Nicknames and legends are usually outlandish exaggerations of certain facts or myths. Very rarely, if ever, does the truth outstrip the fantasy of a myth. Widely known as the land of a thousand islands, you’d think the actual number of islands in Indonesia would be in the high 900s at best – and you would be, well, wrong. By a country mile. In fact, if you take one day to tour one island in Indonesia and continue island-hopping to a different island each day until you finish visiting all the islands in Indonesia, it would take you close to 48 years to finish visiting Indonesia. 47.96 years to be exact. According to the Indonesia Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, there are 17,508 officially listed islands within the territory of the Republic of Indonesia. Short of asking all 28-year-olds out there to take a trip to Indonesia and expecting them to come back home only when they’re 76 years old, we’ve taken a look at our list of 101 Inspiring Dive Sites and listed out all the compelling must-visit dive sites in Indonesia. Enjoy.

Wonderful Indonesia

THE WORLD’S BEST CORAL DIVES

A field of fragile staghorn as far as the eye can see. Radiant soft corals swaying in the shallows. A cliff’s edge staggered by paper-thin plate formations. Everyone’s got their favourites, but our team cast their votes and chose a few of the world’s top dive sites for a pristine coral reef experience. From our list of top coral sites around the world, three are in Indonesia – that’s almost 20 percent of the list.

TREASURED ENCOUNTERS WITH ENDANGERED ANIMALS

Dermochelys coriacea

LEATHERBACK TURTLES

(Text by UW360. Photo by Jason Isley)

The largest of all turtles, leatherback turtles are an endangered species and seeing one underwater is extremely rare. Location: Kei Archipelago, Indonesia (Photo by Jason Isley)

Each year a remarkable migration takes place and very little is known about it, yet it involves a unique and highly endangered marine creature. Leatherback turtles are the largest of the seven species of sea turtle and are unique in the fact that they don’t have a bony shell. Their carapaces are soft, which gives the animal its name. The combined population of Pacific leatherbacks is thought to be less than 2,500, making them one of the most endangered marine turtles.

Where : Kei Archipelago, Indonesia

When : During the jellyfish blooms, October–December

Sea Temp : 22–26°C

How : Not easy! Fly to Jakarta. Then onwards to Ambon and finally Langgur

Type : Open water, snorkel/freediving

Pacific leatherback turtles make their way from the west coast of America to feed and breed in the area surrounding the tiny Kei Archipelago in the remote Banda Sea, a journey of thousands of miles for these ancient sea creatures. The Kei Islands are one of the few places in the world where you can encounter leatherbacks underwater and the main reason they can be seen here, and undertake their arduous journey, is to feed on the huge numbers of jellyfish that are swept in every year from the vast surrounding ocean. Given that leatherbacks eat an almost exclusive diet of jellyfish, this is an important feeding ground for these turtles and a feast not to be missed.

A DIP IN DARKWATER

One of the biggest reason why divers visit Indonesia is because of the amazing muck diving sites located at places like Lembeh and Lombok. Lombok, in particular, is also a favourite hunting ground for underwater photographers who love black water photography – diving into deep water in the ocean at night for underwater photography. One of the best proponents of black water photography is famed Singapore underwater photographer, William Tan.

Sharpear Enope Squid Larva (Ancistrocheirus lesueurii) by William Tan Location: Lombok, Indonesia

By : William Tan (Singapore)

Title : Sharpear Enope Squid Larva

(Ancistrocheirus lesueurii)

What : Squid (larvae)

When : June

Equipment : Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro,

Nauticam housing, 2x INON Z-240 strobes,

FIT Pro +10, RGBlue System02 video light

“We were about to surface when the divemaster signalled to me from a distance. He then pointed his torch to what seemed like a tiny tube anemone larva with extra long tentacles and with the ability to change colours rapidly. I only recognised it as a squid larva when I neared the animal. It flexed its tentacles, putting on quite a display in front of the camera. I followed it casually for another 20 minutes until my almost empty and super buoyant tank forced me to end the dive.”

WAKATOBI – EVERYONE’S DREAM DESTINATION

(Text by Karen Stearns. Photo by Henrick Rosen)

Wakatobi’s House Reef is known around the globe, and often ranks among the world’s very best shore dives. Some 80m from shore, a shallow, coral-encrusted shelf transitions into a series of steep slopes and walls that plummet beyond the range of scuba. Entry to the House Reef is easy, as divers and snorkellers can make the short swim from shore, or descend stairs at the jetty. Pier pilings attract shoaling fish, and clustered nearby are dozens of anemones populated with iconic clownfish. The reef slope is covered with a dense coat of hard and soft corals, sea fans, sponges and tunicates, with overhangs that create resting places for resident turtles. Moving away from the jetty, divers and snorkellers have acres of coral slopes and shallows to explore.

Diving the House Reef from Wakatobi’s beach (Photo by Henrick Rosen) Location: Tomia Island, Indonesia

The face of the drop-off is covered in an impressive collection of hard and soft corals, and large sponges while the shallows are prime hunting grounds for an even more diverse range of subjects. This expansive site is available to divers and snorkellers day and night, and on request “taxi boats” will ferry guests to more distant portions of the House Reef so they can leisurely make their way back to the jetty.

With 17,508 islands, there are incredible dive sites scattered all across Indonesia that are too many to list here. And to think, we’ve only covered the underwater attractions of Indonesia so far. Imagine what wonders await you on land!

To find out more about the wonders of Indonesia, you can visit Tourism Indonesia at www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/home

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