Now a National Marine Park covering the entire Wakatobi District, it comprises a total of 1.4 million hectares, of which 900,000 hectares are decorated with different, colourful species of tropical coral reefs. For Wakatobi is widely recognized as having the highest number of reef and fish species in the world. The islands are also famous as the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Here can be found fringing, atolls and barrier reefs and offer more than 50 spectacular dive sites easily accessible from the major islands. This is the habitat of large and small fish species, the playground of dolphins, turtles and even whales. Wakatobi alone is said to have 942 fish species and 750 coral reef species from a total of 850 of world’s collection, which, comparing with the two world’s famous diving centers, the Caribbean Sea owns only 50 species with 300 coral reef species in the Red Sea, in Egypt.
With an area of 530,765 hectares which has an atoll expanse of 220,000 hectares, Taka Bone Rate meaning ‘coral islands over sand’ is the biggest atoll in Indonesia, and Southeast Asia, and the third biggest in the world after Kwajalein Atoll and Suvadiva.
The atoll consists of separate table reefs enclosing a lagoon filled with massive reefs. The atoll has 21 islands, eight of which are inhabited. There are 15 islands for diving and snorkelling. The main island is Tinabo Island with 500 x 500 meters square and white smooth sandy beach as baby powder. Tinabo Island is 4 hours sail by rental boat from Benteng in Selayar Island. The best month to visit is March till mid-May and mid-September till December
The atoll is of major ecological importance, with rich marine and bird life. The national park is considered to contain some of the world’s highest marine biodiversity. According to the Indonesian Department of Forestry the atoll has 261 species of coral, 295 species of coral fish, 244 species of mollusc and other species.
Ambon island lies in the central part of the Moluccas (Spice Islands) and consists of two peninsulas (Leitimor and Hitoe) connected by a narrow neck of land. The bay thus formed cuts about 20km into the island with the airport on the northern shore and the city of Ambon on the southern side.
The diving in Ambon is mainly done in the Amboyna Bay and you come here basically for the great muck-diving. Be prepared for some interesting critters and amazing behavior! The most well known dive site, the Twilight Zone lies close to the airport (northern side of Ambon Bay,) and is an area, where you can find some very special animals like Rhinopias scorpionfishes, frogfishes, seahorses, stonefishes, ghostpipefishes, pegasus sea moths, mandarin fishes, nudibranchs, harlequin and coleman shrimps, kauris, wonderpus, mimic and flamboyant cuttlefish. This is also the area where the famous psychedelic frogfish (Histiophryne psychedelica) was found.
For coral diving there are also some really nice places you should visit, for example Pulau Tiga, a group of tiny islands in the western tip of Ambon or Pintu Kota or Hukurila Cave in the south side of Ambon island where you can do wall diving and dive in caves and swimthroughs. Several nice dives sites are found around Saparua, specially to the south, around the cape and Molana island and Nusa Laut. Here you find mostly large schools of fish, pelagics like tunas and jacks and sharks.
The best months for diving are September to December and March to April but also the months between. The Moluccan islands have the seasons reversed from the rest of Indonesia, when they have the dry season, its rainy season in Indonesia and vice versa (maps and information). Visibility is usually good (20-30m) except some muck sites close to the harbour or where sand is easily stirred up.
The Banda Sea is a deep sea ringed by islands in eastern Indonesia. Right in the middle of the sea are the Banda Islands.
While they may seem incredibly remote, they were once world famous as the Spice Islands, where nutmeg & mace – much sought after in those days – were grown & fought over by colonial powers.
Nowadays, they are more famous for their plentiful underwater wonders & laidback island charm.
The seven main islands and numerous smaller islets that make up the Banda Islands have some truly excellent diving.
The Banda Sea has a season that differs to many in Indonesian areas, with two short high seasons. The first is in March & April, the second from September to November. Outside these months, it is still possible to dive the area, but the sea can be very rough at times.
Some say that Lembeh Strait is the Best Muck Diving place in the World! It is a real paradise for underwater macro photography and for all the critter lovers. Scuba diving in Lembeh is like jumping into a world of tiny strange and weird creatures. Famous photographers and enthusiastic divers come from all over the world to dive this famous spot and discover this incredible biodiversity!
You can find all sorts of strange critters such as the Flamboyant Cuttlefish, the rare Mimic Octopus or the ugly Hairy Frog Fish.
You can dive in Lembeh Strait all year round. Depending on the season, visibility and conditions can vary but since you are here to look at small critters, the visibility isn’t too much of a worry. In fact, the worse the visibility, the more critters there are. Fish species vary throughout the year, which means you can dive the same place at different times and see totally different creatures.
Dry season runs from March to October, average temperature of 30°C.
Rainy season from November to February, but it is usually just heavy rain for 2 hours and then a sunny day. Low Season from January to June with fewer divers and less good conditions but still fine to dive. Peak Season runs in July and August and you should book in advance during this period. Worst visibility takes place in August but it is actually the best time to see many critters.