Ambon Diving

Ambon is an island offering world-class muck diving and the chance to see the endemic psychedelic frogfish. In dark, murky water, ideal for critter hunting, find a whole host of macro life unique to Ambon or take a day-trip to the south coast and delight in vibrant reefs, caverns and tropical fish.

Diving in Ambon

In Eastern Indonesia lies Ambon, an island in Maluku once famous for its role in the spice trade. Ambon today, has become world-renowned for having some of the best muck diving on the planet. Rival to the silty black-sand sites at Lembeh, the discovery of the psychedelic frogfish, found only in Ambon Bay, has set the two locations apart. Aside from the psychedelic frogfish, the rare Ambon scorpionfish and Halimeda ghost pipefish are also known to the area if you are keen-eyed enough to spot them!
Search for weird and wacky creatures from the north coast in Ambon Bay or take a break from critter hunting and head to the south coast to explore caves and reefs. Ambon diving is great for novice divers, where calm conditions mean easy dives, while aspiring underwater photographers can enrol in macro photography dive courses.
Scuba diving in Ambon is possible from a few dive resorts and dive centres yet, à lot of divers decide to delve into the waters via liveaboards. This way, they can enjoy diving the Ambon region along with the incredible Banda Islands, where current-swept sites, cetaceans, and an astounding abundance of fish await.

Best time to dive

Scuba diving in Ambon is possible all year round as the island - in particular, Ambon Bay where you’ll spend your time hunting for the ‘small stuff’ - is more sheltered than other areas of the Banda Sea and so the dive sites are usually calm despite the season. In the monsoon season in June, July, and August, some of the dive centres close, due to heavy rains perturbing dive tourists meaning liveaboards rarely visit during this time. 
Visibility seldom exceeds 20-metres at Ambon, where critters thrive in the murky conditions although during the dry season from April to October there is less rain and the likelihood of better visibility. Aside from the few months in the monsoon season, Ambon’s temperature is steady throughout and has an average temperature of 27°C.

Types of diving

In the past, Ambon’s residents used coral to rebuild roads and dredged the shallow bay to allow bigger ships to harbour, leading to the destruction of the fringing reef. In its wake is world class muck diving, where divers can hone their buoyancy skills and frog kicks trying not to stir up the sediment below in search of some of the world’s greatest underwater curiosities. Explore night and day at Rhino City, Mandarin City, Middle Point as well as many more critter-packed sites in Ambon Bay.
Along the south coast, Pintu Kota and Hukirila Cave allow for some respite from the usual Ambon diving. Here you can dive among beautiful reefs and caverns as a myriad of tropical reef fish flit around in your presence. Closer to the main harbour, there is also the wreck of the Duke of Sparta where divers can submerge themselves in the remnants of long lost worlds.

What to see

The eponymous Ambon scorpionfish is one of the rare creatures that can be found by divers here alongside the psychedelic frogfish, found only in Ambon Bay, and the Halimeda ghost pipefish. Aside from the psychedelic frogfish, the giant and painted frogfish lurk while flamboyant cuttlefish and the psychedelic batwing nudibranch add colour to the otherwise dull underwater landscape.
In the ‘Twilight Zone’ one of Ambon’s most renowned muck dive sites, the seabed - littered with rubbish and fish carcasses - provides the perfect refuge for weird critters. Despite not being somewhere everybody would choose to reside, rhinopias, unusual octopus species, crustaceans and nudibranch have all set up house. Among the legs of Ambon Island’s jetty, striped catfish, moray eels and the venomous stonefish feed on the spoils of local fishermen.

Best places to dive

Often called Ambon’s best macro dive site is Laha, situated in Ambon Bay’s murky depths. Divers can make their way along a sandy slope to find small orange painted frogfish perched on coral branches as shrimpfish and white cockatoo waspfish sway idly in the light water movement. Further into the dive, approach the jetty where 10 species of moray eel await in the company of stonefish, spiny devilfish and the spotted devilfish. As dusk approaches at this dive site, mandarinfish brighten the water performing their mating dance.
Directly west of Laha is Rhino City, known for the rare species of weedy rhinopia that can be found on the sandy slope. Inspect anemone for shimps and porcelain crabs while ribbon eels are known to burrow close by, flashing bright yellow bodies when they peer out. Rummage in the shallows for the very rare black razor shrimp, hairy crabs and orangutan crabs as jawfish burrow in the sand shying away as you come near.
In southern Ambon Bay, visit the small settlement of Silale and the areas two dive sites. On the rubble slope, there are many brilliantly coloured nudibranch as well as many varieties of frogfish from orange, black to grey. Wonderpus move from one crevice to the next and tiny seahorse cling to the remnants of trees lying on the sandy seafloor. Leaf fish are also known residents, in a wide variety of colours, while the black ornate ghost pipefish’s tiny body avoids detection from even the most eagle-eyed of divers.
After you’ve fulfilled your muck diving dreams, switch it up by diving the SS Duke of Sparta. The huge cargo ships sunk in 1958 and allows adventurous divers to enter the wreck into cargo compartments via fun swim-throughs. If you want to dive deep, the bow of the boat sits at over 40-metres where hard and soft corals now thrive. At Pintu Kota, which translates to ‘Gate of the City’, you can dive a series of underwater arches. With excellent visibility, divers can immerse themselves in the incredible range of reef fish in Ambon’s highly biodiverse waters.