A Guide to Scuba Diving in Flores and Alor
Village kids love to mug for photographers.
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
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.