This month's Geo-quiz is brought to you by: Arenui Liveaboard
The mystery destination is:
Alor, INDONESIA – located east of Bali and Komodo, in central Indonesia, specifically in the East Nusa Tenggara province (Nusa Tenggara Timur) - in the Lesser Sunda Islands. This region is home to a world record; established when a scientific expedition recorded 1,200 species of fish, including some new to science, all found in Maumere Bay alone!
Alor is famous for its rhinopias and many keen photographs visit this remote destination hoping to get the perfect shot. Did you know there are 7 recognized species; with fascinating names from the more well-known names such as ‘Rhinopias frondosa’ (Weedy scorpionfish) and ‘Rhinopias aphanes’ (Lacy scorpionfish), to the less easily remembered ‘Rhinopias argoliba’, ‘R. cea’, ‘R. eschmeyeri’, ‘R. filamentosus’, and even ‘R. xenops’!
There is also a very popular dive site in Alor called ‘Anemone City’ - so named for the unbelievable number of anemones living in this specific area. The view is almost indescribable as you drift across a seemingly endless carpet of swaying polyps and glimpse the twitching tails of many different species of anemonefish. Did you know that anemones (or specifically ‘sea anemones’) are closely related to corals but also jellyfish.
Aside from the photogenic rhinopias and anemones, what else can you expect to see in Alor? Get your log-books ready for mantis shrimps, leaf-fish, giant bumphead parrotfish, lionfish, moray eels, cuttlefish, anthias, snappers, angelfish, damselfish, frogfish, ribbon eels, wonderpus and mimic octopus, nudibranchs, weedy scorpionfish, gorgonians, sea fans, soft and hard corals, sponges, dolphins, reef sharks, sperm whales and even whale sharks.
Across the archipelago of Indonesia, over 742 languages have been recorded (second only to its neighbor Papua New Guinea at 820) and within Alor alone 15+ have been classified. Of course the official language is Indonesian, with some locals also speaking some words of English, but the most common daily language of Alor is actually a unique Malay variety called ‘Alor Malay’. Of the many other languages, most are a form of Papuan but many of these are now considered endangered with fewer than 1,000 speakers remaining.
Palau Komba (the volcano known locally as ‘the fire-breathing monster’) erupts every 5-20 minutes which means that you are sure to see the awe-inspiring sight of molten lava creeping down the mountainside and flowing into the sea. Like a mythical dragon, you will also hear periodic thunderous booms, as clouds of dust are blasted out from deep inside the island.
Aside from the amazing diving to discover, you also have fantastic land-tour opportunities in Alor. Take some surfaceinterval time to go trekking in serach of 'Varanus Riungensis' - a giant lizard, slightly smaller and brighter than its cousin on Komodo. You can also visit the traditional village of Bena, where the population has maintained their original way of life -preserving their buildings (such as megalithic tombs) in keeping with their ancient customs. Marvel at the pairs ofNgadhu and Bhaga buildings made solely from wood and cane, (Ngadhus being 3m tall umbrella-shaped structures,representing male ancestors, Bhagas being miniature houses, representing the female ancestors), which together symbolise the continuous presence of the ancestors of every family in the village.
DIVING IN ALOR
Alor is a remote paradise but it’s still accessible from the regional hub of Bali. There are regular flights to Maumere - the main embarkation point for liveaboards visiting the Alor area.
Alor and nearby Flores offer widespread muck diving, sharks and large schools of fish, WWII wreck dives, untouched reefs and unexplored coral gardens, magnificent soft corals and stunning hard coral formations. Visit the incredible dive sites of Kawula, Lamlera, Pantair Strait and more. Diving east of Flores is the best place to look for the ‘holy grail’ of fish; the beautiful and rare rhinopias.
As well as great critter spotting, look out for the famous Pura Island villagers who splash out of their wooden dugout canoes and dive underwater with home-made goggles fashioned from wood and glass bottles!
DIVING ALOR WITH THE ARENUI
We offer not just incredible diving in arguably the world’s best dive location, but a truly boutique setting to call home for the duration of your trip. The Arenui is a magnificent Phinisi (a traditional Indonesian wooden sailing vessel) and a work-of-art in itself. She was built with conservation in mind, using 70% recycled wood, and she was designed to give guests a real taste of local culture, with handicrafts and décor from around the Indonesian provinces.
Guests on the Arenui can relax in exceptionally spacious cabins, which far surpass anything one would expect to find on a dive liveaboard. Plus, rather than the typical liveaboard buffets, you will be able to choose from our daily a-la-carte menus. Arenui believes that, even when sailing around remote islands, there's no reason to forego fine dining! After all, a relaxing meal prepared with care and style is the best way to remain full of energy for the next dive! Guests can also enjoy a panoramic view from our skydeck, as we cruise through the islands of Indonesia, and even enjoy a full range of massage and spa treatments onboard.
If you are not familiar with the Arenui, without doubt we can boast one of the finest crews in Indonesia. Our 3 Indonesian divemasters (Ali, Toby and Wawan) are rated amongst the most knowledgeable in the region. The whole operation is led by our 2 highly experienced western cruise directors, Jerry and Debbie. Furthermore, you can rest assured that besides our very experienced divemasters and cruise directors, we have a further 18 well-trained crew members onboard from captains and engineers to masseurs and chefs (offering local and international gourmet meals, with vegetarian options on request).
With 22 crew serving a maximum of 16 guests, we aim to make your cruise a truly relaxing and first-class experience.
Don’t just take our word for it! Read post-trip feedback from our former (and often repeater) guests at www.thearenui.com/liveaboard-feedback.html
BOOK NOW for one of our Alor Trips on The Arenui:
This month's Geo-quiz is brought to you by: Arenui Liveaboard