Places to go scuba diving

Riau Archipelago

The wrecks which dot the Riau waters, so close to singapore, are strictly World War 2 vintage, but they still have an air of mystery. Many were sunk by the Japanese in 1941. Riau is easily accessible by boat from Singapore, from Pekanbaru in Sumatra or from Pontianak in west kalimantan. Good beaches and coral can be found near Bintan island, but for divers and coral enthusiasts (or historians, archaeologists or anthropologists, for that matter) there are also endless opportunities to explore the whole riau archipelago. The islands are small and close to one another, and the wrecks are usually in shallow waters. Island hopping is easy and inexpensive. Boats in Tanjung Pinang are easily available.

Pulau Peucang and Pulau Panaitan

Both of these sizeable islands are part of the Ujung Kulon nature reserve, and lie just off java's western end. Peucang has two rest houses. A permit to enter the reserve and rest house must be obtained at the nature conservation directorates head office in bogor, or the local office in labuan. Both islands are reached via labuan, a town on java's west coast where there are fishing boats. It’s wise to make firm arrangements for return trips at the same time, and to make some allowances for bad weather. No food is available on the island, but the reserve wardens on Peucang (in radio communication with the nature conservation office in labuan) will provide visitors with water, bedding, cooking facilities, and guides. There is good snorkeling and diving all the way around peucang, with many ledges to explore on the northern reef. More spectacular are the "underwater cliffs" of tanjung layar where the new and old lighthouses are perched on. tanjung layar is only a short boat ride from peucang and well worth the trip. Spear fishing is not permitted within the reserve.

Panaitan Island is uninhabited. Day trips to the southern beaches, about one hour from Peucang are recommended. Panaitan has extensive reef platforms, particularly attractive to explore on foot at low tides.

Kepulauan Seribu

Kepulauan Seribu or the thousand islands is a group of small islands scattered in the bay of Jakarta. Actually a total of 110 islands, they are within easy reach from Jakarta by boat or chartered aircraft. Several islands have been developed as tourist resorts or for recreational purposes, where there are bird and marine sanctuaries. The northern part of these islands have been zoned as a national marine park to preserve its underwater resources and beauty.

About 90 km from Jakarta are the islands Pulau Putri, Pulau Pelangi, Pulau Melintang, Petondan which have a market, accommodation, restaurants, a dive shop and boats for hire. Nearby, the islands of Melinjo, Papa Theo and Sepa have been developed for divers and budget tourists. Transport is available by private speed boats, inter island ferries or charter flights which land on a grassy strip on Pulau Panjang. The scenery among so many green islands as well as the coral is beautiful. Bookings can be made with Pulau Putri Paradise in the Setiabudi building I, Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said. There are also other agencies which offer sailing and diving tours.


Good skin diving areas among the reefs are off the coast of west bali and those near Padang bay in eastern Bali, and at Nusa Lembongan on Nusa Penida, the large island off Bali’s southeastern shores. There is also a wreck, that of the s.s. liberty, only 40 meters off the beach at tulamben, near kubu. Fish sheltering in the wreck make them so tame that they will flock to divers.

North Sulawesi - Bunaken

Within easy reach from Manado, North Sulawesi, are good beaches and coral reefs, and plenty of speedboats or sailboats for hire. Rent a boat to go to the nature reserve of Tangkoko Batuangus. The corals are exceptional and accommodation can be found in Batu Putih village.

Beach landings are not uniformly easy, depending on the time of the year.

The Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHPA) has an office in Manado. A permit is necessary to enter the Tangkoko Dua Saudara Nature Reserve.

The coral reefs which ring the islands of Bunaken are among the most spectacular in Indonesia and have been rated by internationally experienced divers as on a par with some of the great reefs of the world. The marine population is among the densest of Indonesia and is of unequaled variety. Along the dramatic drop-offs, riddled with grottos, fissures and arches, downward visibility extends to 30 meters or more and the contours of the reef formations offer limitless diving opportunities for snorkelers and scuba enthusiasts. The islands can be reached within half an hour by motorized outrigger from Malalayang Beach, the jump-off point south of Manado.

Malalayang Beach has a dive-master with licenses from both the Indonesian and Sub-aquatic Sport Association (POSSI) and the Paris-based Confederation Mondiale des Activites Subaquatiques (CMAS). Scuba equipment can be hired there, but it is advisable to bring along personal items such as depth gauges and decompression tables. Both are of particular importance, as there is a decompression chamber in Manado.


Ambon has to be considered from the marine enthusiast's point of view, more as a jumping off point than as a destination, since it is accessible by air and lies in the heart of many interesting island groups. For the adventurous and the self sufficient, the underwater islands of maluku are magnificent.

There are about a thousand island in the region, and most have excellent beaches, reefs and seascapes, almost anywhere less than a day's journey away from the population centers. The snorkeling is superb. Boats are easily available for hire.

Pulau Pombo and Pulau Kasa are two small island-marine reserves near Ambon.

Best time of the year is from September to March. Spells of rough weather can be expected between April and July. A word of caution is necessary: some corals are very fragile and break under flippers. Some sting badly, like the yellow-tipped fire coral. On sandy reef platforms, watch out for the long back spines of the sea urchins. Several small islands in this archipelago are still uninhabited.

Since the turmoil and violence started, tourists are avoiding the beautiful waters of Maluku.

Banda Neira

Southeast of the islands of Maluku is the small group of islands of Banda, the original nutmeg islands. Banda Neira offers crystal-clear water, full of coral gardens and tropical fish. There is a small hotel where diving gear is available. The island of Banda Neira is seeped in history, starting from 1312 when the first Portuguese arrived on its shores, followed by the english and the dutch, all eager for the golden nutmeg trade. Some of the remnants of this period still remain. Banda Neira is an hour's flight from Ambon.

 Share us...