The diving around the island is great, the wreck in the bay is full of life, pilot whales sometimes come close to the pier, but without a doubt Laha offers the best diving and is an unforgettable experience. Laha could be compared with Lembeh, it is pure muck at its best: mimics, flamboyant cuttlefish, rhinopias, ribbon eels, ambon scorpion fish, frog fish by the dozens, ghost pipe fish... you name it, it is all there, and Murphy is normally not around. Photographers... get ready!
Only a few hours away from Ambon, but so different, it is the best example we know of a village taking care of a reef. The reef is as it was hundreds of years ago. The locals have protected it and now it is an outstanding diving site, many people's favourite dive.
The hard corals on the slope are unbeatable, the sandy bottom in the middle offers shelter to sting rays of different sizes, sharks patrolling the depths (white tips and grey reefs) if we are lucky leopard sharks sleeping on the sand, turtles that will pose for us, and because of our Spanish accent you will be able to dive in between a "eschool of YAKS" isn't that unique??
By the way, apart from all the fish, life, the perfect state of the reef and the pelagics approaching and patrolling the slope, there are mangroves in the neighbourhood and we have been lucky enough to dive with a resident dugong (I think Murphy's law is more present here)
A few miles sailing from the Bandas we arrive at Pulau Soangi. A nice wall that ends up in a ridge where encounters with pelagics (tunas, rainbow runners, barracudas, trevallies) are always a thrill, as is the presence of a number of hammerheads that we spot regularly.
The wall itself is worth the dive, huge barrel sponges, even bigger fans, colours, soft corals on the wall and hard ones in the shallows... immaculate conditions!
Obligated stop to go for a cultural tour, the fort, the governor's house, the church, nutmeg plantations, the chance to have a beer on land with the locals...
Let's not forget the diving, both Pulau Run and Pulau Ai have pristine clear waters, lovely walls and good fish life, we might go a bit deeper in search of more hammerheads, big fish can be seen here as well, napoleons, schools of black snappers, bumpheads etc.
In diving there are a few really unique areas in the world and the dive under the pier of Banda Neira is on of them... The size of the mandarin fish are just out of this world, you might need a wide angle lens!
Hey, if you have the perfect shot of the mandarin fish and you are looking for other critters, cockatoo wasp fish, flying gurnards, frog fish, juvenile barramundis, , juvenile emperor angle fish, juvenile sweetlips, juvenile local kids... plenty of chances!
We will not miss the hard coral garden under the lava flow of Gunung Api, the impressive volcano that dominates Banda. It erupted in 1988 and now it is a miracle to dive in a garden that has grown in such a short period of time.
Batu Kapal, at the entrance of Banda offers some of the bigger fans you will see and it is full of life, a real fishy dive.
A bit south is Hatta, consisting of an underwater coral garden with a friendly school of bumpheads and some white tips among its highlights. To finish the area in Banda Besar we will dive the underwater window.
In the middle of the Banda sea, here is where our vessel will compensates the open seas with one of her better qualities... stabilty! Sit back and relax in comfort as we sail the open seas to our next dive destination: Lucipara.
Lucipara means wall diving, atolls surrounded by a stunning wall system. This remote archipelago is often visited by dolphins and pilot whales. The walls are in great state, good fans, nice schools of fusiliers, snappers, banners, but keep an eye in the blue: schools of rainbow runners, big tunas, both, yellow fin and dog tooth will be there!
Already a legend, what Cocos is for sharks and Sipadan for turtles, Gunung Api is for sea snakes!
The snakes just swim across the reef in search of food, sometimes they will come curiously close to you, and you might find yourself among a dozen of them, enjoy it! This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You'll see olive green and banded sea crates, to be honest, not only the sneaks are worth diving for, the walls are amazing, the size of the barrel sponges enormous and great hammerheads have been spotted there.
On the way from the Bandas to Papua a stop in Koon is mandatory. The name of the dive site says it all: "Too many fishes". With the right current the diving could be unforgettable, millions of fish, schooling jacks, barracudas, sharks... but never too many... we always need more!
The highlight of the area, the record breaker (a couple of dozens of new species of fish, and another couple of newly found coral species…and we are just starting…), so far the star of the show is the recently found Epaulette shark, the only known shark which walks on its pectoral fins!
We have over 20 dive sites; the soft corals are as good as in Misool area. The black coral forest never seems to end and the reefs are boiling with life. All kind of colourfull fish move around, new species of wrasses and gobies fight to introduce themselves to the divers. The topography is varied, bommies, some caves and a few hard corals.
In places like Bat Cave and Little Komodo giant groupers are hiding under the rocks. In Little Komodo and 7th Heaven everything can be experienced. If Komodo is a sum up of diving in Indonesia, Little Komodo has it all in only one dive!! Do you want turtles??..Or bump heads?? Or millions of fusiliers?? Wobbegongs? Jacks??... Go for it!!!
But Triton Bay is more than that. There are more reasons to come to this remote area: the landscape is gorgeous, ancient paintings decorating caves and the village of Lobo is a friendly place surrounded by a 1000 metres high cliff...
Not enough?? What about enjoying the resident pod of pilot whales?
Yes, we know you like to take some macro shots and do some muck diving, well, here is the biggest difference with Misool, we can regularly find critters and some dives are just perfect for that: pygmies (denise and bargibanti), nudies, devil scorpion fish, wonder puss, frog fish, leaf fish, ornate ghost pipe fish...
Read a recent article in Asian Diver "The Call of the Triton!" written aboard the MSY Seahorse by Tim Rock April 2008.