From the spectacular coral reefs of Raja Ampat to the mantas of Komodo National Park, Indonesia has some of the best liveaboard diving in the world.
The Indonesian archipelago has over thirteen thousand islands and sits inside the area known as the Coral Triangle. The islands and smaller islets are diverse and a vast number of them are uninhabited making a diving cruise the only way to get to many dive spots. Dive cruise itineraries in Indonesia vary between 4-11 days, the length will often depend on how remote the location you visit is.
There are two kinds of dive cruise available in Indonesia, motorised dive yachts and traditional Indonesian sailing boats. The sailing boats range from clean and simple like the KLM Sunshine and Lady Denok, to high end luxury like the The Dewi Nusantara which boasts a spa and ensuite rooms with their own baths. For something a little special, the master and state cabins of the Damai I and II have their own private balconies.
The motor yachts are less common than sailing boats and most are simple and comfortable. If you want a little more luxury, then the Blue Manta has very large cabins with ensuite baths and a classy inside dining area.
Diversity is the key word for diving in Indonesia, the range of different dive sites is phenomenal. Raja Ampat is famed as the most biodiverse place in the world, with more than 500 types of coral and over 1000 different species of fish. As well as reef sharks and pods of dolphins in Raja Ampat, there are the curious Wobbegong sharks found on sandy bottoms. Bigger marine life is also plentiful in areas like Komodo and the Banda Sea where divers can see mantas, whales and dolphins as well the biggest fish in the ocean the whale shark.
Divers looking to see whale sharks should consider West Papua as well. Cenderawasih Bay in West Papua is one of the few places in the world, where divers can hope to see several whale sharks in one dive. Those who love muck diving and critters will find Bali and Sulawesi have a lot to offer, seahorses are particularly abundant as well as shrimps, ghost pipefish and stargazers.
BEST TIME TO GO
January to December
The diving season in Indonesia is year round thanks to the number of islands and dive areas. Diving liveaboards to Komodo and Bali run all year but are in the most demand from April to November. Weather conditions mean Raja Ampat's dive season is from October to April and most operators don’t offer dive cruises outside of these times, prefering to head to Cenderawasih Bay. Raja Ampat and Cenderawasih Bay are fortunate enough to have whale sharks all year round.
Due to the number of islands in Indonesia, access to the departure ports for diving liveaboards often means multiple flights. Komodo and the surrounding areas are best reached through Bali International Airport. Some liveaboards depart directly from Bali and others from Labuan Bajo, which can be reached by an hour and a half connecting flight from Bali.
Raja Ampat diving boats normally depart from Sorong, it is best to take a four-hour connecting flight from Jakarta to get there. Some liveaboards, but not all, offer transfer from the airports to the departure point.