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Indonesia Liveaboard Diving

Dive in the Heart of the Coral Triangle

Located at the epicentre of world marine biodiversity, there are no places that can compete with the underwater riches of Indonesia. It is such a huge country, consisting of over 13,500 islands, that liveaboards are the natural choice if you're lucky enough to dive here.

Twin magnificent sea slug on sea squirt - Komodo Island, Indonesia - photo courtesy of Komodo Dancer
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There are over 3,000 species of fish in Indonesia (with new discoveries being made all the time) and some 600 species of coral, vertical walls, deep water trenches, submerged volcanoes, World War II wrecks, and a seemingly endless variety of macro sealife.

An Indonesian liveaboard cruise allows you the freedom to explore further in the vast archipelago, to dream diving destinations such as Komodo, where the tours include land visits to see the famed dragons. The Banda Islands in the Banda Sea has incredible-sized schools of fish and a rich historical background. If pioneer diving is your goal then look no further than West Papau, with it glorious Raja Ampat region, Triton Bay and Cenderawasih. .

With all these superb liveaboard dive destinations it is little wonder Indonesia ranks at the top of the charts for unforgettable, world-class diving safari adventures.

Banda Islands

The Banda Sea is located in the central region of Indonesia and was once known for its lucrative spice trade where foreigners came from all over the world to trade in that most valuable of commodities, nutmeg. Nowadays the region is attracting overseas visitors for very different reasons. The waters of Banda and Ambon promise riches beyond the wildest dreams of many 'big name' dive destinations worldwide.

Limited human impact has left the reefs in great health, and the rich waters that they lie in are home to an unbelievable array of life. There are the small and beautiful macro creatures that are more often seen around Ambon, such as the scorpionfish which carries its name. Divers will see big numbers of pelagic fish, most notably impressive numbers of Napoleon wrasse, dog-toothed tuna and squadrons of mobula rays at sites throughout the Banda Islands area. And the schools of fish in the Banda Sea need to be seen to be believed.

On a Banda liveaboard, you can expect to visit one excellent dive spot after another, with some of the best being Gunung Api, Nusa Laut, Batu Kapal and Pulau Ai. For more detailed information, visit our Banda Sea diving website section.

Visit our Indonesia liveaboards section to explore your options for: Banda diving cruises.

Komodo

The Komodo National Park is home to some of Indonesia's finest and most popular dive sites. You can choose between trips that run to and from Bali, or cruises that concentrate only on the sites within the park.

Trips to the Komodo National Park include GPS Point, a submerged pinnacle bedecked in soft coral where dog-tooth tuna, schools of barracuda and a variety of sharks patrol the area in search of food. Cannibal Rock must be one of the most colourful dive sites in the world where vibrant anemones, sea apples and purple gorgonian fans make beautiful photographic subjects. Pillarsteen provides a break from the colour and vast fish life of the park, by being a site where a series of caves, chimneys and rocky outcrops provide breathtaking swim-throughs.

Some of the other dive sites you will visit on a Komodo liveaboard are Red Beach, Yellow Wall of Texas, Tatawa Island and Gili Lawa where you nearly always find manta rays feeding in the strong currents. For more detailed information, visit our Komodo diving website section.

Visit our Indonesia diving safaris here to explore your options for: Komodo liveaboards.

West Papua

Raja Ampat

Harlequin shrimp can be found on Indonesia liveaboard safaris - photo courtesy of Silent Symphony

Recent studies have shown that the marine diversity in Indonesia's West Papua Province is considerably greater than all other areas sampled in the Coral Triangle (made up of Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea), which simply means it is the best of the best. Among the best experiences you can have whilst diving in Raja Ampat are encounters with indigenous wobbegongs, the incredible topside beauty of Waigeo and the mushroom islands and lagoons of Misool, and the sheer joy of simply drifting over some of the most pristine and colourful coral scenes on Earth.

Raja Ampat liveaboard cruises include dives at Fabiacet; a dive site that proves that you can believe the hype, with more fish life than you thought possible. Here are great hammerheads, green turtles, schools of fusiliers and pale-lipped surgeonfish, red-toothed triggerfish and bannerfish, to name but a few.

Farondi Island offers tunnels, caverns and walls festooned with fascinating marine life. There is plenty of action in the blue, but the highlights are to be found in and around the reef, such as ornate ghost pipefish and pygmy seahorses (up to 40 on 1 fan!). Manta Ridge at Mansuar Island is one of many dives sites where manta rays can be seen, but it stands alone in terms of numbers. Up to 30 different mantas can be seen here making it surely one of the best manta dives in the world.

Other dive sites you may visit include Jef Fam, Sardines and Sel Pele Bay. For more detailed information, visit our Raja Ampat diving website section.

Visit our Indonesia diving cruises section to explore your options for: Raja Ampat liveaboards.

Cenderawasih Bay

Whale shark lovers view Cenderawasih as more or less the pinnacle when it comes to quality encounters with their favourite marine creature. It is quite likely, as you hang a few metres below the surface and local fishing platforms, that several whale sharks will be all around you. Newborns, juveniles and fully grown adults all gather around to feed on the small fish that scatter around the platforms. They also seemingly enjoy the massaging effect of scuba bubbles as they scoop up their free breakfasts, swimming around and about the awestruck human beings.

When not playing with the biggest fish in the sea, you can also explore a number of interesting World War II wrecks. The area was a hotbed of fighting, and a large number of planes and boats from both the Japanese and Allied sides slipped to their watery grave in the greater West Papua area. Several wrecks can be dived near Manokwari in Cenderawasih Bay. There are also muck diving sites which are earning high praise from experienced critter hunters for their diverse and plentiful macro-life. For more detailed information, visit our Cenderawasih Bay diving website section.

Explore your options for: Cenderawasih liveaboards.

Triton Bay

Triton Bay is a region of West Papua which lies south-east of Raja Ampat but is becoming known as a destination in its own right. While it shares some of Raja Ampat's best features such as exceptional soft coral growth, it also has some unique features, not least the vast forest-like swathes of black coral. Many new species have been identified in Triton Bay and the diving allows you to satisfy your need for larger creatures, even as large as pilot whales. For macro lovers, there are also plenty of sites where weird and wonderful critters abound.

The topside scenery is also worthy of mention, with sheer cliffs and lush green hillsides all along the coastlines. Small fishing villages dot the coastline with friendly locals who can point to ancient cave paintings by their ancestors as their ties to this remote and beautiful land.

Most of the liveaboard trips that visit Triton Bay also dive other areas on the itinerary; most frequently these are the Banda Sea and Raja Ampat. For more detailed information, visit our Triton Bay diving website section.

Explore your options for: Triton Bay liveaboards.

Diving Season

The season for Indonesian diving safaris runs all year round but conditions vary from place to place. However, for these destinations, there are at least some scheduled trips for most of the year.

Liveaboards in Komodo run for the entire year because every month promises terrific diving. November to March is rainy season so many consider the best months for a visit to be from April to November. January to March can see rougher surface conditions in the north, whereas July and August can bring rough seas to the southern sites. The weather rarely interferes with trips as the south and north have different sea conditions and so there are always dive sites available.

The best visibility in Komodo (~30m) is from November to January. July and August see lower visibility and cooler water tempertures but the extra nutrients at this time bring marine life in bloom. Normally the sea is warmer and clearer in the north (average 25 to 28°C) and cooler in the south (average 20 to 25°C), but sometimes this changes.

Mantas are seen all year round in Komodo but the most reliable time is December to February. Mola Mola (sunfish) are most frequently encountered in August.

The West Papua Province has some liveaboard boats operating all year but many Raja Ampat and Triton Bay diving operators restrict their safaris to October-April as there is less chance of rain and choppy seas then. Outside of these times, the Indonesian liveaboards often move onto Komodo and Banda, or over to the north coast of Papua into Cenderawasih Bay for the whale shark season.

Water temperatures in Raja Ampat are warm all year round, ranging from 30°C in November to April, to 27°C from May to October. October to April is peak manta ray season as they come in great numbers to feed on the plankton blooms.

Liveaboard cruises in the Banda Islands and Banda Sea are usually scheduled for the calmer weather periods in March, April, and from the September to December, in order to avoid rough seas. Water temperatures are pretty consistent at these times (26-29°C). Visibility will be at its best (15-30m) in the September-December window.

Reef Summary

Great for: Small animals, underwater photography, wall dives, drift dives, reef life and health and advanced divers
Not so great for: Beginner divers
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 10 - 60m
Currents: Can be very strong
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 19 - 30°C
Experience level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: >500
Recommended length of stay: 2 - 4 weeks

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