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Nestled between the South China Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, beautiful Indonesia is a mecca for marine biodiversity. The largest archipelago in the world, the country is made up of 17,000 islands with more than 34,000 miles of coastline, and is on every serious diver’s bucket list. Many destinations are well suited for beginners in calm, easy conditions while there are unexplored dive sites with strong currents aplenty for more experienced divers. Here are five things to know before you head out.

Komodo Island

Komodo Island

1.) Conditions can make or break your trip. Temperature, visibility and the current vary greatly across this expansive country. Be sure to check the conditions of each destination you’re planning to dive before you leave. Diving is excellent  year round, but the best time is from May to September. Monsoon season is from December to June. Visibility may not be as good during the monsoon, however, certain locations like the Komodo Islands are a diver’s dream during this time due to an influx of mantas.

2.) Get schooled. Getting certified while in Indonesia is pretty easy and relatively cost effective. You’ll find a multitude of reputable dive operators that offer 4-day PADI or SSI open water courses ($300-$400). Certification from either PADI or SSI, the two main dive agencies, will allow you to dive anywhere on earth. Both agencies offer very similar training, but SSI is a little cheaper because they allow students to borrow the course book whereas with PADI it’s compulsory to purchase. If you’re already certified and ready to dive, a day’s diving with a divemaster, two tanks, lunch and basic equipment costs $40-$100.

scuba tanks

SCUBA tanks ready for use

3.) Accreditation and recommendations go a long way. Be sure to inquire about the reputation of a dive operator prior to signing up for a course or dive. Check their accreditation and try to get first-hand recommendations from other divers. Most dive shops will have equipment to rent, but it’s always best to bring your own if you have it. Check the reliability of rental gear and air quality of the tanks.

Bunaken National Marine Park Diving Indonesia.800

Bunaken National Marine Park

4.) Know the best spots to go. North Sulawesi, home to Bunaken National Marine Park, is an amazing destination for divers both novice and scuba savvy. The marine park is famous for it’s translucent water, never-ending coral walls and brilliant coral gardens. Ranked one of the top dive sites in the world for marine biodiversity, you’re bound to encounter large schools of fish, sea turtles and octopi.

The Komodo Islands, well known for Komodo dragons also boasts an impressive variety of creatures below sea level. Strong currents in shallow waters make for thrilling drift dives that are more suitable for intermediate to advanced divers. Mantas, dolphins and sharks can be easily spotted. Stay for a few nights on a liveaboard diving cruise to experience every type of tropical scuba diving imaginable.

The Gili Islands off the coast of Lombak have been dubbed the turtle capital of the world. The warm water, high visibility and short distances to dive sites make this an attractive destination for newbies. Veteran divers will be challenged with shipwrecks, drift dives in strong currents and frequent shark sightings.

A nudibranch

A nudibranch

5.) Don’t miss out on muck diving. The Lembeh Strait attracts experienced divers, macro photographers and anyone with an inkling to explore the rare and often bizarre critters of the sea. Muck diving destinations usually consist of a silty or sandy bottom and are often accompanied with a source of fresh water, vegetationand mild currents. No brilliantly colored coral or schools of fish here. Instead you’ll find nudibranchs, frogfish and a whole host of weird and wonderful creatures.

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Tagged: Destinations

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Jennifer Eiber

Jennifer Eiber

Jennifer is a freelance writer and content strategist based in Denver. Combatting a serious case of wanderlust, she may be found exploring her city, traveling the globe or on her yoga mat somewhere in between.

4 thoughts on “Diving Indonesia: 5 things to know before you go”

  1. I’m confused. You said “the best time is from May to September. Monsoon season is from June to October. Visibility may not be as good during the monsoon”. Isn’t June through September in the June to October, Monsoon season when visibility’s not as good?

    1. Hi Scott, looks like there was a mix up. Monsoon season in Indonesia is actually from December to June. The post has been updated to reflect this change. Thanks!

  2. Good article. I probably would have included Raja Ampat in it somewhere. Probably the best diving in Indonesia and the world for that matter if species count is anything to go by.

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