Diving in Indonesia has its own template plastered to many diver’s itinerary; Bali, Lombok, Komodo and Raja Empat however among the best, lies the dark horse of Indonesia tourism, and as the little brother to Komodo National Park as its located within the same province of East Nusa Tenggara, Alor archipelago offers spectacular diving experience. Great visibility, pristine coral reefs, endemic species, and considerably as one of the route for Cetacean migration, makes Alor even more special among divers. This “uncharted” dive destination offers the best of every aspect of diving.
Welcome to Alor, Indonesia
Upon your arrival at Mali Airport, you are already welcomed with spectacular view of the landscape consists of hills, bay, beach and crystal blue water making it very irresistible to dive right in. The car ride to most dive center will take approximately around sixty to ninety minutes, some might require you to take another additional scenic boat trip to reach the dive center. If you need to stock up on personal supplies, I suggest you to make a stop in Kalabahi, the island’s biggest town, otherwise you might find it difficult once you have reached the dive center.
Gear Up and Dive Right In
Yes! that glittering crystal blue water is a temptation to submerge right in, gearing up never been faster and excitement peaking up. One…two…three…GO as we hear the water splashes behind us, we enter the diver’s wildest fantasy; great visibility, pristine rich coral reefs and marine life. If we have to place the marine life on pedestals and spotlights, we would say that they are the Hammerhead Sharks, Thresher Sharks, Rhinopia and Frog Fish. Either you are looking for the sharks, the nudies or happy enough to cruise on the scenic coral reefs, Alor caters them all perfectly. Wiggle your way into the 5mm wetsuit as some of the site can go below 22°C / 72°F and with the right calculation on the moon cycle and time, current should not be an issue but rather as an enhancement.
Other things that makes Alor also interesting, is the recent popularity of Hammerhead Sharks and Thresher Sharks conservation in this Alor’s Marine Protected Area. These finding makes local government, NGOs and diving community in Indonesia acknowledged Alor as one of the hidden gem for marine tourism.
The dive sites surrounding Alor archipelago are very diverse, from the gentle slope full of anemones, drop-off wall decorated by giant sponges, overhang steps coral wall, rock & pinnacle, to the easy black sandy bottom and fantastic jetty for muck dive lovers. Most of the sites located around Alor – Pantar Strait, so it requires some calculation of tides, moon cycle and particular time in a year. When people blindly jump to water without considering these factors, they might need to deal with the notorious Alor’s strong current.
They are notable dive sites in Alor which are quite popular among divers, lets begin with Kal’s Dream, this dive site is known for its two pinnacles. Sharks, Dogtooth Tuna and Eagle Rays are often swim by with schooling of Baracuda and Surgeon Fish around. And we have The Cathedral, decent down to a wall where you can dive in between narrow passages that leads you to the shallow upon exit, you will be drifting on rich coral reefs. Sweet-Lips and Groupers are the local in this site, sometimes, if we are lucky, we might spot Thresher Sharks. Last but not least, among the amazing sites in Alor, we have The Great Wall of Pantar or knowns as Bama Wall, this is definitely one of the best wall dive, acclaimed by many, this wall is decorated by breathtaking corals and when the water is extra clear, you can see right through the cliff on the surface and see how two different worlds meet. Keep your eyes close to the wall for some amazing macro or at the blue for something big passing by. These are fantastic dive sites which full of life, pelagic and colorful coral reefs.
While those who like muck diving, Alor has black-sandy bottom sites in Limarahing Bay and Teluk Mutiara, such as Black Rhino & the Mucky Mosque, and also Beang Bay which located a bit far in the South. However, there are also some local’s favourite and “secret” dive sites that operators usually take their guest as climax of the trip, sites which are not located in the diving map for public. Curious enough to visit Alor?
Say No More, Take Us There Now!
Unlike Bali or Komodo National Park, which relatively easy to access, going to Alor archipelago requires extra effort to take multiple connecting flights, especially those who come from outside Indonesia. But hey! You will get unmatched experience when you find yourselves diving exclusively only with your own group. As there are almost no other floating boats on the same dive site. Intimate & personal diving experience is the highlight of Alor’s diving. There are daily 120 minutes flights from Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport to Kupang El Tari International Airport and then daily 50 minutes flight from Kupang to Alor Mali Airport, some connecting flights require you to stay overnight in Kupang. Another option is take twice weekly 5-6 hours speed boat from Kupang to Alor. A new locally designed stylish airport is being built to accommodate longer haul flights so hopefully in the near future we will have direct flight major cities in Indonesia.
Not Just The Diving
Some stories about divers who would rather take a day or two day off from diving for some sightseeing (Gasp), Alor offers other tourist attractions such as traditional Umapura village, varieties of amazing waterfalls, shop Alor’s famous signature woven fabrics and meet the local resident Dugong (his name is Mawar which means rose in Bahasa Indonesia). Alor has a fascinating demographic and history with once ruled by multiple kingdoms, Alor has plentiful tales to tell. Alor is the most linguistically diverse region in Indonesia. Fascinatingly, one village to another speaks different language, fortunately, Bahasa Indonesia came as a bridge or else imagine the amount of language courses they need just to make friends from different villages.
Alor regency is divided into seventeen districts and 158 villages, and has an area of 2,928 km2 with the population estimated in 2020 at 206,806. As per this article published, there are only six dive operators scattered in Alor archipelago, and two more opening soon. We should be proud that two of them, Air Dive Alor and Nautika Dive Alor are the SDI facilities who always welcome to collaborate for diving, training, and exploration.