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Alor and Padar can be reached either from Kupang (Timor) or Maumere (Flores) or by liveaboard. The dive area offers nice wall diving, places to look for small critters and quite a lot of current in some places.
1. Kal's Dream: these are
underwater pinnacles (top = 7m). There are strong currents here most of the
time, so you have to make a negative buoyancy entry and fin down as fast as
possible in order not to miss the sea mound. If you miss it, as one of my dive
buddies did, you are in for a safety stop out in the blue! We did 2 dives here,
since this dive site was described so enthusiastically in the book "diving
Indonesia", but then gave up finding any big fish! Actually during the
first 5 minutes of our first dive it seemed like great things were to come -
we saw a group of barracudas, then a whitetip shark and a large marble ray.
When these animals disappeared, there was nothing more to report. Nearly no
medium sized fish, just Anthias over corals and current. We waited and waited,
but nothing large showed. On our second dive not even a single large fish showed
up. The most adventurous thing was actually surfacing among the up and down
currents. A friend of mine dived there recently and saw dog tooth tunas and
great trevallies schooling.
This dive site reminded me of diving in Blue Corner in Lembongan (south Bali) - with the right conditions it is teeming with life, large fish everywhere - but if you dive at the wrong time is either boring or dangerous! I am sure if you dive there long enough you will have some great fish sightings but for us it wasn't so.
21. Nite Delight and The Mini Wall (No. 22) are good places for a night dive, expect relatively cold water though.
24. The Cathedreal: This dive site has a large cave in about 35m depth which you can swim through.
5. Sharks Galore and Clown Valley (No. 6): Our dive started in the dive site called Sharks Galore and ended in Clown Valley, close to the village school. The sharks must have all been on vacations because we didn't see a single one, but the bulb-tentacle sea anenomes (Entacmea quadricolor) were there all right, covering every crevice over a large expanse of the reef. Only a few anemone fishes live in them, and these seemed to change their host frequently.
8. Boardroom: This is a very good dive site for small critters like Mandarin dragonets, scorpionfishes and pegasus sea moths. Another dive site at Pura is north of the Jetty where actually you can still see some bubbles coming out from a volcanic source. Close to number 22 (Alor) there is an area with mangroves which is also very interesting for muck diving where you find Randall's goby, the metallic goby, waspfishes, Rhinopias and other interesting scorpionfishes.
10. Coconut Grove: a small wall with small caves, then a flat slope with nice coral cover, a lot of anemone fish. An easy dive. Next to it is the so called Mini market where you can find Mandarin fishes, dragonets, halimeda ghostpipefish and at night spidercrabs, stargazer, robust pipefish and perhaps a bamboo cat shark. The coral here is not that nice, but the animals living here are very interesting.
11. The Arch: This place is very beautiful. On the wall huge underwater cervices form a large arch at about 20 to 30 meter. There are whip corals and gorgonians growing here. On some of the over 3 meter long whip corals you might find the rare coral shrimp (Pontonides sp.). I also saw some interesting animals in the upper part of the reef such as the marble dragonet, some special filefish and nudibranchs such as Jorunna (Kentrodoris) rubesceus. Many sites have very impressive topography like big walls, arches, chimneys, cracks and overhangs, this is one of them.
12. Babylon: Our dive guide who likes Bob Marley was trying to sing underwater - I was looking for nudibranchs and found 6 different species of them - Alor is anyway quite a good place for nudies. There are some nice overhangs at 30 meter.
13. Coral Cliffs: A steep wall with a lot of whip corals, some 3 to 4 meter long. Nice dive but not so spectacular.
15. Cave Point: A nice easy dive on a wall with small caves between 20 and 35 meter. We found a lot of nudibranchs.
25. Sea Apple Slopes: This is a good place to find the rare filter-feeding sea cucumbers called sea apple (Pseudocolochirus violaceus). This cucumber is round and of a bright red and purple color with white or yellow stripes and can also be found in the Komodo and Rinca islands.
26. Pan Abang: This is the best place for small animals such as the wunderpus, mimic octopus, Rhinopias, ghostpipefishes, spearing mantis shrimp, frogfish, devil fish, pegasus and colemanshrimp. You dive on sand and corals.
The Alor and Padar islands lie east of Flores and north of Timor. These islands are not very well known to divers and only a few liveaboards plus some dive operators from Kupang (Timor) visit these dive sites. The dive area lies in the strait between the islands and around the smaller islands of Pura, Kumba, Ternate and Buaya. The water flowing through the strait makes for some very fierce currents and there are also down currents and large eddies, whirls as well as swells.
I advise to bring a computer (a must!), gloves, safety sausage (inflatable signal device) and perhaps a hood (water temperatures are o.k., around 28 to 29°C). You are very far away from any help so dive carefully!
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