Into the deep: world’s most unusual locations for diving trips
With diving becoming an increasingly popular activity, an ever-growing cohort is getting their diving certification to be able to discover the underwater world with no supervision. Knowing that 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, travellers will find various secluded locations to emulate Jacques Cousteau.
Not only rare fish and coral species are on the diving menu but also fossils, rocks, wrecked ships and underwater sculptures. Once you’re done exploring, you can also visit surrounding places of interest and taste new dishes, which make up diving just a small part of the journey of discovery and learning.
Indonesia has recently earned a prestigious international recognition for its diving sites in the annual World Travel Market event in London, which makes it an interesting diving destination yet far from being a beaten track.
The awards, provided by Dive Magazine for the categories of Best Destination and Best Dive Center or Resort, went to Siladen Resort and Spa in Bunaken in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province.
Indonesia received the Best Destination award for the same respect last year. It shows that Indonesian destinations, particularly for diving, are apparently world-class," Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya minister said when receiving the awards.
Besides the one in Bunaken, other diving sites across Indonesia also received awards from several prestigious media as well as from international institutions, reported Xinxua.
Those spots were Raja Ampat in Papua, Alor in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province, Lembongan in Bali, Lembeh in North Sulawesi, Wakatobi and Bunaken also in Sulawesi.
In Indonesia those diving spots are considered as "Undersea Heaven".
The awards were not certainly resulted from random pick as Indonesia has one of the longest coastlines in the world stretching from the Indian Ocean to the east and Pacific Ocean to the west. Being part of the Coral Triangle of the world, Indonesia has a diverse marine life with 20% of world’s coral reefs.
The reward would improve credibility of Indonesia's diving destinations so you should book a trip until the destination becomes one of the world’s most demanded.
The possibility to dive all year round in Indonesia makes it particularly attractive but to get most of it you should plan your visit during the dry season of April to December. This is when you could gaze your eyes upon over 3000 fish species and 600 coral species, where the dive sites come in diverse types from coral, steep walls, deep water trenches, wrecks and underwater volcanic mountains.
Muck Diving in Indonesia
Indonesia offers terrific muck diving opportunities. The macro photographers will be delighted to find all the rare famous species such as the mimic octopus, the ornate ghost pipefish, the flamboyant cuttlefish and the pygmy seashore. The best location for macro lovers is the Lembeh strait in North Sulawesi.
Where to dive?
The best and main scuba diving destinations are at the moment: Raja Ampat (Papua), Bali, Manado (Sulawesi), the Komodo National Park (Flores), Waktaboi (Sulawesi), Pulau Weh (Sumatra), Gili Islands (Lombok), which we will now review.
Raja Ampat, Papua
Voted as one of the best diving spots in the world, Pulau Raja Ampat / Raja Ampat islands are one of the most attractive and universal destination for not only divers but also nature lovers and travelers,
Whether you are in Raja Ampat to spend a fortune or on a budget, the place will equally impress you.
The name of the island itself meant four kings and it is well known for its riches in wild marine life, pristine reefs and corals. It consists of more than 30 dive sites to choose from where you can enjoy thr diverse and amazing marine lives. You may get dive in places filled with coral gardens or walls to mangroves and wreck diving. Some of the famous dive sites in Raja Ampat are Cape Kri, Sardines, Manta Sandy and Mios Kon.
The island is unique thanks to the possibility to transform the trip in a real discovery meeting with the local Papuan people and get to immerse in their culture. Tour around Papua villages to see Asmat artisan’s wood sculptures or their fishing techniques or traditional performance of bamboo flute.
Passionate travelers could also watch the famous Sea Ghost phenomenon at East Waigeo where at the end of the year where a light would appear from the ocean and wander around the surface for about 15 minutes and then disappears.
Those who are captivated by volcanos could discover an active one in the center of Gulf of Tomini. Volcano Island Una Una is situated at the North of the archipelago.
The Togian or Togean Islands and Gorontalo is the part of the Gulf of Tomini, largest bay/gulf in Indonesia. These are a plenty of different islands and villages accessible by boat from Wakay.
Gulf of Tomini or Tomini bay includes more than the 3 dive sites among these 56 islands, all with white sandy beach still largely unexploited.
The Togians Islands are very close to the equator, due to that are all islands covered with tropical rain forest. Special for the Togian Islands is the Coconut Crab which can grow up to 4kg.
Located North of Sulawesi, Togian Islands are a group of islands boasting secrets to amazing dives. This place is, invoking feelings of diving in unexplored places.
The two top places to stay on this island are Black Marlin Dive Resort and Kadidiri Paradise.
The Togean Islands are difficult to reach, as bus travel takes long on Sulawesi. As there are no airports on the islands, you will either have to reach the towns of Ampana, which is a challenge itself.
The best and fastest way to go to Togian is from Ampana. Today, WIngs Air/Lion Air group service the route Palu to AMpana everyday. Which means that you can fly to AMpana frmo any major cities in Indonesia in 6 hours. Book flight to Palu first and then to Ampana, since the system is not aligned yet.
From Ampana: The public ferries that run between Ampana to Wakai on the Togian Islands leaves every morning at 10:00, except Fridays. However, bear in mind that schedules often change due to breakdowns and weather. Also note that at least one day a week the Wakai boat leaves from the other port; 15 minutes east of town (NOT the port in Ampana; as of Oct 2014). Under normal conditions it takes about 4hrs to Wakai, where resorts offer free connecting speedboats to Pulau Kadidiri. The fare for the main ferry is 65,000Rp as of June 2016). Some of the boats stop in Malenge which is another 1.5hrs from Wakai.
There are also two public speed boats from Ampana going to Wakai via Bomba for 130.000 everyday. One (Hercules) leaves around 9 in the morning and the 2nd (Manakara) around noon after the flight from Palu has landed.
The journey to the Togeans can also begin in Gorontalo, a 4-hour flight from Jakarta. If you’re looking for a great way to pass the 12-hour ferry ride, inquire at the harbor about the captain’s quarters. The ferry "Tuna Tomini" runs twice a week from Gorontalo to Wakai and continues on to Ampana. It leaves Gorontalo every Tuesday and Friday at 20:00 o'clock, arriving in Wakai the next morning.
For a fee passengers can rent out a room rather than endure the smoke and crowds of the economy class quarters. Cabins are equipped with two bunk beds and air conditioning, and serve as a which turns out to be a very comfortable way to spend the night. The same ferry makes the return trip to Gorontalo twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, leaving Ampana at 10:00 in the morning, reaching Wakai about 15:00 o'clock. After taking Gorontalo-bound passengers and freight the ferry then leaves Wakai at 16:00 PM arriving in Gorontalo the next morning about 06:00 AM.
Direct access form Marissa to Una Una in speedboat for 2,5m in 4h.
Florida's 'Devil's Den'
If by chance you are tired of discovering the marine population and you are dazzled seeing all these colors you can scuba dive surrounded by prehistoric fossils in Florida’s 'Devil's Den'
Devil’s Den, in Florida, is an underground spring inside a cave that got its name from early settlers, who thought the steam rising from the Earth looked like it was coming from hell.
Now, a karst window, in which the roof over a subterranean river has collapsed, exposing the water to the open surface, near Williston, Florida is operated as a popular scuba diving training and recreational facility surrounded by ancient rock formations and fossil beds.
After exploring the marine world, you can enjoy a picnic as the site offers tables and a food truck, to taste local appetizers.
As opposed to the Indonesian islands, this prehistoric site is easy to reach, located in Willeston, Florida, about a 30-minute drive from Gainesville. Lodging options include hotels and camping.
Diving in Grenada
If you have an impression that you've seen all the fishes and corals that were to see and even prehistoric fossils don’t surprise you anymore don't be disappointed. Divers and snorkelers on the west coast of Grenada can swim between underwater sculptures in Molinere Bay.
Just a 10-minute boat ride from Grand Anse – the island’s most famous beach – the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park is the passion project of British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, who decided to sink his concrete creations to create an artificial reef.
The figures include a statue of Jesus, a woman emerging from a giant nutmeg, and a ring of figures holding hands on the seabed. The effect is eerie and oddly emotional: it’s hard not to feel sympathy for the figures trapped forever at the bottom of the ocean.
As artificial reefs, these sculptures are proving highly successful so far in attracting a stunning array of varied marine life. In doing so and attracting visitors, they have indeed fulfilled a role in easing the environmental pressure on other reefs in the locality.
A key aspect to the sculptures’ appeal has been the dynamic changes brought about by being exposed to the power of the ocean. Unique natural forces including sea surge, wave action and currents have imposed their own influence and changes on the sculptures.
A circle of life size figures cast from local children linked by holding hands. Their transformation by nature, as they become remodeled by the environment and coral growth reflects the changes of growing up thorough a lifetime. The sculpture is located at 5 meters in depth and fashioned predominantly from concrete creating a hard substrate for coral growth.
Definition: a natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs. The children depict the adaptability of children in any environment as the sea embraces them and the children become part of their new environment.
As for the places of interest above water, Grenada is famed for being the 'Spice Isle' - lush rain forests with great hiking, rare flora and tropical fauna. With so much things to discover, both onshore and underwater, it is the perfect destination to visit on your dream vacation.
Petite Martinique offers land visitors a tranquil and unique experience, infused with island culture and tradition. Only 800 people live on this tiny island, which can be reached solely by boat. On the 17th - 20th May, the island comes alive with the Whitsuntide Sailing Regatta - a competitive highlight!