Top 10 Locations to Go Diving and Snorkeling in East Indonesia
Considered one of nature’s finest wonders, the East Indonesian Archipelago is home to the world’s most biodiverse waters. It’s paradise for divers and snorkelers alike, with a possibility to spot up to a quarter of all known species of fish. While sailing on our Indonesia cruises, guests can embark on guided underwater excursions and discover the incredible sights that this region has to offer.
From the drift dives of Komodo to the sensational reefs of the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat, here’s a look at the top ten snorkeling and diving hotspots in East Indonesia.
Snorkeling and Diving in Komodo National Park
Located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in the middle of the Nusa Tenggara archipelago, Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a sizable Marine Protected Area (MPA).
Accessible from the city of Labuan Bajo or island paradise of Bali, Komodo National Park comprises 29 islands including Rinca, Padar and Komodo. It is home to more than 1,000 species of tropical fish and 260 species of reef-building coral, making it one of the best places for diving and snorkeling within the Coral Triangle.
This narrow channel is where water from the Indian Ocean meets the Flores Sea, resulting in nutrient-rich currents frequented by marine life. Dotted with islands, the Linta Strait is famous for drift snorkeling and diving. On the west side of the strait, the Karang Makassar reef complex provides a great opportunity to observe manta rays, as well as pelagic fish, giant trevallies, and big schools of barracuda.
If the time of the month is right, Saleh Bay can be the perfect place for whale shark encounters. Here, the Sumbawa government has discovered a group of semi-permanent whale sharks who feed from local fishermen nets. This is one of the rare locations where you will be able to swim with these gentle giants of the sea.
Located in the northern part of Komodo National Park, Batu Bolong has been proclaimed one of the best diving sites in the world. The island is made up of an underwater conical reef that offers sweeping views of the marine habitat. Given the strong currents, there’s a thriving ecosystem here, untouched by fishermen. You can find populations of big fish here including barracuda, giant trevallies, tuna, and whitetip reef sharks. There are even possibilities to see manta rays and hawksbill turtles.
Snorkeling and Diving in Spice Islands
The Spice Islands are home to one of the most colorful and diverse displays of coral and marine life in the East Indonesian Archipelago. As part of the Molucca region, they form part of the transition zone between Asian and Oceanic fauna and flora – giving rise to some of the world’s most unique underwater habitats.
Renowned for both muck diving and clear water diving, Spice Islands offers the opportunity to observe underwater life alongside deep coral walls, sea mounts, and incredible stalactite caves. If you’re lucky, you might even spot spinner dolphins, orcas, and various other whale species during your expedition.
A volcanic island rising three kilometers from the seabed, Pulau Manuk is a haven for fish-hunting birds. It hosts the largest population of sea snakes in the world, which are drawn to the area’s underwater thermal springs. Marine life here is impressive, with reef sharks often making an appearance.
To the east of Ambon, the island of Nusa Laut boasts a rich history and features stunning hard coral seascapes that are perfect for both divers and snorkelers. Nusa Laut is famous for its dugong population – also known as the Asian manatee – which is the source of local mermaid legends.
Snorkeling off the white sand beach of Molana Island is a serene experience, with a smooth gradation and a wealth of treasure to discover on the seabed. Frequent sightings of hammerhead sharks are reported here, and offshore wall and reef dives have wonderful visibility approaching 30 meters (100 feet).
Snorkeling and Diving in Raja Ampat
Located at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the Raja Ampat region is known to house every kind of underwater habitat imaginable: from pristine reef flats and secret bays to mangroves, marine lakes, and protected coral gardens.
It also happens to be in the middle of a major cetacean migration route where various whales and dolphin species have been sighted. This region is the meeting point of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, where a six inch (15cm) average height difference between the water levels creates an immense exchange. Millions of aquatic eggs and larvae are carried by the currents, either spawning to life or serving as a vital source of food for marine animals.
Whether you snorkel or dive, Cape Kri is a wonder to discover. Thanks to an amazing number of reef fish that form part of a massive marine food chain, this site holds the world record for the greatest number of species counted in a single 90-minute dive (374 in total). Cape Kri is known for its manta ray cleaning stations, where these gentle giants queue to get their skin, gills, and teeth cleaned by parasitic copepods and small wrasse species.
Both Reef Manta Rays and Oceanic Manta Rays can be observed near Dayang Island. For snorkelers, the bordering reef systems at Wai make for excellent sightings. As for those diving deeper, find adventure while exploring the sunken wreckage of a World War II P47D fighter plane and the beautiful reefs and sea mounds of Tapok.
Located in the middle of Gam and Kri islands, this can be a challenging yet rewarding dive sport due to unpredictable currents and tidal movements. This creates whirlwinds of schooling fish, as well as unexpected sightings of eagle rays, mantas, and even dolphins. With a depth of four to 25 meters, the visibility is very good throughout this area.
Known for its black coral forests, Wofoh Island provides incredible opportunities to snorkel from its white sand beaches. On the southern end of the island, thousands of fish – including colorful species of surgeonfish and fusiliers – can be found in the shallow waters. This is also a calm and easy diving site, featuring sandy slopes and a lack of currents.
Aqua Expeditions sails across all three destinations of Komodo National Park, Spice Islands, and Raja Ampat aboard Aqua Blu year-round, following the best seasons for each location in the East Indonesian archipelago. Choose from seven or 12-night expeditions with us and experience one of the world’s most rewarding marine adventures.