These remote islands being – because of their exposure to waves and currents – accessible to diving liveaboards only during calm inter-monsoon periods, divers are rare and many sites are still waiting to be discovered.
The Banda sea offers some of the best diving in Indonesian waters and is for true explorers and adventure divers and snorkelers seeking out something unique and special.
A very much alive and active volcano, it is well-known for its consistent eruptions which go off every 15 minutes, and the incredible number of dive sites along the reefs surrounding it. Giant coral formations, swarms of small fish, hunting dogtooth tuna and a plethora of other sea life patrol these waters.
Alor, Pantar Strait
The reefs of Alor and the waters of Pantar Strait are some of the most pristine marine ecosystems throughout Indonesia. Apart from its immaculate coral reefs, stunning walls, sponges, and anemones, Alor is renowned for its immense variety of reef fishes and rich macro fauna. During the dry season (June to October), visibility can sometimes reach an incredible depth of 40 metres/130 feet. Frog fish, leaf scorpion fish, pygmy sea horses, eels, sea snakes and an impressive assortment of nudibranchs are just a few of the species you may encounter. With its exhilarating currents, big pelagic species often present themselves. Hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, thresher shark, Mola Mola (Sun fish) and pods of dolphin are spotted in this region frequently. Whales are also known to pass through.
This large island is becoming increasingly popular amongst liveaboard charters as new, previously unknown dives sites are being discovered along the liveboard routes each day.
Pulau Terbang & Pulau Damar
These idyllic islands are surrounded by pristine beaches that stretch out to coral reefs dropping down to the most beautiful, unspoiled walls. From top to bottom, the reef is a kaleidoscopic explosion of colours and shape-shifting forms from the constant motion of swarms of fish. You may find yourself floating in the midst of a large school of fish as the marine life here appears quite curious, perhaps because they are not yet accustomed to divers. If weather conditions are favourable, you may also have the chance to do a black sand night dive.
Pulau Nils & Pulau Dusborgh
Pulau Dusborgh has only recently been uncovered to be a hot spot for schooling hammerheads at this particular time of year.
Nil Desperandum, which when translated means “don’t despair”, possibly refers to the ship that was wrecked here centuries ago. A big atoll with a very steep drop off, schooling sharks including hammerheads, silky and gray reef sharks can be spotted in the deep.
The island of Manuk forms the Eastern-most volcanic island o Indonesia, and possesses two very exceptional highlights, both above and below the water. Myriads of beautiful seabirds, including frigates and boobies, glide overhead, looking to take advantage of Manuk’s rich sea-life. Below the shoreline, however, large numbers of sea snakes can be found undulating through the waters. It is believed that the geothermal vents present in these waters attract the cold blooded serpents in droves. In addition to these distinct natural marvels, the island’s reefs are a stunning combination of coral covered walls and slopes in all sizes and colors. Outstanding arrays of reef fish congregate on the reef, including tuna, Jacks and sharks.
Formerly known as the Spice Islands, Banda is an isolated group of islets in the midst of the vast expanse of the Banda Sea. Once the world’s foremost supplier of nutmeg, the remote islands served as a main port along the old spice route. The region is renowned, not just for its fascinating colonial history, but for its incredible diving and snorkeling.
Karang Hatta is a reef located South East of Pulau Hatta. The dive sites in this region are closest to the 6,000 meters deep Banda trench, making it an intriguing area as the chances of encountering big pelagic species are quite high. Schooling trevallies, barracudas, tuna, turtles, as well as hammerhead and gray reef sharks can be spotted close to this underwater mount.
You can dive down through the hole and find yourself looking back to what appears to be a bridge in the reef. The bridge is covered with soft corals, and large gorgonian fans underneath are home to various pygmy seahorses. In the shallows and amongst the stones from collapsed sea walls and jetties, mandarin fish congregate. This particular spot is one of the best in the world to spot mandarin fish.
Here you will have the chance to explore the remaining remnants of the former lucrative spice trade as well as take in the historic and cultural legacies of the islands. You will spend the morning walking through the town and be given the chance to observe the Dutch colonial architecture which remains to this day, as well as Fort Belgica with its incredible views overlooking the bay around the island.
The dive site has a rock breaking the surface of the water in the shape of a boat, hence the name. Various types of fish are present here in vast numbers, along with huge gorgonian fans and some truly monumental sponges.
On Pohon miring dive site, a large crack in the reef creates a deep swim-through which you can drift through and view the sponge-covered wall on the other side. Moral eels can be spotted at the top of the wall as well as schools of bump-head parrot fish.
Pulau Ai & Pulau Run
Batu Payung, the dive site, on the island of Ai, translates to Umbrella Rock as there are many overhangs along the walls of the island. You will be able to drift along the wall and enjoy the view of thousands of tiny reef sh darting in and out of the cracks and crevices.
In 1667, the English traded the island of Run for Manhattan, giving the Dutch full control of the Banda archipelago. White sandy slopes interspaced with large coral heads and a healthy reef makes this a very beautiful dive site. A resident school of bump-head parrot fish may be spotted here, as well as passing eagle rays. The region of Pulau Run is full of unexplored dive sites and the Banda Sea is the perfect location for the discovery of new underwater treasures.
Nusa Laut & Molana
The locals here have installed sustainable methods to protect their reef and as a result, the corals are outstanding and a favorite amongst dive enthusiasts. White tips and reef sharks patrol the depths and playful turtles can be spotted. For the incredibly lucky, hammerhead sharks and dugongs have also been spotted at this site.
The shallow Molana wall breaks in places and in the sandy slopes. Ribbon eels, small pipe fish, and moray eels can be found. Above the reef, turtles are seen feeding in the beautiful coral garden.
Upcoming expedition to Banda sea: 8 – 21 of September 2017.