The Forgotten Islands
You must be a PADI Open Water diver or equivalent and have logged a minimum of 30 dives to join this safari.
Lewoleba & Ipet Island: The town of Lewoleba is located on the island of Lembata and close by, a few miles outside of the town, is a remarkable collection of great dive sites featuring the finest critter experiences in the area. Just a little further north is the island of Ipet, which also features some nice dives, scenic sand bars and the sight of thousands of giant fruitbats hanging in the mangroves of the island.
Teluk Waihinga & Komba Volcano: Home to the exciting and diverse dive sites of Lewotolo and Waihinga. Deep inside the bay is a dome like sea mount which, nearly breaking the surface, is a great place to observe schooling surgeonfish and snapper as well as the pygmy seahorse and pink hairy squat lobster, it even has its own tiny wooden shipwreck. Twenty five nautical miles due north is one of the most remarkable places in the whole of the Indonesian archipelago, Komba island volcano. When approaching the 600 metre high sulphurous mountain your heart jumps into your mouth as every 10 to 15 minutes this beast belches clouds of volcanic dust, ash and fiery rock high into the sky with a resounding bang. Diving here is just a foretaste before the evening’s firework display, when as darkness falls the vessel moves around to face Komba’s eastern shores. Here the mountain side has been completely blasted away forming a smooth slope of volcanic debris, at the top of which is the “blowhole”. Eruptions are generally preceded by a deafening boom before the dust and ash explode out from the mountain top spraying superheated rocks down the sides before fizzing into the sea below. This is about as close as you can get, while having dinner, to an erupting volcano anywhere in the world, a truly awe-inspiring experience.
The Alor Strait: The strait separating the islands of Pantar and Alor endures the full force of water movement between two much larger bodies of water, the Banda and Savu seas. These huge water movements scatter nutrients over the reefs and walls of this remarkable area. There are several islands in the waterway creating obstacles to the heavy currents and this further disrupts the current's flow, making for an even more interesting marine environment. Dive sites here include the Island of Buaya, on the site called Cave Point. The flat shallow reef extends from the island for a short distance before plunging down into the channel forming cracks, ledges and swim throughs. Babylon is yet another of Alor’s premier sites as is Kalabahi Sound, a deep water inlet whch is rapidly gaining credence as one of Indonesia’s finest critter diving locations.
Wetar: The island is the last major landmass of the Nusa Tenggara archipelago, the Wetar Strait running between it and the island of Alor. Extremely deep, the channel is rumored to be of great strategic importance, as nuclear powered submarines can cross unnoticed between the Pacific and Indian oceans through this marine thoroughfare This part of the island is littered with some fine white sand beaches and bays with a stunning green forest backdrop and fringing coral reefs. There is plenty to do and see along it's rugged coastline which sees very few tourists. One particular place of interest is the village of Napar on the north side of the headland. It is rumoured that a local chap is known as the “crocodile whisperer” and has the ability to communicate with these fearsome beasts that inhabit the mangrove creeks. There are a variety of diving opportunities, the offshore islet of Reong features impressive wall dives and further down the coast there is the chance to come across majestic manta and mobular rays feeding and cleaning in the current. Reong Wall is located on the north side of the small island and the site features an impressive and pretty coral wall dive with the chance of spotting shark, barracuda and schools of large pelagic fish.
Romang: The Romang group further to the east include Njata, Mitan, Tellang and Maopora as well as the main island of Romang. Some 23 nautical miles from west to east the group features some fantastic white sand beaches, particularly on Romang’s north-western shore and an inlet on the north side that houses a small village. At Romang and Nyata there are gentle terraced slopes which slip down into the deep blue of the Banda Sea. A big feature of diving on this western side of the island are the collections of large barrel sponges and huge vividly coloured gorgonian sea fans. Fans of bigger animals can see Napoleon wrasses, reef shark, ray, tuna and other pelagic fish patrolling the reefs and walls.
Damar: The Island of Damar is some 17 kilometres from north to south and 19 kilometres from west to east. There are settlements dotted all around the eastern half of the island, the largest of which is the village of Kenili located inside and inlet on the eastern shore. The best beach features a long (900 metre) strip of dazzling white sand bordered by lush green forest and is fringed by shallow coral reef. The major dive sites are not actually on Damar Island itself but rather on and around the smaller islands of Nusa Leur and Terbang Utara (North) and Selatan (South). These sites feature an explosion of different colours and forms and seem to be in constant motion with schooling fish and busy reef action with animals that are unused to seeing scuba divers.
The Leti Islands: The islands are at the start of the southern arc of islands that border the Banda Sea and comprise three separate landmasses; Tombra, Moa and Lakor. Lying to the east of the world’s newest country, East Timor, all three islands are ripe for exploration diving. Undived coral reefs, and walls surround all three of these sparsely populated islands. They all feature some fabulous beaches and the channels between the islands could produce some thrilling current fuelled underwater adventures.
The Sermata Reef Complex: Nothing conjures up the image of a perfect south sea island seascape better than a coral atoll, and the Sermata group can certainly do that. Beginning only 12 nautical miles to the east of the Leti Islands at the Amortaun reef/atoll complex, there are only three or four surface breaking islands at Amortaun, the rest of the area being taken over by coral reef that extends to deep walls and interesting reef points. The next point along the line is the huge reef that extends westward from the island of Sermata itself. Again this will provide plenty of scope for exploration, particularly on the sites in the channel that separates the reef system from Sermata island.
Babar: The Babar island group, around 40 nautical miles to the northeast of Sermata, comprises the main island of Babar as well as it’s five satellite islands; Dai on the north side, Dawera and Dawalor to the east, Mesela south and on the west coast of Barbar and much closer than the rest is Wetan. While the whole island group is open to exploration, the known dive sites are around the small island of Dai in the north. There are also several known sites on the south side of the island in the channels that divide Babar from Wetan and Dawera and Dawalor.
West Yamdena: Yamdena is the largest of The Tanimbar Islands, home to several known dive sites and numerous exploratory ones.