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 Post subject: Indonesia: The Garden of Eden
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 8:31 pm
Posts: 213
Location: Bali
Indonesia consists of a 5 thousand kilometre long archipelago offering some of the most diverse coral reefs on the planet. There are over 17 thousand islands with a coastline stretching over 50 thousand kilometres all lying in tropical waters, a perfect environment for coral growth. Indonesia sits on the western edge of the Pacific Rim, a seismically active area known as the "Ring of Fire." This volcanic volatility makes Indonesia a hotbed of biodiversity. Biodiversity is an indicator of environmental health: The higher the number of species living together, the healthier the community because it is better able to withstand and rebound from the forces of nature such as El Niño, earthquakes, floods, and artificial interventions.

With rich environment of warm equatorial currents, nutrient-rich up-wellings and a tropical climate it is not surprising that Indonesia is home to over a quarter of the fish species found on earth. The amount of coral reef the archipelago contains is far more than neighbour Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Diving in Indonesia offers over 3,000 fish species and 450 species of coral, steep walls, deep water trenches, underwater volcanic mountains, World War II wrecks, and an endless variety of macro life.

Generally accepted to be the world's best country for sea life, Indonesia has more marine diversity than anywhere on earth. Slap bang in the middle of the triangle of diversity that extends from Australia to the Philippines and across to Borneo and into the South Pacific, this country is at the core of the ocean's heart, where the marine variety suggests life in the sea began.

You can dive here now and experience all the wondrous fish and other sea life in these nutrient-rich seas. From encounters with big pelagics around the cool waters of Komodo, to cruising over pristine fields of coral in Raja Ampat, to photographing the outrageous critters of Sulawesi, Indonesia diving is unsurpassable.

There are packages to suit all needs including resorts in Bali and Sulawesi where you can stay in comfort on the doorstep of world-class dive sites where marine biologists, photographers and pleasure divers come to marvel and the species numbers and variety.

For many, diving is best on one of the liveaboards to Komodo and beyond, into the seemingly unchartered territory of Irian Jaya. These trips offer the chance to cruise over crystal seas from Bali to the legendary islands of Komodo and Rinca where the dragons of folklore roam. Beyond Komodo lies some of the most exhilarating frontier diving there is, around the Banda islands and Raja Ampat where there are few boats and only serious pleasure-seeking divers. Fantastic diving is virtually assured.

Such a vast and varied dive destination as Indonesia is very difficult to limit to just a few highlights but any consideration of a dive holiday here should bear in mind at least the following areas:

Sulawesi is home to some of the most varied and incredible diving in the world. Diving from Manado in the Bunaken National Marine Park means being surrounded by marine bio-diversity that is the envy of the world - with more varieties of coral than anywhere else. A short drive from here is the Lembeh Strait - the undisputed King of muck diving destinations. This small calm stretch of water is where macro-photographers and critter hunters agree offers the most impressive diving. Along the black sandy floor you will encounter more bizarre and fascinating marine creatures than you could wish for. Add to this Indonesia's best kept secret - the Togian islands, a little further south and you can see why many divers return time and again to Sulawesi, an island that fulfils all their dive dreams.

Komodo National Park - the islands of myth and legend where dragons roam, are surrounded by rich nutrient-filled waters where a kaleidoscope of colour and life awaits you. Mantas and sharks compete with critters galore and all against a riot of soft coral colours. Komodo liveaboard trips can allow you to visit many varied sites around this awesome marine park itself and beyond, many starting and finishing in Bali and visiting all the best sites along the way.

Raja Ampat - one of the few destinations left which truly allows you to feel like you are a pioneer - to boldly dive where no man has dived before. You can marvel at the incredible topside scenery, sail through waters where so few boats venture and experience some of the most impressive diving in Indonesia ... and therefore the world. For those who want to get away from it all and dive in a remote paradise but not compromise on comfort then the Raja Ampat liveaboards are the choice for you.

Moreover, there are over 3,500 species living in Indonesian waters, including sharks, dolphins, manta rays, turtles, morays, cuttlefish, octopus and scorpionfish, compared to 1,500 on the Great Barrier Reef and 600 in the Red Sea. Tulamben Bay in Bali boasts the wreck of a 120 meter (400 foot) US Army commissioned transport vessel, the USAT Liberty Glo. Beside Bunaken and Bali, Lombok, with three Gilis (Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan), Thousand Islands and Bangka are some of the most popular diving sites in Indonesia.

Recently the political situation in Indonesia as deterred scuba divers from coming here however this can only add to the attraction of no overcrowding at dive sites. There are also a number of pristine frontier destinations such as Sulawesi, Alor and Raja Ampat that have yet to be overrun by tourism.

Indonesia at a glance:
Religion: Predominantly Muslim
Population: 241.9 million
Currency: Rupiah (9100 = 1$USD approx)
Geography: 1,919,440 sqm
Coastline: 54,716 km
Language: Bahasa Indonesia
Travel: Major airport in Jakarta with daily global flights and smaller airports on Sumatra and Bali with daily connections.
Diving: Visibility can be up to 50 metres, depths to over 2km. Marine life includes most common indo-pacific species.

Diving Season:
You can dive in Indonesia at any time of the year. Generally speaking for such a vast country, April to December are the best times to go since rainy season is more or less between the months of January and March. That said many places, such as Sulawesi, have excellent conditions at this time so be sure to check the diving season details for your particular destination of choice. The Indonesia liveaboards season is all year round.

Reef Summary:
Great for: Small animals, underwater photography, wall dives, wreck diving, drift dives, reef life and health and advanced divers
Not so great for: Beginner divers
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 10 - 80m
Currents: Can be very strong
Surface Conditions: Calm
Water Temperature: 19 - 30°C
Experience Level: Intermediate - advanced
Number of dive sites: ~500
Access: Scuba resorts and liveaboard charters
Recommended length of stay: 2 - 4 weeks

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