We believe that Indonesia has many world-class diving places, that is why we created IndonesiaDive to share in-depth information. But where to go out of 17,000 islands in Indonesia? To get the idea, you may want to start reading our “99 Scuba Diving Places in Indonesia” ebook here.
Every diver has their best diving place. It is a very subjective matter with various definitions.
How about asking Indonesian scuba diving experts about their best diving spots in Indonesia? They have dived all around Indonesia for ages so their point of view is valid.
We were lucky enough to meet two of the most prominent Indonesian scuba diving experts. They are the top ones who come to mind as “the father of scuba dive” since they are both considered pioneers in the diving industry in Indonesia and well-known dive instructors.
Meet Bayu Wardoyo, DAN (Divers Alert Network) Indonesia Representative and founder of IDRT (Indonesia Divers Rescue Team) who has been diving around the world since 1993. It is no surprise that the best diving place in the world is Indonesia.
“My most favorite diving spots in Indonesia are not only about the beauty but as an overall experience. Safety, facilities, easiness, and value for money play an important role,” he explained the definition of the best diving place.
The other expert is Abi Carnadie, a consultant for the PADI diving industry in Indonesia and the Tourism Ministry and Creative Economy of Indonesia. He has been scuba diving professionally for more than 20 years as a PADI instructor and owns a dive school.
“My definition of the best diving site in Indonesia is very personal. It’s not only the underwater but also the whole feeling,” said Abi.
Best Diving Spots in Indonesia
Knowing that Bayu and Abi have so much experience in scuba diving, we thought they would mention some unknown far away scuba diving places in Indonesia. It came to our surprise that both Bayu and Abi said Bali is one of their best diving spots!
Bayu told us why Bali is his number one best diving spot, “There are two dive spots I like the most in Bali. One is Tulamben because it’s a park-and-dive thing! You can just come, park your car, then dive right away! There are even porters to carry your tanks. How convenient is that! In the water, you see lots of fish and healthy corals. Schooling of jackfish is very common here, once I saw mola-mola and whale shark too!”
Bali is my number one best diving spot, because it’s a park-and-dive thing! You can just come, park your car, then dive right away! There are even porters to carry your tanks.
DAN (Divers Alert Network) Indonesia Representative and founder of IDRT (Indonesia Divers Rescue Team)
“Another best spot in Bali is Menjangan Island in West Bali National Park. It’s a conservation island where the ecosystem is healthy with great biodiversity. It’s located in a strait where the visibility is good, the current is strong, and there is a lot to see. I even saw Mobula ray and oceanic whitetip shark there!” explained Bayu excitedly.
He added, “I’ve been diving regularly in Menjangan for the past 10 years. The most interesting part is the locals gain wealth from the diving industry. It used to be a very poor fishermen’s village but now you witness how the diving industry has empowered the local economy.”
Abi, whom we interviewed separately, also mentioned Tulamben, Bali, as his top second-best spot. “There are three dive spots in Tulamben called Liberty shipwreck, the coral garden, and the drop-off wall. With very easy access, it depends on my mood where to dive. If I get up late, I can just avoid people in the wreck by going to the coral garden to relax. I also like unexpected things to see in Tulamben. One day I saw a thresher shark, another day I saw a whale shark. They are not common in the area, but the unexpectedness made Tulamben my favorite!”
However, Abi revealed that Raja Ampat is his number one best spot in Indonesia. “The exact dive spot is Cape Kri. It’s an easy site where you can just take a 5-minute boat ride from the island so I can go anytime I like. Cape Kri's corals are excellent and very long that we can dive from three different sites. There are lots of fish too! The fish species are different depending on the tide so it’s pretty interesting!”
Raja Ampat is my number one best spot in Indonesia. The exact dive spot is Cape Kri because the corals are excellent and very long that we can dive from three different sites.
Consultant for the PADI diving industry in Indonesia and the Tourism Ministry and Creative Economy of Indonesia.
Cape Kri is located in Kri Island, an hour boat ride from Waisai, Raja Ampat regency’s capital city. It’s a long, narrow, forested island that is part of the neighboring Mansuar Island. Now Kri Island has been a popular island where many rustic accommodations lie on the white sand beach. The house reefs are excellent for snorkeling as well as scuba diving.
To get to Raja Ampat, you need to fly to Domine Eduard Osok Airport (SOQ) in Sorong. It takes a 4-hour flight from Jakarta (CGK). Bear in mind that Papua has a different time zone so it will be 2 hours behind Jakarta. From Sorong, then you need to go to the harbor and take an express ferry for another 2 hours to Waisai. From there you can take a boat to the island. Read IndonesiaDive in-depth guide about Raja Ampat here.
Other Great Diving Spots in Indonesia
Now we know that the well-known Bali and Raja Ampat are Bayu and Abi’s best diving spots in Indonesia. We can’t wait to hear their next best diving spots!
Again, it came to our surprise that Bayu’s second-best diving spot is Kepulauan Seribu (literally translated as “Thousand Islands”), a chain of islands in the north of Jakarta’s coast. He told us, “Kepulauan Seribu is very underrated. It’s still in Jakarta but there are so many things to enjoy there with an economical budget. There are several shipwrecks, healthy coral, lots of fish, and I even saw a whale shark!”
Bayu guessed that 75% of Indonesian divers - most of them are Jakartans, have been to Kepulauan Seribu to dive for the first time since it’s an ideal place for certification. “Even though they did it mostly in Pramuka Island, but Kepulauan Seribu has many good diving spots. My favorites are Genteng Kecil Island, Sepa Island, and Kuburan Cina where the ecosystem is good. When the season is right, the visibility can reach up to 30 meters. I know this because I was at the bottom of Tabularasa shipwreck!”
Abi said separately that his third-best diving spot is also Kepulauan Seribu! “If we live in Jakarta, Kepulauan Seribu is close and convenient for us. Most of my log dives are in Kepulauan Seribu, but no matter how much I have dived there, there are always unexpected things to see!” he said.
“The best corals are around Kotok Besar Island. They are 75% healthy considering it’s still located in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. Not many know that Kepulauan Seribu has many shipwrecks too! Karang Congkak and Papa Theo shipwrecks are my most favorites because they are full-body ships and still well intact. They lie at 30 meters depth on the seafloor and away from the corals. It’s always quiet so I like it there, especially when the visibility is great in April or September. I’ve seen a good size of whitetip and blacktip sharks, also stingrays too!” he added.
A fun fact from us: although Kepulauan Seribu is translated as Thousand Islands, they only have 342 islands. To get to one of the islands from Jakarta city, you just have to board from Ancol - Indonesia’s largest recreational park. The public boat ride takes around 1 to 2.5 hours depending on the island you go. Ask your island resort on which boat and the time you should take. The daily boat usually leaves Jakarta in the morning and back from the island in the afternoon.
Scuba Diving Indonesia at Kepulauan Seribu
Kepulauan Seribu is an ideal short trip to get a nice scuba diving experience in Indonesia with direct flights from Singapore (SIN) and Malaysia for just two hours. Several Malaysian airports offer flights to Jakarta (CKG) from Kuala Lumpur (KUL), Johor (JHB), and Penang (PEN). A half-hour road trip from the airport takes you to Ancol to board a boat to one of the islands in Kepulauan Seribu.
Apart from Bali and Kepulauan Seribu, Bayu’s third-best diving spot is Komodo National Park. “You will find everything you want to see under the sea in Komodo!” he said in confidence. “The view underwater and on land is spectacular! A healthy ecosystem and high biodiversity are what make me love Komodo. As an avid hiker, I also love to hike on land to see komodo and breathtaking viewpoints.”
To get to Komodo National Park, you need to fly to Labuan Bajo airport (LBJ) from Jakarta (CGK) or Bali (DPS). From there you can choose dive operators that can take you diving by land-base or liveaboard. Read our article "Best local hacks on scuba diving in Komodo National Park, Indonesia here.
Other than Komodo, Bayu said that he also loves Kepulauan Banda (Banda Islands) as one of his best diving spots. “If I have to choose another spot, it would be Banda. It doesn’t come up to my top three diving spots because it takes so much effort to get there.”
Banda Islands is located in Maluku province. To get there you should fly to Pattimura International Airport (AMQ) in Ambon. It takes 3 hours 40 minutes to fly from Jakarta (CGK). From there then take another 40 minutes flight or a 6-hour ferry ride to Bandanaira town. The catch is both schedules are unpredictable, depending on the weather and season. Another option is to take a liveaboard from Ambon.
“What is interesting about Banda is that it has an active volcano rising from the sea. The sand is black due to the volcanic islands but that makes the corals very fertile - that is why there are lots of fish, schooling of fish! Banda also has one of the deepest trenches in Indonesia. The water is so deep that you can find many pelagics, even schooling of hammerhead sharks!” explained Bayu.
Best Liveaboards in Indonesia
When it comes to the best liveaboard dive experience in Indonesia, the diver’s top of mind must be Raja Ampat. We have done that too so we agree on that! Raja Ampat is a regency of West Papua in the eastern part of Indonesia that has approximately 1,500 small islands. With 88% of seawater, the area is almost as big as the Republic of Ireland!
Bayu explained, “Liveaboard in Raja Ampat is a must because no other better way to explore the diversity in a vast area like that.”
The area is very large that typically there are two routes of liveaboard in Raja Ampat. The first is Waigeo and the second is Misool. You will cover pretty much the area with a one-week liveaboard each. The liveaboard is mostly using a phinisi luxury boat and there is no budget boat option. Before you board, you may want to shop our Raja Ampat diving t-shirt here.
However, Bayu suggested, “Diving in Raja Ampat is indeed top-notch but it can be costly because it’s very far and must be done with liveaboard. I’d rather dive in Komodo National Park instead because it is like a mini Raja Ampat with much lower cost.”
Komodo National Park has high marine biodiversity as well with the area only 2.5 % of Raja Ampat. Divers typically take a four-day liveaboard using a yacht, phinisi, or a traditional wooden boat so the budget range is varied.
We suggest you shop our Komodo diving t-shirt here to take a snap while you’re on board.
On the contrary to Bayu, Abi said that he does not really like liveaboards. “I’m not much of a fan of liveaboards because it depends on the people you are with onboard. If the group is bad, you get stuck for one week and can’t go anywhere because you are in a boat far away from the land!” he chuckled. Abi who is an introvert suggested, “I prefer to stay in dive resorts, like the one in Sorido Bay, Raja Ampat. I can enjoy diving, the beach, as well as my me time.”
These are suggestions from Indonesian scuba diving experts about where their best diving sites in Indonesia are. Bali, especially Tulamben, is one of their top choices due to its easiness and fun diving. The underrated Kepulauan Seribu (Thousand Islands) is their second choice due to the easy accessibility with value for money. If you are willing to spend more on a liveaboard, Raja Ampat and Komodo National Park are their favorite too. Kepulauan Banda is also one of the best spots where you can do diving by land-base or liveaboard.
Before coming to Indonesia, be sure to read our article "Is Indonesia Open for Travel Right Now? Scuba Divers Must Read This!" to learn about current travel requirements. If you are still unsure of where to dive in Indonesia, we have a complete list of “99 Scuba Diving Places in Indonesia”. Just download and you will always be welcome in Indonesia!