Ten Delicious Places to Dip into Diving
For diversity of speciesin the water, on land, and soaring overheadyou just can't beat the Indo-Pacific. Scientists estimate that for every 50 species of tropical fish, ferns, orchids, or birds in the Caribbean, you will find 500 in the Indo-Pacific. Those impressive numbers translate into exotic and fascinating marine life as well as rich topside culturethe makings of a world-class adventure.
Though land-based options are available, a liveaboard is the best way to explore Indonesias collection of about 15,000 islands. In addition to the convenience and appeal of virtually round-the-clock diving, the uncrowded islands and the undiscovered dive sites are all easily accessible. On an Indonesian liveaboard expedition, more often than not the divers from your boat will be the only ones in the water with you. You won't find this kind of solitude in the Caymans or Cozumel.
Many good dive vessels operate from the island of Bali. A dive voyage on the Pelagian, a beautiful boat delivering all the amenities, costs about $2,200 per week. It sails June through October, the best dive months in the region. Other outfitters offer dive trips around the island and in nearby waters starting around $90 a day
If you prefer to spend more time shoreside, there are some attractive land-based tours that will still let you sample the spectacular diving found in this part of the world. Manado, on the north side of Sulawesi, has several fine dedicated dive resorts, as well as a full range of hotels. At the Kungkungan Bay Resort, designed by and dedicated to divers, a seven-day package with 12 dives costs $1,575. The Murex (www.murexdive.com), a family-run resort, offers a diving package priced about $100 per day. For a more Western-style resort experience, the Tasik Ria Hotel offers a seven-night package, including dinners, for $1280 for one person.
From the bustling waterfront city of Manado, you can also make an easy day trip to Bunaken Island Marine Park. An extensive fringe reef borders the park. Beyond, there's a steep drop-off where divers often catch a glimpse of large pelagicswhales, mantas, and whale sharks. Big schools of jacks and barracuda are an everyday occurrence. Inside the reef, it's a tropical aquariummore species of coral and fishes than can be counted.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication