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A Guide to Scuba Diving in Flores and Alor

Flores and Alor offer colorful walls and pinnacles buzzing with life, along with sandy slopes hiding macro treasures.
By Brandon Cole | Authored On March 25, 2019
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A Guide to Scuba Diving in Flores and Alor

Village kids posing

Village kids love to mug for photographers.

Francesca Diaco

Explore the Guide to Indonesia

Exploring Indonesia underwater can take a lifetime, and then some. There are more than 17,000 islands, and more marine species than anywhere else on the planet. One infrequently visited yet noteworthy region is the chain of rocks, islets and islands arcing east from Flores to Alor, a small but ­spectacular sliver of East Nusa Tenggara province.

Liveaboard expeditions offer ­surf-and-turf itineraries mixing uncrowded dive sites supporting prolific marine life, ­volcano-inspired topside eye candy, and fascinating local culture that will ­transport you back in time. Expect a Swiss Army knife of diving profiles: classic walls festooned with sea fans, sponges, soft corals and crinoids; current-swept ridges topped in hard corals, swarming with schooling fishes; dramatic pinnacles challenging your skills; and sand slopes crawling with weird and wonderful critters for your muck-diving fix.

Bonus ­surface-interval activities include snorkeling with playful Indonesian kids ­wearing homemade wooden goggles, along with cetacean-watching for Fraser’s and spinner dolphins, sperm whales and mighty blue whales. The archipelago’s fortuitous location at the ­interface of the Pacific and Indian oceans results in stunning biodiversity, ­showcasing everything from pygmy seahorses to the aforementioned leviathans.

Swift-flowing, deepwater Alor and Pantar straits connect northern and southern waters, acting as corridors through which marine mammals and big fish such as tuna migrate. ­Larval fish and invertebrates are also whisked through, cross-pollinating the Flores and Banda seas with the Savu Sea. Reefs all around benefit when these future ­generations settle and grow, fueled by the nutrient-rich upwellings characterizing the region.

Scuba Diving Conditions

Water temp

75 to 85ºF


50 to 120 feet, less during plankton blooms along the ­archipelago’s southern side, where strong current and surge might also be present at some sites


Year-round diving, with dry season May through November and rainy season ­December through April

Signature Diving Sites in Flores and Alor

Watu Balu, Rusa Island

A whirlwind of a submersion for experienced divers, showcasing an eye-popping palette of soft corals and anthias. Tuna, ­marauding jacks and other pelagic hunters often ­visit. The terraced garden of table corals also ­impresses. Formidable current and surge are possible here.

Beangabang, Pantar Island

Muck divers rejoice on this black-sand slope where keen eyes and patience are rewarded with sightings of all manner of ­macro marvels: numerous octopus species, ­nudibranchs, ghost pipefish, Rhinopias, and ­hellfire anemones with harlequin crabs and seahorses, and much more.

Anemone City, Pura Island

Nemo reigns supreme on this sloping reef between Pantar and Alor, where thousands of Clark’s anemonefish frolic in thousands of anemones as far as the eye can see.