving liveaboards to suit every budget and personal style. There are both the traditional motorised diving liveaboards as well as traditional Indonesian phinisi, stunning wooden sailboats. Divers will find on any given trip, walls, drift diving with mantas and other pelagics, wreck and reefs.
What to see
Indonesia is fortunately situated for marine life, much of the archipelago sits in the coral triangle, the heart of the world’s marine biodiversity. From huge stretching coral reefs home to numerous different shark species to swift drift dives with huge pelagics such as mantas, mola mola and whalesharks, Indonesia has so much to offer divers. In certain areas, divers can also meet dolphins, turtles and the mighty herbivorous dugongs.
Mantas are particularly associated with Indonesian diving with large numbers passing through areas such as Komodo and the same for whalesharks throughout but most predominantly within the West Papua province. The array of macro life is just mind-boggling with enough reef fish, nudibranchs and crustaceans to fill volumes of books.
Best places to dive
Komodo National Park, Flores
The islands of Komodo National Park are some of the most famous dive spots in the world. Hardly surprising considering that the area is a veritable highway of manta rays. Divers also have the chance to see whalesharks, turtles and seemingly endless coral reefs. It is worth noting that the concentration of mantas is due in part to strong currents that run through this area making a large number of the dives, drift dives. The area is fortunate to have a wealth of different liveaboards, dive centers and dive resorts, everything from the lap of luxury to budget backpacker cottages.
Raja Ampat, West Papua
The four kings archipelago is known to have some of the highest biodiversity in the world with over six hundred different types of coral and over a thousand fish species. As with Komodo, much of the diving is drift and done by boat from a local dive resort or by diving liveaboard for the more remote sites. These strong currents bring with them the big life, mantas, sharks and huge fish shoals if you can tear your eyes away from the expansive colourful coral gardens and macro life.
The Lembeh Strait and its famous critters draw macro enthusiasts and underwater photographers from around the world. Those who are hoping to do any photography training will find that most of the dive centers and resorts here offer excellent photography and diving courses. The conditions here are excellent for those learning to dive with low current and shallow dives available. Lembeh has the option of not only excellent diving liveaboards but also a shore lined with excellent dive resorts.
The Banda Islands, Maluku
Diving in Indonesia is well-loved by so many divers and its shores lined with so many beautiful island dive resorts that off the beaten track can be a little surprising. Especially as the Banda Islands sit in the very heart of Indonesia. With their steep pinnacles and huge rushes of pelagics the Banda Islands have it all, big and small. Shoals of rays and sharks meet with the chance to photograph mandarin fish and other beautiful macro subjects. The area enjoys the option of dive centers and resorts and a number of different diving liveaboards.
Cenderawasih Bay, West Papua
A concentration of marine life like no other can be found thanks to a unique relationship between the marine animals and the fishermen of Cenderawasih Bay. The ritual gifting of their catch to local whalesharks, turtles and dolphins has led the Cenderawasih Bay fishing platforms to be one of the most impressive dives in the world. It is not unusual to see groups of four of five whalesharks in one dive. Add to the host of wrecks around the bay and the chance to see grazing dugongs close to the mangrove forest Cenderawasih is the stuff diver’s dreams are made of. The bay is in the West Papua region of Indonesia and as such is only accessible by diving liveaboard.
Likely one of the most famous wreck sites in the world, Tulamben is home to the remains of the USS Liberty shipwreck. The site is perfect for beginner and advanced divers as it is accessible from the shore, starting only 30 meters out from the beach. The wreck is full of marine life and the wall at the end of the beach is home to huge gorgonians and deeper waters for more advanced divers.