While there are some land-based dive services in the area, an Alor liveaboard is the best way to get to the incredible dive sites in this remote region in the far east of Indonesia. Few ferries service the rugged volcanic islands of the Alor Archipelago. Access is difficult and visitors are few. Consequently, Alor dive sites are rarely visited and pristine conditions persist, even as diving becomes more popular.
Alor Liveaboard Diving
In these remote islands near the centre of the Coral Triangle, you will discover some of the most amazing diving in the world. The bio-diversity is unrivaled. Over a thousand species of fish and 75% of living coral species thrive in these waters. There is almost no pollution, so visibility ranges up to 40 meters. Alor liveaboard divers can access all kinds of sites – wall dives, muck dives for macro, drift dives, cave dives, and mellow dives over shallow reef.
The sparse population of Alor and the nearby islands fishes with traditional methods – hand lines and the same underwater fish traps they have been making for centuries. No commerical fishing is allowed in the Alor Marine Park. The local fishing practices are completely sustainable. As a result, the number and density of fish you will see while diving in Alor is astounding.
The volcanic underwater topography, narrow channels and strong currents produce strong thermoclines. Hence Alor diving is best suited for experienced divers. Be prepared for the thrills (and occasional chills) of diving in current and thermoclines. What is the reward for the intrepid diving explorer? A vibrant kaleidoscope of hard and soft coral, dense swarms of fish, schooling hammerheads, giant sunfish. Diving in the muck, you will discover bizarre tiny “macro” creatures like nudibranches. You will experience the mesmerizing feeling of floating above the largest, densest anemone field in the world.
Species You Can See Diving In Alor
The range of species you may see here is enormous. Known as the Amazon of the Ocean, the Coral Triangle is the global centre of marine diversity. Alor is one of the most pristine and fertile sub-regions of the Triangle. Among the coral and other marine flora you can expect to see: Black coral trees, whip coral, giant gorgonians, sprawling sea fans, immense barrel sponges and more provide habitat for brightly colored reef fish. You might see schooling hammerheads, big sunfish, turtles, giant frog fish, flounders, manta rays, eagle rays, devil rays, giant napoleons, bump head wrasse and many more. The area is famous for its tiny and bizarre nudibranches (a sea slug by any other name would look so strange!) Divers also encounter hairy frogfish, ghost pipefish, riboon eels, turtles, puffer fish, mantis shrimp, sea moths, and a wide variety of octopus and cuttlefish.
Alor Diving Season
You can dive in Alor any month of the year. But from April to October you are far less likely to experience rain and resulting reduced visibility. In mid-November to early March you are more likely to encounter unsettled surface conditions. You can expect water temperatures of around 25 C in the prime months. Visibility is usually 25 to 30 meters and sometimes even 40 meters. Occasionally a plankton bloom can temporarily reduce visibility to 15 meters on one side or another of the islands. Fortunately, with a Alor liveaboard, we have a good chance to move outside the range of the bloom.
Alor Dive Sites
Divers know 30 or more named sites in this area. While some are fairly well know, others are virtually secret. Divers at land based operations will have trouble reaching them all, but it’s easy to get to any site you want on an Alor liveaboard. We also explore entirely new sites that may never have been visited by divers before on some of our crossing voyages. We’ll save the secrets spots for when you are sailing with us. Here are three of our favorite named and known dive sites in Alor.
Clown Valley just off Pura Island is a gently sloping reef rippled with small valleys. And completely, just absolutely completely covered with gently waving anemones. Clown Valley, named for the clown fish that live among the fingers of the anemones, is quite possibly the largest anemone field in the world. Clarks anemonefishes and tomato anemonefish live here among the millions of anemones.
Great Wall of Pantar
This wall dive off the coast of the island of Pantar has amazing soft coral coverage. We can see all kinds of tiny critters in the wall, shrimp, crabs, nudibranches, pipefish. It’s the kind of wall you could just stare at all day, but of course you’ll want to watch your dive time, and your back. Make sure to turn around from time to time because the wall faces the open ocean so a wide variety of pelagic species may surprise you swimming toward the wall from the edges of visibility.
At this magical site around 20 meters below the surface, an earthquake tore a long crack in the reef off Pulau Babi that drops another 30 meters. The crack is not wide enough to swim down (less than a meter wide) but it provides a view into a cross section of the reef and a different habitat. The reef itself has a colorful wall covered with sea fans, soft coral bushes, sponges, and hydroids. You’ll find nudibranches, crabs, shrimps, flatworms, and giant frogfish among other species hiding in the flora. Marble rays, eagle rays, turtles and sometimes hammerheads also visit this site. Nearby Babi Wall is a great place to spot red triggerfish as well as all the species above.
How to Get to Alor
As mentioned above, Alor is a bit remote. We recommend to get to Alor, fly to Maumere. You can see more details at the link. We’ll cover some more Alor dive sites in a future article in our Mantra Chronicles series.