Scuba Diving Alor
For professional divers, Pantar Strait Marine Park is one of the most beautiful in the country has its own unique characteristics and beauty.
This strait is located between Alor and Pantar islands in the Alor Archipelago, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). This narrow strait has a number of small and beautiful islands such as Kepa, Pura, Ternate, Buaya and Tereweng islands.
Remote and pristine. The masses of swirling, schooling fish and rich concentrations of invertebrates and critters may well make Alor one of the best diving Indonesia has to offer.
Shear drop offs with amazing coral reef scenery and great fish life, giant pinnacles covered in beautiful corals. Shallows are home of anthias and damselfish. Banks and walls reef. At some sites the current is 2 knots or more. Macro sites with all sorts of weirds and rare critters such as rhinopias, leaf scorpion fish, frogfish,and many other cool critters. One famous site here is renowned for large pelagic fish. Night dives usually are rich of interesting surprises.
The diversity and marine life range from beautiful coral reef scenerey and great critters to larger fish.
It is not just the diving that makes Alor special. The fact that the local communities guard their reefs for their future keep all the reef pristine makes Alor even more special. Among the special souvenirs to take home is the handwoeven IKATsarong.
Alor’s friendly inhabitants are the original source of those beautiful Ikat fabrics sold in Bali. Remote and pristine, Alor’s waters offer masses of swirling, schooling fish and a comparable diversity of rare and weird critters on the reefs. Alor is a macro photographer’s dream.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE SITES
Kal’s Dream: This is probably the most well known dive site in the area. The submerged pinnacle which can only be dived on slack tide are teeming with schools of small fish including anthias and fusiliers. You need to fin down to it since the current is usually quite strong, once there keep a lookout for barracuda and blacktips however they arent guarunteed to show. “The Dream” can be hit or miss, on a good day the viz can be gin-clear, large grey reef sharks and even hammerheads have been known to visit this spot.
Although some recent reports from Alor suggest it is not all that it once was, this remains a wonderful and colourful site where a large number and variety of fish are all but guaranteed. A further guarantee is the low density of divers.
Sharks Galore and Clown Valley: These two sites are located on the eastern site of Pura island. Dives are usually started in Sharks Galore where blacktips and grey reef sharks are often spotted, the dive moves south and finishes at Clown Valley which is named after the abundance of anemones and clownfish found here. There are so many of them in fact that they occupy more surface area than any other form of live at this spot.
Mandarin House and the Boardroom: The north side of Pura island offers this healthy reef slope where mandarinfish can be seen dancing in the daylight. Dusk often yields the opportunity to witness them mating. A 50 meter deep wall at the Boardroom just east of Mandarin House offers caves filled with glassfish and schooling jacks and snappers at depth.
Pertamina Pie: This relatively new site is a black sand slope in the harbour that forms a haven for critters. Keep a look out for ghost pipefish, seahorses, hairy crabs and even wonderpuss – a bizarre species of octopuss. Night diving here can be even more interesting!
Sharks Galore: Off the coast of Pura Island at Sharks Galore you can take a breather from the currents without compromising your fun. Not surprisingly, given the name, there is a good chance of you seeing plenty of sharks here in what is normally a still or gentle drift from your diving boat.
Big grey reef sharks and white tips tend to cruise around in the company of hefty dog-toothed tuna, sometimes combining to make the human tourists feel very small indeed. Depending on the conditions you may finish this dive in the adjacent site known as Clown Valley. Show less
The Twilight Zone: is just off the beach outside Biangabang village on Pantar Island. The steaming hot springs on the beach might make you think that the water here is warm but don’t be fooled, it can get pretty chilly here. The diving starts by a lava flow to the south of the beach and divers can choose to dive further south over the reef or to hunt around to the north in the volcanic black sand.
You can drop down to 40 metres or below but most life is found shallower. This is an Alor dive site for critters and the name alludes to the amount of weird and unusual creatures that the eagle-eyed can spot here. Snake eels stick their heads out of their holes and spearing mantis shrimps peer up at divers, focusing their independently movable stalked eyes. These nocturnal creatures are rarely seen out of their holes in day light but lucky divers may see them hunting aggressively at night.
Pegasus seamoths are hard to find in the rubble areas. Octopuses are all over the coral mounds including the much sought after mimic. Bobbit worms and gurnard lionfish inhabit the sand while the rare soapfish inhabit the reef areas. Also on the reef are Spanish dancers that can be seen performing their incredible dance on night dives. The Twilight Zone is also one of the few places in the world where the Djibouti Giant has been seen. Like a Spanish dancer on steroids, this huge nudibranch is very rare indeed. Show less
The Cathedral: One of the most southerly dive sites in the Pantar Strait, there is a swim-through at thirty-five meters that exits at twenty meters. Entering it at the right time means the sun dominates the view at the exit, lighting up the reef in a sea of sunrays and creating a somewhat ecclesiastical experience. The reefscape is unique from other sites in Alor, with reefs covered in kelp resembling a savannah, combined with dense coral cover and fish life so rich that at times the anthias block the view. Sighting Mola Mola is common at the Cathedral, and there is an estimated population of slightly more than a hundred mola mola that inhabit its deep waters.
Babylon: On the south side of Ternate Island lies Babylon, named after the overhangs on the wall, which feature combinations of hard and soft coral that inspired the name. Most of the action is between fifteen to twenty-five meters, and with thirty-meter visibility and a strong sun it is possible to be bathed in sun rays for the entire dive. This is a site where both wide angle and macro opportunities are abundant, as many nudibranchs can be spotted basking in the daylight.
Kalabahi Bay is a long and narrow bay, flanked on both sides by mountains. Kalabahi Bay are muck dives in black sand. The bay plunges to more than two hundred meters, which tricks whales into entering several times a year. Muck-diving is the latest craze in Alor and the area has a selection of weird critters to rival anywhere in the archipelago. Mimic Octopus and the less-well-known Wunderpus are seen here. Numerous Frogfish compete for the best spot and many Ghost Pipefish can be found, including the Halimeda Ghost Pipefish. Among the other residents, Stargazers peer out from the sand, Nudibranch’s abound and many rare shrimps make their home here.
DIVING SEASON: Best conditions are from March to December, with October and November being the months when current is most prevalent. Jan – Feb is raining season.
VISIBILITY: 12 – 30m some dive sites might be up to 50M, or can drop to 15m or less due to plankton blooms.
CURRENTS: Some dive sites can have very strong current, choose dive site according to your dive skill level. A water movement that starts in the Philippines, flows past Sulawesi on the west and east and then hits the barrier of what is Nusa Tenggara (Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores). From here it finds its way to the Indian Ocean in the south. The Indonesian Throughflow is strongest during the southeast monsoon (June, July, August) which means, that currents can be really strong here, reaching up to 8 knots (1 knot = 1 nautical mile per hour = 1.852 km per hour)!
WATER TEMPERATURE: Vary from a low of around 25°C (March to April and October to November) to 31/32°C from May to September, which is the southeast monsoon period.
WEATHER: The temperature varies from 20°C/68F to 40°C/104F. The dry season is from April to November and the wet season from November to March with more rain in the months of January and February.
DIVE ACCESS: Both live aboard and land based diving
SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate to advance
MARINE LIFE: Alor is well known for its muck diving, large number of reef fish. Larger animals that might put in an appearance include orcas (killer whales) and sunfish (aka mola mola). September is the best time to spot mola mola.
CLIMATE: Being a tropical country, Indonesia is blessed with two seasons, namely dry and rainy. Dry usually occurs from April to October and the rest is rainy season. The difference between the dry and wet season is slightly bigger in the Nusa Tanggara region, which lie to the east of Bali. The driest months are August and September, the wettest are November – February. The duration of the dry and wet seasons vary per island though. The climate on Lombok is similar to Bali, and the same goes for Sumbawa and Flores. As a rule of thumb: the closer to Australia, the longer the dry season.
TIME ZONE: Central Indonesia Time which is GMT +8 (covering East and South Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali, Nusa Tenggara) and the last is Eastern Indonesia Time which is GMT +9 (covering Maluku and Irian Jaya). The capital Jakarta is GMT + 7 or 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time.
LANGUAGE: Bahasa Indonesia is the national and official language in the entire country.
ELECTRICITY: Electric power supply is 220 volts in all regions. So be careful with your 110-volt electronic equipment. The sockets will only fit with with two pins rounded-tip plugs (technically known as Type C, E, and F) or use adaptors.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Indonesia Rupiah (Rp) is also called IDR. IDR and US$ are the most acceptable currencies. Most tourism resorts have money changer facilities. When you are traveling to remote areas it is advisable to exchange your money and clear your check. Credit cards are only acceptable in big hotels, restaurants, shops and traveling agencies.
GRATUITIES: Most hotels add a 10% service charge to the bill on top of the 10% tax. In restaurants where service charge is not added, a tip of 5 to 10% on the bill will be appropriate depending on the service and type of establishment.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Country code +62. Most hotels and many restaurants in large cities provide internet connections or free WiFi.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All travelers to Indonesia must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of arrival, and have proof (tickets) of onward or return passage. Visa upon arrival is $35 Payable by USD cash only. Please check with your country if you are eligible for visa upon arrival. Visa-on-Arrival are valid for 30 days and are extendable with another 30 days to be applied at Immigration offices in Indonesia.
CUSTOMS: Maximum items allowed by customs when you visit Indonesia, 1 liter of alcoholic beverages, 200 cigarettes OR 50 cigars OR 100 grams of tobacco, Reasonable amount of perfume per adult, meaning if you arrive drenched in perfume the customs probably will not mind you carrying loads of bottles, Cameras, video cameras, portable radios, cassette recorders, binoculars and sport equipments are admitted provided they are taken out on departure. They must be declared to Customs.
DEPARTURE TAX: An airport tax of IDR150,000 – IDR200,000 is levied by airports on departing passengers on international flights and IDR30,000-IDR75,000 for those on domestic routes. Airport tax must be paid in Rupiah cash.
GETTING THERE: Fly from Bali or Jakarta to Kupang and then to Alor.
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