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Diving Indonesia

NORTHERN INDONESIA

Area Dive Name Month Year

Maratua South of Pass Sept '16
North of Pass Sept '16

North
Raja
Ampat
Wayag Trail Oct '14
Wayag Anchorage Nov '16
Gam SE Oct '14
Batu Lima Oct '14
Frewin Kecil Oct '14
Frewin Banda Laut Dec '16
Frewin Banda W Dec '16
Manta Sandy Jan '17
Yanbuba Jan '17
Mioskon Oct '14 Nov '16
Fam Anchorage Nov '16

Kofiau Swallope, Walo Is Feb '17
Walo Bommies Feb '17
Sino Slide Feb '17

Misool Whale Rock Nov '14
Kalig East Nov '14
Resort House Reef Nov '14

Triton
Bay
Whale Sharks Feb '15 Apr '15, '17
Batu Jatuh Mar Apr '15
Sareneus West Mar Apr '15
Stumpy Rock Mar Apr '15
 Pinnacle Mar '15
Dramai Rock Mar '15, May '17
Christmas Rock Mar '15, Apr '17
Aquarium Mar '15, Apr '17
David's Rock March '15
C.I. Rocks May '17
White Rock Apr '17
Little Komodo Apr May '15, Apr '17
Bo's Rainbow Apr '15, '17
Third Rock Apr '15, '17
Andy's Point Apr '15, Apr '17
Pink Beach April '15
TBD House Reef April '17
SW Aiduma April '15
Batu Jeruk Apr '15, May '17
GPS Point May '15

World-class diving!  Amazing creatures from whale sharks and mantas to pygmy seahorses!  Year-round adventures!  That's diving Indonesia!  And we've barely begun!

There is so much to see underwater in Indonesia, with over 17,000 islands, that we had to divide this page into 2 halves.  The first half is northeastern Indonesia, which we cruised through in 2014‑15 and again in 2016‑17.  Below that you'll find dive sites for southern Indonesia, including dives in the  Komodo National Park area, Lombok, Moyo and Bali.  In 2006 we often dove with our friends on Ventana, and in 2014‑2017 we dove with several cruising friends, plus professional companies.

In 2016, after sailing over the top of Malaysian Borneo (where we dove Sipadan!) we dove with cruising friends on Aosango in the beautiful atoll of Maratua, just south of the Malaysian/Indonesian border.

Our dives in eastern Indonesia were all in Raja Ampat and Triton Bay, areas that claim the highest marine biodiversity in the world.  These areas have very low populations, which means less pollution and less destruction of the reefs.  Unfortunately, shark finning was very common until a decade ago and the sharks are just barely beginning to return.  Beside the 1700 species of reef fish, and 75% of the world's species of coral, this area also hosts some big creatures, like whale sharks and manta rays.

We were so lucky to get to visit for 6 months in 2014‑15, and then again for another 8 months in 2016‑17.  We dove both independently and with dive companies.  Sometimes we also snorkeled these famous dive sites and we provide information on that as well.

There is a fairly comprehensive guide to diving in eastern Indonesia published in 2010, called "Diving Indonesia's Bird's Head Seascape" by Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock, which covers both Raja Ampat and Triton Bay (and Cenderwasih Bay in the north which we didn't visit).  It gives lots of great information!

In Raja Ampat we did most of our diving with the wonderful folks at Biodiversity Eco Resort.  They're on the southeast end of Gam Island, about 40nm NW of Sorong, and just a mile north of the Frewin anchorage.  The owners, Rey and Patricia (phone/SMS/WhatsApp +628‑124‑881‑3677) are very friendly.  Their resort customers obviously come first, but cruisers are welcome to snorkel the excellent house reef if they ask permission first.  If you give them a days' advance notice, you can often get an excellent meal at the resort or join them on dives (on a space‑available basis).  Their rates are the best we found in all of Raja Ampat.  Highly recommended.

Because Triton Bay is so newly "discovered" (first comprehensively dived by a team from the Papuan University and Conservation International in 2001) there are many sites not listed in the Bird's Head book that offer great potential.  We had a chance to dive more than 16 sites with Triton Bay Divers, and that's only about half of the ones they take guests to.  The resort owners are very personable, and their dive staff are highly knowledgeable about the area and where to find special critters like pygmy seahorses and wobbegong sharks.  The resort is situated in a beautiful protected bay on the east side of Aiduma island and caters to divers and dive photographers from around the world.  We even had the fun of joining them on a couple exploratory dives, which meant we had pot luck in terms of what we'd see, but we got some fun exploratory underwater time!  We highly recommend Triton Bay Divers, and if you arrive by boat and want to dive, check with Leeza or Jimmy to see if they have space available on their dive boats.

But diving wasn't our only pastime.  We also spent many hours snorkeling on fabulous reefs.  The Arborek Pier and the Biodiversity Eco Resort house reef in Raja Ampat, the house reef at Misool Eco Resort in southern Raja Ampat and the house reef at Triton Bay Divers in Triton Bay were especially bountiful in corals and fish.  For incredible marine life, the snorkeling around the rocky islands of Kalig and Balbulol in Misool, southern Raja could not be surpassed.  A favorite blue water mangrove site, with fish‑filled passes as well, was Yangello (aka Yangeffo) in central Raja Ampat.

One of the best experiences, not to missed, is to swim with the whale sharks in Triton Bay.  These gentle behemoths visit the big trimaran fishing platforms called "bagans" early each morning to collect the small fish that are dropped.  Or, they hang around and feed for an hour or so on buckets of small fish that are fed to them by the fishermen when we crazy divers come to swim!  Triton Bay Divers customers usually have a chance to dive with whale sharks, too.


Whale Sharks, Triton Bay
Type: Snorkel or dive Position: 0342.93'S 13353.0'S
Depths: Deep, but sharks on surface Access: Dive boat or dinghy
Date: Feb & Apr '15, '17 Dive Pros: Triton Bay Divers
Visibility: About 30' Snorkeling: Yes
Divers: Sue, Jon, Rachel, Rainer Features: Swim with whale sharks
Snorkeling with an 18m whale shark. Triton Bay
Rachel snorkels with an 18m shark

Getting in the water with the world's largest sharks is a thrill not to be missed!  And in Triton Bay it's not yet such a big commercial draw that it costs a fortune.  In fact, an attempt (no guarantees, as these are wild animals!) with Triton Bay Divers it's included in the dive packages.  If you go with your own boat, you can still make it happen!  Here's how:

Anchor in protected Raf anchorage (0344.81'S, 13355.04'E) or on the NE corner of Namatote Island (see lat/lon above).  At first light, or just before, gear up for snorkeling and head out to the bagans in the bay. You can't miss them: they are 20m long trimarans with 2 stubby masts and endless ropes attached to the outriggers.  Huge nets are suspended beneath them.  They anchor in place for days at a time.

As you approach, call out a greeting "Selamat pagi!" (Good morning!) then inquire, "Ikan besar?"  You are asking if the "big fish" are there.  You will be answered with a shake of the head and maybe pointing to another bagan, or a happy nod and pointing into the water.  "Ada" means "They are!"  Don't give up if they aren't at the first bagan.  Once we had to visit 4 different bagans before we found the whale sharks!

The sharks come up from the depths of the channel and sweep around past the sterns of the bagans to collect fish.  If a whale shark is present, tie off the dinghy and jump in.  The whale sharks will basically ignore you, to the point that you might have to fend them off as they pass below or beside you.  Their focus is clear: fish!

To keep this activity from becoming insanely expensive (like it already is in Cenderwasih Bay) after you swim with the whale sharks, offer the fishermen some packs of cigarettes, maybe some noodles, rice, coffee, sugar, and/or clothing.  One cruising family had old foul weather gear to donate.  Consider that these men are on these rafts for weeks at a time, and have less need of money than food and comfort clothing.  If you want to pay cash, here's the deal: 1 bucket of small fish brings in IDR 50,000, or about $4.50.  And they'll go through 1‑2 buckets in an hour of swimming with the sharks.  They won't turn down the cash, but best to include it in a bag full of other goodies.

UPDATE: In 2017 we paid about Rp100,000 ($8) per diver.  Note that the waters towards the north end of the Namatote Channel are claimed by a local village, and the chief is now wanting insane prices, but the bagans further south had no fixed rates and were glad to get anything.  Also, we've now seen the whale sharks as late as 11am, so it may be possible to take your big boat further down the channel about 9am, checking each bagan you come to, and when you find an Ikan Besar, tie off your boat to the bagan with a long bow line and jump in!


The Maratua reef sparkles with fish
The Maratua reef sparkles with fish
Maratua South of Pass
Type:  Outer reef, current
Access:  Dinghy, needs to be towed.
Position:  0215.5'N, 11838.7
Depths:  20‑50' (6‑16m)
Date:  September 2016
Visibility:  50' (15m)
Dive Pros:  None
Snorkeling:  Yes, By dinghy
Features:  Turtles, reef sharks, reef fish
Divers:  Jon, Sue, and friends

Maratua is a beautiful atoll off the eastern Kalimantan coast.  We were anchored here with a couple other cruising boats, one of which had a compressor.  So together with the Swiss family on Aosango, we took 2 dinghies out the narrow (sometimes raging) pass to the bordering reef on the eastern side of the atoll.  The strongest current flows from north to south, with some protection from reef bordering the pass.  We motored out the pass, splashed just on the south side of the entrance, then drifted south.

We didn't know it at the time, but the south reef is less clear, and less abundant in coral than the reef to the north.  But still, it was a coral-rich slope with turtles and the schools of small damsels, anthias, triggerfish and surgeonfish.

If the current is flowing into the atoll lagoon the drift diving, or even snorkeling, is rewarding with the ocean water being clear and fast moving (up to 4 knots!).  On the outgoing tide, the viz in the pass is murky with all the fine sand and particulate being swept from the lagoon out the pass.  The reef to the south is usually down-current of the pass, and this accounts for its lower viz.

As of Sept 2016 a resort was being built on the western side of the atoll, on one of the fringing islands.  There is a possibility of a dive operation opening sometime soon in Maratua.


Green turtles are common in Maratua, Kalimantan
Green turtles are common in Maratua, Kalimantan
Maratua North of Pass
Type:  Slope and wall
Access:  Dinghy, needs to be towed.
Position:  0216.5'N, 11837.06'E
Depths:  20‑80' (6‑27m)
Date:  September 2016
Visibility:  80' (25m)
Dive Pros:  None
Snorkeling:  By dinghy
Features:  Turtles, reef sharks, schooling snappers
Divers:  Jon, Sue

Maratua is a beautiful atoll off the eastern Kalimantan coast.  We were anchored here with a couple other cruising boats, one of which had a compressor.  So together with the Swiss family on Aosango, we took 2 dinghies out the narrow (sometimes raging) pass to the bordering reef on the eastern side of the atoll.  The strongest current flows from north to south, and we motored north out of the pass and went north for about 1.5 nm and towed the dinghies as we dove and drifted south.  We had chosen a random point to splash, and had we wanted to, we could have motored farther north along the coast and done any number of dives.  In strong winds this coast may not be safe for dinghies.

This is a vibrant reef, swept by the open ocean currents.   Green and hawksbill turtles were abundant, and we saw cruising black tip reef sharks off in the blue.  The reef drops steeply to deep blue, so we hugged the "shallower" areas, no deeper than 70 or 80 feet, rising to a 15 feet for the safety stop just north of the pass.

If the current is flowing into the atoll lagoon the drift diving, or even snorkeling, is rewarding with the ocean water being clear and fast moving (up to 4 knots!).  On the outgoing tide, the viz in the pass is murky with all the fine sand and particulate being swept from the lagoon out the pass.

As of Sept 2016 a resort was being built on the western side of the atoll, on one of the fringing islands.  There is a possibility of a dive operation opening sometime soon in Maratua.


Amanda & Jon dive bright water, Wayag, Raja Ampat
Amanda & Jon dive bright water, Wayag, Raja Ampat
Wayag Trail, Raja Ampat
Type:  Protected coral slope
Access:  Dinghy
Position:  010.03'N, 13001.12'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  October 2014
Visibility:  60' (20m)
Dive Pros:  None
Snorkeling:  Yes, around rock islands
Features:  Coral fields & lots of reef fish
Divers:  Amanda, Jon

This was a refresher dive for Jon and Amanda, who dove with Jackie, a dive instructor/cruising friend from the boat Sloepmouche.  The goal was to find a place with minimal current and minimal swell.  Outside the protection of the rock islands of Wayag there are both strong currents and on this day, a lot of wind.  So they dove inside the protection of the islands, around a set of rock islets in the northern bay of Wayag.

Splashing in only 10' of water, over a mix of sand and stag‑horn corals, they quickly moved to deeper water and circled the rock islands.  The visibility improved greatly as they moved to deep water.  Sue, on the surface, snorkeling, was unable to see them at more than 20', but below the warm surface water the viz was over 60'.

This area abounds in schools of fusiliers, countless butterflyfish, triggerfish and other small reef fish.  This is a fun, mellow dive, good for when the wind and currents are too much, or for novice divers wanting a mellow place to see some active small marine life.


Spoke eye blenny in coral, Wayag, Raja Ampat
Spoke eye blenny in coral, Wayag, Raja Ampat
Wayag Anchorage, Raja Ampat
Type:  Protected inner bay
Access:  Dinghy
Position:  010.03'N, 13001.12'E
Depths:  20‑40' (6‑16m)
Date:  October 2016
Visibility:  15' (5m)
Dive Pros:  None
Snorkeling:  Yes, along shoreline
Features:  Sand bottom, small bommies
Divers:  Rainer and Aosango

This was a refresher dive for our nephew Rainer who dove with Pierre, a dive instructor/cruising friend from the boat Aosango.  They chose to dive from the bow of Aosango, using the anchor chain for stability while checking Rainer's buoyancy.  Although this is not an exciting place to dive, they did find some interesting marine life: nudibranchs and flatworms on the sandy bottom, a spiny lobster and some passing bumphead parrotfish. Snorkelers in this area saw some interesting anemone shrimp and many juvenile black tip reef sharks.  Although the viz was only about 15ft (5m), there were interesting things to see up close on the small bommies that rimmed the anchorage.

The goal was to have no current or swell.  Outside the protection of the rock islands of Wayag there are both strong currents and sometimes a lot of wind chop or rips. 


Freckled goatfish uses orange barbels to dig
Freckled goatfish uses orange barbels to dig
Gam Southeast, Raja Ampat
Type:  Protected shore dive
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy. Beach.
Position:  026.4'S, 13041.6'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  October 2014
Visibility:  60' (20m)
Dive Pros:  Raja Ampat Dive Resort
Snorkeling:  Yes, from small beach
Features:  Abundant fish on small bommies
Divers:  Chris, Sue

Chris and Sue did this as a refresher dive with Raja Ampat Dive Resort.  Because it had been so many years since they'd been diving they spent a few minutes before the dive with an instructor in shallow water checking skills and buoyancy.  The area was chosen for its accessibility from the beach and the lack of current.  The viz was good, and it was great to be diving again!  There were many plate corals sheltering reef fish and a sandy slope with gobies, goatfish and sand‑perch.  Here we saw our first sea pen, a sort of feather waving vertically from the sand, brightly colored violet and pink.  Like many marine critters, it looks like a plant but is an animal.  We went from small bommie to small bommie enjoying the bright damselfish, butterflyfish and wrasses.

Despite not having dived for years, both Sue and Chris took to it rapidly.  Sort of like riding a bicycle -- you don't forget!


Pick-handle Barracuda swirl above diver, Raja Ampat
Pick-handle barracuda swirl above us, Raja Ampat
Batu Lima, Raja Ampat
Type:  Rocks, slopes
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy.
Position:  0 26.97'S, 130 41.9'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Dates:  Oct '14, Jan '17
Visibility:  60-100' (20-30m)
Dive Pros:  Biodiversity Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Yes, around rocks & house reef
Features:  Brilliant soft corals. Big fish
Divers:  Chris, Sue, Jon

This dive site is located on the southeast coast of Gam Island along the pass into Kabui Bay.  Batu Lima (5 Rocks) is a favorite dive sight listed in the book Diving the Birds Head Seascape.  On one dive, due to the strong currents, we drifted on the eastern side, at about 60‑70', then retuned on the western channel where there was less current, working our way upwards.  A school of pick‑handle barracuda circled above us and coral groupers fled to the safety of coral overhangs.  There was a nice array of sea fans and some black coral whips and bushes.  Beautiful triggerfish skirted by, and banded shrimp‑gobies stood guard in their sand burrows.  This area sometimes hosts feeding mantas, but they were not there on our visit.  On another dive here with Biodiversity Eco Resort we dove the slopes and ledges around the rocks, did the swim throughs (pretty shallow, and do-able as a snorkel), then completed our dive heading west along the Biodiversity Eco Resort Home reef which abounds in coral species, rabbitfish, triggerfish, damsels and batfish.  On the 2017 dive we enjoyed watching a young hawksbill turtle forage in the coral then swim off into the blue.


Bright yellow green frogfish blends into the reef
Bright yellow green frogfish blends into the reef
Frewin Kecil, Raja Ampat
Type:  Slope
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy.
Position:  028.5'S, 13041.96'E
Depths:  15‑80 (5‑27m)
Date:  October 2014
Visibility:  60-100' (20-30m)
Dive Pros:  Biodiversity Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Yes, beware current.
Features:  Wobbegong sharks, critters
Divers:  Chris, Sue

Also known as Frewin Banda.  This is another classic dive sight near the south coast of Gam Island, in Raja Ampat.  This small triangular island features a wall of bright corals and tunicates, especially the purple and gold polycarpa aurata or "Heart Ascidian" for which Indonesia is famous. The current can run quite sharply from north to south, but we were at the time of neap tides, which was good for us "rusty" divers.  We dove this with Raja Ampat Dive Resort after a refresher dive along the coast of Gam Island.

Offshore (of the east coast) were many rock ledges, and under one we were lucky to find a snoozing Tasseled Wobbegong with its frilly chin tassels and long curving tail.  We certainly realized the limitations of our small underwater camera, as we could not illuminate the entire 4.5' (1.3m) of the shark, to include its wonderfully curly tail and tasseled chin fringe.

Our dive guide also pointed out a bright yellow Painted Frogfish, which looks like a science fiction character made of clay.  It was balancing carefully on the edge of the rocks, making its way slowly along, using its wide pectoral fins as feet.

Chris and Sue each took an underwater camera and had fun comparing results once back aboard Ocelot.


Papuan Toby glides thru hard coral
Papuan Toby glides thru hard coral
Frewin Banda Laut South, Raja Ampat
Type:  Wall and slope
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy.
Position:  028.7'S, 13041.9'E
Depths:  20‑50' (6‑17m)
Date:  November 2016
Visibility:  60' (20m)
Dive Pros:  Biodiversity Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Along wall. Beware current
Features:  Abundant fish life
Divers:  Jon, Sue and friends

We dove with Biodiversity Eco Resort, along with friends visiting from the States.  Because the currents were strong from north to south, we splashed part way down the eastern coast of Frewin Banda Laut, ("laut" meaning the seaward side of the island) and drifted to the south, and then turned the corner to the west, ending the dive on the sandy slope at the southern coast of this triangular island. There were numerous nudibranchs and flat worms, looking like bright Picasso paintings on the rocks. This area is filled with colorful soft corals and abundant reef fish. Off in the blue were large emperors, snappers and groupers.

With strong currents it's very reassuring to have a totally responsible and professional dive company to accompany you!  Bio Diversity dive guides and boat operators were fantastic, and we could dive without a worry.


Yellow Masked Angelfish, Frewin, Raja Ampat
Yellow Masked Angelfish, Frewin, Raja Ampat
Frewin Banda West, Raja Ampat
Type:  Slope and wall
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy.
Position:  028.6'S, 13041.9'E
Depths:  20‑50' (6‑17m)
Date:  November 2016
Visibility:  60' (20m)
Dive Pros:  Biodiversity Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Along wall. Beware current
Features:  Abundant fish life
Divers:  Jon, Sue and friends

We made several dives with cruising friends along this "inner" west wall of Frewin Banda (not on the seaward side, but on the western edge facing Frewin Island).  The currents are less strong here than on the outer edge. One can start at the northern tip of the triangular island and swim south along the western wall, or start part way down the wall and reach the southern corner with a sandy slope for the safety stop.  We either towed the dinghy or one of our group sat out the dive and tended the dinghies.

This wall is a veritable garden of soft corals, tunicates, sponges and sea fans.  Nudibranchs and colorful flatworms creep among the other animals, finding meals only they can appreciate. It takes a sharp eye to pick out the blue, gold, orange and black markings of a nudibranch or flatworm on a wall so painted in Picasso colors.


Reef mantas glide over divers at the cleaning station
Reef mantas glide over divers at the cleaning station
Manta Sandy, Raja Ampat
Type:  Sandy bottom
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy.
Position:  026.4'S, 13041.6'E
Depths:  0 to 50' (0‑15m)
Date:  January 2017
Visibility:  60' (20m)
Dive Pros:  Biodiversity Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Yes, from dive boat
Features:  Manta cleaning station
Divers:  Jon and friends

Starting each year in December or so, the ocean around Raja Ampat fills with krill and the mantas arrive.  We dove in early January with Biodiversity Eco Resort to the amazing manta cleaning station about 14 miles west of the resort.  This is a popular dive site, and in order to be sure the mantas are not harassed, divers are required to stay on the sandy bottom behind a low wall of coral rocks.  Snorkelers overhead are also advised not to swim over the cleaning stations which are a series of bommies "outside" the divers' wall.  You never know how many mantas will appear, but they seem to come from the deep blue, and suddenly you'll have beautiful black and white creatures flying by overhead, swooping into the bommie area where they are attended by cleaner wrasse.

Although there are a few other reef fish near the bommies, the main attraction are the mantas.  You may see reef mantas or, if you're lucky, the really immense oceanic mantas.  Check the ventral surface of the mantas and note the pattern of black and white, which is unique for each individual.


Divers under the Yanbuba Pier with good viz
Divers under the Yanbuba Pier with good viz
Yanbuba, Raja Ampat
Type:  Slope
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy.
Position:  034.2'S, 13039.4'E
Depths:  10 to 80' (3‑27m)
Date:  January 2017
Visibility:  40' (12m)
Dive Pros:  Biodiversity Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Yes, near pier and bay
Features:  Pelagics, large schools
Divers:  Jon and friends

Yanbuba, a small bay and village west of Kri is a popular dive and snorkel site, known for its stunningly clear water and dense coral gardens.  This was Jon's first chance to dive (as opposed to snorkel) the area.  Together with Biodiversity Eco Resort guides, he and our friend Dan splashed near the pier then swam south to the point where they found schools of trevally and fusiliers.  Turtles nosed in and around the coral, huge porcupinefish floated over the sea floor and a "herd" (they do look like bison!) of bumphead parrotfish wandered by.  A school of barracuda circled overhead and a black tip reef shark cruised by.

January water viz is less than in October or November due to the influx of zooplankton (just what mantas like!) so even the snorkeling was not its "normal" awesomeness.  But even so, under and around the pier ends the schools of reef fish, dozens of species of butterflyfish and angelfish were astonishing.  Diving or snorkeling beneath the pier and on the surrounding coral-carpeted slope offers one of the best diving visual experiences of Raja Ampat.


Divers enjoy brilliant colors of a pink anemone
Divers enjoy brilliant colors of a pink anemone
Mioskon, Raja Ampat
Type:  Seamount, slope
Access:  Dive boat
Position:  029.75'S, 13043.49'E
Depths:  30‑66' (6‑20m)
Date:  November 2016
Visibility:  60-100' (20-30m)
Dive Pros:  Biodiversity Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  No
Features:  Soft corals and big fish
Divers:  Jon, Sue

Mioskon is a classic central Raja Ampat dive site off a small forest-covered island in the Dampier Strait, just south of Biodiversity Eco Resort and the Frewin Islands.  Depending on the current (and it can be fierce) your guide will choose the best splash location.  We dropped into 30ft on the eastern side of the island, and with reef right, followed down to 66ft, slowly working our way up as we swam south and west.  At times we had some current, but it was very gentle, despite it being spring tides.

Colorful bommies decorated the slopes, and schools of snapper surrounded us.  We found a tasselled wobbegong beneath a ledge, and a transparent anemone shrimp lurking in the tentacles of a fungus coral.  Nudibranchs hid on the coral bommies, and several peacock mantis shrimp scurried about.  For a surface interval we enjoyed the white sand beach on the island's northwest corner.


Bumphead parrotfish resemble swimming bison!
Bumphead parrotfish resemble swimming bison!
Fam Island, Raja Ampat
Type:  Slope
Access:  Private boat
Position:  034.2'S, 13039.4'E
Depths:  10-70' (3‑21m)
Date:  November 2016
Visibility:  50' (15m)
Dive Pros:  None nearby
Snorkeling:  Yes, throughout the bay
Features:  Coral garden, bumphead parrotfish
Divers:  Rainer and cruising friends

This is an easy, casual dive site for a relaxing time underwater.  No current, no surprises.  Due to its distance from the majority of dive resorts and homestays in Raja Ampat very few dive companies get out here to this north-facing bay on Fam (or Pam) Island.  Being on a cruising boat, we can anchor either outside the fringing reef or cross the reef (with 3 meters beneath the hull) and anchor inside a large sandy bowl just off the beach.  From here, or on the outside anchorage, diving and snorkeling is possible just off the boat.

The water viz in October and November is brilliant here before the NW winds come in brining swells to this bay, and making it untenable for anchoring. Rainer and our friends off Aosango splashed off Oceot's stern into the bowl of swimming pool clear water over the sandy bottom.  Schools of fusiliers drifted by and the search was on for crawling mollusks and flatworms on the sandy sea floor.  On the densely coral-covered reef you can enjoy watching a multitude of reef fish as they go about their activities of feeding and defending territory.

There is no village here, though locals from Pam Village to the east may come by to offer fish or coconut oil for sale.


Astrid from Gaia dives on the Swallope coral, Walo
Astrid from Gaia dives on the Swallope coral field
Swallope, Kofiau, Raja Ampat
Type:  Wall/Slope (ergo the name)
Access:  Private boat
Position:  116.56'S, 12939.7'E
Depths:  10 to 70' (3‑21m)
Date:  February 2017
Visibility:  50' (15m)
Dive Pros:  None nearby
Snorkeling:  Yes, along the shore
Features:  Coral garden
Divers:  Sue, Jon & cruising friends

The Kofiau Islands are part of 2 small archipelagos (Boo and Kofiau) that lie west of the more familiar, main islands of Raja Ampat.  There is only one village in the area, but several small fishing encampments on the beaches.  The islands are low and alive with fruit bats and birds.  With no river run-off, the sea water viz is usually very good.

This dive, dubbed "Swallope" as it includes both a slope and a wall, is along the southern coast of Walo Island. Swift currents sweep the coast of Walo so you'll have to choose your splash site accordingly.  Tow a dinghy for sure, as the currents can change erratically. and it's best to choose your dive time for your comfort level with currents and drift diving.  WE were lucky and hit slack, so we could anchor one dinghy at the west end (where there's an exit from the mangrove estuary), and tow the other for 4 divers.

The coral is prolific here.  We saw a big broadfin cuttlefish which did its color and texture change for us, then drifted away with one tentacle held upright in the defensive position.  We photographed and ID'd some new blennies - beautiful little fish that are recognizable by their curved bodies, balanced on pectoral fins on the coral.


Clown Anemonefish in its anemone, Walo Bommies
Clown Anemonefish in its anemone, Walo Bommies
Walo Bommies, Kofiau, Raja Ampat
Type:  Huge bommies
Access:  Private boat
Position:  116.25'S, 12940.1E
Depths:  10-70' (3‑21m
Date:  February 2017
Visibility:  50' (15m)
Dive Pros:  None nearby
Snorkeling:  No. Bommies too deep.
Features:  Coral- and fish-rich bommies
Divers:  Sue, Jon, & cruising friends

If you choose your timing for slack water, this is a great dive site for exploring a number of coral-rich bommies just near the area's best anchorage. In gentle current, you can swim between the bommies and hide in their lee.

The bommies are identifiable from the surface, and depending on the current, you can splash at either end of the chain of bommies.  They only come to within 15ft(4m) of the surface, so the snorkeling is not good.  Each bommie is a rounded mount of coral-covered rock, replete with crevices and ledges, and decorated with soft and hard corals.  Reef fish abound. If viz is not good enough to see from one bommie to the next, following a carefully laid compass course will lead you from one fascinating environment to another, over expanses of white sand where you may see shrimp gobies and goatfish.

The Kofiau Islands lie to the west of Batanta and Salawati and are distinctly different from the lush hills of most of Raja Ampat.  These islands are low and offer many anchorages in clear sand.  With the lack of river run-off, the sea viz is generally very good.


Sino Slide, Kofiau, Raja Ampat
Type:  Drift dive
Access:  Private boat
Position:  115.32'S, 12939.93'E
Depths:  10-70' (3‑21m)
Date:  February 2017
Visibility:  50' (15m)
Dive Pros:  None nearby
Snorkeling:  Maybe, towing dinghy
Features:  Dense coral slope. Current
Divers:  Jon, Sue, cruising friends
Red bulb tentacle anemone shelters anemonefish
Red bulb tentacle anemone shelters anemonefish

A pretty consistent current sweeps between Walo and Sino Islands, bringing nutrients and fish schools.  This dive is best done when the current flows eastward and you dive on the south side of the island.  Begin at the southwest corner and drift east, keeping Sino Island on your left.  You can begin deep on the slope, then swim up as you drift along.

As with most drift dives, the fun is in the "movie" that slides past you as you traverse the coral slopes.  We found some spots to hang and get pictures, but in general our memory of this dive is one of COLOR!  FISH!  BEAUTIFUL!  And it all slides past at varying speeds!  That's Sino Slide!

Another day we tried to dive the western and northern sides, but were often caught in an eddy that divided the divers in two directions!  The southern side offers the best coral and fish.

Due to the isolation of this area, it's certainly best to tow your dinghy or have someone on live-boat overhead.  The viz was quite good in January when the winds are still from the northwest in this western part of Raja Ampat.


A palette of color on Whale Rock, Raja Ampat
A palette of color on Whale Rock, Raja Ampat
Whale Rock, Misool, Raja Ampat
Type:  Rock island
Access:  Dinghy or dive boat
Position:  213.16'S, 13033.56'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  November 2014
Visibility:  60' (20m)
Dive Pros:  Misool Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Yes, around the rock walls
Features:  Coral garden on sloping ree
Divers:  Jon, Sue

Whale Rock derives its name from its distinctive whale shape when viewed from the south, a whale heading west!  We dinghied from Misool Eco Resort where we'd moored Ocelot, and joined cruisers from Nalukai who snorkeled above us as we dove.  The currents can be fierce here, and we didn't  want to leave the dinghy tied to the rocks.  We started by towing our dinghy, but soon Jeremy took the painter from us so that we were freer to move about.  It's not real comfortable holding a dinghy painter while scuba diving but we had learned from other cruisers that it can be done.  The trick is to not have wind and tide in opposition, as the dinghy has a fair amount of windage.  We had a calm day, but with a fair bit of current.

The viz was great and we enjoyed floating above a garden of hard and soft corals.  A hawksbill turtle nosed about in the coral for a meal.  Parrotfish did their noisy coral munching and colorful wrasses zoomed about using their pectoral fins as mini propellers.  The sea floor was carpeted in corals and anemones, while the rock walls of Whale Rock itself were adorned in bright tunicates, sea fans, and encrusting corals and sponges.

Given the warmth of the southern Raja Ampat water, we wore only 3mm shorty wet suites and closed‑foot snorkeling fins.


Heart ascidians, soft pink coral & leather coral, Raja Ampat
Heart ascidians, soft pink coral & leather coral
Kalig East, Misool, Raja Ampat
Type:  Wall
Access:  Dinghy or dive boat
Position:  213.04'S, 13032.8'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  November 2014
Visibility:  80' (25m)
Dive Pros:  Misool Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Yes, top of the walls
Features:  Abundant soft corals, fish, turtles
Divers:  Jon, Sue

It's hard to go wrong diving along the outer walls of the rock complex known as Kalig, in Misool.  There is a mooring ball inside a protected bay, with a big boat entrance to the east, and a shallow pass to the north.  We took the dinghy to the outer (northern) edge of the pass, and splashed, heading first east, then west along the wall.  At 70' (21m) we hit the sandy slope at the bottom of the wall, so we wove our way back and forth, ever shallower.

The wall and its outcroppings were covered in bright tunicates and encrusting sponges and corals.  Sea fans and soft corals added color.  In the blue, to the north, we saw big Napolean wrasse, a couple sharks (maybe a white tip) and hawksbill turtles.  Unicorn‑fish and triggerfish passed by in schools.  A large thorny stingray slowly flapped its way into the blue, and red, green, blue and yellow starfish adorned the rocks.


Jon dives with a gazillion reef fish, Misool, Raja Ampat
Jon swims with a gazillion reef fish, Misool, Raja Ampat
Misool Eco Resort House Reef
Type:  Gentle drift
Access:  From Misool Eco Resort
Position:  214.89'S, 13032.74'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  November 2014
Visibility:  50' (15m)
Dive Pros:  Misool Eco Resort
Snorkeling:  Yes, but better on northern reef
Features:  Coral gardens, gentle slope
Divers:  Jon, Sue

Apparently there is a manta cleaning station on the southwest corner of Batbitiem Island, on which the Misool Eco Resort is located.  With the current ripping along the west coast, we splashed on the south side of the island, hoping for a peek at the mantas.  No luck.  Our friends on Nalukai snorkeled along above us, towing our dinghy.  The corals here were not particularly bright, being mostly hard corals and leather corals, all of a similar color.  But there were the usual butterflyfish and damsels (a million of them!), scattered anemones with several species of anemone‑fish, and a school (more like a herd) of huge bumphead parrotfish.  We did see some new (to us) reef fish, though, and basically racked up another hour underwater.

The best part of the House Reef for the Resort is the northern shore and the northeastern corner both of which can be snorkeled easily.


Leeza enters a plate coral canyon, Triton Bay
Leeza enters a plate coral canyon, Triton Bay
Batu Jatuh, Triton Bay
Type:  Rocky shore
Access:  Dive boat
Position:  353.78'S, 13406.3'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  March & April 2015
Visibility:  About 40' (12m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Yes, along the coast near boulders
Features:  Schools of fish, plate coral canyon
Divers:  Sue, Jon, Rachel

We dove Batu Jatuh (Indonesian for Fallen Rocks) in March with another cruiser, Dana, from Villa G, and with Triton Bay Divers, using their dive boat and we dove again in April, 2015.  Both times, Triton Bay Divers owner, Leeza, was our guide.  Tucked into the southern end of Triton Bay (just north of Iris Strait), the viz was not great, but our goal was to stay out of the strong full moon currents.  We splashed next to a jumble of fallen boulders, descending to 40', then heading down slope to about 70'.  The boulders and the sand slopes were festooned in soft corals and bright tunicates, with waving sea fans and black coral bushes and whips.  We saw snappers, groupers and large sweet‑lips.  Leeza located some small shrimps inside anemones, and several nudibranchs as well.  After we rounded the fallen boulders we circled back to shallower water and swam through a massive canyon of plate corals all larger and higher than us!  Colors were a bit muted due to the high overcast.  Since we hadn't dived for 3 months, Sue carried the small, palm sized Canon D30 without an external light source instead of the more bulky Canon G12 in its housing.

We were comfortable in stinger suits and 3mm shorties.  We took a surface break at the Conservation International beach on the eastern shore of Iris Strait.


Sareneus West, Triton Bay
Type:  Gentle drift, sloping reef
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  354.85'S, 13406.03'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  March & April 2015
Visibility:  60' (20m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Yes, all around the island. Beware current
Features:  Awesome soft corals, nudibranchs
Divers:  Sue, Jon, Rachel
Nudibranch Chromodoris reticulata on rock wall in Triton Bay
Nudibranch Chromodoris reticulata on rock wall

Second dive of the morning, and the light was better.  This sight is more exposed to the currents of Iris Strait, and it seemed like the viz was better here than at Batu Jatuh, or maybe it was just the brighter light.  We splashed in 15' over coral that we had snorkeled a few days before.  Then we followed the slope down from the island, with the reef on our left.  The sea floor fell away in sort of steps, with overhung edges into which we could peer to see soldier‑fish and many crevice lurkers.  We poked around the slope and boulders, swimming against a light current.  The first time we dove here, in March, we had hoped to do an easy drift dive down the west side of the island, but the negative current abated, and then we were in slack.  We found several new nudibranchs and schools of pink and lavender anthiases with their pointy snouts and streaming first dorsals.  We were visited by a lone bump‑head parrotfish, a big, old guy, and a lone pinnate spadefish, the first we'd ever seen.  There were many pairs of mature blue-ringed angelfish and six-banded angelfish, so unafraid of us divers!  Sue was feeling more confident so she took the Canon G12 in its housing, with an external video light.  This was a great boon to light up the bright soft corals and tunicates for which Triton Bay is so famous.

Our April dive with Rachel was a whole different experience!  Again, we splashed at the northern end and zigzagged around the boulder formations and the fields of bushy black coral, where a scorpion fish hid on the rock ledge and huge plate corals invited size comparison.  Some were over 2m wide!  At the NW corner the colors began emerging from the soft corals, and instead of the white and blue of the quiet reef, we were suddenly amidst the dazzling yellow, white, pink, red and dark green of the living reef, open to the nutrients in the swift current.  And then we stopped taking pictures and turned on the video, as the world swirled by.  Nothing to do but to go with it.  We hugged the ledge and kept the reef on our left so as not to get out where there could be a downdraft current.  A few minutes later Leeza tucked into the shelter of a protected cove between big boulders and we rested, caught our breath and poked around for the smaller things that inhabit these unmoving areas.  Rachel and Sue had their new pointer sticks and loved the ability to balance on the tip of a metal pointer while getting a close up photo.  No more having to madly kick to hold position, or having to put a fin or knuckle onto the reef for support.

The Canon G12 had suffered a mechanical failure just before Rachel arrived, so she had brought us a small point and shoot Nikon, the AW130, which is able to go to 30 meters and has a built in depth gauge with a warning when you're too deep for the camera.  Sue used that, while Rachel enjoyed the small Canon D30.

As a drift dive this is incomparable for color and density of reef life!  Amazing!  Just don't wander too far off the reef shelf, or you'll be snagged by unbelievable current and the possibility of a downdraft.  In fact, while we rested in our cove we watched fusiliers and parrotfish swim in place, in vertical position, heads up.  Guess what they were swimming against?  We hugged the reef more tightly, and then, at a sign from Leeza, let go and flowed southward to a fully protected big cove where there was no current and we could hang out and await the pickup boat.


Stumpy Rock, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & Reef slope
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  355.2'S, 13359.6'E
Depths:  20‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  March & April 2015
Visibility:  80' (25m) less in April
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  No, too exposed and isolated
Features:  Lots of big fish, amazing soft corals
Divers:  Sue, Jon, Rachel
So many soft corals and fish, Stumpy Rock, Triton Bay
So many soft corals and fish, Stumpy Rock, Triton Bay

This and Pinnacle can be combined into one dive, but when we arrived at Stumpy in the morning the viz was so good, and the fish life so abundant we spent an hour perusing the slopes.  There were so many schools of banner‑fish, spadefish, trigger‑fish, unicorn‑fish and fusiliers that we almost forgot to look closely at the coral walls for nudibranchs and other macro photography subjects.  Huge groupers sped between coral valleys, or lazed about, half visible, under rock ledges.  Massive schools of surgeonfish glided by, and we were suspended in an aquarium of fish.

The water temperature was a pretty steady 28C, so very comfortable in a Lycra stinger suit under a 3mm shortie wetsuit.  This would not be a good snorkeling site, as most of it was quite deep, and there is really no shelter from the prevailing winds.  The sea was very rough, so it was a case of splashing quickly, diving, and then hopping quickly back into the dive boat.  The dive boat driver for Triton Bay Divers was excellent at getting us in position, then retrieving us quickly once we surfaced.

Our memories of such incredible visibility in March had us anxious to return to Stumpy and Pinnacle in April with Rachel.  The winds were less in April so that the ocean entries were less hectic, but the viz almost as good.  This time we dove both Stumpy and the Pinnacle in one circuitous dive, crossing the deep sand bridge between Stumpy and the Pinnacle, circling Pinnacle, then returning to the sheltered walls of Stumpy.  It wasn't quite as fishy as it had been in march, but we still had schools of unicorn fish and graceful longfin bannerfish.  We saw an adult barramundi, which was fun, and Rachel got shots of a pygmy seahorse on a sea fan, thanks to Leeza's torch and pointer stick helping us locate it.  Hats off for Leeza's great eyes in spotting a 3/4" (2cm) pink and white spotted creature entwined around pink and white sea fan arms.

This rates as one of the TOP DIVES for the Ocelot crew!


Jon behind a huge sea fan, Pinnacle Dive, Triton Bay
Jon tries to measure a huge sea fan
Pinnacle, Triton Bay
Type: Undersea pinnacle
Access: Dive boat or dinghy
Position: 0355.2'S, 13359.6'E
Depths: 20‑90' (6‑28m)
Date: March, Apr 2015
Visibility: About 70'
Dive Pros: Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling: No, too deep
Features: Walls, soft corals, amazing fish
Divers: Sue, Jon + Rachel in April

This dive begins at the same splash point as Stumpy Rock (which is the only visible marker for the dive site).  The pinnacle bears about 150 magnetic from the rock, and is linked to the slopes of Stumpy with a shoulder at about 60‑70 feet depth.  The dive then continues around the pinnacle itself, ending on a shallower shoulder that links back to the slopes under Stumpy for a safety stop.

Like Stumpy Rock, the undersea landscape is one of brilliant gardens of soft corals and an amazing number of schooling fish.  When the current is running the corals open their polyps to feed and the landscape blooms into even brighter color.  The visibility was so good, and the fish so prolific that it was hard to know where to look.  But we did focus in close, occasionally, to find juvenile  bright yellow sea cucumbers that look like punk spiky nudibranchs, small commensal shrimps in anemones, and some bright nudibranchs camouflaged on the brightly colored boulders.

This rates as one of the TOP DIVES for the Ocelot crew!


Fusiliers & Surgeonfish fill the water column at Dramai Rock
Fusiliers & Surgeonfish fill the water at Dramai Rock
Dramai Rock, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & Rubble slope
Access:  Dive boat
Position:  402.5'S, 13414.2'E
Depths:  15‑70' (6‑21m)
Date:  March 2015
Visibility:  60' (20m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Probably too deep and rough
Features:  Lots of fish, coral covered boulders
Divers:  Sue, Jon

Situated at the southern end of Iris Strait, Dramai Island is a big landmark, but the dive site is a smaller rock, just offshore, within the strait.  We splashed on the eastern side of the rock to avoid the strong full moon current.  There are small rocks visible to the north and south of the splash zone, and these demarcate the best diving area.  At high tide there is a swim through from east to west, but we were unable to navigate it, as the water was low, and the waves were crashing.

This site has a wonderful array of boulders and interesting landscape to play around.  It's not a very big site, so we took it easy, staying out of the current, and winding our way back and forth around the boulders from about 70' (21m) deep up to our safety stop an hour later.  Jon located a nice big moray under a rock ledge and we came upon a young hawksbill turtle foraging at the base of a boulder.  The usual schools of surgeonfish and fusiliers accompanied us, and large sweet‑lips and snappers watched warily from behind coral bushes.  The rocks were adorned in an array of pastel soft corals, with schools of pink and violet anthias.

This would not be a good snorkeling site, as most of it was quite deep, and there is really no shelter from the prevailing winds.  The sea was very rough, so it was a case of quick out, and then quick back into the dive boat.


Christmas Rock, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & Rubble slope
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  400.8'S, 13412.2'E
Depths:  15‑60' (5‑18m)
Date:  March 2015 & 2017
Visibility:  50' (15m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Yes, all around the island. Beware current
Features:  A bit of everything: fish, soft corals, contours
Divers:  Sue, Jon
A large Ribbon Sweetlips cruises by soft corals, Christmas Rock
Ribbon Sweetlips cruises by soft coral, Christmas Rock

Christmas Rock lies on the southern end of Iris Strait, on the western side of the channel, before the open ocean.  Currents can be strong here, so prepare for a drift dive on at least one side of the rock.  Reasonable shelter can be found at the northern and southern sides.  We splashed on the north, and proceeded with reef on our left, to the south.  Just near the splash site at about 40' we hovered over a field of Spaghetti Garden Eels.  Hundreds of eels, some poking out of the sand more than 20" (0.5m), others barely visible.  Under a boulder ledge we saw a family of 6 lionfish, 5 adults and a dark black juvenile.  Around them swam a school of semi transparent cardinal‑fish.  The landscape alternated from soft coral covered boulders to rubble slopes, but always with plenty to see.  We approached quite close to a huge Thorny Stingray which had lost its tail, and now sported only a short stub.

Tall purple sea fans sported an array of colorful crinoids (feather stars) that clung to the fan branches to catch passing nutrients.  Sometimes we saw the crinoids walking on their stalk like "legs" along the fans.  Nearby, the billowing orange, yellow and pink soft corals made colorful backgrounds for the schools of small damsel and cardinal‑fish.

This is a good snorkeling site, as the boulders and corals are quite shallow close to the rock.  With luck you may be able to swim the whole way around the rock.  But snorkelers must beware of the fierce currents, perhaps towing a dinghy rather than tying up.


Aquarium, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & Rubble slope
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  354.9'S, 13406.2'E
Depths:  10'‑55' (3‑17m)
Date:  March 2015 & 2017
Visibility:  45' (13m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Good all around Sareneus Is. Beware currents
Features:  Lots soft coral on boulders & wall
Divers:  Sue, Jon
A Scorpionfish blends perfectly against the reef, Triton Bay
An adult Tasseled Scorpion-fish blends perfectly against the reef

Aquarium is a protected, relatively current-free bay on the south eastern side of Sareneus Island.  This island is locally known as Pulau Arus, which means "Current Island" due to its reputation for having swirling, changeable currents.  We splashed in about 20' and descended to about 70' then made our way up the slopes, zigzagging from boulder to boulder and over some rubble slopes.  At the southern end of the bay, with the reef on our right, we attempted to round the guardian rock, but the current was too strong against us, so it was not worth wasting air just to see another bay of pretty coral and fish, when it was quite beautiful where we were.  So we saved Little Komodo itself for another day, another dive.

This site has a wonderful array of boulders and walls to explore.  We found several large lobsters lurking under ledges.  We located 2 scorpion‑fish, who let us photograph them quite close, but the schools of fusiliers sometimes got in the way! Scorpion‑fish are so well camouflaged that it is one more reminder of why NOT to touch the reef!  Leeza, the dive guide, located 2 new (to us) nudibranchs, including the white circular egg casing of some nudibranch.  Too bad the parent wasn't hanging out nearby.

The boulders are covered in bright pink, yellow and white soft corals, and blue tubular and green spherical tunicates adorn the rocks.  There's just so much to see, so many details to take it, one could dive here over and over and barely begin to know it all.  We weren't there on a particularly fishy day, but we were able to approach quite close to several big Many Spotted Sweetlips.

Snorkeling is excellent in this protected bay with rock formations adding to the intrigue.  Just beware of currents if you venture too far offshore.


David's Rock, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & Rubble slopes
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  354.4'S, 13406.6'E
Depths:  15-60' (6-18m)
Date:  March 2015
Visibility:  30' (10m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Possibly along the coastal wall.
Features:  Contours, colorful coral, swim through
Divers:  Sue, Jon
Nudibranch Chromodoris Geometrica moves slowly down a wall
Nudibranch Chromodoris geometrica heading downhill

This dive is in a fairly protected coastal area, and the tide was falling, so viz was not great.  We concentrated on seeking out the nudibranchs, shrimps and lurking creatures.  Previously named Kathy's Rock, it was redubbed David's Rock after world renowned underwater photographer David Doubilet lost his camera here.  We had no luck finding it!

We splashed near the coast, and dropped to 60' (18m) where the big boulders met a rubble slope dotted with leather corals, huge barrel sponges, and small bommies of hard corals.  Swimming amongst the waving branches of the soft corals and the stiff arms of hard corals were hundreds of bright pink, violet and orange anthiases, together with colorful damsels, chromis and dascyllus.  A real-time aquarium!  Our dive guide, Leeza, found several nudibranchs feeding on tunicates and sponges.  The bright Chromodoris geometrica raises and lowers its white forebody as it moves, looking more like a tail waving, than a head going up and down.  Unfortunately, it was hard to capture this motion!  Leeza also pointed out small fish that live on the whip corals and sea fans, but many of these were too small for us to see clearly!  We probably need a magnifying glass!

We had the usual surgeonfish and triggerfish around us, but also several lionfish, including a smaller species than the Common, called the Spotfin Lionfish.  The current picked up a bit as we moved towards the point of land, so we circled up and around as much as possible, ending up near a big swim-through at the head of the peninsula.  Leeza pointed to it, just for information, but Jon went on through.  When he got to the far side and saw no one behind him, he swam back through, and finally surfaced to see us at the boat.

In conditions with higher visibility (rising tide, maybe) this could be a good snorkeling site, as the boulders and corals are quite shallow close to the rocky shore.  But snorkelers would do best to tow a dinghy.


C.I. Rocks, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & terraced slopes
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  354.63'S, 13406.85'E
Depths:  15-70' (6-20m)
Date:  May 2017
Visibility:  30' (10m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Yes, all around the island. Beware currents
Features:  Contours, colorful coral, swim through
Divers:  Sue, Jon, cruising friends
Jon exits the swim-through at C.I. Rocks
Jon exits the swim-through at C.I. Rocks

This dive is just off shore of the Conservation International beach, on the eastern side of Iris Strait.  Not a "named site" per se, we chose to dive here when the currents were too strong to venture into the strait without a live boat.  We were able to anchor 3 dinghies on the eastern side of a small island and circumnavigate it.  We found very little current even on the western side, but the fish were plentiful and the landscape was very changeable.  Several swim-throughs made for an interesting end to the dive.

Nudibranchs seemed to love this area, and we checked off several new ones as we peered into the colorful masses of life on the rocks.

Lionfish are very common here, and we had to be careful not to bump one when peering closely at the walls for nudibranchs. The current picked up a bit as we approached the south end of the islet, but was not a worry.

In conditions with higher visibility (rising tide, maybe) this could be a good snorkeling site, as the boulders and corals are quite shallow close to the small island.  But snorkelers would do best to tow a dinghy if venturing on the Iris Strait (western) side.


White Rock, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & sand slopes
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  354.72'S, 13407.25'E
Depths:  15-80' (6-24m)
Date:  May 2017
Visibility:  30' (10m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  No.  Mostly too deep.
Features:  Interesting boulders. Macro site
Divers:  Sue, Jon, cruising friends
Sue dives White Rock with bright crinoids
Sue dives White Rock with bright crinoids

By staying on the eastern side of White Rock this is a mellow, pretty site with colorful soft corals on the boulder sides and gently sloping sand that houses many gobies and sea fans.  It is not a large area, so you have to dive with the intention of poking along, studying sea fans for pygmy seahorses and peering into clusters of colorful marine life to fins nudibranchs.  IF you ventuyre too far from the protected eastern side you may encounter strong currents.

We found a nice Taselled Wobbegong shark under a shelf, which was perfect timing as Rainer was working on a report for marine biology on wobbegong sharks!  Lurking on the walls of the boulders were several camouflaged scorpionfish.  I hate to think how many we DIDN'T see!  One good reason to use the stainless steel pointer to touch the reef if necessary, and not your fingers!

We were happy to find that the many ribboned sweetlips were unafraid, meaning they are not hunted with spear guns. We found a blue and black globular urchin and many huge barrel sponges.  Black coral bushed (which are white) adorned the slopes.  There was lots of the dark green knobbly hard coral that looks like trees.

Some crevices were filled with ring tailed and possibly spot-naped cardinalfish. Some of our friends spotted several new nudibranchs and flatworms (which are more colorful and beautiful than the name "worm" would imply!)


Little Komodo, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & Rubble slopes
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  354.99'S 13406.18'E
Depths:  10-60' (3-18m)
Date:  April, May '15, Mar, Apr '17
Visibility:  70' (22m) in Apr, 40' (12m) May
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Yes, but beware of current offshore
Features:  Interesting contours, colorful soft coral
Divers:  Sue, Jon, Rachel, Peter
Rachel shoots soft coral bommie pictures, Little Komodo, Triton Bay
Rachel & soft coral bommie, Little Komodo

Little Komodo is a small dive site packed with beautiful coral and loads of fish and critters.  Named for the bountiful dive sites in the Komodo National Park in southern Indonesia, this site does not disappoint.  Due to its protected location at the southern end of Sareneus Island, it is a preferred dive site when the currents are running too strongly on the eastern and western sides of the island.  Visibility ranges from a low 9m to a more typical 15m.  On our first dive we had many fish and great viz, but a few days later, in mid-April the viz was down and we concentrated on the critters, hunting for the tiny, secretive Potohoni seahorse, which we found, but had trouble photographing with our small camera.  The May 1 dive had considerably worse viz as the winds had started to turn to the SE bringing disturbed water and nutrient clouds.

On April 11 we began diving with our wonderful "other daughter" Rachel, from Australia.  Unfortunately her own BCD had a broken tank strap which we could not jury rig in time, so while we dove, she snorkeled above us.  We splashed near the island and quickly dropped to about 60' (18m) where the big boulders met a rubble slope dotted with black coral bushes, huge barrel sponges, and bright sea‑fans (home to the pygmy seahorses!)  Peter, from the boat Per Ardua, was diving with us on his birthday, so Leeza arranged to present him with a can of beer and a Happy Birthday sign on her white board during the dive.  Fun!

Rachel got to dive the site a few days later and we were rewarded with a young hawksbill turtle and more nudibranchs.  We were often in company with schools of sweetlips and emperors.

This is a great snorkeling site, as the boulders covered in brilliant soft corals rise to within a meter or so of the surface, right up against the island's walls inside the protected cove.


Floral wrasse hides in the folds of leather coral. Triton Bay
Floral wrasse hides in the folds of leather coral
Bo's Rainbow, Triton Bay
Type: Boulders & Rubble slopes
Access: Dive boat or dinghy
Position: 0354.784'S 13407.33'E
Depths: 15-50' (6-15m)
Date: April 2015 & 2017
Visibility: About 30'
Dive Pros: Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling: Possibly along the coastal wall.
Features: Colorful coral, nice swim through
Divers: Sue, Jon, Rachel, Rainer

This dive is located on the eastern side of Iris Strait and is well named, for we found a true rainbow of colors of soft corals and bright fish.  We were accompanied by a small school of very friendly long‑fin spadefish (aka batfish) as we poked around the coral formations on a sandy slope.  We saw a floral wrasse hiding (not too effectively) inside soft leather coral, but quite unafraid.  Venturing down the sandy slope to 60 or 80ft you might be lucky to find a pygmy seahorse coiled about the branches of a sea fan, but it takes really good eyes!

This site also yielded several nudibranchs, and a huge porcupine‑fish.  At the end of the dive is a nice swim through, one of those not very challenging, but still fun underwater adventures.  Rachel and Sue had been trying to learn to identify many species of crinoid (feather stars) and were excited to see some of the less common species here.  Some large scorpionfish hide on the rocks.

Bo's Rainbow is on one of the small rocky islets in the Iris Strait, and as such is subject to strong currents.  Snorkelers would be advised to tow a dinghy or to have a dive boat nearby.


Signal Goby with twin spots and dark fins. Triton Bay
Signal Goby with twin spots and dark fins
Third Rock, aka Froggies, Triton Bay
Type:  Macro lens, wall
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  354.24'S, 13406.75'E
Depths:  15-45' (6-14m)
Date:  April '15 and '17
Visibility:  30' (10m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Not great
Features:  Wall
Divers:  Sue, Jon, Rachel

This dive site is tucked right up against the mainland, on the eastern side of Iris Strait, not far from the Conservation International post.  We chose it for its low current on this morning of super heavy currents.  Rachel had not been diving in a long time, so we wanted to ease into it for her. In 2017 we re-dove this site with our nephew, Rainer, who had also not had many dives.

We splashed right on the coast, and dropped to about 45' (14m) where we began poking around all the small formations on the sand.  Looking in the anemones we found graceful anemone shrimp and bubble shrimp in the bubble corals.  We were even lucky enough to get photos of them.  Leeza from Triton Bay Divers helped us find several nudibranchs such as a sky blue phyllidia (nicknamed a "warty" for the bumps on its dorsum) and a chromodoris species of nudibranch with bright blue and red orange colors.

The highlight of this dive was finding several pairs of signal, or walking gobies, on the sandy slope.  What beautiful little fish!

This dive was mellow, without current and a real eye opener to what can be found if you're patient enough to look.  It was also on this dive that Rachel and Sue decided that Leeza's pointer stick was a great idea, as she was able to use it as a crutch as well as a pointer.  We promptly bought 2 of them from Triton Bay Divers on our return.

Due to poor visibility (which may not change much over the course of the day) this is a less than ideal snorkeling site, as everything of interest lies on the sandy bottom, and is hardly visible from the surface. The sandy/small bommie area to the west of the dive site is abundant in anemones and anemone fish.


Pygmy seahorse, Hippocampus bargibanti, camouflaged in sea fan. Triton Bay
Pygmy seahorse in sea fan.  Camo!
Andy's Point, Triton Bay
Type:  Wall & drift
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  354.35S, 13406.41'E
Depths:  10-60' (3-18m)
Date:  April 2015 & Mar 2017
Visibility:  30' (10m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Good along the rock wall
Features:  Coral covered sandy slope.
Divers:  Sue, Jon, Rachel

This dive was a challenge because the currents were ferocious along the coast of this tiny island, just west of the Conservation International post.  We began the dive in the NE corner of the island, nosing around the clumps of bushy black coral.  In some sea fans Leeza found a pygmy seahorse, hanging upside down just to make seeing it tougher for us!  We would have seen it, really!  Or not!  We flipped the photo just to make it easier for you!

We had several lionfish, doing their lovely lazy lionfish dance out of the current, amongst bushy black coral that is actually white.  When we rounded the corner to the east we were caught by the current and could do nothing but drift along with it, enjoying the ride.

In calm conditions with high visibility this is a lovely snorkeling site, as the boulders and corals are quite shallow close to the rocky shore.  On the northwest corner, soft corals adorn the boulders, and large groupers lurk beneath the rocks.  Snorkelers would do best to tow a dinghy or have a dive boat nearby in case the currents pick up.


Hermaphroditic mating Nembrotha Sp nudibranchs. Photo by Rachel Mather
Hermaphroditic mating Nembrotha Sp nudibranchs
Pink Beach, Triton Bay
Type:  Coral slope. Sunset
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  355.85'S, 13406.92'E
Depths:  10-45' (3-14m)
Date:  April 2015
Visibility:  20' (6m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Possibly along the coastal wall.
Features:  Flasher wrasse
Divers:  Sue, Jon, Rachel

This dive is just a mile north of Triton Bay Divers and makes for a great sunset dive.  We splashed at about 16:30 into 5 meters onto a sandy slope.  Weaving back and forth we descended to about 15m max, then worked our way back up.

As usual, Leeza was our guide, using her bright underwater torch to illuminate sea fans, anemones and bubble coral looking for lovely critters.  We found some great little shrimp and a few lined nembrotha nudibranchs, including a couple busy naughty nudibranchs doing their hermaphroditic thing to make more nudis! 

We got to use the hand signal of a closed fist fairly often as we encountered several species of lionfish including the lovely (but dangerous) spotfin lionfish and the amazingly camouflaged tassled scorpionfish playing "you can't see me" on the coral covered rocks.

This might be a good beach entry snorkeling site in bright daylight, but it's hard to gauge what you might see or how the viz would be as we only saw it at sunset.


TBD House Reef, Triton Bay
Type:  Gentle slope. Sunset
Access:  Beach swim or dinghy
Position:  356.14S, 13407.35'E
Depths:  10-45' (3-14m)
Date:  April 2017
Visibility:  20' (6m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Yes, but not for flashers
Features:  Flasher wrasse. Soft coral
Divers:  Sue, Rainer
A male Flasher Wrasse in full display. Photo by Rainer
A male Flasher Wrasse in full display. Photo by Rainer

This dive off the beach and cliffs of Triton Bay Divers makes a great sunset dive.  We splashed at about 16:00 into 5 meters onto a sand and rubble slope.  We were on the hunt for xx Flasher Wrasse, possibly endemic to Triton Bay.  We descended slowly over the uniformly gray/green rubble and finally spotted schools of small red fish.  Amidst this harem of female flasher wrasse we could see a few males with their xx stripes and contrasting xx. ally, they went into display posture, and their dorsal fins stood erect, the classic "flash" of the flasher wrasse.  Beautiful!  Of course, we spent a lot of time trying to get good photos, but it sure was tough as you never knew which male would flash or when. The low light at day's end didn't help!

In good light, and with good visibility, this whole coast off the resort is alive with reef fish and small critters lurking among the occasional small bommies.  We've seen sea snakes here, guitar rays, many huge sea cucumbers, nudibranchs, shrimp gobies, and the usual damsels, butterflyfish, triggerfish and puffers.  Near the twin rocks that guard the entrance to the bay along the strait the bommies and boulders are festooned with crinoids and soft corals in a rainbow of colors.  At the right tide, there is a nice swim-through on the southern-most rock. 

This whole area makes for excellent snorkeling, but you need to pick your tide right to get the best viz.  As with elsewhere in Triton Bay, the best viz is found in the October to March season, with more cold water and plankton arriving in late April and May.  The bay is free of currents, but outside the twin rocks you'll find either a  north- or southbound current, so beware.


Southwest Aiduma, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  About 401.9'S, 13412'E
Depths:  15-73' (5-24m)
Date:  May 2015
Visibility:  30' (10m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  unknown
Features:  Interesting contours
Divers:  Sue, Jon
Leeza explores rock formations at 20m off Aiduma
Leeza explores rock formations at 20m off Aiduma

This was one of 3 Explore Dives we did with Triton Bay Divers in one day.  The goal was to search for potential new dive sites.  We would dive for about 8‑10 minutes, then surface if it wasn't interesting, or stay down for a maximum of 15 minutes, then surface, no matter what we found.  Then we'd move on to another site.  This one, on the southwest coast of Aiduma had lots to offer. There was an offshore bommie onto which we splashed.  Sue and Leeza buddied and meandered in and out of boulder gardens down to 24 meters.  There were lots of schooling fish, and soft corals.  Jon and Jimmy Thai (the other owner of Triton Bay Divers) ended up closer to the coast and were swept along with the current to the south, and saw very little of interest.  It will be interesting to see if this site is explored more and becomes one of the resort's named locales.

Sea fans and multi‑colored crinoids (feather stars) adorned the boulders, and we swam past huge puffer fish and coral‑munching parrotfish.  At 24 meters the boulders gave way to a sandy slope.  Leeza continually searched the fans and anemones for small critters, lighting up patches of coral with her strong torch, and pushing back the deep blue of the ocean.

One of the other 2 Explore dives was in the protected waters in the southeastern corner of Iris Strait, north of Dramai Island.  Although the surface water was a beautiful blue, the viz was mediocre due to silt and no current flushing action.  Here we found a profusion of sand critters, such as walking gobies, a bright colorful mantis shrimp lurking hesitantly just inside the burrow and small commensal shrimp on sea whips.  Someone with a good macro lens and lots of patience would love it.


Batu Jeruk, Triton Bay
Type:  Boulders & Drift
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  401.61'S, 13412.66'E
Depths:  15-90' (5-27m)
Date:  May 2015 & March 2017
Visibility:  50' (15m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  Yes, on the rock wall and around rock
Features:  Orange colored soft coral on rocks
Divers:  Sue, Jon
Weirdly beautiful tasseled wobbegong shark
Weirdly beautiful tasseled wobbegong shark

This dive is among our top favorites for Triton Bay.  We splashed on the SE corner of Aiduma Island, in the Iris Strait, under a huge rocky cliff.  Dropping down to 17m (57') we swam round rock formations covered in bright orange soft corals which give the site its name "orange rock".  There was a mild current but enough for the polyps of the tubastrae species of soft corals to be open, creating bright yellow "flowers" outside the spongy orange bases.  Leeza and Sue peered into the dense coral growth on the rocky walls, and were lucky enough to find several species of nudibranchs.  Jon and Jimmy swam down to 27m (90') to check out schools of snappers and some large groupers.  Under a rocky ledge Leeza spotted a lazing wobbegong shark, with tassels on its head, beautiful mosaic markings on its back and a long tightly curled tail.  Minutes later Jon spotted another wobbegong, this one larger and possibly an ornate wobbegong, lying in a deep crevice.  This one allowed us to swim over the top of it and get a great view.

In the sea fans on the rocky substrate Leeza located both a Pontohi and a pygmy seahorse, each less than 1" (about 2cm)!  Sue, in her excitement to photograph them, forget a basic maneuver on the new camera, which was to slide the focal length to full wide angle before employing the macro function.  Result: out of focus seahorses. Dang! But at least we DO get to say that we've seen them now.

Our dives in 2017 yielded more wobbegongs, some big bumphead parrotfish, Napolean wrasse and a white tipped reef shark.

With a mind to the current, this is an excellent snorkeling site with lots of fish and colorful soft corals.  You might be able to swim around Orange Rock itself (current allowing!),  and also explore the rocks that tumble into the sea to the north east of the rock. For safety a dive boat should be nearby, or a dinghy should be towed.  This was an awesome Grand Finale for our 2015 diving adventures in Triton Bay.


Diver hovers over yellow crinoid to shoot a crinoid shrimp
Connie, from Germany, moves in for a shot
GPS Point, Triton Bay
Type:  Offshore pinnacle
Access:  Dive boat or dinghy
Position:  Not sure. Southern Triton Bay
Depths:  24-65' (7-20m)
Date:  May 2015
Visibility:  36' (11m)
Dive Pros:  Triton Bay Divers
Snorkeling:  No
Features:  Isolated bommie
Divers:  Sue, Jon

This was a new dive for Jimmy from Triton Bay Divers, one that had been found by Andy, their Indonesian dive guide.  This is a bommie that rises to within 24' (7m) of the surface, but is never exposed.  After maneuvering around for a few minutes over dark blue/green water, Andy announced our arrival.  We splashed onto the top of a shelf of sand and coral, then swam down keeping reef right to the base at about 20m. Viz wasn't great, but we didn't expect it to be, given how deeply we were tucked into Triton Bay.  We had sailed to the northeastern corner of the bay, and knew that the water viz dropped to zero with all the wash from 2 rivers.

On the walls of the bommie were huge white sea fans and soft white corals.  Big groupers prowled the edges and seemed unafraid of us.  We found nudibranchs on the rock shelf and commensal shrimp on some of the sea fans.  This was more of a macro photography site than a wide angle site, due to low viz and the lack of abundant color.  Not to say the occasional gardens of crinoids and soft corals weren't great!  We found a big spiny lobster peeking from his hole and huge adult blue ringed angelfish.

This dive has to be timed for minimal current, as there is no where to drift to, if you are carried off.  There would be nothing to see in the depths of the Bay.


SOUTHERN INDONESIA

Island/Atoll Dive Name Depths Month Year

Flores Gilibodo Island 10-25' (3-7m) Aug '15

Komodo
National
Park
Shotgun Alley 13-40' (4-12m) Aug '15
Sabolan Besar 20-70' (6-21m) Aug '06
Castle Rock 20-70' (6-21m) Aug '06
Crystal Rock 0-100' (0-30m) Aug '06
Japanese Garden 0-50' (0-15m) Sept '06
Pulau Banta 0-70' (0-21m) Sept '06

Gili Air Air Home Reef 0-60' (0-18m) Sept '06
Moyo Island Moyo West 0-60' (0-18m) Sept '15
Bali NP POS II 20-40' (6-13m) Oct '15
Bali NP Coral Garden 0-60' (0-18m) Oct '15

Southern Indonesia includes a variety of islands and underwater landscapes.  Stretching from the low, sandy Kai Islands in the east to the rugged mountainous islands of Timor and Alor, the dry desert-like islands of Komodo National Park, to the volcanic islands of Flores and Bali there is a lot to explore!

Many of our dives in southern Indonesia in 2006 and 2015 were done in the clear and relatively un-fished waters of Komodo National Park.  The park covers a handful of small islands between the larger islands of Flores to the east and Sumbawa to the west.  Although the park includes one small fishing village, the over-fishing we'd noticed throughout this region of Indonesia seems to have been curtailed.  This, combined with a good flow of sea water through the various channels between the islands, makes for excellent visibility and a wonderful variety of marine life.

In 2006 and 2015 we often dove with other cruising friends who had compressors on board.  As is customary we either paid for the fills at the going rate of about $5 to $8/tank, or we traded fills for gasoline for their compressors.  After our Sabolan Besar dive we moved the boats to Labuan Bajo and were able to get professional fills (again about $5/tank) from Bajo Dive Center.

We dove with professional dive companies in Lombok and Bali.  From our anchorage in Lovina Beach, on the north Bali coast in 2015 we dove with a professional outfit who organized the truck ride to Northwest Bali National Park, the boat to Menjangan Island, the dives, and the return trip to Lovina Beach, making it an all-day outing.

Our track through Komodo National Park
Our track through Komodo National Park.  Click on a dive-flag to go to our description of that dive.

In 2006 this was our first diving since Fiji, and our primary underwater photographer (Chris) had left, so Amanda was learning to do most of the underwater photography.  She was also the only one who could read the camera underwater.  By 2015, on our way around Indonesia once again, Sue had become the primary photographer, and had invested in a prescription mask!  By 2017 Sue was the primary photographer, though it was always fun to turn the camera over to friends or family who wanted to give it a try!


Small bommies of coral highlighted Gilibodo
Small bommies of coral highlighted Gilibodo

Gilibodo Island

Type:

Shallow bommie dive

Access:

Small sandy anchorage off the east end of the island

Position:

8 24.0'S, 119 48.8'E (note: charts are 1/4nm off)

Depths:

10-20' (3-7m)

Date:

August 2015

Visibility:

About 40' (12;5m)

Dive Pros:

16 miles SSE in Labuan Bajo, Flores Island

Snorkeling:

Yes, on the reef near where we dove

Features:

Easy no-current dive

We anchored in the protected bay on the western side of Gilibodo (Sabibi?) Island where we were protected from the SE winds. Sue joined John from Millennium and another cruiser for a casual off-the-boat dive.

We dove near the boats, towing the dinghy through the anchorage, as we weren't sure if there would be a current or not.  The entire island is surrounded by great looking coral and one could probably do several different dives here.  Saw lots of anemones and small reef fish, mostly old friends.

This was my first chance to use the new gear I brought back to Ocelot over a year ago, so I was happy to have it be a relaxing, virtually no-current dive along the wall of the island. We swam north at about 65' (20m) until there was current, then returned, moving up the slope for different sea life and less depth. There weren't many healthy hard corals, but the soft corals and anemones were bright and lively.


Beautiful sea fan like a bonsai tree
Beautiful sea fan like a bonsai tree

Shotgun Alley

Type:

Drift dive

Access:

Dinghy.

Position:

8 28.6'S, 119 33.2'E (note: charts are 1/4nm off)

Depths:

13-40' (10-12m)

Date:

August 2015

Visibility:

About 40' (12.5m)

Dive Pros:

in Labuan Bajo, Flores Island

Snorkeling:

Yes, with a dinghy in tow

Features:

Many fish, bright corals, possibly strong current.

Sue dove here with a cruising friend, towing a dinghy due to the current.  The seascape is varied, with patches of sand and small bommies, then some larger bommies that can be quite shallow so while drifting you have to be careful of your depth.It's essential to tow a dinghy if you dive this on your own.

With the strong current, this is an especially fishy area, and with luck the viz will be excellent.  Fusiliers, snappers, triggerfish and butterflyfish were all abundant.  A hawksbill turtle swam lazily along with us before diving into the deeper part of the channel.

Large bommies are decorated in sea fans, crinoids and soft corals.  Colorful anthias harems swarm the reef and it's fun trying to find the attendant male anthias.

This pass is good for snorkeling because you can choose your depth and drift along close to the coast, or out over some shallow bommies.  You definitely need to tow a dinghy, though, if you're on your own.


Sabolan Besar

Type:

Wall dive

Access:

Small sandy anchorage off the east end of the island

Position:

8 24.0'S, 119 48.8'E (note: charts are 1/4nm off)

Depths:

20-70' (6-21m)

Date:

Aug 2006

Visibility:

About 80' (24m)

Dive Pros:

8 miles SSE in Labuan Bajo, Flores Island

Snorkeling:

Yes, on the reef nearby to the north

Features:

Nice and easy wall dive
A bright orange sponge in Indonesia
One of many bright sponges seen in Indonesia

(Jon)  This was our first dive in over a year, so we decided to start with a pretty easy dive.  We circumnavigated the island in Ocelot, looking for a decent anchorage but the only place was off the eastern point in a nice patch of sand, so we anchored there with fellow cruisers Vagabond Heart and our dive partners Rob and Dee off Ventana.

We dove north of the anchorage, but the entire island is surrounded by great looking coral and one could probably do several different dives here.  We anchored the dinghies in a small sandy patch and splashed into 15' (4m) on the edge of a drop-off.  Continued down the wall to about 60' (18m) and headed north along the wall into a slight current.  Saw lots of fans, sponges, and colorful soft corals.  Most of the deeper hard corals seemed old and dead but the soft corals and fans were stunning.  Saw several small fish, mostly old friends.  After about 20 minutes we ran into a strong current (just as I saw some big fish feeding in the distance) so we turned around.  Came up to about 40' (12m) for the trip back which made for better light, brighter colors, and more concentrated growth.  A good refresher dive after not diving for so long.

(Sue)  This was my first chance to use the new gear I brought back to Ocelot over a year ago, so I was happy to have it be a relaxing, virtually no-current dive along the wall of the island. We swam north at about 65' (20m) until there was current, then returned, moving up the slope for different sea life and less depth. There weren't many healthy hard corals, but the soft corals and anemones were bright and lively.

Sue making friends with a sea fan
Sue making friends with a sea fan

(Amanda)  This was a nice mellow dive to start off our several-week diving frenzy.  We got a list from one of the local boats of all the good dive spots - this meant we frequently had a dive boat come into our otherwise peaceful anchorage, but we also got to see the absolute best of Komodo National Park underwater.  And while the best was actually closer to Komodo Island, this site was nice too.

We could probably have dived anywhere around Sabolan Besar, but chose the SE corner because there was a small sand patch we could anchor on.  We dove north of the sand patch (on the east coast) because it looked like it dropped off faster, but the reef looked just as nice (from the surface) on the south coast.  Unfortunately, while the region is a national park, that designation doesn't really apply to the water - or it's just not enforced.  There were several fishing boats around the island when we arrived, all on the west side.  But once we got in it was obvious they'd been all around the island.  There weren't any large fish, though we saw some nice small ones.  But the reef was intact - colorful corals and crinoids, lots of small blue-veined red sponges that look like hearts, and several large (3'+, 1m) barrel sponges.

We swam north along the wall, then turned around when we hit a slight current to drift back with it.  We made our safety stop on the reef/sand line and ascended.  Mom and I snorkeled back to Ocelot, but the sand was devoid of life except for a few little shrimp gobies.


Castle Rock

Type:

Sea-mount dive

Access:

Dinghy - 2 Boat moorings in NW Gili Lawa Laut bay

Position:

8 25.934'S, 119 33.784'E (take your GPS)

Depths:

20-70' (6-21m) - deeper if you want

Date:

Aug 2006

Visibility:

100' (30m)

Dive Pros:

In Labuan Bajo

Snorkeling:

No - top of sea-mount is 20' (6m) deep

Features:

Vast schools of fish, good corals, but watch the current
A large Jack swims by at 60 m
A large Jack swims by at 20 m (66 ft)

(Jon)  This was actually my favorite dive for this area.  In the NW corner of Gili Lawa Laut island (Komodo National Park) is a small bay with 2 good moorings, used by both dive-boats and yachts.  We tended to leave Ocelot on a mooring even though a little swell can make it into the anchorage.  An alternate and usually quieter anchorage is about a mile to the SSW, off the pass between the islands, but it's difficult to anchor without damaging the coral.  (Some dive-boats complained to the 8 yachts anchored there that they were breaking the coral - which was shamefully true - so it was suggested that the dive companies or park put in some more moorings so boats wouldn't have to anchor.)

Make sure you take a portable GPS with you as the sea-mount is unmarked except for a slightly lighter color in the water.  We splashed into 20' (6m) and set the dinghy anchor firmly in the bare rocks (NOT live coral) as the currents can run strongly here (we actually had to abort a later dive here because of current).  Dropped down the side of the sea-mount to about 60' (18m) and started circling the mount, heading into the current initially.

We've seen lots of lionfish in Indonesia
We've seen lots of lionfish in Indo

We were immediately struck by the vast array of fish swarming around us.  Many different schools could be seen, keeping together but intermingling as well.  I don't think I'd ever seen a whole school of Moorish Idols before.  When I'd try to get a picture of a particular fish, another would often get in the way, they were that thick around us.  The walls of the mount were also covered in both hard and soft corals, giving us lots to look at and appreciate.

After our initial circumnavigation of the mount we came up to about 40' (12m) and did another slow circumnavigation, seeing more and different scenery.  Even our safety stops at 30' and 15' (10m and 5m) had new and varied scenery.  Truly a world-class dive.

(Sue) This was my favorite dive so far in Indonesia with seemingly endless soft corals, gorgonians and lots of fish! We splashed into 20' (6m) onto the top of the sea-mount, then descended, clockwise to about 75 feet (23 m). The water was comfortably warm in just 3 mm shortie wetsuits, and the visibility was over 100' (30m). Meandering slowly along the slope of the mount we did 2 circumnavigations in 45 minutes, spiraling upwards. On the eastward side the currents (which were still very weak) converged and attracted many pelagics, especially tunas and trevally. Schools of snapper circled above us. Lionfish hovered above the corals, and schools of damsels and angelfish brightened the scene. The sheer range of new (to us) species of fish was a bit overwhelming, but wonderful. Fat groupers (3' or 1m) slid between the plate coral tables, and eyed us with caution. Fishing is prohibited on the sea mount, but the lure of the big fish must be irresistible -- a dive operator out of Labuanbajo, Flores Island almost had to ram a local fisherman off the site a few days before we got there. Komodo National Park is struggling, and needs more international support to maintain its underwater beauty.

(Amanda)  A beautiful dive!  The water was warm, the coral was bright and colorful, and the fish were abundant and new!  On the east side there must have been some sort of convergence because we had to swim through the massive schools of fish that congregated there.  We started deep on the dive (getting to 75') and spiraled our way up, but really there's just as much to see in the middling depths (50' was great).  Coral gave way to rock at about 20', and the current was more noticeable there, too.

One thing that sticks with me about this place is the variety of life.  Soft corals, hard corals, plate corals, crinoids, sponges, anemones... the list goes on and on, and then there's fish as well!  Big titan triggerfish, jacks and trevally, slender fusilier in schools as far as you can see, angelfish, clownfish, rabbitfish, squirrelfish, butterflyfish, and lionfish.  Read the last six types and you'd almost think they were anything but fish, but they were and they were everywhere and they were wonderful.


Brilliant reds oftunicates and nudibranch egg case
Brilliant pink nudibranch egg case

Crystal Rock

Type:

Pinnacle dive

Access:

Dinghy - 2 Boat moorings in NW Gili Lawa Laut bay

Position:

8 26.4'S, 119 34.0'E - top of rock is exposed

Depths:

0-100' (0-30m) - deeper if you want

Date:

Aug 2006

Visibility:

100' (30m)

Dive Pros:

Not really but dive boats come most days

Snorkeling:

In the big-boat anchorage - look for manta rays

Features:

Fantastic - fish, hard and soft corals

(Jon)  Crystal Rock is apparently the classic beautiful dive for this area.  From the anchorage mentioned above you can see a small rock that just breaks the surface to the north.  It's best to do a live-boat or live-dinghy dive here, as anchoring on the coral is prohibited. Just watch the currents -- they can be strong.

A Map Puffer sits sedately at a cleaning station
A Map Puffer sits sedately at a cleaning station
Note the blue-striped Cleaner Wrasse by his tail

We splashed into about 12' (4m) and headed down the wall of the pinnacle to about 60' (18m).  Started our initial circumnavigation by swimming into what current we could feel (not much).  We didn't see the vast schools of fish here as we did at Castle Rock but there were certainly lots of fish and very impressive corals, both hard and soft, all vibrantly competing for the available nutrients.  After our initial deep circumnavigation of the pinnacle we came up to about 40' (12m) and made another circuit, reveling in the greater light, more vibrant colors, and different scenery.  Another world-class dive.

(Sue) Another primo dive in Indonesia! Thank goodness for Komodo National Park and their preservation activities. The tide was low when we did this dive, and that may have contributed to the sediment in the water (not as clear as Castle Rock, the day before). Or it could have been the wave action on the exposed rock. No matter. The sea life was again fantastic. Amanda took the camera and did a good job juggling dive computer, gauges, floatation and camera. I stuck close by her, as the photographer often lags behind (to take pictures!) or follows a "subject" down a few meters, and has to be coaxed back up to the correct depth. The dive was a feast of fish, corals, sea fans, and sponges.

A lovely & common tunicate in Indonesia
A lovely & common tunicate in Indonesia

(Amanda) Camera dive! After most of our pictures from Castle Rock came out black, due to Dad not being able to see the settings, the camera was handed off to me and my "young eyes." Unfortunately, this entire period of diving coincided with one of our infrequent battery shortages, so we weren't able to use the slave strobe - and while the visibility and light quality really were excellent, everything would have been better with the big flash. (As it was, I used the small built-in flash on the A-80 which seemed to be enough light in this very clear water, especially if I was taking close-ups. It's the fish far away that were hard to capture without the strobe.) Plus I haven't spent as long as Chris did fiddling with the camera and finding out all its quirks and settings. But I think I did okay for my first attempt. I'm afraid Mom did sort of have to keep chasing after me, as I have a habit of seeing the coolest fish only when they're 10 feet below me and swimming away.

At times I had to tell myself to turn the camera off for a while and just enjoy the dive. Otherwise, I would have lagged behind and not seen the big picture. And the big picture was gorgeous. This dive site is an excellent one.


A colorful giant clam surrounded by soft corals
A colorful clam surrounded by soft corals
Japanese Garden

Type:

Wall dive

Access:

Dinghy or Dive boat

Position:

8 26.20'S, 119 27.16'E

Depths:

0-50' (0-15m)

Date:

Sept 2006

Visibility:

80' (24m)

Dive Pros:

No

Snorkeling:

Yes, lots of nice shallow coral

Features:

Relaxing easy dive, lots of big sea-fans

The Japanese Garden was full of sea fans
The Japanese Garden was full of sea fans

(Jon)  After our last couple dives, this was a nice, easy, relaxing dive.  We anchored Ocelot in the southeast corner of Telok Batu Montjo bay (on the northwest corner of Komodo Island) and took the dinghies to a convenient sand patch off the northernmost beach on the eastern shore.  Splashed into standing depth, where the sand sloped off gradually.  Decided to work our way out to the point of the bay as the current seemed to be running gently into the bay.  Dropped down the slope to about 40' (12m) where the sand leveled off and headed north, turning around when we'd breathed half our air and coming up a bit for some different views as we returned to the dinghy.

The coral was laid out more in isolated clumps than the vast fields we'd seen lately, but they were very pretty.  In fact, the whole place seemed to have been put together by some ancient Japanese gardener with infinite time on his hands.  Each clump of coral had several varieties of both hard and soft corals placed just-so for maximum artistic effect, and each had a cloud of small fish around it.  Several different types of sea-fans were present, some almost 10' (3m) across.  We also saw several 2' (.6m) clams, the first we've seen since Australia.  Very picturesque.

(Sue)  "Japanese Garden" is our own name for this dive, because it seems to fit the beautiful layout of perfect coral bommies teeming with colorful fish, all gently interspersed with white sand. It would be a wonderful learning dive site as there was so much to see even in about 25' (8m).

(Amanda) If I hadn't already been certified, this spot would have been a great place to do it. Beautiful soft white sand in 15 feet, with little bommies of beautiful coral all around it. Of course, there was no dive Pros there so I doubt anyone has ever had that pleasure.

The Japanese Garden wasn't as abundant in life as some other dives we've done, but it was a nice change. The small blobs of coral were close to each other but obviously separate. Here was a field of soft corals. There's a big rock with an anemone and a moray eel. That one's got a huge sea-fan. Over there is a giant clam, colorful spotty mantle protruding beautifully. It was a wonderfully-laid-out site.


Staghorn Damsel in Starburst Anemone
Staghorn Damsel in Starburst Anemone

Pulau Banta

Type:

Gently sloping field

Access:

Dinghy or Dive boat

Position:

8 24.40'S, 119 19.24'E

Depths:

0-70' (0-21m)

Date:

Sept 2006,  Update 2015

Visibility:

80' (24m)

Dive Pros:

No

Snorkeling:

Yes, lots of nice shallow coral

Features:

Relaxing easy dive, lots of soft corals

(Jon)  This was another fairly easy dive.  The bay offered a nice big sandy patch to anchor Ocelot in 15-20' (5-6m) and then we took the dinghy just a bit north, although we could have started right off Ocelot if we'd wanted to.  Splashed into about 10' (3m), reset the dinghy anchor to avoid the coral, and headed up current and down slope to about 50' (15m) where it started to level off.

A stinging hydroid off Pulau Banta
A stinging hydroid off Pulau Banta

The most remarkable thing to me about this dive was the profusion of soft corals.  There were certainly some hard corals - we saw brains, elk-horn, plates, and several new varieties in bright red and another in dark green - but the colorful soft corals were what really caught the eye.  Vast fields of them growing one on top of another, for as far as we could see, augmented by sponges and sea-anemones with some new varieties of anemone-fish.

As normal for us, we turned around (and came up a bit) when we got to half a tank of air (1,500 psi or 100 bar) but we were surprised to find that we returned to the dinghy so quickly.  We'd actually been swimming into a fairly stiff current and hadn't realized it.  Something to remember...

(Amanda)  Mom, Dee, and I took the dinghy out before the dive to check currents, since the site we'd chosen was pretty exposed to Selat Sape, the large pass between Komodo and Sumbawa Islands. As it was, the current on the wall was too strong, so we dove on the northwest side of the bay we were anchored in.

Detail of Ice Crystal coral. Looks cool, huh?
Detail of Ice Crystal coral. Looks cool, huh?

The bay was rather shallow (as diving goes, not judging by anchorage) and sloped off gently to about 70' (21m) where it turned to sand. But we weren't really planning to go deep, and a lot of the best stuff to see was between 10 and 30 feet, where there was light. As Dad said, there was a lot of soft coral, plus sea fans and an interesting orangey-red brain coral. I took the camera, but we were down to Indonesian-made batteries which didn't give us many shots, especially with the flash.

(Sue) Since we had returned to the dinghy with so much air left, I took the camera and dove right from Ocelot in about 10-15' (3-5m) just around the sand and bommies near the bow of Ocelot where there was no current, and very good visibility. No, one is not supposed to ever dive alone, but given the high viz, the lack of current and dangerous fish, and the fact that I was within spitting distance of the boat and in very easy snorkeling depth, I felt very comfortable. This kind of time alone is very relaxing for me as I can sit on the sand and study the fish, or float just off the bottom, motionless, next to a bommie of busy fish. To me, this is one time the camera is a great friend. It's nice not to feel pulled along by the other divers who have an agenda, or route to follow.

NOTE from 2015: This area has been stripped clean probably by anchor chains, and was devastated with broken and dead coral.  Very distressing to see. We didn't get out to the wall where we dove in 2006 to see how it was doing.


Kyle, Mandy, Sue & Jon post-dive
Kyle, Mandy, Sue & Jon post-dive

Air Home Reef

Type:

Drift wall and gently sloping field

Access:

Dive boat or beach entry, beach exit

Position:

8 21.5'S, 116 5.4'E

Depths:

0-60 (0-16m)

Date:

16 September 2006

Visibility:

80' (24m)

Dive Pros:

Dream Divers, Gili Air

Snorkeling:

Yes, drift snorkel

Features:

Drift dive, then Clean-up Dive

(Amanda) We found out about this dive completely by chance.  Dream Divers, the dive Pros on Gili Air (off Lombok) had a poster out proclaiming "Splash for Trash - International Coastal Cleanup."  It sounded like a great idea - a free dive in a new spot to clean up the ocean!  We spread the news, but Mom, Dad, and I, plus Kyle from Estrela, were the only people to show up in the morning for the dive - Mom dove in the afternoon as well, along with Doug from Estrela.  The people at Dream Divers were very happy and got us all set up with gear and plastic garbage bags and showed us the sort of trash we were looking for.  The four of us, plus the divemaster and three other local divers and a couple snorkelers, piled into the "spider boat" (a trimaran-outrigger with two big outboards) and we started up the east coast of Gili Air.

We cleaned 4 big bags of trash off the sea floor
We cleaned 4 big bags of trash off the sea floor

We splashed into about 30 feet (10m) and immediately started drifting south.  The current was really ripping!  I had the camera, and a plastic bag in my pocket, but for the first 5 minutes or so it was all I could do to keep track of my depth, my buddy (Mom) and the wall as it went shooting by.  When I finally got used to it, it was rather fun flying along.  I saw 2 turtles and a stingray, and there were lots of fish and coral where a corner of the island protrudes into the current.  There wasn't much trash on the wall, which is a good thing because if we'd seen any, we'd have been hard pressed to get back up-current to it.

The current abated in a sandy patch off the dive Pros, and that was where we found the majority of the trash - big sheets of plastic, ropes, monofilament fishing line, cans, bottles, plastic wrappers, and big pieces of cloth.  I shot pictures of the few fish swimming above the sand in between picking up cans and bits of plastic, and Manik (the divemaster) pointed out something we haven't seen before - what we believe to be a Warty Frogfish.  The dive was fun, and we pulled up 3-4 large bags of junk.

A Warty Frogfish off Gili Air, Indonesia
A Warty Frogfish off Gili Air.  Yes, this really is
a fish!  You just have to use some imagination.

(Sue) This was one of the most satisfying and in some ways challenging dives I've done. After hearing my NAUI drill sergeant (actually a university professor!) still in my head after all these years saying, "Don't touch anything.  Don't stir up the sediment or sand" it was very strange to be grabbing hold of things (even if they were plastic bags or ropes) and pulling at them. Staying organized with the other clean-up divers was interesting...you'd be swimming along, looking for trash, then realize your buddy was behind you -- pulling on some monofilament line tangled around coral heads. Back you'd swim, lending a hand, gathering in the line as it was pulled free, all the while stirring up gobs of sediment so that visibility went from a nice 80' (24 m) to about 3' (1 m).  I was really glad I was not using my own BC or regulator set with all that sand in the water! The camera housing needed a thorough cleaning after the dives, though!

It helped me (psychologically) to know that we were in only about 15-20' (5-7m) the whole time so decompression times weren't an issue.  Holding onto a big black plastic bag was interesting too -- the bags all had their corners cut out so that the water could flow through, but that meant that the smaller bits of trash washed out as well. I ended up hugging my bag to try and keep everything enclosed until we got to the surface. Okay, so now add trying to take photos while doing all of this, and you begin to get the picture!

Viz dropped radically as we pulled up trash!
Viz dropped radically as we pulled up trash!

(Jon)  Chris and I had actually done a clean-up dive years earlier in Tonga, but this was very different.  In Tonga, there was no current and it had just rained buckets, so the ocean surface had a layer of sediment (muddy stream runoff) that was thick enough to obscure some light, and which slowly sank as the fresh and salt water mixed.  Also, Tonga had an incredible amount of junk on the bottom of Neiafu Bay - I think the 30 or so divers pulled up about a ton of junk.

The diving was also very different from Tonga.  The Gili Air water was clear and bright, but the current was amazingly strong.  Unfortunately, they didn't really impress on us beforehand just how strong the current would be, so it took several minutes for me to get used to the reef whizzing by on my right as I concentrated (hard!) on my depth, orientation, the other divers, and all the ganglia that divers have hanging off them.

Thankfully, Gili Air didn't have that much to clean up.  I got the impression that they participated in International Coastal Cleanup Day because all PADI dive-Pros did, but they didn't really need to.  We picked up a fair amount, but most of it was fishing refuse (monofilament, ropes, netting, bags, etc) that had drifted in on the current and settled where the current eddied back towards the beach.

Having a dive-master with us was fun.  As he was picking up an old bag he noticed a Warty Frogfish that I certainly would never have recognized as a fish, or even any sort of animal!


Egg casing of a Spanish Dancer Nudibranch. Moyo
Egg casing of a Spanish Dancer Nudibranch. Moyo

Moyo Island

Type:

Coastal drift dive

Access:

By boat, Amanwana Resort on w. Moyo Is

Position:

8 15.6S, 11729.3'E

Depths:

20-40' (7-13m)

Date:

Sept 2015

Visibility:

About 60' (18m)

Dive Pros:

Dive school at Amanwana Resort, west Moyo

Snorkeling:

Yes, on the reef near the resort pier

Features:

Gentle current dive

Moyo is a beautiful, isolated island off the western end of Sumbawa. The entire island is a nature reserve, and there are only a couple places to stay: one very rustic camping "resort" and the very posh (but friendly) Amanwana Resort which has hosted such folks as Princess Di and Bill Gates. We anchored south of the Amanwana Pier on the western coast of Moyo island, and took the dinghy north from there to splash over the reef north of the Tanjung Sarahetor.  I dove with John on Millennium, and we towed the dinghy with us, as we didn't know how strong the current would be.

To prolong our dive, we stayed shallow, enjoying the bright colors and reef fish.  We saw some bright egg casings of nudibranchs and many schools of bright anthias.  Just past this sloping reef the sea floor drops sharply and there must be some great dives along those walls.


Fire dartfish are usually seen in pairs. Bali
Fire dartfish are usually seen in pairs. Bali

POS II, Menjangang Island, Bali

Type:

Slope and wall dive

Access:

By boat, north of the pier in NW Bali National Park

Position:

8 05.80S, 114 30.6'E   approximately

Depths:

20-66' (7-20m)

Date:

Sept 2015

Visibility:

About 60' (18m)

Dive Pros:

Sunrise Divers, Lovina Beach, northern Bali.

Snorkeling:

Yes, on the reef near where we dove

Features:

Trevally, nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses.

We were anchored off Lovina Beach, northern Bali, so we scouted out dive shops ashore. We arranged with Sunrise Divers to take us, 4 divers, plus Jon's dad as a snorkeler, to the Northwest Bali National Park.  This involved an 2-hour truck ride, then a local boat ride out to Menjangan Island where our 2 dives took place.

The first dive was along a drop-off, called POS II.  We found lovely soft corals and swirling schools of trevally.  On a sandy slope were a couple bright fire dartfish, always fun to see.  The area is bright with soft and hard corals and our usual firneds, the butterflyfish, triggerfish, damsels and surgeonfish. Our guide was good at pointing out small critters.  But as is always the case, until you've dived with a guide a few times, he/she doesn't really know what you're interested in or what you've seen before making a one-day dive experience more of a potluck situation.


A chromodoris species of nudibranch, Bali
A chromodoris species of nudibranch, Bali

Coral Garden, Menjangang Island, Bali

Type:

Slope and wall dive

Access:

By boat, north of the pier in NW Bali National Park

Position:

8 05.8'S, 114 30.3'E  approximately

Depths:

20-80' (7-26m)

Date:

Sept 2015

Visibility:

About 60' (18m)

Dive Pros:

Sunrise Divers, Lovina Beach, northern Bali.

Snorkeling:

Yes, on the reef near where we dove

Features:

Coral garden with bright nudis and fish

Our second dive on Menjangan Island, Bali was at Coral Garden which was aptly named as it teamed with small reef fish and bright soft corals.  This was also on a narrow shelf, then a wall with nudibranchs and sea fans.  We were very new at locating nudibranchs so every one we found was a treat.  Having prescription lenses in the mask really helps for seeing those small critters!

Diving here was a fun adventure and a taste of the beauties of the national park. However, it's a long drive from the resort areas in the north and south of the island, so it wouldn't be my recommended way to do a dive trip here. Better to anchor nearby or stay at a dive resort near the national park. 


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