– Moluccas diving

Moluccas diving

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The Maluku islands, sometimes called the Moluccas, are a string of islands stretching between Sulawesi and Papua in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago. It was also known historically as Spice Islands; and it was the aromatic smell of the spices – nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, then very valuable and were nowhere else to be found except on these island – that had brought both Chinese and Arab traders in the 7th century and the Western colonialists in the 16th century to these islands.

Ambon, a tiny island in the middle of the Maluku islands, despite its size had always been in the center of the hub, a busy port of call for the trading ships and later on for the colonialists battle and cargo ships. It therefore inherited the diversity and colourful cultures and religions as the consequence of such a position. For most of its history there has been little conflict between these different elements, however in 1999 a major clash between the two major religion group, Christians and Moslems, broke out.

During this clash the few dive operators operating there left, and what little amount of diving activities that existed previously stopped. Peace has now returned to the island, and dive activities have started again. A dive operator called Maluku Divers has opened in Latuhalat in the southern part of the island and this small outfit gives good service to divers. Accommodation is provided in the dive center or in the house next door. The rooms are basic but clean, with hot water and air conditioner. There are daily flights from Jakarta to Ambon with stopover in Makassar by Lion Air and Mandala Airlines. From the airport the dive center is about 1 hour drive or 40 minutes boat ride.

Ambon island consists of two peninsulas connected together in their eastern tip. Diving in Ambon is mainly done along the southern coasts of the southern arm. These locations are easily reached in 15-30 minutes boat ride from the dive center. Other dive locations are located in Nusa Tiga, a cluster of tiny islands in the western tip of Ambon, and in the southern tip of Seram, the bigger island located north of Ambon. These can be reached by about 1 hour of speed boat ride from Latuhalat. Further away, there are dive locations in Saparua, Molana and Nusa Laut islands to the east of Ambon, about 1.5 hours of speedboat ride from Latuhalat.

The highlight of diving in Ambon is its underwater garden. Coral growth here is amazing, very healthy and virgin almost everywhere. Diversity is top notch. Large size sea fans, barrel sponges and table corals are abundant, indicating none or disturbances from human activities. In almost all dive you would be presented with the full splendour of underwater colours. In Pintu Kota and Hukurila there are caverns with walls and roofs covered in many hued soft corals. With visibility in the range of 25-30 meters in a normal day, wide angle photography of undersea garden is bound to be good here.

The nudibranch hunter types would be disappointed though, especially those who have been spoiled by the diversity and abundance of nudibranch in Bali. But other macro photography objects abounds – small commensal shrimps and crabs living in crinoids, anemones, whip corals, soft corals, sea urchins and sea cucumbers are found in many sites.

Ambon also has its own ‘Lembeh’ for muck diving lovers. Laha I and Laha II in the southern part of Ambon’s northern peninsula are shallow dive locations with a lot of rubbish and coral rubble piles, and low visibility. But among the garbage live weedy scorpionfish, raggy scorpionfish, large black frogfish, huge green frogfish, stonefish, mandarin fish, sea horse, pipe fish, octopus, cuttlefish, porcupine fish, flounders, sand divers, many moray eels and zillions of boxer shrimps.

Fish are plentiful, though the bigger pelagic types are not so often found here. There are sharks and devil rays here but they are not always found. There are schools of fusiliers and snappers in most places and big napoleon wrasse families and schools of huge surgeonfish and black snappers are often sighted in some locations.

Smaller reef fish are everywhere and there are more dartfish here than in other places. In a dive site in Nusa Tiga islands we can dive among clouds of juvenile blue triggerfish. I say clouds because there were zillions of them swimming around, literally looking like black clouds covering the reef front slope. In among these triggerfish there are schools of bannerfish and pyramid butterflyfish. Some of the more exotic reef fish often seen here include the barramundi grouper, which are considered delicacy by some people.

Most of the dive sites offer easy diving, but in some at tide in or tide out times current can be quite strong. However in Nusa Tiga, Seram, Molana and Nusa Laut which are the best sites for viewing the bigger fish, when the current is strong the fish are also abundant. Although some say the best time for diving in Ambon is around November to January, diving here is all year around.

In front of Ambon harbour there’s a good diving in a wreck of a cargo ship from WW II era. The ship is still more or less intact with masts still standing. The shallowest part, its stern, is at around 12-14 meters and the deepest is at 37 meters. Although intact it is covered with corals, ascidian and sponges growth and freqented by schools of fish. An octopus live in the shallow part.

Written by: Nila Murti

Halmahera, Weda Resort

Halmahera, Weda Resort

http://www.wedaresort.com/

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Until recent, Weda Bay was an unknown spot on the dive map of the world. Now 90% of our guests, who have all dived in several other places in Indonesia, think it is their best diving ever!

Easy diving along steep drop offs with caverns and schools of fish, coral covered slopes, perfect shallow reef tops, bays with seahorses and other critters, and ....  read more

Banda, Spice Island Divers

Moluccas, Banda, Spice Island Divers

http://www.divingbanda.com/index.html

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Diving Banda; Dive Banda with Spice Island Divers

Spice Island Divers is the only land based dive centre diving Banda. Owned and operated by a multinational management team, the operation prides itself on service and professionalism, despite the remote location of the facility.

Banda has long been thought a destination only to be visited with liveaboard dive vessels, whose limited itineraries curtail the length of time which can be spent in the Banda islands. Land based diving in Banda allows divers to enjoy more flexible dive experiences, with more time to dive the plethora of sites within Banda’s huge natural harbour and also to join excursions to the outer islands in the region.

The islands nestle in the Banda Sea, Eastern Indonesia, reached through the central hub of Maluku, Ambon City. The archipelago of Banda is made up of seven main islands, these being Banda Neira, Lonthor, Gunung Api, Pulau Pisang, Hatta, Ai and Run . 

Diving & Exploring

Spice Island Divers, a partner of Maluku Divers in Ambon, presents divers with the chance to explore the underwater delights of Banda, whilst offering extended time for exploration of the fascinating town.

The Banda Islands are amongst the most unique destinations in the world. The intrigue surrounding the history and culture of the region is mirrored in the underwater experiences too, with amazing variety of dive sites all easily accessible from Spice Island Divers dive centre.

Spice Island Divers offers the opportunity for divers to enjoy the topside and diving delights of a region which has for years remained remote and inaccessible. Dive Banda, the most abundant waters in Indonesia, with the only land based dive centre operating in the region – Spice Island Divers.

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Banda Accommodation, The Maulana Hotel

The Spice Island Divers operation is currently based in the most luxury residence on Banda, Hotel Maulana, owned by Des Alwi the King of Banda. The wonderful waterside positioning of the hotel affords the most spectacular views of Gunung Api. The list of superstars to have graced the island is impressive; Lady Diana, Mick Jagger and Jacques Cousteau have all sought out the peace and tranquility of this exotic hideaway.

The hotel is a traditional colonial design with an expansive patio and outdoor eating areas, overlooking the gardens, just feet from the crystal clear waters of Banda Harbour, built on the site of Pak Des’ family pearl factory. There are 50 rooms in the residence, All rooms are air conditioned and have en-suite bathroom facilities. At just $50 per room per night, rates are very reasonable.

Local Delicacies

Food served at the hotel consists of a delightful array of local delicacies, concentrating on fresh fish and local fruit produce.

Some lucky divers may have the chance to meet the owner of the Maulana Hotel, the ruler of Banda himself Mr Des Alwi, and a tour of the town in his company is a pleasure indeed. To see an 80 year old gentleman with such zest and passion for life is intoxicating.

Latuhalat Maluku Divers Resort

Latuhalat Maluku Divers Resort

http://www.divingmaluku.com/

For serious divers there is not much choice in Ambon. The critter dive sites in Ambon Bay are only visited by two resorts. Maluku Divers have been in Ambon for a long time and since they have moved from their former resort on the south coast to the critter dive sites they have really started to go upmarket. The new resort is only 10 minutes away from the airport and offers accommodation in 10 spacious bungalows for a maximum of 20 guests who can share three speed boats. All critter-sites in the bay can be reached in 5 to 15 minutes. The diving area is spacious with big tanks to water cameras and dive gear. There is also a well lit and air conditioned camera room with plenty of plugs to charge strobes and lights. In each of the bungalows there is also a table reserved for cameras but is is not sufficiently lighted. NITROX will be available from October 2010 onwards. The dive guides (imported from Lembeh) know the dive sites and fishes very well. They have excellent eyes and you literally can order the animals you want to see. Of course there is no guaranty. The Balinese Chef and his team offer a tasty mix Western and Indonesian dishes. There is a choice of different breakfasts and three course meals for lunch and dinner. At the time of writing this report (April 2010) there was still work in progress at the resort. The garden area outside the bungalows was not ready yet. The plants still need some time to grow bigger. The air conditioned, spacious bungalows are a bit dark inside and the gray concrete floor needs to be tiled to look less depressing. The beds are huge and comfortable.

Ambon, Maluku Divers Resort

Moluccas, Ambon, Maluku Divers Resort

http://www.divingmaluku.com/

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The Maluku Divers Resort is a dedicated dive facility conveniently located on the shores of Ambon’s best muck diving region “The Twilight Zone” in the village of Laha. A unique mix of traditional Maluku architectural designs and the desired comforts of a modern boutique resort, the bungalows are nestled amongst mature mango trees which offer both shade and a tranquil ambience. 

The resort was designed and built specifically with divers in mind, focussed towards convenient opportunities to enjoy the unique marine life to be found in Ambon Bay. The concept for the bungalows is to embrace and showcase the character of Ambon, while offering both comfortable and well planned facilities. The resulting bungalows are considered the most unique and interesting accommodations in the whole of Maluku. Throughout the extended planning phases developing the resort, the Maluku Divers design preferences were to build within the natural surroundings, so as to have as little impact to the environment as possible, while absorbing the ambience and benefitting from the fresh ocean breezes which sweep through the location.

There was a specific intention to minimize impact to the waterfront location and the bungalows have been positioned in such a manner that none of the significant number of mature trees on the plot had to be felled. The result is a resort with a fusion of design and comfort, apparent throughout the ten cool, bright and airy waterfront bungalows.

Each individual bungalow covers over 60 square meters and incorporates a large living area, private bathroom, hot water shower and a large covered private wooden terrace. Each of the bungalows has uninterrupted views to the ocean. The Maluku Divers Resort is air conditioned and has the trademark enormous luxury beds and custom made furniture, which ensure a comfortable and peaceful environment, for rest and recuperation after long and interesting dives.

As further evidence of the design philosophy, “built by divers for divers”, in this case underwater photographers, each bungalow has an individual editing table for each of the divers to check over images collected during each intriguing day of diving, and to prepare the cameras for the following dive. These camera tables are equipped with convenient charging stations, especially handy for photographers who prefer to work in privacy rather than the large communal camera room.

The restaurant, bar, and kitchen are situated in a traditional roof beachfront complex, with a pretty open air patio from where divers can enjoy meals and drinks beneath the stars.

This dive area starts to highlight the resort’s focus on photography, as it is also home to the large communal camera room and pre and post dive lounge area. Camera fiddling tables and wet camera tables lead down to a convenient and large guest dive equipment area, with freshwater dive showers and a number of large camera rinse tanks.

The Maluku Divers Resort is undoubtedly the most unique accommodation to be found in Ambon and also within the Maluku Province.

Please contact Maluku Divers for some friendly and efficient advice regarding long stay and short stay dive packages.

Ambon, Blue Rose Divers

Moluccas, Ambon, Blue Rose Divers

http://bluerosedivers.com/

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Blue Rose Divers established in Februari 16, 2008 in one location with Santai Beach Resort, handling by professional master divers and supported with International standar diving equipment so your safety and comfortability which diving can be guaranted.

We also offering a comfortable accomodation in Santai Beach Resort. This Hotel can be precise choice for relaxation and spending time. By supporting safe condition,Luxuriesly hotel rooms complete facilities and proffesional service for tourist who visiting with Holiday interest or other.