In the heart of the Coral Triangle, the Pantar Strait is one of the most well preserved coral reef systems in Indonesia. Dynamite and cyanide fishermen were long ago warded off by local villagers in many areas of the straight who saw the value in preserving their home reefs. This has left us with some of the most colorful, beautiful and densely covered coral reef dive sites we see today. Visibility ranges from 15 meters/50 feet just after and before the rainy season of January-March up to 40m/132 feet in the dry season of July-September.
Each site in the Strait is diverse with its own topography and colour scheme including walls, slopes and sea mounts. Vibrant colors such as red, pink, orange, lavender and green dominate and add a unique personality to each individual site. Some sites are known for their beautiful panoramas of dense coral, anemone and sponge coverage mixed with smaller reef fish and unique macro life such as anemone fish and shrimp, eels, frogfish, leaf and bearded scorpionfish, pygmy seahorses, schools of black snapper and unicornfish, stingrays, sea snakes, reef sharks, a wide assortment of nudibranches and more. Others provide us with the chance to experience pelagic fish given the right tide and moon phase. These can include eagle rays, barracuda, trevally, tunas, rainbow runners and if we are lucky even mola-mola, hammerhead sharks or thresher sharks.
15. CATHEDRAL, Alor
Cathedral is a beautiful coral wall covered in both soft and hard corals with a small cave swim through. Located in south Alor, this site can get some big thermoclines from 27C on the surface reaching as little as 14C deeper than 30m! The cooler water that tends to pass here is apparent in the reef condition with vibrantly colored hard and soft corals. Bargibanti and pontohi seashorses, leaf fish, scorpionfish, sea snakes, blue ring octopus can all be found on the wall with the possibility of bamboo sharks in the shallow overhangs or large marbled rays passing deep in the crystal clear cold water.
13. WOLANG CAVES, Alor
Two fantastic caves in the south of Alor. The first cave we enter offers great wide angle shots with a chance of white tip reef sharks towards the back of the cave. This cave has a huge chamber where divers can surface. The second cave is covered with sponges and full of small fish, lobsters, decorator crabs and nudibranch. Great possibilities for wide angle or macro photography.
10. APURI (Clown Valley), Pura
South Pura is not only one of the most unique places in Alor, but in the entire world. It is the densest concentration of anemone anywhere on the planet! Apuri village is located here southeast and at the start of the fields. It provides a beautiful sloping landscape to look for macro subjects such as nudibranch and small shrimps, squat lobsters and crabs. It is a must to always keep an eye in the blue as passing thresher sharks and mola-mola are not uncommon here.
5. RED SAND BEACH & RED WALL, Pura
This large site is very unique and has something for everyone. The Red Wall is a beautiful backdrop going down to 35m+ full of overhangs followed by a coral slope and a red volcanic sand bay. The Red Wall is a good place to see sweetlips, groupers, black snappers and schools of fusiliers, while the slope and red sand bay are best for macro such as nudis, indian Walkman, snake eels. Gas vents in the volcanic red sand spew bubbles as we complete our safety stop hunting for little critters.
2. THE GREAT WALL (of Pantar), Pantar
One of the Pantar Strait’s most beautiful walls, the Great Wall aka Bamah Wall is covered in vividly orange and pink colored sponge, soft corals and orange anthias. Aside from the spectacular condition of the reef and the topography, we can see a variety of marine life such as napoleon wrasse and bumphead parrotfish, giant and blue fin trevally, schools of black snapper and fusiliers plus tons of macro such as bargabanti pygmy seahorses, flatworms, nudis, leaf fish, and whip coral shrimp.
4. CURRENT ALLEY, Pantar
This site is great for big fish when the conditions are right. Schooling scalloped hammerheads, great hammerhead, grey reef sharks, white tip and black tip reef sharks plus giant trevally, dogtooth tuna, napoleon wrasse and also devil and eagle rays have all been spotted on this deep wall.