After a morning flight from Bali to Maumere in Flores you will board the Komodo Dancer and immediately set off east for some diving the next day on northern Adonara and Lembata before carrying on into the Panta/Alorstrait to dive the norther, central and southern sites of the area. We return either around the northern or southern coasts of Pantar and end our trip diving some of the spectacular sites on northern Flores and Maumere bay. On the morning of departure you will be transferred to the airport for the flight back to Bali.
Day 1: Arrival and boarding the Komodo Dancer
Maumere Harbour, North Flores
Welcome aboard the Komodo Dancer. Lunch will be served shortly after boarding followed by vessel and diving orientation briefings. Dive equipment and camera systems can then be set up while the boat slowly makes its way out of Maumere harbour and into the Flores Sea.
Day 2: Getting Started
Maumere Bay, North Flores
The bay at Maumere hosts and impressive and diverse array of dive sites; muck, walls, reef and even a shipwreck are the high points here. It is a great starting or ending point for any cruise as the harbour at Maumere is close and it is easy to hit any of the sites from there. To the east of the harbour there are several sandy gravel critter dives but the main two sites are the muck at Wodong Bay and the shipwreck a little further along the coast. To the north there is a great reef drift at Pangabatang while at Babi the shallow reef extends well away from the island before dropping off to walls, ledges and cracks; a similar underwater topography is shared at Pulau Besar. Pomana Besar and Pomana Kecil have a couple of great dives too, again with shallow reef dropping to deep walls, all with spectacular coral growth, teeming marine life. Most of the sites in the bay are easy to dive too.
The islands in the bay and town of Maumere were hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami in December 1992 which destroyed what was reckoned to be one of the Indonesia's best diving areas and evidence of this dual disaster is still evident on the wall and reef but the corals and marine life have rebounded and are now nearing their former glory. Keep any eye out in the bay too, we have spotted a lot of whales surfacing for air here.
Day 3: The Legends of Bacatan
The Bacatan Peninsula, Lembata
This area of the island of Lembata (Kawalu) is dominated by the imposing sight of Ill (Gunung) Ape (Fire Mountain) - 1,450 metres, the sometimes smoking and very active volcano and further west Gunung Ujulewon - 1,550 metres. There are many remote traditional villages dotted around the coastal perimiters of these mountains with the population specializing in fine Ikat weaving, fishing and animist beliefs.
The dive sites in this area offer great variety with dramatic sheer walls, sparkling reeftops, deep ledges, caverns and, on the slopes of Ille Ape, some tremendous black sand critter diving. On the ledges and walls it is common to see a variety of sharks, including black tips, white tips and greys; groups of eagle rays make frequent appearances too.
A new site that we have found at close to the village of Watu Wara Wutun has only been dived a few times so far but has already come up with a variety of sand dwelling octopus as well as a several different types of ghost pipefish, we have very high hopes for this site in the future.
Looking away from Lembata to the north on days with good visibility it is possible to see the island volcano of Komba. We visited here one morning (20 April 2009) with the idea to dive in a couple of areas. As we approached the island the smell of sulphur was in the air and the boat became covered in volcanic dust, it was possible to see molten lava and ash spewing from the east facing crater accompanied by deep rumbling sounds from within. A tender was dispatched to go close to the island but came back quickly - we thought better of diving here and moved away - impressive though the visit was.
The Alor/Pantar Strait
Located at the eastern tip of Nusa Tenggara, western the mythical and mysterious island of Alor has long been a mecca for the more adventurous diver. Difficult to get to it may be but the rewards are there for those who seek off the beaten track diving. Fierce currents sweep the strait between Pantar to the west and Alor itself, the islands of Pura, Ternate and Buaya acting as baffles in between, producing a divemasters nightmare for current predictions.
The end product of all the water movement here however is world class diving. Vertical walls, scintillating sea mounts and magnificent muck combine to produce a perfect environment tailor made for the marine life that live here, everything from Mola Mola to Harlequin Shrimp can be spotted. Add to this the friendly locals and the lack of other dive boats Alor is establishing itself as one of the hotbeds of Indonesian diving.
Day 4: Pristine Reefs and Endless Visibility
Ternate, Alor/Pantar Strait
Ternate is a limestone island towering out of the northern end of the Alor/Pantar Strait. The interior of the island rises up to 800 metres and is surrounded with a fringing reef that plunges into the depths sometimes just a few metres from the shore.
Currents here can be a little confusing. Having driven all around the island in a tender during a strong ebb (southbound) tide we found several places where there were strong counter currents, moving north, particularly on the eastern side.
The fringing reef has very good coral cover and dense but small marine life. The predominant topography is sloping reef, walls, overhangs and caverns although the northern part of the island has extensive flat and shallow reefs with some sandy bays.
Day 5: Critters and Anemone Carpets
Pura, Alor/Pantar Strait
Pura is the largest and most inhabited island in the Alor/Pantar Strait. Its mountainous interior rises to 1,050 metres and the landmass is 4 nautical miles across. There are a few villages here, each having their own place of worship, either mosques or churches. The main industry appears to be fishing as can be seen by the large number or fish traps scattered around the reefs here.
Due to its position the water temperatures at dives on Pura can vary considerably. Sometimes the southern sites are blasted with cold water from the south causing a lot of surprised looks on some faces, as well as some whispered oaths directed at the divemasters.
Due to its location the island is constantly buffeted by strong currents and care has to be taken with site selection with a firm eye on moon and tidal information. The northern sites are generally the calmest with the southern shore sometimes hit with cold water and heavy swell from the open sea to the south.
The reefs at Pura are in particularly good condition with little evidence of damage, probably because of the fishing methods the local people employ. During a dive it is not unusual to encounter spear fishermen as they go about their daily business - they are also happy to pose for photos too.
Day 6: Daring to Dive The Dream and Muck Galore
Alor Kecil, Kalabahi Sound
Kalabahi Sound is the narrow body of water that leads up to the main town on Alor, Kalabahi. Both sides of the sound rise high from the waters edge up to hilly peaks. There is more habitation (and electricity) on the northern side and the whole area has a roadway close to the shore.
Plenty of boat traffic uses the sound, small local ferries connect to the outlying areas and islands and fishing boats make daily trips out into the main Pantar/Alor Strait. Kalabahi is also a main port for the Pertamina petroleum organization and the Pelni ferry line. The bustling town has a number of facilities, the most important being a hospital and several pharmacies.
There are some excellent muck/critter diving sites here, some well known to dive operators and others still to be discovered.
Day 7: A New Critter Hunting Mecca
Beangabang Bay, Pantar
Nestling on the south eastern edge of the island of Pantar, Beang Bay forms a natural harbour, the two outer points stretching 800 metres across, north east to south west, surrounded by rolling hills and woodland. A small, primitive village is spread across the coast inside the bay, populated, it seems, mostly by children, who have a small school house sited back from the beach.
There is a hot spring that empties into the bay below the schoolhouse and the black sand and rocks at the waters edge can become very hot indeed, particularly at low tide! The sparsely wooded slopes around the bay provide great opportunities for treks up onto the hilltops for spectacular views out over the Savu Sea to Treweg Island at the bottom of the Pantar/Alor strait and in the distance, the rocky coast of West Timor to the south.
There are several terrific dive sites here, both inside and outside the bay. The three main sites inside the bay are: Hot Property, Ribbon Eel Run and The Lava Flow, comprising between them coral reefs and volcanic sand and gravel areas, great for critter spotting and on a par with the some of the best dives at the Lembeh Strait. Night diving here can be particularly dramatic with the sea floor coming alive with juveniles such as boxfish, scorpionfish and waspfishes. The octopus that inhabit the shallows become very active at night too.
The reefs on the outer edges of the bay are blessed with sparkling reefs, outcroppings and ledges again featuring a prolific array of marine life. The rocky layout and tubastraea corals growing on these sites are reminiscent of the more famous dives in the southern Komodo National Park.
Day 8: Pristine Reefs and Fine Textiles
Ternate, Alor/Pantar Strait
Named for its shape, apparently it looks like a crocodile, this limestone island sits at the top of the Alor/Pantar Strait and there are some interesting dive sites here. To the west and the east are the two major dive sites and both of these feature great coral growth and spectacular deep walls. The north facing shore of the island features sandy bays separated by small rocky cliffs.
There is a small fishing village on the south facing shore of this pretty island which features a mosque and some settlement further up the hill.
A big feature of a visit to Buaya are the textiles on display and sale here. The local women will paddle out in their canoes and boats to sell good quality spectacular and colourful Ikat weaves - prices are from Rp.200,000.
Day 9: A Real Sizzler
Lewoleba Bay, Lembata
Midway between eastern Flores and Alor lie the islands of Adonara and Lembata separated by the Boling Strait and both featuring high and active volcanoes. The main centre of commerce here is the town of Lewoleba that boasts a bustling market and busy inter island ferry terminal. We have pioneered a couple of dive sites on the northern coast of Adonara one of which has been a good hunting ground for Frogfish. The main attraction in the area however is a site called Sizzler on the shores of Lembata in Lebaleba Bay. This small area has all of the attributes of sites in the Lembeh Strait with no crowds and an enviable critter list.
Day 10: A Sunken Reef and Mysterious Peninsula
Serbete & Gedong, North Flores
Gedong is the name given to a rocky outcropping on the north west side of Tangjung Bunga, North Flores. There is a good calm anchorage here on the western side surrounded by high forested cliffs and a rocky beach. The main dive sites are on the open sea side with wall, slopes and reef and feature some big fish too with sharks and mantas spotted on many dives. The wall on the north west side is sheer and covered in very colourful and abundant coral growth.
Serbete is a shallow reef and sandbar complex to the east of Tanjung Gedong. There is a small island here with a lighthouse that is surround by dangerously shallow reefs, seamounts and sandbars. The complex has great corals on the reeftop and some fantastic wall diving.
Day 11: Disembarkation
Maumere, North Flores
Our guests generally disembark early in the morning today after breakfast for the short flight back to Bali. For guests wishing to stay on longer there are some simple but comfortable resorts in Maumere Bay and land excursions are available, the best of which is a visit to the three coloured lakes in the craters of Keli Mutu volcano.
Please note: This itinerary is only an example and we may at times visit different areas than those shown in this document and we always operate with a keen eye on weather and sea conditions as well as marine life expectations.